5 Great Ways To Drop Your Motorcycle (so you can avoid it in the future)

Low or no-speed parking lot tip-overs; learn what NOT to do to stay upright

By Tricia Szulewski, Assistant Editor and MSF RiderCoach

The other day I was preparing to ride to the motorcycle training range where I teach the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse (MSF BRC). My 16-year-old daughter, Kaia, often comes with me to help, and on this day she was geared up and ready to leave before I was. That’s when I made the mistake of telling her to go ahead and mount our BMW R 1200 RS while I finished gathering my stuff.

The next thing I knew I heard, “Mom!” I looked over and there Kaia was, on the ground with the motorcycle laying on its side next to her. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, and I learned a very valuable lesson.

I was used to all the other bikes we’ve ridden leaning a lot more on their sidestands (or kickstand) when parked. Kaia has gotten on dozens of other bikes without me there to hold the bike steady, but my “Beemer” has a long sidestand making the motorcycle stand almost straight up, even with the bars turned fully to the left. It didn’t take much for the bike to tip over when she climbed on, upsetting its balance.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle crashed suzuki tu250
While I dont have a photo of my BMW laying on its side, its as shocking as seeing this Suzuki TU250X on its side. This beginner bike takes a beating at my MSF range. Its 30.3-inch seat height is a bit too high for many new riders making it hard for them to “catch” the bike when starts to tip over. Fortunately, the bike is lightweight making it easy to upright using the proper technique to lift a bike.

This gave me the idea to create a list of almost guaranteed ways to drop a motorcycle, many of which I’ve done myself, and many I’ve seen during my classes. The intention, of course, is to share some of the ways to drop a motorcycle so that you understand what NOT to do. In other words, learn from these mistakes.

When you’re through reading my list, please share in the comments section below some ways youve experienced that almost guarantee a motorcycle will fall over, and what you learned from it.

1. Ride a bigger motorcycle than you can handle

New riders who are still developing basic skills should choose a motorcycle that is small and light enough that they can hold it up if it starts to tip over. Most bike drops by newbies happen in parking lot and slow-speed situations, so being able to catch the bike before it hits the “tipping point” is very beneficial for new riders. More experienced riders should have developed the skills necessary to ride and hold up a tall bike even if they can’t get both feet on the ground.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle bmw r 1200 rt revved up women
We spotted this rider comfortably controlling BMWs touring model, the R 1200 RT at the Revved Up Women Motorcycle Expo. She is an experienced rider who rode several different smaller motorcycles for some time before working her way up to riding a big bike like this.

2. Ride extremely slowly

Motorcycles are like bicycles; as they gain speed, momentum helps them stay up. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to balance a bike that’s several hundreds of pounds while barely moving.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle u-turn counterweight
Slow-speed maneuvers like making U-turns are easier when using the counterweight technique that is taught in MSF’s BRC. Learn and practice these techniques so you minimize your chances of dropping your bike while making slow, tight turns.

3. Stop with the handlebars turned

As soon as you turn the handlebars, all two-wheeled vehicles naturally want to fall over. So make it a habit to come to a stop with the handlebars squared off each and every time you come to a stop.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle msf brc turned handlebars
Stopping suddenly or riding slowly with the handlebars turned sharply makes a motorcycle start to fall over. You will need enough strength to hold it up if you do stop like this.

4. Forget to put your sidestand down

Almost every rider we know has done this at least once. It happens. It’s embarrassing, but not lethal. Remember to make sure the sidestand is not only down, but that it is all the way forward before leaning the motorcycle. I’ve seen a number of bike drops because a stand wasn’t down all the way when the rider went to dismount.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle harley road king special sidestand
Harley-Davidson sidestands, like the one shown here on a Road King Special, are designed to move a little when its fully engaged. It always freaks me out a little, and I take extra care to ensure that it is all the way forward before leaning the bike onto it.

5. Stop on a sloped or slippery surface

Even if your motorcycle fits you to a “T,” when you stop on a hill, a slope, a divot in the road, or an oil slick, your feet may not be able to get a firm foothold. Always be looking ahead to where you will be stopping the motorcycle and where youll be placing your feet. Avoid uneven and slippery surfaces as much as you can.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle babes ride out bmw r ninet
Leaving your motorcycle parked on a non-paved surface like this BMW R nineT we spotted at the Babes Ride Out East event may be trouble. If the ground beneath the sidestand is soft, place a rock or something hard and flat underneath it to prevent the stand from sinking into the ground.

