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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I use "Ground Handling" to refer to moving motorcycles around with the engine off.

It's easy to ride a big motorcycle in a straight line out on a highway. It's U-turning in a garage, backing it up in a gravel parking lot, or parking on a slope where someone who has bought more bike than they're ready for is likely to get in trouble.

They really don't give any tips on ground handling in the MSF course, so maybe some riders here can offer some.


Mine include:

Make sure your kickstand is up. Catch it on something and you're gonna have trouble.

If you can, sit on your bike and paddle with your feet. If you can't chances are the bike's too tall for you anyway

Beware the pegs!

Get into NEUTRAL, don't just hold the clutch in. Makes the bike significantly easier to roll.

When rolling/peddling backwards, look up, out, at the horizon, not down. (same as skiing and every other sport--- look down, you GO down...)

Off the bike, always lean the bike TOWARDS you, never away.

Ask for and get help. It's no crime to have a bystander or co-rider give you a little push, esp if you've found yourself on an ever so slight incline.

But be VERY specific about WHAT they can push on, and the direction or they'll shred your mirrors, fairing, or push you over!

Park facing out or in a pull-thru spot.

#1. Plan ahead.


What can you more experienced riders add to this list?
 

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Hero's are Remembered, Legends Never Die
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Good tips

I do disagree with being able to move a bike sitting on it, not always the case or even an option. Both my Wife and daughter are only 5'-0" Daughter rides my SV650 on the Street, I have shaved the seat and have adjustable lowering links and she can still only tip toe the bike. There is no bike she can flat foot except small cruisers (this is her third bike) I also ride dirt and adventure, Even with a 34" inseam I have trouble moving my Dirt and Adventure bikes while seated.

Key is to learn to move the bikes while not seated and enjoy the ride. The misconception is that you need to be able to flat foot a bike to ride comfortable or well.

I was at a track day, one girl (In advanced) they actually held her bike up and pushed her to get out of the pits as she could not touch with any kind of stability.
 

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Adding to the tips mentioned, I always keep at least 1 finger poised over the front brake lever whenever possible, especially when doing a 3-5 point turnaround in a narrow driveway & cars are parked all around.

IMO if we're talking about new riders learning proper ground handling techniques, I agree with the OP, a new rider shouldn't be riding a bike too tall to flat-foot. Which in turn also makes the bike easier to ground handle. Yes OJ that is more of a guideline than a hard rule, and sometimes some people just have to tuff it out with a overly-tall seat.

Another good tip,, if you are not in a big hurry to move the bike then by all means let it cool down if you've just ridden it! Contacting a hot exhaust pipe can add insult to injury if your already struggle-pushing your bike around!
 

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Good tips so far.

Be careful when parking the motorcycle. Think ahead. It's much easier to use the engine to move the bike than your legs. Plan accordingly.

Don't be afraid to slowly duck-walk if the quarters are tight.
 

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Gone.
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I almost never sit on a bike when moving it around without power. One hand on the bars and the other on the seat. Push on the seat to go backwards, pull on the seat and push on the bars to go forward. Both hands on the bars if you want to go forwards and get up some steam, like if you're shoving a bike up on a lift.

It's a good idea to feel where the balance point is first if you've never moved a particular bike before, but it is all about balance. I've seen a rather short female technician who had no problem pushing a fully loaded Ultra Glide up on a lift. Probably close to 900 pounds of bike.
 

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I got a big cruiser several years ago ... and initially moving it around with the engine off was dicey. Its mostly about having confidence with the bike, knowing how to control it - and KEEP it balanced.

The single biggest factor that helped to stabilize the bike - was the front brake. A little bit of front brake, used at the RIGHT times, can do a world of good. The front brake is especially handy if the bike starts to roll backwards by accident (you are on a slight hill), or if the handlebars are turned a little bit compared to the direction of the frame. In general, it pays to be pretty careful when turning the bike.

Guys who work on bikes a lot ... get very good at moving them around without power.

I dont have a problem with duck walking the bike. But to be honest, if Im sitting on it, I usually fire up the engine anyway. and then just be super-sensitive with the clutch and the friction zone ... you can move your bike forwards by just inches once youve got the feel of the clutch.

dT
 

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Good advice. I remember when my Savage broke down on the side of the road (front pulley went) and I could not ride her home.I I was only down the street a little bit from home. I was able to coast her home till I got to a hill. Then I got off and tried to push her home. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would have been. Even though the bike only weights 400 pounds soaking wet, I had almost dropped it trying to push it by myself. Ended up leaving her on the side of the road so I could go get some help.

Parking the bike is also an issue for newbies. If you are in a lot with double rows, I always look for the one that I can pull into so I'm facing out when it's time to go, even if it means walking a bit farther. If its only a single row, then this is where your u-turn skills come into place. I look for the ones where there's atleast three empty spots. This makes the uturn wider and a little bit less scary. If there's only one or two, then I duck walk the u-turn or even k-turn it. I may look funny, but I love my bike and don't want to drop her. You are better off taking off forward in a parking lot, whether car or bike. When you back out, you are taking more risks. People drive crazy in parking lots.

I made the mistake once of parking nose down on a hill at my sisters house and having to back the bike up on an incline. Not an easy thing to do. I won't do that again!!
 

