It’s one of the first things you learn in the intro motorcycle Your safety class or MSF: What to do if (and when) you drop your bike. Because you will most likely drop it, at least once. My instructor, several former cold springs, was very adamant in her instructions on how to approach this situation. If you drop your bike, you immediately jump out of the way. Don’t try to catch it. Then press the kill switch.
Simple instructions to follow. But what about the latter, or the “back to the bike” part?
The first time I dropped my bike was on my MSF course. I made a classic, common mistake that caused me to drop three other bikes of my own, only once, but always the same way. The fall came from my loss of balance while stopping the car because the front wheel/fork was spinning. I’m also on some sort of incline or decline. All. Only. Time.
When I dropped that very worn and tired 1991 Kawasaki Eliminator during class, I made sure to follow those recovery instructions. I jumped out of the way when the old motorbike hit the road. I rushed in and pressed the kill button. Then I quickly jumped back to my standing position, raised my arms in the air as if I had just finished a Broadway musical, and shouted, “I made it!” You can ask my husband, it’s a sight to see.
In this case and for the rest of the class, the instructor will pick up your bike, inspect it, and then hand it back to you. Sometimes it’s as simple as jumping back on the bike and completing an exercise. Sometimes they ask if you’re okay and give you time to get ready to get back on the bike. Honestly, it’s a good lesson for the way forward (or the way down…).
So now, let’s break it down. Here’s what you should do if you ever abandon your car:
Jump out of the way if you feel you’ve lost your balance or when riding a bike
Motorcycles are heavy and often many times your own weight. My 2017 wind-cooled Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 weighs 3.5 times my weight, which is about 400 pounds, wet. Trying to “hold” it from falling to the ground was futile – my powerless upper body wouldn’t be able to catch or lift something so easily. Attempting to lift the motorcycle improperly will cause you to injure yourself, pull something, or even crush something trying to rescue your baby. Stay away.
Hit That Kill Switch
Your bike may be in gear or in motion and just hit the ground. For your safety, it’s best to turn it off immediately. Kill switches are available for situations like these.
Check if you’re ok
Are you injured? Bruising? Will you need help or medical attention? Are you shivering? You can rest and breathe a little before you plan to get your bike.
Get your bike
Getting your particular ride to the proper upright seating position will be an event. First thing, don’t try to pick it up like a box, baby… you will hurt yourself. You can find some techniques recommended by experienced riders on the web, or ask an experienced rider or instructor for guidance. You can always lay your bike on its side (carefully) for practice.
Is your bike ok?
I accidentally dropped my bike recently (yes on a slope with my wheels spinning), and I’ve checked my bike once it’s up, I’ll notice my shifter is broken. pull significantly toward the bike, about 1.5 to 2 inches. On the way for a few miles, I pulled over and put my hazards on the line so I could fix the problem and hopefully fix my shifter. I was able to bend that gear lever a bit – enough to get it to work and enough displacement to get me home. If I had looked over the bike at first, I would have limped it home.
Anyway, inspecting your bike when it is finally upright is good practice and allows you to look for anything that may be out of place, severely worn, or leaking springs. In my case I ended up with a bent gear lever, a scraped clutch rod and a bit of scratch to the swing arm. My ABS error light is also on. But it’s all fixable, and honestly, it could have been much worse.
Back to Riding
Dropping a motorbike is shameful. But you know what? OK. Some of these accidents are the result of a simple mistake, or even lack of practice, and everyone makes them at one time or another. That makes getting back to the bike very important in continuing to grow as a racer.
You may need to practice some turns or other tight maneuvers to get better acquainted with your bike. Maybe you just need to pay attention to how you stop your bike, or understand the limits of where your wheels or body turns when stopped. So find a parking lot, set up some cones or mental parameters, and practice! If you’re nervous about riding, you should practice. The more you know you can hit the turn, or not fall, the better your future rides will be.
I know I’ll be doing some practice rounds after I fix that shifter. Oh how the mighty fell, literally.