Now it’s your turn. Share your ideas in the comments section below on ways you know of, or have experience with, dropping a motorcycle (even though we know you don’t want too).

Related Articles
Beginners Guide: Motorcycle Training Classes for New Riders
Technique for Lifting a Dropped Motorcycle
5 Tips for Short Riders Handling Tall and Big Motorcycles
Riding Right: Making the Perfect U-Turn, with Video

73 thoughts on 5 Great Ways To Drop Your Motorcycle (so you can avoid it in the future)

  1. Great article! I moved through the ranks 125cc to 750cc before settling on a low riding 950cc cycle that has everything I wanted. However, I quickly learned that the 613 pound motorcycle that is stretched out with wide 36 inch handlebars is very different and heavy than the previous two bikes I learned to ride on. Slowing down to u-turn in a parking lot, my biggest fear arrived! I laid my bike over. Alone and frustrated, I tried (incorrectly) to lift the bike that was not going to move using my measly 130 pound body. Pulling/pinching something in my lower back, I quickly went for help. A burly man came to the rescue, lifting with ease. I took over and embarrassingly parked my motorcycle.I will be using the technique described in your article if ever in such a situation again. I’m also working on the self talk as now I’m “in my head” and riding timidly. I’m ready for spring weather to arrive so I can build confidence and hit the open road.

  2. Remember to put the sidestand up. I had my bike on the centerstand while working on it. The sidestand was in the way when it was up so I put it down. When I finished doing what I was doing I pushed the bike off the centerstand and when the sidestand contacted the ground it threw the bike right on it’s side. Surprise!

  3. Great article! Very nice list of dos and don’ts. Easy read.

  4. Smart article. It’s very easy to make these mistakes and even easier to avoid making them once you know what to avoid.Ride your own ride.

  5. I loved the article. I dropped the bike in the safety course and almost threw in the towel. I had my license already because I rode when I was young. The instructor was supportive and insistent that I stay the course. I did. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only time that I dropped my bike. Stopping when the handlebars weren’t straight. Going too slow in a u-turn. Loosing my footing backing my bike out of the garage and onto a rocky driveway. I do hope that that is the last time! But most people, male or female, will tell you that they have dropped their bikes.

  6. Tipping over has happened to me twice—the second time, my left leg was pinned under the sidecase. So, when you know the bike is going to tip over, what should you do to protect yourself from being pinned? I can’t find this talked about anywhere.Of course, better training and skills is the best answer, but S*** happens too.Thanks very much.

    1. There’s no training that I am aware of about how to jump away from a falling motorcycle, but I suppose that’s just what you would do. Once it’s past the point of no return, jump away from the bike if you can!

  7. Look where you want to go or stop. I learned this one day when I was riding around a rally site looking for parking. I saw a space on the left but turned right slightly and when I looked ahead I had slowed enough to just tip over to the right. Live and learn. I was only embarrassed…no damage other than the ego.

  8. I grew up riding dirt bikes, I just got started riding a cruiser—Kawasaki 750 after a short time getting used to the basics on a Honda Nighthawk.I found more experienced street bike riders are ill-prepared to handle unsafe road conditions. A few even came out and tried to ride my Honda and I had to ride it off of the grass, dirt and bumps to bring it to the pavement for them because apparently it was too much for them to handle.Dirt bike riding requires control over the bike even when the whole shebang is sliding around underneath you, traction alone is useless in the dirt and mud and not relying upon tire tread to keep you stable is what it’s about.Also, if you are new to riding in general, falling into the soft dirt and mud is a lot easier on you and your bike. There is a reason we have so many injuries. Many experienced riders can’t handle rough road conditions and tires are not going to stick to the road 100% of the time.

  9. I love reading the articles in WRN. I’ve forgotten to put the sidestand down (at the gas pump…), and recently took a bad spill when exiting a parking lot onto a busy highway—I was on an upward hill that sloped to my right. I’ve been riding about ten years and that fall almost made me give it up. It’s encouraging to read others’ stories.If I can recommend this, I’ve been watching a lot of the Ride Like a Pro on YouTube. (Bought and love the video.) It’s a great reminder of the motorcycle safety course.

  10. I have a nice 1.5 inch engine guard on my bike, and is has more than paid for itself a few times. Twice in a hotel parking garage where the back tire just slide out at a very low speed on a wet ramp. The chrome guard stands out on the blacked-out bike. Well worth the cost and I like the look.

