Most of us have witnessed this scenario at least once in our motorcycling life: someone drops his or her motorcycle, and three or four people scramble over to help muscle it upright. But have you ever seen someone actually upright a motorcycle alone? It can be done.
Carol Youorski, a BMW rider from Atlanta, is arguably the first woman to demonstrate how she can lift a downed motorcycle. For years, she traveled to rallies around the country showing people how to do it.
More recently, Harley-Davidson employees have been demonstrating the technique at their womens events held in Sturgis and Daytona Bike Week as well as at dealership Garage Parties.
The presentation is not only an attention grabber, it is a huge confidence builder for all motorcyclists. If you have an opportunity to be part of a demonstration jump at it. Once youve been talked through how to lift a motorcycle, youll never fear dropping your bike again. Because fear of dropping it is mostly about how youre going to get it back up—as well as the damage youll do it.
As soon as Carol, a 5-foot-3-inch 118-pound woman, gets into position beside her downed 2000 BMW GS 1150 (one of motorcycles she uses in her demos), a crowd gathers. How can this tiny woman possibly lift a 600-pound motorcycle all by herself? Carol proceeds to show the curious onlookers how she does it explaining that anyone can do it regardless of size. “Height and weight are only factors in where you place your body on your motorcycle,” Carol says. “For example, a person whos taller has to put the center of his or her rear-end more into the middle of the seat, whereas a smaller person has to be more on the edge.”
This is just one factor in the positioning of ones body enabling him or her to upright a motorcycle. Also important is feet have to be close together and arms must be as close to the body as possible when executing the lift. Then, instead of one “heave-ho” type of a lift, Carol says baby steps work better in pushing the motorcycle up to its correct position. “Its all in the legs, not your back.”
Is there a limit to what size motorcycle can be lifted this way? Its not so much about size, but more about whether the motorcycle has a low center of gravity (this makes it easier) and if it has saddlebags. Some sort of bag or bar on the side of the bike preventing it from being completely over on its side makes it easier to upright.
Surprisingly, sportbikes are the hardest motorcycles to lift this way. Thats because they tend to have a high center of gravity and do not have anything between the pavement and frame. If a bike like this falls over, try to slip a piece of wood, a bag, or something that can be shimmied under the side of the bike to get if off the pavement a bit. Most big touring motorcycles have hard or soft bags so they are easier to lift this way.
When Carol does her “dropped bike demo” at rallies, she first shows how its done, then asks for volunteers to give it a try. She likes using people of different sizes to explain how the lift is modified for each body type. She particularly likes demonstrating to women. “I love to encourage other women that it can be done. I owe so much of what Ive learned to the many women whove encouraged me to try. Now its payback time. I want to show women that they can do it.”
Its recommended you wear gloves and boots when lifting a bike. “Its all about confidence. “Sandals wont give you the confidence you need to lift the bike,” Carol says. She also suggests using this method as a last resort. It there is help around, ask for it.
10 Steps for Picking Up a Fallen Motorcycle
These steps are for a bike that has fallen on its left side.
1. Hit the engine cut off switch. Make sure the motor is off.
2. Turn the gas off using the petcock on a carbureted bike if fuel is leaking.
3. Make sure the bike is in gear if you can get to it. If it is not in gear and you cant access the shifter to put it in gear, the technique becomes more difficult because the bike could roll, but it can still be done. Youll have to have find the balance point of the motorcycle between the two tires and leverage it as you lift.
4. Standing with your butt toward the seat, stoop down, and with your right hand grab the left grip.
5. When you grab the grip, pull it until it is as close to the tank as possible. With your left hand find something sturdy to grab hold of under the seat. Dont grab the seat. Its too flimsy to support the weight of your lift. Grabbing the bike by the frame is the best bet. The closer your left hand is to your body, the better.
6. Place your butt midway on the edge of the seat. This is crucial. The placement of your butt too high or too low on the seat will not give you the leverage angle. You are pushing the bike with your butt and upper legs. You will have to pull up with your arms a bit, but mostly you will be pushing the bike up with your legs.
7. You must have good traction under your feet or they will slip. If there is gravel under your feet, sweep it away with your boots. Same for grass.
8. Start pushing your butt against the seat using baby steps to force it upright. The hardest part will be the beginning. Once the bike starts to lift off the ground, youll gain momentum to help you execute the rest of the lift.
9. Once you have the bike up, carefully put the kickstand down and lower the bike to it. If you cant get the kickstand with the heel of your boot, turn your body carefully toward the front of the bike and grab both grips, then put the bike on the kickstand or center stand.
10. The process is the same if the bike is on its right side. Your hands are reversed of course. It is easier to get it into gear. Remember to put the kickstand out first so that you can ease the bike onto it once it is upright.
If you feel like there is no way this bike is going up like this, then move the position of your butt. If that doesnt work, try changing the flex of your knees. Carol says she tries not to flex her knees too much to begin with. Often when you get the angle just right the bike goes up like its made of paper. Adrenaline tends to push the bike over the other side if youre not careful.
To read more about Carol Youorski, visit PinkRibbonRides.com.