TOTW: Let gravity help with your centre stand

The riding tips on these pages are my personal opinion about matters related to motorcycle riding. They are not the official position of any organization, and are for your consideration only. They are not hard and fast rules, they should not necessarily be applied in all circumstances, and they should not be applied without thinking. Always use your judgement and take all current safety factors into account while riding. You are responsible for your riding, not anyone else (especially me). These tips were originally published by a motorcycle riding course, called “Tip of the Week” (the reason for the TOTW in the titles).

What’s the problem?

A centre stand, standard equipment on many bikes and an available option on many more, is a valuable accessory. It greatly simplifies maintenance chores such as chain lubrication and tire inspection, it allows you to perform other checks such as fluid levels more easily, and it can make your parked bike more stable on soft surfaces.

Despite the advantages, some riders rarely or never use their centre stand, especially on larger bikes. The most common reason they give is “I’m not strong enough to lift this heavy bike onto the stand.” They may even have experienced dropping their bike while trying to get it onto or off of the centre stand.

Even riders who are able to get their bike onto the centre stand often do so with improper technique — technique that can be dangerous, risking muscule injury or risking loss of balance and a dropped bike. We have even heard of such riders being injured by being under the bike when it fell.

The solution

With practice, most riders should be able to get most bikes onto their centre stand by using proper technique. Wrong technique is trying to use your muscles to pull the bike up onto the stand. Correct technique uses the stand as a lever against the ground, and you focus on pushing down on this lever using your body weight, so that gravity — and possibly some muscle — does the work.

The key to getting a bike safely off its centre stand without dropping it is to do so while seated on the bike.

Getting your bike onto the centre stand

Before we go through the correct technique in detail, you need to locate two important features on your bike.

Centre stand pedal. Your centre stand will have a bar attached to its left leg, projecting out from underneath the bike, and ending in a flat knurled surface somewhere near the left footpeg or gear shift lever. This is the pedal you will stand on to push down on the centre stand.

Frame lift point. You need to find a handhold on the left side of your bike near the underside of the seat, slightly to the rear of centre, that you can safely grab with your hand and pull up firmly. The handhold must not be the seat or a part of the plastic body work — it should be sturdy steel firmly attached to the bike’s frame, or be the frame itself. Bikes designed for centre stands will have a recessed handle specifically for this purpose, usually integrated into the underside of the seat, near the rear. On other bikes, you will have to locate a suitable spot on the frame.

Here is the proper technique for getting your bike onto its centre stand. Perform the following steps in this order. (This is actually much easier to do than to read about.)

1. Get Ready. Locate the two parts described above. Have your bike on its side stand with the handlebars straight and the steering not locked. The engine should be off and the transmission in neutral so the bike can roll. Make sure you have 50 cm. or more of clear space in front of, and behind, your bike, since it will move when going on and off the stand.

2. Body Position. Stand beside the bike on the left side. Left hand on the left handlebar grip, right hand in the frame lift point, and right foot on the centre stand pedal.

3. Touch Down. Gently press down on the centre stand pedal until you feel the centre stand leg nearest you touch the ground. Note: the two legs of the centre stand are separated by 20 cm. or so. Since the bike is presently leaning toward you, the far leg of the centre stand will still be in the air when the near leg touches the ground.

4. Find the Flat Spot. Holding the left handlebar with your left hand and the frame lift point with your right hand, gently push the bike away from you until it is standing upright, perfectly vertical. At the same time, keep pushing gently down on the centre stand pedal with your right foot. Feel for the point when both feet of the centre stand touch the ground. We call this the “flat spot.”

5. Stand on the Pedal. Push down hard, with your right foot, on the centre stand pedal, hard enough to lift yourself right off the ground. Use your left hand on the handlebar to keep the bike under control but do not try to pull it backward by the handlebar. On some bikes, the downward force of your weight alone may be enough to roll the bike up on to the centre stand.

6. Add Some Muscle. If necessary, pull upward on the frame lift point at the same time. However, do not try to lift the bike with your arm muscles. You are pulling up on the frame primarily to brace yourself and increase the downward pressure on the centre stand pedal. Let gravity and your body weight do most of the work.

7. Let it Roll Back. When you have enough downward pressure on the centre stand pedal, the bike will roll up and backward onto the centre stand. Use your left hand to keep it balanced and under control but don’t try to pull it backward.

8. Finish Up. Once the bike is on the centre stand you can turn the front wheel and lock the steering.

Getting Your Bike Off the Centre Stand

Getting your bike down from the centre stand is much easier. There is a risk, however, of dropping the bike if you try to get it off the stand while standing beside it. Here is a procedure that should work well for you:

1. Get Ready. Get your riding gear on and get on the bike. Unlock the steering and straighten the front wheel. Make sure the side stand is up, and make sure the transmission is in neutral. Leave the engine off for now. Hold both handlebars, and cover your front brake lever with your fingers.

2. Rock Forward. Pressing the balls of both feet against the ground, rock the bike forward until it rolls off the centre stand. (With a large, heavy bike you may have to do small back-and-forth motions to build up enough inertia for it to roll forward off the stand.) Make sure you keep the handlebars straight as the bike moves forward.

3. Brake and Balance. Keeping both feet on the ground to maintain balance, smoothly apply the front brake to catch and halt the bike’s forward motion. You will need to practice this a few times. You must let the bike move forward far enough to clear the stand, without letting it roll away from you. As soon as you feel that the bike has passed the “tipping point” where it is going to roll forward off the stand, where “it’s going forward and I can’t stop it now”, begin applying the front brake. You should be able to bring the bike to a smooth and balanced stop in 20 to 50 cm.

4. Finish Up. You are now ready to move off. Check again that the side stand is up and go through your normal FINE-C starting procedure.

Summary

The key to getting your bike on its centre stand is to use your body weight against the lever formed by the stand, not to try lifting the bike or pulling it backward. With practice, most riders will be able to get even a large bike onto its centre stand with safety and control.


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