  11. I dropped my Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 three weeks ago on my maiden voyage. Ironic thing was we were on our way to a nearby parking lot to practice my right turns which I did not do well on my test (but still passed). Handled my first right turn fine, but on the second right turn I let out the clutch too fast; the bike sped up, got too close to the concrete median, hit it, spun, and threw me off 8 to 10 feet. I was knocked unconscious and I was told I bounced a few times on the upper right side of my body and ended on the other side of the median. Luckily there were no cars on the road at the time. I was wearing a half helmet, jacket, gloves, jeans, and hunting boots. The helmet was scraped on the right side, the jacket was scraped on the shoulder and elbow areas but no holes, and both gloves on the knuckles were scraped down to the plastic. Nothing on my jeans or boots. I was lucky to come out with hairline fracture on my left thumb, heavy bruising on right hip, right shoulder, right elbow (inner and outer), small scrape on elbow, right forehead, and left knee and sore back.My friend said she has never seen an accident this bad on a right turn, it’s usually just a tip over. I guess when I go down, I go down big.I’m grateful for the gear I was wearing. The change I would make is getting armor for the jacket, which when I received the jacket wished it came with it and thought of ordering it. I would also like a modular helmet. I did try on my son’s modular before this ride since we wear the same size, but my glasses would not stay on straight.

    1. I’m glad you’re ok, Gina. You’ve learned the importance of having good gear the hard way. I hope you share your story with others so they can learn from your experience.The MSF changed its curriculum a few years ago and now places heavy emphasis on those tight right hand turns because your experience is a common crash (and near-crash) scenario. New riders still learning clutch control when starting out need to use extra caution when making right-hand turns where they can potentially go wide, right into oncoming traffic. This is something to practice over and over again.Please read this article that addresses those tight right turns and may offer some tips that you haven’t heard yet.Good luck, and ride safe!

  12. When learning to ride my first bike, a Kawaski 440, I was stopped with both feet firmly on the ground and I dropped one of my gloves. Instead of putting down the kickstand I tried to bend down and pick it up. Once the bike was a couple degrees passed vertical I couldn’t hold it and had to lay it down.

  13. Yup, doing a three-point turn around in the driveway, I grabbed the front brake and over she went—front wheel went under the lattice fence. I was unable to right it alone. I had to call AAA!Seriously, my first thought was, “I am too old for this!” Not at all, now I’m looking at the 2018 R nineT Scrambler. Oh, yeah.

  14. I dropped my bike after making what I thought was a firm, below the threshold brake, but when I let off the brakes to continue on my way, the bike went straight down. I learned to be extra aware of how the pressure I apply to the brakes to avoid locking up the wheels.

  15. I have dropped my bike while paddling the bike backward and my foot slips on gravel. I am thinking of getting a reverse gear installed on my 2013 CVO Harley Road King to help with backing up.

  16. So far I dropped my Suzuki DR650 once. It was in a parking lot and very low speed.My helmet has a visor that was fogging so I wanted to raise it up. At the same time I wanted to stop for a stop sign. My right hand worked properly but my left hand was on my visor instead of the clutch lever. The bike bucked and complained and I lost balance and over it went at about zero mph.The only thing that saved my ego was being able to pick it back up by myself. Good thing I had watched YouTube videos on the very subject.I’ll drop it again. Hopefully for a better reason.

  17. I’ve dropped my bike doing left turns from a stop three times! Not only is it embarrassing but it wrecks your confidence. I now anticipate this every time and stall the bike when turning. Not a happy place in my head right now. Now I’m trying to figure my way out of this.

    1. This sounds like you’re simply not looking where you want to go. If you’re dropping your motorcycle doing a left turn from a stop, you’re not looking far enough ahead and your “turning” your handlebars and the bike is going down.Pick a spot at least 50 feet ahead of you in the direction you want to go and focus on that as you twist the throttle. Your bike will automatically head in the direction you’re looking. Don’t look down at the roadway beneath you because that’s where you and your bike will go. This article, Mastering the Head and Eyes Technique, on WRN will help you.

