Some are obvious, some not so much.
Spring is here, or as many of us call it, mud season. The soft ground from April showers or melting snow makes it that much more likely that you'll get your bike stuck in the mud. FortNine offers five helpful hints to help you set your stuck bike free.
1. Drop, Drag, And Lift
The first trick is pretty well known to most dual-sport riders. If your bike isn't already knocked over on its side, have it take a dirt nap. Then drag the stuck wheel(s) sideways out of the rut. Once on firmer ground, pick the bike up like you normally would for any drop. I used this technique myself the time a couple of ruts yanked the bike out from under me to set myself free. It worked well.
2. Traction Aid
A popular car accessory for Canadian winters is essentially a block that straps to the tread side of your tire. If your car gets stuck, this will dig into the snow and help get you out of a rut. It seems this works as well for motorcycles, at any time of year, as it does for cars in the snow. It may be worth keeping one or two of these on your bike when you're not using them for their intended automotive purpose.
3. Winch Cable
Anyone familiar with off-road driving already knows the concept behind this. Tie a rope to a secure point on your bike—frame, crash bars, whatever—and pull the bike out of wherever it's stuck from stable ground. Because bikes tend to fall over when left to their own devices, this works best with two or more people. They use special nylon rope here, but since we're not dealing with forces of thousands of pounds like Jeeps do, a simple piece of ordinary rope would work here.
4. Giant Tourniquet
Remember your first aid training? This is the same theory, except on a larger scale, and with no bleeding. Again, tie the rope to your bike, then wind it around a rock, tree, or some other solid object, and back to the bike again. Grab a big stick, put it in the middle of the rope, and begin twisting. This will tighten the rope quite slowly with a great deal of force, thanks to the leverage of your stick, and gently pull the bike closer to the object you put the rope around. This is where the special nylon rope comes in handy since it resists abrasion and will not become a dangerous projectile if it snaps under the strain. A ratchet tie-down strap would also work, but they are often not long enough, and will only pull a few inches before you have to reset it.
5. Hub Winch
It's so simple, it might just work. Your engine spins the back wheel, so why not turn it into a winch? Actually there are many reasons why this is not a great idea, specifically the damage to spokes, brakes, and other components that could occur. In a desperate situation, however, this is a trick you can keep up your sleeve for an emergency. Tie a rope to a couple of spokes, then wind it around the hub of your back wheel a few times. Tie the other end to a solid object, like a tree, rock, or an anchor buried in the ground. Fire up the engine, put it into first gear, and slowly, carefully, wind the rope up around your back wheel to pull yourself out. There are many ways this can go wrong, so proceed with caution and only do this as a last resort.