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How to get a bike upright after a fall

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by Akhenaten, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Akhenaten

    Akhenaten "I wanna go fast!"

    Feb 15, 2013
    Vancouver, WA
    That's my most urgent question right now - how DO you lift your bike after a spectacular spill? Because I've been doing some very spectacular spills (noob to the trails) and I'm having a hell of a time pulling my bike (WR250R) back to an upright position.

    It's getting to the point where I'm far more afraid of lifting my bike than launching off it in some unnatural manner.


    It was a fun spill; I ended up flying down the ravine and landed about eight feet directly below my bike. After taking a bunch of pictures, I prepared to retrieve my bike and go on my way.

    I'm not a weak woman, but I absolutely could NOT move my bike. At all. I lift heavy weights on a regular basis but after 45 minutes of struggling without moving it an inch, I realized I was pretty much screwed. A hillbilly with a big, bushy beard came rolling up and yanked the bike out and back upright with surprisingly little trouble. Thank goodness for hillbillies.

    Anyway. This is the bruise I got last night. From falling? NO. Simply from LIFTING my WRR upright:


    So how do you do it?? Do I need to carry a comealong and an elaborate pully system with me on every trip? Bring a hillbilly in a sidecar? Buy a winch?
  2. r77toy

    r77toy Been here awhile

    Feb 19, 2006
  3. TexaNate

    TexaNate Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2012
    North Houston
    If you're spilling a lot, I would really recommend bringing a friend along with you whenever possible. You never know when you might have an especially bad crash and end up trapped under the bike or worse, and the hillbilly might be off duty that day!

    In that pic, your WR looks like it's pointed off the side of the road down a slope. It would be really difficult to tug it by the rear wheel, especially if your feet are fighting for traction on the edge of the gravel. Depending on how steep and slippery that dropoff is, it may be worth dragging the rear down the hill so it is at the same elevation as the front, with the bike laying along the hill (already halfway to being right-way up). Then you can easily right the bike fully and ride it to get it to do the work of getting it back up the dropoff. Note you probably won't be able to touch the ground on the downhill side, so just lean on the foot that is on the uphill side and put the other foot on the peg.

    It's going to vary from situation to situation but the main thing to think about is strategy over brute force - especially since after a few minutes of tugging, your muscles start to give. With a relatively light bike like a WR on a steep or slippery slope, it's going to be about knowing where to grip it more than sheer hauling force.

    I can lift more than my dad but he has this "finesse" that he talks about that allows him to lift his heaviest bike in the slipperiest, steepest conditions. He also has perfect kickstart technique. Some things only come with experience.

    Good luck!
  4. Warin

    Warin Retired

    Aug 30, 2012
    Yep. Bad situation to try and recover from.

    First check the bike is in gear, and the side stand down if that side is available.
    I'd be trying to spin the bike on the foot peg, thus while losing some downhill on the rear getting some uphill back on the front. Would be best if the handlebars are clear of the ground to do this, so rotate them. At the end of the spin I'd get the rear a little lower than the front so the bike is pointed a little uphill. You don't want to try starting to go directly up the hill, just across the hill to get back on the road.
    Lift from the high side of the hill, get the bike seat to rest on your hip/thigh. Don't try to get it to balance point as if you go over the bike could end up a lot further down the hill with more damage. You may not even feel safe trying to get back on, just walk the bike across the hill back to the road... not great globs of power just a little .. no wheel spins .. just roll.

    Probably best if you sit and think about it .. rather than rush in with the adrenaline? Same with any problem.

    At least it is not loaded up with camping gear, nor a fully flared tourer, nor on a really slippery muddy surface. I managed to find a small dead tree on the ground to use as a leaver to get the bike back upright there... feet would simply slip out otherwise.

    You do need to stop having frequent spills ... what occurred to make this one happen? The marks on the ground suggest too much power .. wheelie and over to the left? Try to keep the learning stuff to flat soft ground... much easier to learn on.

    Saying ....... Less haste = more speed.
  5. nuttynu

    nuttynu Long timer

    Jul 24, 2012
    Only a 2fiddy .! Should be so hard to stand her up
  6. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    If you ride off road, expect an off every now and a gain. On the road it can happen too; frequently for some it seems, rarely for others.

    Either way, get a bike that is light enough to pick up easily. Chances are that you will find it more fun to ride than a heavyweight, to boot.

    I gather that in Japan a rider has to be able to demonstrate that they can pick up a bike before they are allowed to own it..... it makes sense.
  7. cb1313

    cb1313 Adventurer

    Mar 2, 2013
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Youtube "picking up you motorcycle" I drop my 900 lbs Yamaha venture last fall and blew out my back, 3 weeks in bed. Then starting checking Youtube.

