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Imagine riding a big Harley. Something like the Road Glide Ultra.
You must have noticed this…
When you are on the move, you hardly feel the weight. But the moment you slow down or stop, the bike feels super heavy.
If you use your motorcycle for daily commuting, you’ll need to get used to walking the motorcycle. Basically, it’s the technique of moving the bike without power.
The good news is with the right tricks and proper practice, walking with a heavyweight Hulk isn’t that difficult.
Tips for Walking a Heavy Motorcycle
You might have seen mechanics handle unwieldy bikes as easily as handling a pet Saint Bernard.
Trust me, without the right amount of practice, it’s not so easy. Especially when you’re a short rider tackling a behemoth on a sloped surface.
With a light bike, pushing or paddling it with your feet while sitting on it is one way of moving it forward.
(I guess the official name for this is “duck walking” a motorcycle. So if you come across this term, don’t think it has to do with actual ducks.)
While there is nothing wrong with “duck walking”, it proves that the rider isn’t confident about handling the bike.
But that’s not so easy with a heavy cruiser.
So here are a few tips and tricks to help you with walking a motorcycle in and out of a garage or a tight parking spot.
Ideally, you should practice these maneuvers first with a small bike. That will make it easier to work with a heavier model.
1. Get rid of the helmet
First thing is, remove your helmet. You don’t want it obstructing your peripheral vision when handling a heavy bike. That way you won’t bump into other objects and damage or drop the bike.
(Probably the only time with your bike when you need to use your head and not the helmet.)
The other thing is, you need a steady grip (not a death grip) on the handlebars.
For that, you can keep your gloves on or take them off.
2. Get the technicalities right
Always put your bike on neutral while walking with it. Don’t hold down the clutch either. That will hamper the smooth control of the bike.
Also, when you’re walking your bike it’s best not to use the brake. Try to slow it down if you need to stop before reaching the destination.
(I’m not so good with technical answers. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?)
Actually, any abrupt change in the momentum of a heavy bike can cause it to lose balance. That said, you should be ready to use the brake if you’re on a slope. That will help to prevent the bike from rolling away.
3. Find the balance point
Before you want to walk safely with your motorcycle, you need to familiarise yourself with its balance point. Each bike has its unique weight characteristics that you have to understand.
Now, every motorcycle has a specific point of no return if it starts tilting to the other side. The moment the weight shifts beyond that point, it will be beyond your control.
Once you have discovered this point, it will be easier for you to control the bike.
For that, you need to do some practice on level ground. That can be an empty parking spot or inside your garage. Try tilting the bike away from your body slowly. That way you will find the point beyond which you can’t hold it.
Whoa, that does sound risky. What if I drop the bike?
You won’t. As long as you do it slowly and don’t go beyond the point of no return.
4. Use the right muscles
The key to making the task easy is finding the right balance and supporting the weight of the bike.
And trust me, even if you have biceps like Batman, don’t try to balance a heavy bike by using just your hands. Instead, allow it to lean on your hip or the right side of your body.
It’s simple. The muscles in your lower body are bigger and stronger than your arm muscles. So, best take their support while pushing the motorcycle.
Generally, you can press your hip against the fuel tank or the seat. But the exact position will depend on your height and the size of the bike.
In this position, you will also be able to use the strength of your upper legs to move the bike to some extent. This will allow you to gain more momentum. Besides, you’ll complete the task with less effort and a light grip on the handlebars.
Remember: when you’re walking a heavy motorcycle, it’s best to take it slow and easy. Trying to go faster will only make you lose your balance.
Goes without saying, this is a step that you can perfect by practice.
5. Turning takes effort
Ideally, I’d love to choose a straight path for walking a motorcycle as much as possible. In reality, that’s not something you can always do.
Before turning the bike fix the position where you need to be and make sure the route is clear.
While turning the bike, the front wheel can get wobbly. To prevent that you need to turn the handlebars to the position of the full lock.
To keep the bike stable, don’t turn the handlebars while moving. If you want to turn left, stop, and then turn the handlebars fully to the left.
Now, some riders use the side stand for turning a motorcycle. While that can be used as a last resort, it’s not recommended. You might end up damaging the side stand by doing this.
6. Practice the art of backing down
While backing up a bike, let it lean against your hip. This time you need to apply some force on the handlebars and push it backward.
And always make sure to turn back and know where you are going.
But there’s something else.
When you need to back down a sloped surface or a slanted pavement, it gets a bit tricky. Here, the weight of the motorcycle will shift on the rear wheel and the front brake will provide a limited grip.
And with both your feet on the ground you won’t be able to use the rear brake either.
Actually, I have seen plenty of riders lose control on tricky campsites.
(That’s why I always park on level surfaces.)
The solution is, to forget about the brakes.
When walking a motorcycle backward over a slope, the best way is to shut off the engine after engaging first gear. Then pull the clutch within the engagement point.
Doing this will disengage the transmission from the rear wheel and allow the bike to drift backward smoothly. You can control the speed by releasing or squeezing the clutch as needed.
As with everything else, you need to practice the technique to perfect it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you walk a big motorcycle?
Walking a big motorcycle is all about balancing it properly and using the right technique. The best way is to use your hips to support and push it. Keep in mind, you need to practice the moves like turning and walking backward, to execute them perfectly.
How do you power walk a motorcycle?
Power walking a motorcycle is moving it under power while keeping the feet on the ground for balance. Basically, you sit on the bike and walk with first gear engaged. It’s also necessary to turn your head in the direction that you want to go and let your eyes direct the bike.
What does walking a motorcycle mean?
Walking a motorcycle is the term for moving and walking with it with the engine switched off. This is an essential aspect of motorcycle management that every rider should master.