Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Better Mousetrap

Sometimes it is better than the original and works very well, sometimes it ends up not so well and causes more problems than it's worth.

Remember the bike spinner I built to turn my bike around in the garage?

Works well in theory.

Round and round.

It worked well enough but it does have its flaws, the first involves getting the bike up on it. Once the front wheel is on the spinner I dare not turn the handlebars or the spinner will start to spin creating a very dangerous situation. I have to keep everything straight until I get the rear wheel up on it too. I never did figure out a way to lock it into position without drilling a hole into the concrete floor.

Next is the width, I designed it to accommodate the kickstand on either side so I wouldn't have to turn it around every time I took the bike off of it. I can ride off and close the garage door then when I got home simply use the garage door opener and ride up on it and spin it around to be ready for my next ride. Unfortunately with it being so wide this means whenever I want to work on the bike I either have to stand back from the spinner and lean over or stand on the spinner which is unstable at best.

Another problem with it being so wide is with the center pivot it has to sit center stage of the garage and getting anything past it like Trobairitz's bike or pellets for our stove is a chore. Not to mention not having any room to use my table saw and chop saw to do most important trim work, renovation and honey do projects.

A third problem is the steel bearing type rollers I used for stability on the underside.

They are beginning to etch the garage floor making it difficult to spin the bike.

Some low profile rubber wheels may be a better option, but then it was back to the drawing board.

Instead I was remembered an AMA Member-Tested product review of the Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly in an issue of American Motorcyclist Magazine by the AMA .

Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly

The reviewer recommended it and as best as I could tell it's the identical dolly that I had been eyeing at Harbor Freight but at a significant savings with a coupon. Check any of your motorcycle magazines (Cycle World, Motorcyclist or Rider magazine) for the Harbor Freight two page coupon spread.

Harbor Freight Motorcycle Dolly

I decided to try it and instead of a Lexus in my living room, I had an unassembled motorcycle dolly.

It took me about an hour to assemble and with a quick swap I had the bike rolling around the garage floor. It is a little difficult to "spin" without a central pivot point but being able to move the bike sideways and out of the way makes up for the minor inconveniences.

Moves to the side and out of the way.

I've been using it for about a month now and I am extremely happy. It is well built, sturdy and easy to move about the garage. It took me a bit to get the hang of using it as a spinner and requires more of a three point turn to get the bike to come around. The instructions state not to 'ride' up onto the stand but being one to ignore the rules on occasion I glued rubber strips on the bottom of the ramps and it doesn't move. I ride up onto the dolly, set the kickstand into place, dismount, kick up the rear ramp and give the rear of the bike a shove toward the garage wall.

The rear ramp in 'up' position.

I then kick up the front of ramp and pull on the handlebars toward me to bring the bike 90º then shove the rear of the bike to complete the 180º turn.

I then kick the front ramp down and she's ready to roll in the morning.  I assembled it so the kick rods for the ramps were on the left side of the bike so I didn't have to walk around the bike to set the ramps into position, the instructions stated the opposite side.

It's like trying to turn a big dog, or giant cat in this case, around in a tight spot. Once you realize they're not going to follow direction, a little shove with your knee is enough persuasion to accomplish your task.

The advantage is that I can push Brandy's bike up on it, spin it around, move it sideways and back Max into the corner of the garage for the week. Then roll Lucy up on it and spin her around for the morning commute or move her about the garage to check tire pressure, chain tension or use my workbench, table saw or whatever without tripping on anything. Well worth the investment.

Here is my quick demo video.



  1. Nice one gov'ner.

    But wouldn't it be easeier to back the bike in to start with?

    1. It is difficult to back in as I would have to stop in the driveway, dismount and 3 point turn in the narrow driveway then back it in past the car. I keep a garage door opener/remote in my jacket and as I round the corner I can just ride right in and out of the rain.

  2. Troubador:

    I must be slow, I am stuck at the Sprag Clutch wondering if you ever got your bike fixed, and now I see it starts perfectly.

    I like that Harbor Freight dolly, but we have no Harbor Freights up here. I have to turn my bike around in the car port and it is a pain in the neck.

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Bob, I picked up my bike from the shop last weekend. The mechanic figures it backfired when I started it and it threw an idle position code that needed to be reset. I also had the sprag clutch replaced with an updated version as they're notorious for failing on this motor.

      Check Princess Auto, I don't know if they're still available but Powerfist makes one, SKU#8180648. Otherwise there is a Harbor Freight in Bellingham.

  3. Ya know, they make a disk for motorcycles with centerstands, you deploy the centerstand on top of the disk and spin away....


    Unless of course, there's no centerstand on your steed?


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    1. I do have a center stand on my bike but I have the suspension set so low that if I put anything more than an 1/8" under the center stand I can't get the bike up. Believe me I've tried.
      I like this set up and highly recommend it as I can move the bike off to the side, it works with Brandy's bike and is so easy to use.

  4. hmmm...a handy little device that might save my marriage. :) Just kidding. But I understand how handy it is. I would need the center stand option, but thanks for showing the ease of use.

    1. I'm actually thinking of buying a second one for Brandy that way if I need to get to the shelves that her bike is in front of I can just pull her bike out of the way and get to what I need. Two would be great for shuffling bikes around without having to zigzag both bikes back and forth a dozen times just to get to something in a cabinet.

    2. Ahhhh Beemer = centerstand, nevermind I got it.

  5. Gotta love Harbor Freight! Color matches the Tiger too. ;)
    I would've been afraid to try it but, it looks pretty stable when you ride up on it.

    1. I glued rubber strips to the underside of both ramps to keep it from moving otherwise it did have a tendency to slide.

  6. Now that is a cool gadget! I'm not showing ths to Motorcycle Man, he will instantly want one. We need a bigger garage, 3 bikes & a VW Bug doesn't make for much room to move anything. Poor scoot is under the balconey under her scooter cover.

    1. Sounds like you need a bigger garage, I'd be happy to take the bug off your hands.

  7. Interesting device. When you are up on the dolly, how much higher are the wheels above the ground. For the height challenged among us, the additional height may make it difficult to hold the bike up while deploying the sidestand. That was one of the attractions of your plywood version. Do the ramps lock the dolly to prevent it from moving?

  8. It sets the bike up 1-3/4" which seems like a lot but I was surprised that I could still ride up onto the dolly and somewhat touch the ground, it does take a bit getting used to though. The instructions advise not to ride up on it and it is easy enough to just push the bike onto it. The ramps will slide on a smooth floor but I just used rubber cement to glue a rubber strip under each ramp and it doesn't budge and actually lifts the dolly off it's own wheels.

  9. That is awesome. When (if..) I put my bike away for the winter it's crammed into the corner of my gym/former 1 car garage and working on it is nearly impossible without "k-turning" for an hour and a half. That's genius.


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