  8. 390beretta

    390beretta Long timer

    Oct 31, 2009
    Phoeniz, AZ
    I've never seen a video of what you do if the bike is down on the kickstand side, nor what to do if it's down on an incline. Luckily, I'm big enough and usually so embarrassed/angry that the adrenalin allows me to pick it up using brute strength.
  9. epicxcrider

    epicxcrider Been here awhile

    Nov 2, 2011
    Seattle, WA

    ^^^^^ This!
  10. ozmoses

    ozmoses Ride On

    Jul 3, 2009
    What happened there? Donut gone awry?
  11. GrouchyGeezer

    GrouchyGeezer Not a Long Timer

    Dec 10, 2012
    S.E. Michigan
    The easiest place to pick up a bike is on flat and level ground. The more uneven and unlevel the surface, the harder it gets. If you are riding off-road, it helps to have someone with you. The rougher the terrain, the more people. If you don't have people to ride with, do your utmost to limit your risks. Avoid going where a fall is likely e.g. rough trails, steep hills, deep mud, sand dunes, etc. When in doubt, don't go or go slow and cautious. Constantly assess your situation and act accordingly.
    As your skill level increases, you will fall less and get more daring. What that means is as you get better you may find yourself in even worse situations.
    It's a learning process, most of us have gone through it. :rofl Have fun and good luck!
  12. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

    Jan 26, 2004
    Western Mass
    If need be on a slope, drag it to get it into position with the tires lower than the seat/bars. You don't have to lift it just as it fell.

    Before I got sick, I routinely rode alone on technical rocky enduro trails on a DRZ-400S which is heavier than your 250. (I used to be VP of an enduro-oriented club.) I crashed all the time. I have even flipped my DRZ over (tires over seat) onto firmer ground when it was caught in "suction mud". More than once.

    That thing about putting your back against the bike often won't work on a narrow dirt bike, it lays too flat. The famous video of a small woman lifting a large BMW uses a boxer twin with hard side bags, on a concrete floor, with towels under the heads and bags. The bike is already nearly half way up when she starts to lift. Try that on a dirt bike laying flat and all you'll do is push it sideways along the ground.

    Get the bike in a favorable position, lift with your legs as much as possible (but they bike may be so low that you HAVE TO bend over somewhat). Get a grip and go for it. Grab it as high up as you can, better leverage. A dirt-oriented 250 should be routnely liftable by an adult male. A small female, not so much. My wife has trouble lifting her TTR225 but she only weighs in the 105-110 range so relatively speaking it's like me lifting my 990. Which I have trouble doing by myself if it's anything less than flat with a good spot to stand.
  13. sandwash

    sandwash Long timer

    Oct 26, 2007
    Flagstaff Az
    In this case I grab the handle bar and bring it up.370 lb bike is stuff.
    In you pic,you did the right thing to try to get the rear tire around.It can be rough cause there can be so much stuff to get snagged on.
  14. DirtReeper

    DirtReeper Been here awhile

    May 8, 2011
    Southern Utah
    For those situation where KlaiRe could possibly end in a ravie/ wash/ gully/ whateverthehellyoucallthemwhereyoulive, I made a nice litte block and tackle set out of stainless/ brass dual wheel pulleys, couple of high test rated spring closure hooks (think whats on the end of a winch), and about 60' of 550 cord. whole thing weighs about 1.5-2 lbs. pain in the ass is getting the 550 cord wrapped back up. havent had a chance to useit yet, hope I don't either.
  15. RBnite

    RBnite Been here awhile

    Feb 28, 2012
    Down by the river
    That little girl picked up a fairly large MC for her size. Like all of our skills we need for our sport, this must be one of them.

    I dumped my KLR on a concrete low water crossing covered in algae. NO traction for my feet, so I had to drag it to the end and pick it up then. Not pretty but I was alone!

    That is the other point, try not to go it alone , if possible.

  16. DirtReeper

    DirtReeper Been here awhile

    May 8, 2011
    Southern Utah
    Same except it was dirt mud clay mix in the bottom of a wash :evil not even gravel. Silly heavy KLR's sure do like to take baths don't they?
  17. bigdog99

    bigdog99 CJ's bitch

    Mar 25, 2004
    Near cowtown, CA
    If you've been crashing, the bike must have its share of scrapes. Just drag the bike around by the front or rear wheel until the wheels are below the handlebars as much as possible. Put the front or rear wheel aganst a tree stump, dirt mound or rock if it you think it will slide away from you.

    You don't HAVE to pick it ALL the way up in most cases. Find a heavy branch or chunk of wood or a big flat rock and set it alongside your foot when you do the first lift. Grab the handlebar cross bar (either facing the bike or with your backside to it) or the seat strap or muffler, and lift slightly using your legs, then when you get stabilized with the bike maybe 1/3 of the way up, kick said log/branch/rock underneath the bike, preferably underneath the footpeg/engine/etc as far under as you can get it. This will allow you to stabilize the bike partially raised, which allows you to squat down and get a new grip to use your legs to right the bike. Sometimes you can use your tow-strap (you do carry a tow-strap?) or a belt tp wrap around a footpeg or muffler mount that let's you get a good rotational lift using your back against the bike.

    Having electric start is an advantage, since it isn't as critical where the bike is once you get it righted. Once it's back on its wheels, stand beside it and start the engine and bulldog it back to the road/trail.

