3 Ways to Confidently Lift Your ADV Motorcycle by Yourself


Bike lifts are like snowflakes … No two are exactly the same. Rocky trails, slippery mud, or loss of balance can send us down. So, having a few solo lift techniques in our adventure skillset can make all the difference.

3 Adventure Motorcycle Lift Techniques for Solo Riders

Lift TypeBenefitsPrecautions
Back Facing Squat LiftGood on level ground

Good on firm or packed terrain


This is a familiar lift for anyone who does squats in the gym
Extra caution needed on hills

Feet can slip if ground is loose


Difficult for riders with knee issues

Front Facing Deadlift-StyleGood on loose/uneven ground

Minimizes risk of dropping bike to opposite side


Less stress on knees during lift
Demands proper body positioning/lifting form
Single Side Handlebar LiftGood on loose/uneven ground

Offers good bike control


Less stress on knees during lift
Requires easy access to lower hand grip

Challenging when bike is flat on the ground
Picture showing 3 ways to lift a fallen ADV motorcyle
Squat Lift (left) – Deadlift Lift (center) – Single Handlebar Lift (right)

There is no “one best lift technique” for every downed bike. My motorcycle adventures involve sand, rocks, mud, river crossings, and more. A bike drop in these different riding environments requires a different lifting technique. So, having peace of mind in knowing I can rescue myself from a variety of different downed positions gives me the confidence to tackle new and exciting trails. After practicing these techniques, you will also enjoy that same confidence level.

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Conquer the fear of dropping your bike

Reluctance to drop a 600 lb adventure motorcycle is understandable. But if the fear of dropping the bike stops you from progressing your skills or exploring new trails, it may be time to take action. We have a deeper discussion about this fear in this post, so check it out when you are ready.

In my experience, the more time you put into skills building, the more confidence goes with you out on your ride. One common reason for fear of dropping the bike is lacking the knowledge of how to pick the motorcycle back up. This post looks at the three most common bike lift techniques a solo rider can learn and apply to different scenarios.

SPECIAL NOTE #1: It is always better to lift a fallen adventure motorcycle with a partner. A 2-rider lift reduces the physical strain and time needed to lift a heavy bike. Always go for this option if it is available.

SPECIAL NOTE #2: If your current level of physical fitness is such that solo-lifting a bike may cause injury, then do not attempt these lifts. See a health care profession or physical trainer first if needed, then come back to this when you are ready. Safety first … always!


Back-facing squat lift technique for an ADV motorcycle

Remember to learn the foundational components of ALL lift techniques, then adapt them to meet your physical abilities, size, and personal preference.⁠

The Squat Lift benefits include the following:

  • Good choice when the bike is on even ground⁠
  • Good choice on firm and supportive terrain⁠
  • Proper squat lift technique uses the legs to lift the bike while protecting the back⁠
  • This lift is common to road riders because it works well on asphalt
  • Riders who perform squats in the gym will learn this quickly

Watch the Squat Lift technique here and then read the details below:

How to perform the ADV motorcycle Squat Lift step-by-step:

  1. Ensure the bike is off and in 1st gear so it will not roll once upright
  2. Position yourself in a deep squat position with your back to the bike and butt against the seat ⁠
  3. Grab the downside handlebar with one hand⁠
  4. Grab either the bike frame or passenger hold with the other hand (grab location is bike-dependent)⁠
  5. Look straight ahead before attempting the lift (do not look down)⁠
  6. Keep a straight back/chest up/shoulders stacked over hips position (proper deep squat position just like in the gym)⁠
  7. With a firm grip, slowly begin to lift the bike by standing upright and walking your feet backward as the bike comes up⁠ (push through your heels as you lift)
  8. Breathe out (exhale) during the lift⁠
  9. Keep a straight ⁠back and tight core
  10. Once the bike is upright, turn to support the bike’s weight with your hip as needed⁠

Tips for Squat Lift success:

  • If the motorcycle is lying on its right side, be sure to extend the kickstand before lifting the bike
  • If your feet slide out from under you, let the bike fall back to the ground (do not try to muscle it up)

Squat Lift precautions:

  • Use caution if you have pre-existing knee conditions⁠; deep squats may aggravate creaky knees
  • Consider using other lift techniques if the bike is on loose or slippery terrain with unstable footing
  • Consider using other lift techniques if the bike is on uneven terrains such as deep sand or a sloping downhill

How to practice the Squat Lift technique without laying your bike down

This ADV motorcycle lift technique mimics a traditional squat lift that can be practiced in a gym or at home. If you are a regular gym attendee, let your trainer know that you want to improve your deep squat. Let them critique your posture and help you improve.

If the gym is not for you, then at-home bodyweight squat practice will help to build muscle memory and learn body posture. To have some real fun, put all your gear on and practice your squats outside next to your bike. Identify the best grab points on the bike and practice balance drills along with your squats.