  18. I’m a new rider, and the first few weeks with my Harley 883 Iron were the hardest. The weight took time to get used to. The first drop was due to a foot peg malfunction. I tried to come to a stop next to my husband and the stock foot peg stuck in my boot heel and came up with my foot. It tripped me up and I was already leaned too far over by the time my foot came loose. Lesson learned, if something feels like it may be an issue; it will be. I mentioned that peg sticking on day one. The next day I bought new pegs.The second drop was the day after I completed my riding course. I was feeling confident and wanted to get on my own bike. My husband had me park next to him at the place we’d gone to eat, and I should have known better. It was on packed gravel/sand. All was good until we came out of the restaurant. I went to stand my bike up, and I wasn’t prepared for the front wheel to shift on the dirt. It leaned too far to the right before I could stop it. Down I went again right next to my husband. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to crawl in a hole. I didn’t want to get on it and ride home but I did.The very next day, I learned a lesson about gravel in scenario number 3. I was just out trying to practice on our road. There is nowhere to turn around aside from gravel drives. Ours is the only paved drive on our road. I thought, well, I have to go in gravel sometime. Surely I could just pull in and back out. Uh, no. The drive I chose was very deep loose gravel. As soon as my wheel hit it, it went under and down I went. I tried the pick up method, but my feet had no traction on the gravel and the bike wanted to slide. Luckily, a neighbor drove by and jumped out to help. I seriously felt 5 years old when he asked if I was out “all by myself.” I thanked him, tucked my tail and road home.I’ve put 1,400 miles on my bike since that last one, and I’ve gotten way more comfortable. But riding a lot with some really good groups has proven invaluable for my learning. I really do “think” about what I’m doing before I do it especially in small spaces situations. Those are the real skills we all need to practice. Thanks so much for all of the stories. I learn something new every ride and every read!

  19. Seems like the easiest way to tip over is stopping with your wheel turned. Didn’t take long to learn that. Been there. Bike was cold and it stalled at a stop sign. Easier to pick it up by yourself when you’re mad! I’ve since seen a video on how to pick one up that’s worth checking out.

  20. Hitting the brakes in a low speed turn is guaranteed to dump a bike!

  21. MSF courses are the best practical learning curve around. Another good way to dump your bike is tangling with gas pump hoses, either with your boot or it flips onto your foot peg as you ride off. Just one of those weird happenings!

  22. Stopping on a wet manhole cover.

  23. When I went to the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy, we were taught the “torque technique.” Basically, it’s lightly using your clutch, rear break, and throttle together during slow maneuvers. It takes practice but it’s invaluable when when making a slow turn. The revving of the engine creates the force of keeping the bike up.

  24. Yep, I dropped my Honda Gold Wing manuevering in a parking lot (it was top-heavy.) Dropped my Harley-Davidson Wide Glide along a winding narrow highway when I was alone and stopped to put a jacket on, concerned about passing cars and soft shoulder, forgot to put the kickstand down. Dropped a small Honda turning on a large pebble at the end of a dirt road. Dropped a H-D Electric Glide at a KOA campground, at the bottom of a hill with loose rocks to keep dust down. The camp host stopped his golf cart right in front of me, my front brake locked up and I slid and fell over as I was yelling at him to “go go go!” I didn’t get hurt in any of these, thankfully. I now ride a Harley Road Glide, it has a lower center of gravity and my feet are flat and knees are bent at a stop.

  25. I once got my pant leg hooked onto the foot peg, which prevented me from being able to fully plant my foot as I was backing the bike out of the garage.

  26. I have been riding on bikes for more than 45 years and have been licensed for more than 30 years. I have had my share of drops fortunately always at low speeds and usually in wet conditions. The biggest piece of advice I can give is be confident and keep using your knowledge and skills to prevent the fall. Let me explain: Every crash I had invoked slippery conditions and inevitable I doubted my ability to prevent going down until three weeks ago. My rear tire needs replaced and I am very aware of it so when I got on a wet bridge and began to slow and she started sliding I went through the steps the releasing brakes and trying different pressure on each brake. When the front grabbed and the back slid I was looking at the ground with my bars turned hard to the left I thought to myself this is going to hurt. I had to keep the bike from traveling through the stop sign and into heavy traffic where possibly fatal injuries were a reality but I remained calm and let my knowledge overtake my natural instinct to stay on the brakes and let her fall.Instead with just less than 10 feet of road before I would be sideswiped by fast moving traffic I released the brakes, twisted the throttle with the bars still turned hard left because I could not go straight. The momentum from twisting the throttle kept her upright and I made an unbelievable right left hand turn stayed upright and avoided commission. My message is this know your skill level. Don’t panic. Don’t give up and apply all your knowledge to avoid going down. Do not put yourself in a situation beyond your experience, but when the poop hits the fan trust your gut even if the fight or flight instinct is saying the opposite. Yes my body wanted to stay on the brakes but I either would have gone down or slid into traffic. Twisting the throttle most times will keep you upright. Confidence practice and ability are your best friends on a bike. If you are missing any of those you’re going down. Ride safe ride often and enjoy your journey.