    For us gray-hairs, the worst part of the recovery sometimes was finding a way to get yourself back in the saddle and then trying to kick-start a flooded engine while your downhill leg was 5 feet in the air! After the original bark-busters were invented, you soon learned to hang on to the handlebars and de-clutch while crashing. If you coud hop up real quick, you could sometimes pick up the bike before it stalled!
  18. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    The difference between humans and dumb animals is that humans use tools.

    I carry a length of seatbelt webbing with D-rings sewn into one end, with that looped over my shoulder I can deadlift my bike - I can't otherwise. That's about the size of a packet of ciggies rolled up.
    It'd also make it a lot easier to drag it around - though fortunately, that's untested.

    A ratchet strap would likely give you that option, as well as being able to tie it round a tree and ratchet the bike around.

    Sorry guys, brute strength is the dumb option here, look for options which use smarts and simple tools, not strength.

  19. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    At home, in your back yard, gently lay the bike down on its side. Now you get to practice picking it up!

    Try several of the techniques you've read about. Dead lift, butt to the bike seat, etc. Learn which ones seem to work well with you and this bike, and which ones don't. I will agree that the butt to the seat technique really only works with dressers that only fall over partially. I've often found that some sort of dead lift, gripping the lower handle bar in one hand and the seat in the other and levering the bike often works well enough for me.

    I'm also not at all afraid to use chunks of wood, dead limbs and rocks. Get the bike partially up, or even one end partially up, and shove something under it. Repeat on the other end and as necessary. This can become more important as the day wears on and I'm getting more and more tired.

    I've also learned positioning the bike is darn important. Nothing brings tears like getting the bike up...and over, falling onto the other side. Or getting it up and then trying to chase it down the hill as it starts rolling away. I will drag whichever end moves more easily in order to position the bike in a way that not only can I get it up, but can do something with it once it is upright. Being upright and facing down a ravine is not good for example.

    A neat piece of kit that I've lost apparently is a deer hunting block and tackle. A little too big to fit in a pocket. But it is able to lift several hundred pounds, and with its hooks and excess rope, you can connect it to trees and such, to drag a bike around, and to help lift it upright. If I can't find my old one, I'll go buy a replacement to carry on trail rides.
  20. jimhaleyscomet

    jimhaleyscomet Adventurer

    Jul 5, 2009
    There are two keys I use to gett the bike's rubber back down. First is to make sure any pulling force I execute goes through the center of my body/ back and through my feet as much as possible. It is o.k. to reach "over" a down bike as long as I am pulling horizontal "through" my back instead of an offset lift that will stress my back. (Say like pulling on the handle bars down hill). The second key is to get good traction. Combining both key items as a last resort would be to lay down on the ground (or against a tree) and push the bike, tires, handle or whatever with my arms or legs. There is a reason one can bench PRESS more than they can lift.

    Looking at your bike and assuming I could not move it the way I was lifting I would look to change my approach. Is this on a switch back so I could go down the hill to solid surface? Either way since I would want a running motor to help me get the bike up the slope so I would get the front and rear wheels even on the slope. First I would try tugging the front wheel up hill, rotating the bike on the foot peg. By pulling from the front of the bike tire I can get some leverage to make it rotate around the foot peg area. Key here is to get traction (feet) as far as possible from the bike foot pegs so can use leverage. If pulling on the front tire UP did not work I would try pulling the back tire DOWN the hill just a bit till bike was parallel to slope. Either way once parallel to the slope, it should be easier to get vertical as it is already part way there (I would then lift from the "high" side"), pushing down against the tire contact patch that hopefully has traction now that they are parallel to slope. Perhaps the back lift on you tube would work then but it does not seem to help me. Better to get "under" the uphill handle bar and just lift strait up (again being sure lift force goes straight down through my body, not offset to my feet). Once the bike is vertical I would start it and use the motor to help me walk it up the hill. I might be walking just barely vertical to the slope but as long as I am making progress to the road I keep going.

    I think I would would definitely carry some kind of 30 ft (or more) 2" (or wider) tow strip / seat belt webbing in case the above approach did not work. Then I would loop the strap around the forward portion of the front wheel and around my waist then get up on the road (where the footing is good) and then walk / tug the front wheel up hill. If still could not get bike vertical then switch loop back to back wheel, go back up to the road and drag the back up a bit. Then repeat on the front wheel then back wheel crab walking up the hill till up. I have done this without a strap and it still works but much harder. If there is a thick tree up the hill to loop around then I might try using it as a pull so I am pulling down the hill to get the bike up. Or use the technique just to pull the back tire down the hill and then it vertical, start the motor and power up the hill as mentioned above.

    If I did a lot of "lone" riding, I would consider some kind of solidly mounted back luggage rack. My stock KLR rack has slots that serve as an excellent "hand hold" for getting the rear vertical. Similarly, the front engine drop guards make it much easier to lift the front. Which end I lift depend on where I can get could traction. Our WR just does not seem to have anything to grab hold of in the back.

    Better than all the above is of course to either ride with other riders (or where there are hillbillies) and/or to be more careful when alone. A guy in Houston got his leg severely burned by a heavy bike that he could not get out from under fast enough. To mitigate this risk, I always wear full gear including gloves, full face helmet, knee pads, kevlar lined riding jeans, and tall motocross boots when off road alone.