Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Moto Winch Anyone?

Blog Date - 05 December 2017

I came across this video on Facebook the other day.

I thought to myself "Yeah, that's a fair idea, but not perfect." If you're already carrying a lot of kit on a trip it's just another blasted thing to carry. It takes a while to set up. It would probably be a good idea to practice with it a few times to get the knack. All this said at least you'd stand a chance of getting your bike upright again.

The video had been posted to an adventure rider's group. They pretty much to a man had nothing positive to say. The problem is the context of the video. Here's a chap seemingly out on the lonesome trails who's dropped his bike. Luckily he has his gadget and now he can get it upright once again. 

However most comments suggest 2 things. Firstly if he can't pick his own bike up then he really ought to be riding a lighter, smaller machine. Secondly he really really ought not to be riding lonesome trails alone. Imagine if he'd been injured, he could be stranded their for weeks!

Yes, yes I can see their point - for trail riders and off roaders at least. Let us rethink this video using a different scenario. Any rider can drop a motorcycle in any situation. A car park u-turn, slippery leaves down a quiet country lane or perhaps just coming out of the garage at home. 

Even the strongest of men will struggle to lift a big BMW tourer and an average chap like myself will have a fight on his hands just lifting an NC750X. If the rider is smaller still, such as Sharon, even a 250 might be too much. You can not convince me that every capable safe rider out there is strong enough to pick up their own motorcycle.

So you find yourself alone at home or in a car park at night or down the quiet country lane. This gadget would be just the ticket to get your vehicle upright once again and unless there's serious damage get you back under way.

The Moto Winch is not the B-All and end all solution. It is an option that may be appropriate for some riders. It has given me cause to think of other possible similar solutions for riders in a similar predicament. 

An SLR650 lying down in the mud at the side of a Welsh trailI don't think Bob needed any help lifting his SLR650, but then not everyone is Bob.

If you've got a motorcycle related product you'd like us to have a look at then drop ren a line -

Reader's Comments

Bob said :-
Yes I did lift that FX650 (not an SLR) but it was hard to do, that moto winch would have just powered itself into the mud!
The reason I've gone down to a 250cc is precisley because I was finding the bigger bikes difficult to lift (knackered disc in lower back).
In Japan I think they used to have a rule that you had to be able to pick up your motorcycle and that's what lead to the large 400cc sector, those bikes being big enough for long distances whilst light enough to pick up.
I see those Africa Twins are ~240KG, absolutely ridiculous! That's like riding my KLX250 with a 16 stone man sitting on the pillion!
5/12//2017 4:01:42 PM UTC
Bob said :-
As an aside I'm realising more and more the benefits of a light bike, manouverability in traffic, man-handling it around the garage, but mainly it's wet weather riding. I've noticed that the difference between the speed I can maintain in the wet and in the dry is much less than it was on my bigger bikes. The light weight of the KLX means the tyres have less work to do when cornering.
5/12//2017 4:04:25 PM UTC
Sam said :-
The day of reckoning came when I dropped the Honda 550/4 on the drive and realised I couldn't pick it up. So,coming up 80 and being in no mind to stop riding I looked for something smaller. Enter Sharon! Read her blog on Zen and Keeway bikes,went and looked,liked,bought. It's not quite the same as Zen being a RK125. Oh the joy of a light,manouverable bike THAT I CAN PICK UP! Thanks Sharon you've made an old biker very happy. A different fun to the 550/4 but still fun.
5/12//2017 10:44:44 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I agree completely about lighter bikes. I have 10 years or so to go before I get to Sam's age but realised a few years ago that the weight and bulk of my then bike (the Tiger 955i) was actually putting me off riding it. No problem once on the open road but mucking about getting it out of the garage, parking, walking speed traffic etc were all harder work than I wanted. I haven't yet progressed to a 125 but can recognise it will come.