  27. First off, I am very grateful to have found this website and this article!I’m a newbie. Never operated a bike in my life until less than a month ago, although it’s been a life-long dream. I’m a 40-year-old empty-nester, so I figure I’m in a good life stage to start riding. I bought a 1997 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom, took the Basic RiderCourse and earned my endorsement within a two week period.I took an epic fall on the first day of the Basic RiderCourse. Thankfully, I was using one of their bikes, not mine! During one of the exercises I was coming around a bend, riding past one of the instructors. As I was slowing, I started to pull in the clutch to keep my bike from stalling. The RiderCoach yelled, “hands off the clutch! No clutch for this one, give it throttle!” So, I let the clutch out too fast, lunged forward, panicked, lost control and crashed into a tree! Both me and the bike were fine, but my pride … oh, my ego damn near split in half! The instructor bolted over to make sure I was ok and asked if I was able continue. Well, I just paid good money for this course, I wasn’t about to leave empty handed, so I quickly shrugged off my embarrassment, gave that tree two middle fingers, and got back in the saddle!The next day I passed the skills test with ease, only docked three points (which isn’t too bad considering zero is a perfect score). I left with my endorsement in hand. I was pretty proud of myself for powering though.My husband affectionately calls me “tree slayer” now .Here’s a picture of me on my Sporty the day I bought it.

  28. After spending the winter upgrading the paint on my 1985 Kawasaki GPZ 750 I parked at a gas station. It was very slightly uphill. I put it on the centerstand so I could replace a fuse that had blown. When I took it off the centerstand I couldn’t do it sitting on the bike because of the uphill so I stood on the left side and had to push pretty hard (It weighs almost 500 pounds.) When it came off the stand it started going over and I was leaned over too far to stop it. I had about 100 hours and $500 into the paint job and that’s all I could think about as it went over. Thankfully it landed on the engine side cover, the muffler, and the handlebar with no damage to the paint. I learned several things that day:1. Never park uphill on the centerstand2. If I’m in that situation, put the side stand down and take it off the centerstand from the other side3. Take my time and think about what I am about to do

  29. I love these tips and tricks to help us all. I learn a lot from these subjects. I have been riding for a little more than three years, so I am a newbie and these make me stop and think before I go on a ride. I have not dropped my bike and I am so proud and fingers crossed I don’t. Thank you so much. Enjoy these so much. Keep it coming.

  30. Something else to think about and always check before riding is tire pressure! I found out the hard way. I was going to ride about seven miles to be a motorcycle escort to the funeral home for a fallen friend. After leaving there, I went to pull into the parking lot of the local American Legion. I started to turn. The next thing I know, my bike which is a Honda Shadow 1100cc, was on the ground. With help from a friend, we were able to get the bike back upright. I starting looking the bike over and found that the front tire was low. When I had the handlebars partially turned to turn into the parking lot, the combination of turning and the front tire being low landed the bike on it’s side. Now before every ride, I use the palm of my hand to push down on the front tire. If you can push down and have any give to the tire, your tire most likely needs air in it. The tires should be firm. with no give to them. I hope this helps someone else prevent the same mistake. No matter if you are going seven or 700 miles, always check the tires.

  31. I cannot thank you enough for the timing of this article. I am a new rider (one month) and bought a Yamaha Bolt R-Spec 950 (which makes my heart go pitter-patter when I look at it.) I was out practicing last Sunday and laid the bike down twice in one day. I was so sad and mad that I have not ridden since. I must admit that the fear of this happening has been haunting me since I decided to start riding so it has been extra hard to get back on. The info everyone has shared is very educational and encouraging. Thank you everyone! Time to put my big girl panties on and get back out.

  32. I’ve been riding on the street since ’83 and dropping your bike is like finding a grey hair — it’s gonna happen. In ’87 I was riding a Ninja 1000 and was out with a group of 50-plus riders. We had been riding for about three hours and just pulled off the freeway. Since I was the only women in the group (back then I was always the only women) I got to ride in the first row. So here I am, all proud in happy, riding with the guys, carving up the canyons, holding my own until we pulled up to the stoplight that just turned red and I forgot to put my feet down. (Big sigh). You would think you would remember that little detail but you forget it after riding for hours on end.Currently I have a little 750 Phantom, easy to ride and control and a ZX10R that I had lowered so I could get a full foot on the ground, but lowering the bike made the kickstand sit too upright and after bumping with my butt once while cleaning her, she went over like a led zeppelin. I changed out the kickstand so she sits firmer when off. Live and learn, and any guy that tells you he never dropped his bike is soooooo lying.

