Rider Control When Stopped – or Not (Video)

motorcycle tip overHOW OFTEN DO YOU DROP YOUR MOTORCYCLE? I don’t mean crash it, although that would certainly be a pertinent answer. In this instance, I simply mean dropping it while you’ve stopped, or while riding very slowly. One example would be pulling up to a stop sign and putting your foot down on some loose sand, or wet leaves, or in some way losing traction under your foot, and then losing the bike as it falls over.

Another example would be putting down the kickstand while dismounting the bike only to find that the side stand wasn’t fully extended into its locked position, which leaves the bike unsupported as it falls over.

Or, as in the example in the photo above and in the video below, a friend (Lance) dropping his bike when the front tire got hung up in some soft sand, while riding slowly. We were on a 1600 mile, 5-day, Central and Northern California ride and were on our way to a National Forest campsite when the dirt road turned into soft sand.

He was not injured, nor was the bike damaged. And he demonstrated the attitude of a true professional: “Oh well, I’ll handle this better next time.” And when we headed back out of the forest the next morning, he had no problem with the same difficult spot in the dirt road.

I mentioned to Lance that it happens to many riders and it’s not a big deal (he considers himself a relatively new rider). It certainly has happened to me a number of times over the years and it usually just results in some momentary embarrassment, with no personal injury, although sometimes bike damage does occur.

But it left me wondering: How often does it really happen to other riders? And how many riders are willing to confess to momentary lapses of good control, in an otherwise non-threatening situation?

It doesn’t seem to take long for some beginning motorcyclists to consider themselves competent riders. I know I thought I was reasonable good within my first few thousand miles or so, back in the 70’s. But after several hundred thousand miles under my belt, and the recognition that I still consider I’m learning, I sometimes wonder how I survived those first years.

The point is that many riders consider themselves to be in good control of their bikes at all times. But the concept of letting it fall over while stopped, or nearly stopped, seems to belie such a notion – even if only for an instant.

Regardless, if you are willing to share such hapless moments on your own bike, please add your experiences below regarding how often you have found yourself picking up your motorbike after it tipped over when you were stopped, or almost stopped, or even just getting going….

118 thoughts on “Rider Control When Stopped – or Not (Video)

  • After a long, long break from biking I’ve taken up the sport again only I discoverd I had hell’va lot to learn about stopping and remaining upright. But with experience lessons were learnt and the incidence of falling over is fast approaching zero.

    One thing learnt after having my leg & foot trapped under the bike was that I could not lifting the bike to get my leg free. If the bike had, what we previously called “Crash Bars”, I would NOT have been trapped.

    ‘Crash Bars’ could prevent serious injury if you went down when mobile as hopefully the bike would slide without dragging you along beneath it.

  • All of my mishaps have been slow/no speed tipovers. I have never had what you would call a moving, high speed crash. Those are the ones you may not come back from. Mine have resulted in no damage or injury up to a broken ankle and another time a third-almost fourth-degree burn on my ankle. Fourth means the foot gets amputated. So although I haven’t been in the kind of crash that might have killed me, mine certainly have caused me some pain and suffering. So I would say, based on my experience, that anybody can keep a bike under control at anything over 15 mph. It’s at slow-speed or no-speed that separates the good riders from the not so good. I am becoming a good rider. I even took the MSF course, but experience is the best teacher. And the hardest.

  • My bike was dropped and I wasn’t even on it! I went to work early one morning and parked on a newly covered black top. When the sun came out later in the day the parking lot heated up the toe of the kickstand dug into the black top and down she goes.

  • More times than I’ll ever admit. One of the weirdest was when I came to a stop and got my left shoelace hooked to the shifter. I’ll never forget the stupid panicky feeling I had trying like crazy to get my foot free and down as she went over. Lesson learned – If I’m wearing shoes with laces I ALWAYS tuck the loops into my shoes.

  • Ls650 thumper fell over because of improper use ov my side stand tho only other times iv dropped my bike was in the snow…….regardless of experience we all lapse from time to time and we are always improving on are skill..

  • Stupid things happen to all of us. A momentary lapse…even when you aren’t moving. It’s always embarrassing, but you get over it. It’s good to mention such occasions as it reminds us to be careful when getting around motorcycles.

    Recall forgetting to un-lock my front forks, and over I went when attempting to turn. Glad I’d had had my helmet on since I banged my head when I fell. Realizing your (and other’s) mistakes and what to do to avoid them is the key. Forget ego.

  • Riding on a 50 F day that warmed up to 60 F. My friend and I stopped for coffee and I unzipped the pants leg on my bike pants. I forgot to zip them when we headed home. We pulled up to a stop light .. 4 lanes in all directions ,. When I put my foot down the pants leg now bell bottoms , caught the foot peg and over I went. My new Yamaha FJR and I looked like Laughin’s Artie Johnson on the tricycle. All my Hi-Viz and me ,,on the pavement. I have heard of shoe laces getting caught but not pants. I’ll never make that mistake again.

  • Losing footing, resulting in the motorcycle dropping is not all that frequent, but suspect based on my experience does occur due to the seemingly unavoidable or through inattention. I’ve dropped on 4 occasions, each of them seared in my mind due to the embarrassment. First one was an error in the kickstand not being fully extended while filling up, then trying to kick start it. When right over. Dah. Second time, ‘was backing up too fast into a descending incline. Third, was exhausted and was slowing to stop and was so tired that I didn’t pull in the clutch! And, the last and best was getting a new bike and after riding it home, hopping off it without the benefit of the kickstand. (I hardly suspect that I’m alone in the years that I’ve been riding.) Lessons learned: pay attention, take your time and sufficient breaks (especially if riding with friends).

