How to pivot a large motorcycle in a small space.
Step 1: The Problem
I've got a big motorcycle and a one-car garage that it lives in. I'd ride the motorcycle into the garage at the end of a ride, and then later to go for another ride I'd have to turn the motorcycle around. It's very big and heavy so doing a series of three-point turns was a serious invitation to lose control and drop the motorcycle. So what I wanted to do was turn the motorcycle 180 degrees, in place inside the garage.
This problem has arisen in various other forms in the past (for example, when moving: I'd ride the motorcycle into the back of a U-Haul truck and then be faced with the problem of getting it out again), so it's preyed on my mind for many years.
Step 2: Possible Solutions
I started by imagining something like a railroad turntable in my garage! Hmm, we could jackhammer out a big circular depression (bigger than the bike), gouge out a ring-shaped trough at its circumference, put a bunch of huge ball-bearings into the trough, and lay a gigantic circular piece of steel in the depression, resting on the ball-bearings and flush with the floor. The bike would be driven into the garage and onto the piece of steel. To rotate the bike, rotate the whole piece of steel on the ball bearings, just like a railroad turntable.
Okay, so that's ridiculous; I'm obviously not going to mess up my garage floor...
Step 3: More Possible Solutions...
So then I thought, without messing up the garage floor, I could still use a turntable - only more like a tabletop turntable, also known as a lazy susan. Of course, a commercial lazy susan for your tabletop is small and can't support the weight of a motorcycle. But I could build a big tough one, perhaps? So now the ball bearings are running around in a race of some kind, with a flat metal piece resting on them. I started thinking of various configuations for doing this. But I kept running into the problem that this turntable has to be big...
Hmmm.... Or does it....?
This is when it occurred to me that I don't really need a turntable as big as the bike! All I need is a turntable as big as the part of the bike that rests on the ground. When the bike is on its center stand, that's the center stand and the front wheel. But wait! The bike more or less balances front and back when it's on its center stand, so the turntable doesn't need to be any bigger than the center stand!
However, I still had the problem of the height of the turntable. The bike is very heavy, and getting it onto its center stand onto a platform of any height at all was not going to be very easy (not to mention the problem of getting it off the center stand and the turntable without dropping it). What I wanted was a turntable with very little thickness. There is no room for ball bearings or a platform... And that's when I came up with... THE FRICTION-BASED SOLUTION! We aren't going to roll smoothly around on a turntable at all. We're going to SLIDE the bike around on its center stand! All we have to do is overcome the friction between the bottom of the center stand and the garage floor.
Step 4: What You Will Need
(1) A pair of five-inch furniture sliders, available at any Home Depot, Lowe's, or similar.
(2) Optional, but very useful: some heavy plastic sheeting (and some scissors to cut it into shape).
Step 5: Preparation
Cut and fold the plastic sheeting to make a rectangle of several thicknesses, and lay the furniture sliders on top of it as shown here. The extra bit of plastic sticking out to the left is optional but it will come in handy later.
Step 6: Put the Bike on Its Side Stand
The side stand is on the left of the bike so the bike is now leaning to the left.
Step 7: Slip the Turntable Under the Center Stand
From the right side of the bike, slip the "turntable" under it. Lower the center stand part way so you can see where the "feet" of the center stand are going to go. Because the bike is leaning to the left, the left foot of the center stand can actually rest on a furniture slider. The right foot of the center stand is hovering above the other furniture slider; mentally imagine how the center stand will behave as you rock the bike upright and onto the center stand, and where the right foot will come down, and make sure the right furniture slider is in that spot, ready to receive the right foot of the center stand.
Step 8: Put the Bike on Its Center Stand
Walk around to the left side of the bike and put the bike up on its center stand. This is no more difficult than it normally is, because the furniture sliders and the plastic are very thin.
IMPORTANT: Look under the bike and make sure the feet of the center stand really are resting on the furniture sliders. They don't have to be in the exact center.
VERY IMPORTANT: At the same moment, raise the side stand! This is because later you are going to take the bike off the center stand, and taking the bike off the center stand with the side stand down is not a good idea (because you can bust the side stand - I speak from experience here).
Step 9: Pivot That Puppy!
Grasp the bike by any convenient endpoint (I use the luggage rack at the rear of mine). Rock the bike slightly so both wheels are unweighted, and walk around with the bike until it is pointing the way you want it. The bike will turn VERY EASILY. The combination of furniture sliders and plastic is why. The furniture sliders help to distribute the weight and they reduce friction, and the plastic reduces friction even more and helps keep the furniture sliders from scratching too much on the garage floor (and vice versa). The sliders might come off the plastic somewhat but it's no big deal.
Please watch the attached QuickTime movie to see how easy this is.
Step 10: Remove Bike From Center Stand
Remove the bike from the center stand in the normal fashion. This is where that extra bit of plastic on the left of the "turntable" comes in handy. If you're like me, you have to straddle the bike to get it off the center stand. Once the bike is resting on its wheels and the center stand has come up, you can use your left foot to kick away the plastic by sliding that bit of plastic away from you, even though you are still straddling the bike. The sliders are on the plastic, so they go with it, and you have now removed the "turntable" from under the bike. Thus you are now ready to go for a ride without driving over the plastic or the furniture sliders!
Please watch the attached QuickTime movie to see what I mean.
Step 11: Final Thoughts on Expendability of Materials
The whole idea of this solution is that the materials involved are cheap and expendable. They wear out with use, but because they are cheap, you don't care.
The plastic will eventually get so torn that it becomes useless. Replace it. A huge roll of a plastic sheeting is just a few dollars, so just cut yourself another piece.
The furniture sliders will wear both top and bottom: the foam on the top will retain the depressions from countless insertions of the centers stand feet, and the plastic sliding part on the bottom will get scratched. I was able to use mine dozens of times but eventually I replaced them. This cost nothing at the time, because the sliders come in boxes of four, and I had only been using two of them.
Furthermore, no "assembly" is required. We never build any kind of permanent object (such as the turntable I originally envisaged). We have three parts (the plastic sheet and two sliders) that are very small and light, whence portable.