  33. The last time I dropped a bike was a combination of two things. I was going very slowly making a U-turn in a driveway. The bike was really lightweight (A Zero electric bike) so when it started to go over I was able to catch it easily. That’s when the heavy backpack I was wearing shifted to the left, the weight of it causing me to loose my balance and fall. I haven’t ridden while wearing a heavy backpack since. I strap it down on the passenger seat now.

  34. Love this article and all the comments, all so very helpful. To be honest, I too felt my pride was shattered, but this article and many others on the website help and motivated me to move forward. As a newbie—only a month ridding and I just got my endorsement.I dropped my Kawasaki Vulcan 500 on a hill at a stop sign. The bike was going backwards after I stopped. I panicked and didn’t use all four functions to stop on a hill. I didn’t square the handle bars and in rushing to go quickly, down I went. No harm to me or the bike, but I am installing crash bars to help.I did drop the bike two more times prior. Both times in a parking lot participating in class. The first time I looked down and down I went, the second time the kickstand was not all the way forward. I am learning as I go and lessons learned with every new adventure/experience.Loving the feeling I get when I get on the road. It’s an instant smile that was deeply buried and like magic, it appears out of nowhere.

  35. As I read this article I am recovering from my own dropped bike incident that resulted in a broken hip. I was doing a slow speed u-turn in a parking lot and got beyond the “tipping point.” I was desperately trying to hold the bike up until my husband could dismount from his bike and help, but the bike went down. As we both look back on how I managed to get myself into this pickle, neither of us can remember exactly what I did on that particular day that got me so top-heavy. I’ve ridden this particular bike for 11 years and “thought” I had gotten proficient in doing u-turns. No matter how it happened, I will get back on as soon as I’m physically able, and be back to riding. Will definitely take my time the first few times out, but not riding is not an option for us.

  36. I remember several years ago I was riding a BMW demo bike in the Black Hills. When I came to a stop sign I realized the braking system on the BMW was way more effective than the ones on my Harley Road King. I stopped really fast, throwing my weight forward. It was all I could do to get my foot down in front of me enough to keep the bike from tipping. I learned that day to always check the brakes right away when riding an unfamiliar bike.

  37. Every time I’ve dropped my bike was when I touched my front brake while making a turn as I was slowing down to stop.Now I’m using my back brake more and have not dropped it. My husband drilled it into my head not to touch the front break. Only use it on a straight stop, emergencies, and so on, never on a turn or when your wheel is turned.

  38. My greatest problem is grabbing the front brake. I had to train myself to use the back brake almost exclusively in slow speed situations.

  39. I drop my bike I’m ashamed to say at least once a year. Usually at the beginning of the riding season but after riding my own for 17 years. You’d think I’d know better. But I always seem to make that rookie mistake and grab that front brake lever while I have my wheel turned! You know what that means. Boom. To the ground. Sometimes I can wrestle it down and no harm is done but there’s always that one time where gravel or wet roads leaves me with no traction and we take a hard fall. I hate it when it happens and usually after that one time I’m good until the next season.

  40. The first time I dropped one I was not accelerating enough going into left turn from a stop. That bike didn’t have engine guards. I jumped off and layed it down nicely. When I bought my first bike I wouldn’t ride until I had engine guards. Then I stopped to prepare to park on a porch from an incline. I accelerated too much and broke too fast. It went over quickly and rolled beyond the guard. (The step allowed extra space.)One lesson: more speed at take-off. (Or less for second scenario.)Engine guards are good, but not as good as I thought in the second scenario.

  41. Don’t use your front brake when executing a slow turn, particularly on gravel. I keep my hand close, but have had to work hard on not squeezing it, something I know well. Also, keep your head up and looking where you want to go helps too.

  42. I stopped in a parking lot when confronted by a thunderstorm to put on my rain gear. As I stepped over the seat and stood up my bike, my rain pants fell beneath the heel of my boot. As I put my foot down, my pants pulled me to the right causing me to fall to the right and the bike on the exhaust side. I tucked and rolled enough to get out of the way. And had to pick up my bike in the rain. All of this was completely preventable!I could have been better prepared, like knowing the weather potential. I could have ensured my pants were pulled up above my boots before I stepped onto the bike. I could have put both feet on the ground before standing up the bike.