The crane thing is just daft. Many years ago when I rode in pre-65 trials (I hesitate to say competed) I dropped the Enfield on a muddy track and ended up with it on top of me trapping my leg underneath. I had to wait till another competitor turned up to lift it off me. Fortunately I hadn't missed the route or might still be there to this day. Also fortunately it fell on the left hand side so it wasn't a red hot exhaust pipe pinning me down......

BTW there's an excellent youtube video........
6/12//2017 10:32:52 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I have been waiting for the "how to pick up your motorcycle" video. Sharon and I have seen countless such guides as to how to lift your motorcycle but they just don't work in the real world. Those times when Sharon or I have dropped our bikes were not on a smooth flat surface in a warm dry workshop. They are typically down a narrow lane on an incline on a wet loose surface. We're not wearing jeans and a t-shirt we're in full bike kit. We're not calm and collected we're flustered, shocked, annoyed and frustrated.

Even when we deliberately laid Sharon's 125 down to see if she could use this common technique as shown in the videos Sharon could not lift the 125. She did manage it with the typical grab the bars and heave method though.

As stated in the post I do think this kind of lift or something similar is an option, a choice, an idea that will be suitable for some.
6/12//2017 10:49:34 AM UTC
Bob said :-
I have used that Youtube technique successfully on a Vstrom 650 and XT660 and a TDM850 (great lump of a thing), but I made some loop straps from old ratchet straps. Each loop was about 12" in length. One loop went around the grab rail and the other round the handlebar. I placed my hands through the loops and gripped them against my wrist. I found that this got around the problem of the initial part of the lift. I have long legs and found that even squatted fully I still could reach down to the handlebar.
By standing facing away from the bike with the strap loops I could effectively perform a power lift from a partial squat, using just my legs. When the bike was up part way I leant back until my backside found the saddle, then I completed the walking-backwards-lift as shown in the video.
All in though, less wieght is the way.
6/12//2017 11:33:04 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ah now you've got me thinking Bob. The worst part of a bike lift is probably the first 45-55 degrees. Our bodies seem to be shaped such that we're at our weakest when lifting from the ground. The idea of a couple of straps to get things going sounds very helpful - and very easy to carry.

I shall experiment - good call.

Yes of course the best thing would be to have a bicycle. However we motorcyclists just insist that there's an engine in there. It's all about compromise I suppose.
6/12//2017 11:57:33 AM UTC
Sharon said :-
Oh Sam on a cold wintery day your comment warmed the cockles of my heart.
You wrote - So,coming up 80 and being in no mind to stop riding I looked for something smaller. Enter Sharon! Read her blog on Zen and Keeway bikes,went and looked,liked,bought. It's not quite the same as Zen being a RK125. Oh the joy of a light,manouverable bike THAT I CAN PICK UP! Thanks Sharon you've made an old biker very happy. A different fun to the 550/4 but still fun.

Wow Sam 80 and still riding how fantastic. I am so glad that downsizing in weight meant you kept the joy and fun of riding. I am thrilled that people are discovering and even re-discovering the fun and new options a smaller capacity and lighter bike can bring.
Bigger is not always best for some of us. Indeed due to weight and height some big bikes are not an option at all. It is then we realise that smaller bikes have a host of benefits and light weight is one of their greatest.
Thanks so much for inspiring us all Sam with the knowledge that to keep riding in our 80s could be a fun filled possibility. Happy riding sir. May you have many more smile miles.x
7/12//2017 5:50:45 PM UTC
Latchy said :-
I have a 183kg street triple, wet weight, ok so not as light as a 125 but some 250s are heavier than that and I agree that light bikes are more favourable.
8/12//2017 5:00:09 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Watching the way that pole bends is frightening, despite his reassurances. Visions of the bottom slipping and the bike sliding down his shins.
8/12//2017 10:45:28 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I keep on coming back to the same idea but I can't think as to how it might work. I'm thinking of some sort of fold up bag that you place under the bike and inflate to gently lift the bike up for those first and worst degrees.

