Parking a motorcycle on a hill can be difficult and, for new riders, very intimidating. There are several significant factors to contend with—the bike’s lean angle, the steepness of the hill, and getting the bike out of the parking spot.
We hope this brief article helps you park your motorcycle safely on a hill and avoid the main pitfalls.
Before You Park, Consider How You Will Get the Bike Out
Ideally, don’t park your motorcycle on a hill. If level ground is just a short walk away, park there instead and save yourself a lot of hassle.
When you park your motorcycle on a hill, you usually have the engine running, helping you get the bike where you want it. Getting your bike out of its parking spot, the engine may only help if you have something like a Goldwing with reverse gear!
It is tempting to park your bike facing downhill, with the front wheel against the curb, but this may leave you with the difficult task of pushing your bike backward uphill.
I’ve seen many inexperienced riders fall into this trap. Ideally, you should be able to get on your bike and ride it out of the parking spot.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before parking your motorcycle on a hill:
- How steep is the hill?
- Is the road surface flat or does it drop away?
- Is the road surface asphalt or gravel? It’s easy to lose your footing on gravel.
- How will you get your bike out of the parking spot?
Park Facing Uphill If Possible
The ideal situation when parking your bike on a hill is to park facing uphill. The limiting factor is the steepness of the hill. As the slope becomes steeper, you must park your motorcycle facing more uphill; otherwise, your bike will lean over too far on the side stand.
Some points to consider when parking facing uphill:
- Always park your motorcycle in gear to counteract the danger of rolling downhill.
- Remember that the downhill side of the pavement will be further away when you put your foot down. I’ve seen many people topple over at this point.
- Don’t lean the bike too far over on the stand because it can easily fall over.
Precautions If You Have to Park Facing Downhill
I’ve always found parking downhill a little clumsy. You’re trying to get off the bike and put the side stand down while the motorcycle just wants to roll forward.
Parking facing downhill with your motorcycle front wheel wedged against the curb might seem like the ideal solution, but this strategy has its pitfalls.
First is the lean angle on the side stand. Even on a relatively shallow slope, your bike won’t lean over far enough to be safe on the side stand when facing downhill.
For this reason, with your bike facing downhill, leaving the engine in gear is essential. The bike can easily roll forwards out of gear, flicking the side stand up as it goes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you park your bike with the front wheel wedged against the curb, there might not be enough space to ride the bike away without going over the curb. You’ll have to pull the motorcycle backward to get out of the parking spot—not easy if it weighs several hundred pounds.
Should You Leave Your Bike in Gear When Parked on a Hill?
On slight inclines, there’s no need, but it is safer to do so.
Leaving your motorcycle in gear might seem like a bad idea, as you may forget and try to start the engine.
Luckily, most modern bikes have engine kill switches on the side stand. Most motorcycles also have an engine kill switch on the clutch lever for extra safety. The chances of accidentally starting your bike’s engine with it in gear are now pretty slim.
When you park facing uphill, put the side stand down and get off the bike while holding the front brake on. If your motorcycle feels like it will roll backward, you will have to put it in gear.
If you park facing downhill, you’ll likely have to put the bike in gear to stop it from falling over. Leaving your bike in gear is a potential hazard, so a locking device, such as the Kryptonite Disc Lock Reminder, might be useful to help you remember.