  43. I dropped my sister-in-law’s bike years ago by pulling out of a driveway and stopping just over the low spot where street met the driveway. Both tires were on high spots and my feet couldn’t touch the ground! Neither my brother or I saw that coming. It broke the ball end off of her brake handle and I still carry it today as a “good luck charm.”

  44. Recently dropped bike while at an intersection. A four-way stop which is very busy. I had stopped on a small incline. Being my turn, the vehicle opposite me flashed his lights for me to proceed. As I started my left turn, I did not accelerate enough and dropped my bike. Of course my pride was a little hurt, for sure, but I know I need more practice in the parking lot to improve my skill.

  45. Don’t use your front brake when riding slowly in a parking lot. That’s how I’ve dropped my bike more than once.

    1. The MSF recommends always using both brakes to stop or slow. However, you need to learn the art of using them smoothly, as an abrupt application is where problems can occur.Sometimes dragging the rear brake while using the friction zone (throttle with some clutch) can help steady a very slow-moving motorcycle.

  46. Great article, great reminders. Thanks for all the info, I can never learn enough!

  47. I’ve been riding for 48 years. Over this time I have owned more than a few motorcycles. I think every one of them I dropped at least once because of not giving it enough gas when starting off. Every ride you get is a little different, so take the time to learn those differences.

  48. I’ve got three downs which all happened in my first two years of riding. First was after owning my bike for about 30 seconds, front brake in loose gravel on the side of the road while doing a u-turn. Second was putting my foot down into a patch of oil in a parking lot. Third was going slowly up a very steep driveway of deep, loose gravel and the back tire just dug into the loose gravel. I should have picked a better path. Each one was a learning experience!

  49. Back in 2011, I was 54 years old and just learning to ride. This incident occurred sometime soon after my safety course when I took my first fall at a red light intersection. At a very busy, multi-lane intersection I came to an easy stop positioned in the middle of my lane, not understanding at the time that the hump/rise I was on, in the middle of my line on the road would cause me to fall because neither of my feet would touch the pavement on either side of the bike. I frantically wobbled to catch my balance, not really knowing what to do and slowly my bike keeled over in what felt like surreal, slow motion. It was so embarrassing at the time and funny now.There were about five really nice automobile drivers and their passengers who all rushed out of their cars to make sure I was okay and to help me lift my bike up. They even directed traffic and offered to transport my bike and so many other things. The bike got it’s first scratches, but I was not injured at all, except for my pride. I will never forget how so many came to my rescue. I got back into the saddle and continued to ride.Don’t ride the hump or rise in the road.

  50. I first started riding in 1991 on a 1984 Harley Sportster, which is like riding a seahorse (very tall). I went to get gas at the gas station. I pull up all cool, excited, and nervous.I totally forgot the kickstand and laid the bike down propping the bike against my ankle in slow motion against the gas pump curb ledge.I couldn’t lift the bike back up so a fellow at the gas station helped me up right the scooter. Nothing hurt but my pride.I learned to step off the bike now if that should ever happen. I also have watched multiple videos how to pick up a bike by myself (should that happpen—hopefully never again).

  51. I have been riding for five years now but always learning every time I raise the kickstand up. On one of our local rides we decided to stop at a friend’s house for a minute and rest. In the excitement of seeing our friends, I failed to study the slope of the driveway and left my bike in neutral. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was about to go backwards and over on my Springfield before lifting my leg off the seat. After a quick hand brake to steady myself and the bike, I remembered one of my first lessons in MSF class, never leave your bike in neutral on sloped ground! Thanks for writing this great article!

  52. Jamming on the front brake while bars are not straight and you are on sand or gravel—been there, done that. Lesson learned.

  53. l dropped mine on a motorcycle tour under the Mileu Viaduct in France. As l pulled into the parking lot and stopped the bike, and tried to put my left foot down, l discovered that the ground sloped away and over we went. Nothing damaged for either the bike or me. But it was a wake-up call to check the ground where l want to stop and see if it slopes so l can put the high side foot down first.

  54. When backing out of a parking spot with a fully loaded sport tourer, back up far enough to allow yourself enough room to maneuver without cranking the handlebars to full lock. I backed my FJR just far enough that by cranking the handlebars to full lock, I thought I could drive on out of the parking lot. Instead, I dropped it. If I remember right, there was a bit of a dip or depression and when the front wheel went down into it, I dumped it. Scratched the side bag and bruised my pride. Three guys helped me pick the bike up, though. Backing another foot or two would have saved me that experience. I’ve also tried number 4; works very well.