The problem is two-fold. 1 - the size of the bag. If the material is going to be strong enough to take the weight of the bike and actually lift the bike enough to complete the lift it's going to be a big bag and therefore cumbersome. Secondly is inflating it. I have considered them cannisters you get to inflate tyres after a puncture repair but it'd be a big cannister to inflate a big bag.

Back to the drawing board...
10/12//2017 6:32:13 PM UTC
Bob said :-
I was out yesterday and dropped the bike three times. There really is no substitute for lack of mass!
The idea of faffing around with ratchet straps and bits of pole in those conditions is laughable.
When it comes to my ideal bike there are three attributes which I want:
1) Power
2) Light Weight
3) Longevity / Reliability
Unfortunately I have come up against the reality that of that list you can have any two attributes, but not all three.
My KLX250 covers 2) & 3), maybe one day I'll get a KTM then I'll have 1) & 2) but I can't for moment buy something I'm expecting to fail sooner rather than later. I trust the KLX mechanically (or at least I do now I've replaced the inadequate automatic camchain tensioner with a manual one).

Hounkirk Moor 1
11/12//2017 9:05:03 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Ren: "I'm thinking of some sort of fold up bag that you place under the bike and inflate to gently lift the bike up for those first and worst degrees."

Here you are: (see link).

This uses the exhaust to blow it up. I'm sure someone of your skill and experience could knock something up out of an old space hopper and a footpump.....
11/12//2017 10:18:47 AM UTC
Bob said :-
Well I've seen it all now....
11/12//2017 1:52:42 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'll keep an eye on Sharon's camchain tensioner Bob, I've seen a few reports that on the KLX at least they're a little weak.

Are KTMs unreliable? I don't hear too many gripes about the bigger 4 strokes, I know nothing about the smaller capacity bikes though.

Dammit Ian! Here's me thinking I'd invented something. The exhaust bit wouldn't work for lifting the bike as the bike really ought not to be running on it's side. I suppose you could blow it up with your mouth...

Ah well...back to the drawing board.

11/12//2017 2:22:42 PM UTC
Bob said :-
Listen out for a clacking sound from the right hand side of the engine between 5K and 6K RPM - that's the camchain. On the black KLX in the picture above the camchain was dead when I bought it, with only 10K miles on the clock. I changed the camchain and fitted the manual tensioner. On my green KLX it came to me with a slight camchain rattle at only 1600 miles, I'd caught it in time so a manual tensioner has fixed that one without needing a new chain.
It seems most people ride round on them oblivious to the the camchain flapping around!
I think the problem is because for some reason Kawasaki fitted a non-ratcheting secondary tensioner in the crankcase and I believe that the spring in the secondary tensioner takes up the slack in the camchain which would normally be taken up by the ratcheting main tensioner.
Since fitting and tensioning the manual tensioner I've not had to adjust it again in 2500 odd miles.

KTMs aren't unreliable particularly (anecdotal evidence suggests the odd electrical gremlin on the Indian built models), but they don't have the longevity built in. BMWs most powerful single, the XCountry made 54HP from 650CC, KTM push over 70HP from their 701CC single, it's in a very high state of tune and hence it simply won't last as long.
I think KTM recommend a new crankshaft every 40K miles in some of their bikes.
I suppose if you pretend you're buying a 2 Stroke and therefore expect searing performance and regular rebuilds then a KTM will fit the bill.
11/12//2017 3:22:50 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I shall take Sharon's beastie for a spin if the weather ever improves. That said if there were ANY unusual sounds she would be sure to let me know, thing is she's half deaf so she might not hear them.

Ah of course, the "ready to race" ethos. If you are going to draw more power it's inevitable you're going to lose reliability. Personally I prefer reliability. Maybe if Sharon were rich and I was a man of leisure I would appreciate the chance to strip rebuild regularly. I need a rich girlfriend.
12/12//2017 6:24:11 AM UTC

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