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Another word of advice, watch out for the saddlebags, and make sure the passenger foot pegs are up. I've gotten my foot stuck under the passengers peg, I forgot to kick it back up from the previous ride with hubby. That can startle you and cause you to drop the bike.
 

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"Ended up leaving her on the side of the road so I could go get some help.

Parking the bike is also an issue for newbies. If you are in a lot with double rows, I always look for the one that I can pull into so I'm facing out when it's time to go"

... VERY smart idea to get help - when trying to push a big bike up a hill. I would do the same thing! Sometimes "swallowing your pride" is by far the best choice :)

... when parking. YES - very good idea to back the bike into a spot. This is especially true if you happen to be parking on a hill. If you make the mistake of riding down the hill, and then nosing the bike into the parking sport (nose forwards), it can be very hard to get out. So yes, it's a smart strategy to alwats have your rear wheel pointed at the curb :)

dT
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #10
bump.

Be SURE and put that kickstand up.

It's waay too easy to trip yourself or catch something on it when rolling a bike around.

Keeping one hand on the brake can be CRITICAL at times, esp when trying to load a bike onto a truck, ramp, etc.
 

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I have a very big cruiser. it is 730 pounds off the dealer floor, and more when the accessories are on the bike.

when I first got the bike, I was half-terrified when I tried to wheel it with the motor OFF. that was mainly because I didn't have the "feel" of the bike yet ... I wasn't able to recognize the weight & balance of the bike.

I do agree that duck-walking the bike is a pretty safe way to move them around. but it only works on relatively flat ground. you will never push a heavy bike up a moderate hill that way.

the SINGLE biggest improvement for the handling of the bike - smart use of the FRONT BRAKE. the risk on a big bike is that the front wheel will turn suddenly to the left or the right, and the bike will "collapse" onto the ground. to STOP this from happening, keep your right hand (gingerly) on that front brake and stop the front wheel from turning.

after I had the bike for a while, there were no problems any more. I had adjusted so that I could feel the "balance point" of the bike ... and it was fairly easy to move around.

good luck,
dT
 

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This Spring (last weekend) when I first took the bike down off the lift, I took MYSELF by surprise, as I moved the bike just a few feet.

I always seek out the balance point and then maintain it as I move it, but THIS particular time, it surprised me, and I almost dumped it!

Someone mentioned little (small) girls moving big bikes. I've seen that!! Pretty impressive, if you ask ME!! But then again, I've seen an 80 plus year-old man (5'5" and 130 lbs) moving a fully-dressed Goldwing, into a VERY tight spot (backing up) and get off. The bike had a "Reverse" gear, and Hydraulic lifts (like on Indy race cars), for a "Center Stand."

-Soupy
 

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Discussion Starter #13
bump

It's always best if you can hang onto both handlebars while moving a bike around --- able to grab that front brake if necessary.

Sometimes it's one hand on the bars, and the other on the seat, or chicken bar.

Make sure if the seat has any sort of backrest that it's locked, can't move, before you use IT to try and hold the bike up. How do I know this?!
 

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--

I think most comments have been covered. Some are simply "what works best for you," which is true. One note I didn't see is that if you are parked on a slope of any kind, leave it in gear so it won't roll.

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I think most comments have been covered. Some are simply "what works best for you," which is true. One note I didn't see is that if you are parked on a slope of any kind, leave it in gear so it won't roll.

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That wasn't necessary on my Electra Glide but I darn sure better with the Indian. That's one bad habit now I hope I never do.
 

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Ace Tuner
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It's a drag

Being the main and sometimes only service tech in the shop I've pushed bikes farther than I can estimate in and out of the shop over the years.
Most of the time it's both hands on the bars. It's all about balance.

One thing no one has mentioned, dragging a bike around while it's on the center stand. (If it has one).

There is a knack to it. Once you get the hang of it, no problem. You'll need to be on concrete.
You just gotta be careful to never drag forward! If you're dragging to the left, turn the bar to the right. And always pull to the rear at least a little.
You can spin one around in a very tight spot by dragging it. There is a weight limit though.... No Gold Wings.

If you want to try it, have a buddy close by the first few times so he can catch it, just in case.
 

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Yeah, BMW's spin around very nicely. Really came in handy when I had my K100. But like most everything, there's a slight knack or trick to getting bikes up on those center stands to begin with. So most never use them unless on very small bikes and to a large degree they have just stop putting them on bikes anyway.
 

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On my Basic Handling Skills (BHS) course - taken before the learner theory course, pass both then you can go riding with an "L" plate - they also showed you how to move a bike. They said, if you have confidence moving a bike around you will have more confidence when it comes to sitting on it.

Straight ahead or left hand turn, hold both grips, body about alongside the front of the seat, body square to the bike facing forward, elbows slightly bent. You can control the bike with both hands and also as you pull your left arm back if you want to turn left you can extend your right arm as the right hand grip moves away from you.

Turning right, hold both bars, move your body forward, body square to the bike facing forward, up alongside the tank, this allows you to straighten your left arm as you turn your bars to the right and you seem to be better placed to lean some of the bike's weight against your hip to control it as you turn it to the right it'll tend to lean to its left into you).

Backwards, hold the left grip, put your right hand on the seat, turn your body so you are facing the bike about at the front of the seat, walk by bringing your left foot up to your right foot them moving the right foot away to the right - shuffle, don't cross your feet. That gives you control of the back of your bike when going backwards.
 
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