  55. I bought a used 250cc Honda after my motorcycle class. One night I didn’t put it away thinking I was going back out, got a shower and went out in my bare feet to “put it away real quick.” Adrenaline took over instead of common sense. Yep, over I went in the grass, slo-motion, leg under the bike. My nephew just happened to stop by in his truck and calmly said, “Whatcha doing down there?” Sooo embarrassed! Never, ever again do I go near my bikes without proper footwear.

  56. Honor the 4-second rule to give yourself time to react without making a panic stop. It doesn’t take much to lose traction with the pavement: a loose stone, uneven or broken pavement, oil, antifreeze or diesel fuel, or wet pavement after a long, dry spell. Once you loose traction, there isn’t much you can do to recover. I put a bike down this way, going less than 20 mph. I learned a valuable lesson

  57. The first four years of riding I dropped it at least once a season. I was so proud the fifth year, no drops, until one day, washing it in my driveway (slightly unlevel)— I was washing it—turned the handlebars and it fell over on my new windshield! ARGH! But the worst was over, haven’t dropped it since! That’s four years!

  58. Darn it if it didn’t happen to me twice. I’ve moved to a new house with a different pattern for removing my bike from the garage and get turned around. “When you stop, T off the bars.” DUH! Thanks for the reminder. Appreciate all the tips I’ve gained over the years and here’s to NOT dropping again.

  59. Going down a sloped apron from a parking lot into a street at almost parallel to that street. Newbie dumbness! Leasson learned: go perpendicular to the street and keep upright.

  60. My greatest problem is grabbing the front brake. I had to train myself to use the back brake almost exclusively in slow speed situations.

  61. Hi , I am really enjoying this online magazine and look forward to the next newsletter. Each article is so well written and inspiring it allows me to be a part of a bigger community without living in the states. I have a Ducati Monster 700, which has been my dream bike for as long as I can remember. I am looking to upgrade to the 1198 in the near future. I live amongst the glorious Adelaide hills with some really amazing roads to explore and open up on. Woman motorcycle riders don’t have many groups in Adelaide that I can find, but I hope this changes one day. Thanks for allowing me up feel like a majority!

  62. I was on a weekend solo trip to Maryland when I dropped my bike. I missed my turn and went down a little ways to turn around. This is where I made my mistake. When turning I ended up at a slight right angle on a small hill. Well needless to say I needed to go left so I turn my wheel and applied some throttle and it was just too far turned to the left and down it went. I ride a Suzuki C50 and I’m 60 years old. My knees are not the best. I was on a deserted country road and used the technique (thank you engine guard too) with a little variation to get “Bob” up. Got him going with no damage to me or my bike.

  63. First, I’m sad to see the photo of the Suzuki TU250X as an illustration of a dropped bike—that’s my main ride!A little bit of advice, though, from an experienced bike-dropper (at least four times that I can remember): When the bike falls, causing levers, mirrors, or whatever to get bent out of shape, be sure to get them back where they belong or replace them. When I bent the gearshift lever on my bike on a recent drop, I failed to pull it back out far enough because I was afraid of breaking it off. This put my foot in an awkward position for shifting. I didn’t think much about it—until my knee started hurting whenever I got back from a ride. Turns out that this unnatural foot position messed up tendons and muscles in the front of my leg, and since they’re attached to the knee … well, my physical therapist has me grounded for at least six weeks! Nooooo! It’s summer!

  64. Well I ride my bike to the end of drive. I live on a gravel lane. Was gonna take a li’l ride, then decided to grab the mail out of the mailbox on street. Pulled along side the mailbox, and without getting off or putting down the kickstand, I leaned towards box to open it and get the mail. Well, you know the rest of the story—over my Softail went. Thanks to the post for stopping the fall. It’s all ok except for my pride.

  65. Fairly experienced rider here and I just dropped the bike on my last two-week bike trip while visiting Crater Lake. It occurred while backing up my bike out of a parking spot. First, there was a very slight angle down which neither me or my riding partner noticed. It was a very deceiving one! And second, there was a bit of gravel in the parking spot. While backing up I needed to use a little extra force to get the bike moving backwards. And although the first couple steps were fine, on the third step my foot slipped under the gravel and down the bike went! Fortunately neither me or the bike were hurt except a couple new scratches on the fairing. Dropping a bike happens!

    1. Glad you’re ok Lisa. Backing up on a gravel slope almost needs its own skills story!

Scroll to Top