Here’s a problem I have to tackle pretty much every single day. My garage lies at the end of a narrow, two-car-long driveway covered in deep, deep gravel. Often, there’s no room to turn the bike around in the packed garage, so I have to pull it out, backwards. It’s a pain, but with the right technique, it’s doable. Here’s how to pull your bike out of deep gravel, sand or mud.
Paddle, Pull or Push?
The easiest way to balance a bike while you’re rolling it is to sit on it, but doing so delivers less leverage for your legs than pulling or pushing. Standing to one side and moving a bike by its handlebars delivers the most control, but it’s relatively easy to over balance and pretty hard to catch a fall to the opposite side. Pushing it gives you the most leverage, but the least amount of control.
So, ask yourself which approach the situation calls for. In this driveway, my most common method is the paddle. If I’ve got a light bike, I’ll go to that first. Pull works well with a heavier bike, but I need a fair bit of room to make it work. Push only comes out if I’ve got to move something monstrous. Looking at you, Kawasaki Concours 14.
On a firm surface, you can just paddle backwards. No big deal. But on deep, loose gravel or pulling your dual sport out of mud? I like to make the bike’s suspension work for me. Holding the front brake lever, I bounce all my body weight into the front suspension, then release the brake and heave backwards on the bars as the suspension rebounds. This was enough to even extricate a Suzuki Burgman 650 down this driveway.
But, moving a Moto Guzzi Griso was another matter entirely. To get that one going, I stood on the left side, put my left hand on the bar (mostly to steer) and had to lean my body weight on my right hand, which was grabbing the tail section. Lean the bike towards you until you find the natural balance point and push! You’ll wander around a little outside of a straight line, so it’s nice to have some extra room to work with; I’ve got to move all the cars out of my driveway to manage this one. The more you lean it towards you, the less likely you are to find the bike overbalanced away from you, which is how you drop it. Do this with the side stand up, but remember to kick it back down when you’re done.
With the bike on its side stand, stand in front of it with a hand on each handlebar. You can manipulate the front brake a little with your left thumb if needs be. Pick the bike upright, lean in, and put your back into it. You can move the most weight this way, but controlling it can be a challenge. Try and keep the bars as perfectly straight as possible. Beware, standing in front, you have very little leverage to catch the bike if it starts to topple.
And there you go, I hope you appreciate that I had to break a sweat paddling this Honda CB500X through the gravel to write this review for you.
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