But what about when a biker stops, what should a rider know about parking their motorcycle?
In this article, Clutch and Chrome will cover considerations every rider should make before parking their bike in a variety of situations. Unlike any other vehicle, bikers have an understandable level of concern over returning to their motorcycle and finding it exactly as they left it, whether parked for a few hours or overnight.
Once a rider walks away from his pride and joy, it can fall over from being poorly parked, get knocked over by another vehicle or worse, stolen from the very spot it was left. Then there are what could be called the self-inflicted wounds of parking it incorrectly or worse, illegally.
Due to the pretty in-depth discussion just around parking, we’ll leave tips on preventing motorcycle theft for another article.
Riders can save themselves quite a few headaches or even heartbreaks using a little caution and certainly thinking ahead. Admittedly, circumstances can make this a challenge. If a rider is attending a much-anticipated motorcycle event or arriving home after a long days ride, they may be ahead of themselves, mentally out of the saddle and through the doorway even while still parking.
The most common parking mistake is pulling into a space which is hard to get out of. It may seem obvious but even the more seasoned riders occasionally get themselves in this parking pickle. Getting out of a spot could be difficult for several reasons; the motorcycle is on the wrong side of an incline, the ground doesn’t allow for solid footing or wear and tear on the parking surface creates a ‘tire-trap’.
Very few motorcycles have a reverse gear, instead requiring the power of a rider’s legs to push the bike back out of a parking space. This is one of the many reasons seat height is such a key question when choosing a motorcycle. If a rider’s feet don’t rest firmly on the ground, they don’t have complete control over the motorcycle and maneuvering out of a parking space isn’t only difficult, it can be downright dangerous.
So what parking spots are most likely to turn into the Venus flytrap of motorcycles?
Tip# 1. Avoid any type of incline or surface with heavy oil deposits
Some streets slope to direct rain water into gutters which are usually embedded in the sidewalk. Laziness, or bikers just not thinking ahead will ride straight into this kind of parking spot, usually relieved they’ve found a space on a congested street.
The fun begins when the biker wants to leave and has to push their 600, 700 or 800 pound motorcycle backwards up the incline. It could be made difficult because the incline is too steep or the road’s surface is slick and preventing a firm footing. Slippery surfaces can make the mildest of inclines a challenge to move a motorcycle over.
Aside from the embarrassment of a tough biker struggling over what appears to be a baby hill, the situation is one of the more dangerous predicaments. Slipping feet or moving the motorcycle erratically can lead to it tipping over. If a rider is fortunate enough the falling motorcycle avoids the vehicles parked either side, they still need to contend with lifting their bike back onto the kickstand.
If a rider finds themselves unable to physically back out of a parking spot, the safest solution is to swallow the biker-pride and ask for help to push the motorcycle out. Naturally, the best person would be a fellow rider, however if asking a stranger find someone with some motorcycle experience. Regardless of who is helping, the Samaritan needs clear direction to place their hands on either the forks or the very center of the handlebars. This will focus their energy along the center of the motorcycle and prevent the force accidentally directing the bike or worse, pushing it over. Avoid having force on a motorcycle’s headlight, fairing or anything clipped onto the forks or handlebars.
This solution can also be used when parked on a non-paved lot. Many motorcycle events or concerts will direct attendees to park in a field and while the ground may feel firm enough at the time, dew or rain may make it otherwise. A tire only needs to wedge itself into the ground slightly to make that streamline motorcycle feel like a million pound weight.
Of course the best way to avoid any of the above situations is to either back into a parking space or ensure the motorcycle can be ridden out in a forward fashion.
Tip# 2. Rock away those parking blues
There are rare moments when a rider realizes the surface is somehow catching the tire. It could be a small crater, dip or soft piece of earth. With a calm head and good throttle control it is possible to gently rock the motorcycle out of this momentary trap. As the motorcycle reaches the edge of whatever is preventing it from moving out, pull in the clutch, allow the weight of the motorcycle to fall back and create a rocking motion. Rinse and repeat until the motorcycle is rocked out.
It’s best to keep the motorcycle completely straight when attempting this.
Tip# 3. Leaning may be good for tight corners but not so good for a parked motorcycle, so be prepared with a puck
While on the topic of parking on grass, it’s the biggest offender for kickstands sinking into the ground and taking the motorcycle with it. Not surprisingly then, consideration of where the bike’s kickstand is resting is important to ensure the motorcycle remains upright.
Every part of the world has its own journey to a sinking feeling; hot weather, cold weather and rural areas all deliver hot asphalt, soft dirt or other non-paved surface which may lead to the kickstand bury in the ground. To counter this, bikers should always have some sort of kickstand puck or pad. Both are the same thing with different names and simply put are flat objects, usually made of material that can withstand the motorcycle’s weight focused on the narrow end of a kick stand. This simple object, which costs as little $10 will help prevent that expensive motorcycle from tipping over if the kickstand does indeed sink into the soft ground.
An ‘on-the-fly’ solution can be as simple a crushed soda or beer can as well as a piece of wood. Riders can buy pads that permanently affix to the motorcycle while others clip on or just rest under the kickstand. As with anything in life, it’s easier to be in control of the situation and have a kickstand pad or puck stored on the motorcycle rather than hunting down something nearby that will hopefully take the needed weight.
Tip #4. Not all lots are created equal so consider carefully where parking a motorcycle
It may be hard to believe, not everyone in the world loves motorcycles as much as the readers of Clutch and Chrome. Devastating to consider this we know and it’s most seen in limitations where motorcycles can and cannot be parked.
Riders should study any area being considered as parking carefully. Know the city and county rules as well as those of any private properties such as condominium and apartment complexes being visited. Some ban motorcycles all together. As for signs, they aren’t always obvious and with the numerous automated garages, a rider can only find out they shouldn’t have parked somewhere when paying to leave. That’s the best case scenario of bad parking, with towing being the worst.
Because a scooter or motorcycle is parked in a particular area doesn’t necessarily guarantee other bikes can park in that same area as municipal zoning laws are strange and property owners can make whatever exceptions they like.
Finding a place to park the motorcycle is only the first step to a rider feeling comfortable about leaving their bike behind. If parking alone, make sure the motorcycle is to the rear of the space, giving drivers the earliest opportunity to see the spot is taken.
Parking two motorcycles in one spot brings its own concerns. Some parking lots won’t allow it, wanting both motorcycles to pay for parking. If riders can however, a generous amount of space should be given to the spaces either side.
When parking in an area designated for motorcycles, riders cruise a fine balance of not taking too much room but leaving enough to easily leave when needed. It seems every biker has experienced ‘that guy’ parking next to them and making it more than difficult to get out.
Finally for this parking tip, we seem to be in a crossroads of parking technology with the payment choices going from punching in a parking space number to the smartphone apps which uses a license plate to track who’s paid for the parking. If using the first method, we recommend taking a picture of the receipt before putting in on whatever part of the motorcycle a rider likes to put it. This helps in two fashions; first it’s a record of how much time has been paid for and helps prevent the dreaded parking ticket and second, if someone removes the paid parking ticket from the motorcycle there is proof to help dispute any resulting parking fine.
Tip# 5. General parking tips
If parking on a street, leave the motorcycle an angle to the curb which will make it easier to pull out into traffic when leaving.
Always leave the motorcycle in gear when parking, preventing it from moving when getting on and off or if anyone bumps into the bike. If a curb is available, certainly leave the motorcycle parked with the tire against the curb.