Front-facing deadlift technique for an ADV motorcycle

Remember to learn the foundational components of ALL lift techniques, then adapt them to meet your physical abilities, size, and personal preference.⁠

The Deadlift-style Lift benefits include the following:

  • Good on loose/uneven surfaces that may cause you to lose footing
  • Good choice on slippery terrain that causes the bike to slide as you lift it up
  • Less risk of dropping the bike to the opposite side at the top of the lift
  • Less stress on knees versus deep squat lift techniques
  • This lift has you facing the bike so you can see if any problems occur as the bike comes up
  • Riders of all heights can perfect this lift

Watch the Deadlift-style lift technique here and then read the details below:

How to perform the ADV motorcycle Deadlift-style lift step-by-step:

  1. Ensure the bike is off and in 1st gear, so it will not roll once upright
  2. Position yourself facing the bike close to the seat and place feet shoulder width apart (make a strong base)
  3. Look straight ahead before attempting the lift (do not look down)⁠
  4. Keep a straight back
  5. Reach down to grab the downside handlebar with one hand⁠
  6. Grab either the bike frame or passenger hold with the other hand (grab location is bike-dependent)⁠
  7. Position your body in a deadlift body posture with a moderate bend in both knees and hips
  8. Bend at the waist slightly so that your upper body is positioned over the bike
  9. Be mindful not to use your back muscles to lift the bike with this technique; the strength comes from the legs walking forward
  10. Keep a flat back and strong core; do not let your back round, and keep your core muscles strong and engaged. This will help protect your back.
  11. With a firm grip, slowly begin to lift the bike by standing upright and walking your feet forward as the bike comes up⁠
  12. As the bike begins to come up,⁠ your arms will support the weight
  13. Breathe out (exhale) during the lift⁠
  14. Do not twist your body or hunch your back forward as you lift the bike – keep straight
  15. Use your feet (not your body) to progress by taking slow, deliberate steps
  16. Lead with your hips as the bike lifts
  17. Move your shoulders and hips together
  18. Once the bike is upright, turn sideways to support the bike’s weight with your hip as needed⁠

Tips for Deadlift-style lift success:

  • If the bike is lying on its right side, be sure to extend the kickstand before lifting the bike
  • As an alternative to the above steps, place your chest on the seat and drive your weight forward at a 45° angle to lift the bike

Deadlift-style lift precautions:

  • This lift requires a bit more strength to initiate the lift
  • Ensure your technique is clean so the lift happens with the legs and hips (not the back)

How to practice the Deadlift-style lift technique without laying your bike down

This ADV motorcycle lift technique is similar to a traditional deadlift practiced in a gym or home. If you are a regular gym attendee, let your trainer know that you want to improve your deadlift. Let them critique your posture and help you improve.

If the gym is not for you, then at-home bodyweight ‘good morning’ exercises will help to build muscle memory and learn similar body posture. To have some real fun, put all your gear on and practice your deadlifts outside next to your bike. Identify the best grab points on the bike and practice some balance drills along with your ‘good mornings.’


Single-side handlebar lift technique for an ADV motorcycle

Remember to learn the foundational components of ALL lift techniques, then adapt them to meet your physical abilities, size, and personal preference.⁠

The Single-side handlebar lift benefits include the following:

  • Using the handlebars creates good leverage for a mechanical advantage⁠ during the lift
  • Helpful technique when the bike has not completely tipped⁠ over
  • Useful on uneven or loose terrain⁠
  • Offers good bike control at the top of the lift⁠ due to hand placement
  • Less risk of dropping the bike to the opposite side at the top of the lift
  • Less stress on knees versus deep squat lift techniques
  • This lift has you facing the bike so you can see if any problems occur as the bike comes up
  • Riders of all heights can perfect this lift

Watch the Single-side Handlebar Lift technique here and then read the details below:

How to perform the ADV motorcycle Single-handlebar lift step-by-step:

  1. Ensure the bike is off and is in 1st gear so it will not roll once upright
  2. Rotate the front tire to point in the same direction as the lift
  3. Position yourself facing the bike close to the handlebars and place feet shoulder width apart (make a strong base)
  4. Look straight ahead before attempting the lift (do not look down)⁠
  5. Keep a straight back/chest up/shoulders stacked over hips position
  6. Reach down to grab the downside handlebar with both hand⁠s
  7. Position your body with a moderate bend in both knees and hips
  8. Keep a flat back and strong core
  9. With a firm grip, slowly begin to lift the bike by straightening your knees and hips
  10. Breathe out (exhale) during the lift⁠
  11. Do not twist your body or arch your back forward as you lift the bike – keep straight
  12. As the bike comes up off the ground, you will have to curl your arms slightly (bend your elbows)
  13. As your legs straighten and the bike is almost upright, you will need to push the bike away by extending your arms (straightening your elbows) to push the bike upright and finish the lift
  14. Once the bike is upright, secure it onto the kickstand or turn to support the bike’s weight with your hip as needed⁠

Tips for Single-Handlebar Lift success:

  • If the bike is lying on its right side, be sure to extend the kickstand before lifting the bike

Deadlift-style Lift precautions:

  • This technique is challenging if the bike is flat on the ground
  • Choose a different technique if the area near the downside handlebar has poor footing
  • Ensure your technique is clean so the lift happens with the legs and hips (not the back)

How to practice the Single-Handlebar Lift technique without laying your bike down

This ADV motorcycle lift technique combines a traditional deadlift and a front squat that can be practiced in a gym or at home. If you are a regular gym attendee, let your trainer know that you want to improve your deadlift and front squat. Let them critique your posture and help you improve.

If the gym is not for you, then at-home bodyweight ‘good morning’ exercises and squats will help to build muscle memory and learn similar body posture. To have some real fun, put all your gear on and practice your deadlifts and squats outside next to your bike. Identify the best grab points on the bike and practice balance drills and exercises.


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