  • I am an MSF instructor. Dumping the bike while stopped (or nearly stopped) is no surprise in the Basic Rider Course, but I have seen this happen in experienced courses as well. What I have observed most the time (as basic as this mistake is) is riders squeezing the front brake before the bars are square as they are coming to a stop. Embarrassing to be sure, for an experienced rider!

  • I was comuting on my 99 Goldwing in 90 degree humid Hawaiian weather with full safety gear- full face helmet, mesh/textile combo jacket, gloves, pants, 10″ Sidi boots- and it was 6 lanes of bumper to bumper, stop and go, rush hour traffic on the freeway moving at less than 5 miles an hour. I was half delerious from the heat and having a hell of a time balancing 900 lbs of bike on a long curved ramp from one highway to another and finally tipped over in slow motion. No damage to the bike or my body except for a bruised ego. Especially when the two pretty twenty – something girls in the truck behind me ran up saying “Let us help you Uncle!” ( “Uncle” is the local polite way to address older male strangers.) and helped me get my bike up and off to the side of the road! Lesson learned- don’t ride during rush hour when it’s hot! No matter how tempting it looks to ride in a t-shirt , shorts, and flip-flops, riding without full safety gear is not an option.

  • Last Saturday my scooter hydroplaned on me and I got thrown down. It had rained that day, and I wasn’t going fast (20-25) and I was approaching a red light. But it was still my fault, scooter got a scratched up, scraped my knee, and my knife opened in my back pocket and took a chunk out of my ass cheek. I also hurt my shoulder. Point is, yeah. It happens even when I thought I was being careful.

  • I drop my motorcycle every time that gravity catches me negligent in my responsibilities.

  • A few years back on my 2004 Honda. Shadow, I went for a ride on Xmas day to Orchard beach in the Bronx. It was a nice warm day it had rain/snowed a few days earlier so the roads were dry…as we pulled into the park we decided to get as close to the beach as possible to enjoy the day…I drove up in the walkways, past the handball courts looking to get on the “Boardwalk” area around the beach I overshot a place to cut through and had to make a u-turn on the grass to get back around…I sto took a look at the grass it look a little damp but solid so I started to make a low speed turn….as ingot in the grass the weight of the bike and the two of us snake the front tire deep into what was grass and soft soggy mud underneath it…we did a slow and I mean slow motion tumble over onto the grass and laid there laughing….yes I was a little embarrassed but my friend was ok, no damage to the bike just a little mud…which turned into a short ride home to get her cleaned off…the lady not the bike…lessened learned motorcycle + 2 people + wet muddy grass = dropped bike but a fun clean up later

  • Thanks for the comments, and the video! This summer, on day 2 of a week long trip, I was nearing my destination of Nelson BC after a great ride through the Southern Okanogan. I had ridden for 7 hours, and had stopped a few times along the trip, and had a lengthy lunch with an old friend.
    I was feeling a little tired, and thirsty, so I thought I’d pull over, stretch, have some water and finish up strong over the last 100KM. I pulled off at a U Turn outlet and slowly pulled towards the side, which looked like some sand on cement. As soon as my front tire touched the sand it sunk up to the rim and the bike slid slightly askew. It’s a Moto Guzzi Norge , and was loaded for the week. As the bike slid sideways, the weight came completely onto my left leg. The sinking feeling that I couldn’t hold it up took over and the bike was on the pavement. The damage was limited to a small scratch on the pannier, and my ego has since recovered. The unpredictable roads, approaches and maintenance of the highways make for some challenging riding conditions, but it’s always enjoyable. Keep the landings soft!

  • I drive an 88 wing. Before, a 86 wing. Been driving since 1961. The older i get, the heaver they get. Drop mine at least 5 times a year. No big deal. Except, now i have to wait for someone to help me get it up again. At 71, things don’t get up to easily anymore.. LOL!

  • Awesome Diane! Inspiring and encouraging. You’re the best of what riders should be; dedicated, honest and acknowledging that (to quote Uncle Ben in Spiderman) “with great power comes great responsibility.” 🙂 Ride on.

  • THANK YOU drDave ! I had quite a few quick thoughts going through my head as I thought back on my own experience learning how to ride. I was tempted to chastise Barry for his thoughtless comments about dropping your bike, and then I thought it wasn’t worth my time. BUT since you have opened the door for me, lets go !

    I agree with the 1st part. A friend of mine is selling her bike simply because she is not comfortable with riding – doesn’t matter what kind of bike. There are those who just shouldn’t ride.

    Barry makes me think he has ridden since he was 3 -that’s all well and good, but I STARTED riding when I was 59 ! Yes! I made a ton of mistakes, and I fell a lot. Thank God none of my friends had Barry’s attitude. I heard one of my riding companions tell another woman “she has fallen, sure, but she just keeps on getting right back up”.

    Anyway, I now have 41 out of 48 states, and 50k miles, under my belt, where I rode my own there and back again. No trailering. Wonder if Barry can claim that fame – and I did it in 7 years. One of my biggest lessons? Respect your bike at all times, and its power to bite you right in the *** when you disrespect her.

  • Barry’s first section makes good sense; not eveyone can or should be a rider. . after that, not so much. Putting your foot into an unseen pothole, hitting a bit of gravel on a turn; it’s not just a matter of a flawed rider, but unpredictably flawed riding conditions. I don’t know anyone. . .anyone who has not dropped a bike a few times. Displaying good judgment and good balance does not make you invincible and any illusion of safety for those reasons is just that. .an illusion.

    As far as the last part, Barry, you’re lucky that you haven’t wound up as a rear bumper ornament on the back of some semi, while you try to Top Gun some normal bike owner who is unfortunate enough to be in your macho zone. Take a lesson yourself Barry, and live smarter and longer. You’ve got a powerful bike; be humble and respectful that you are the must vulnerable part of it.

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