Did it always lean over that far?

By Don Hamblin
April 1998

WARNING: Yep, this is another one about the famous BMW sidestand. But this one doesn't complain about what came with the bike, suggest spending a bunch of bucks for something from the "aftermarket" ads, or even remind you not to load your ride like a single track truck. The goal here is to fix your problem, until you can afford that brand new RT, RS, Cruiser, or Vespa.

REAL STRONG DISCLAIMER! Be Real Careful!! Fire is Dangerous!! Gas and Oil Burn Quickly!! So do garages, motorcycles, and people! On 16V'ers and bikes with interlocks - REMOVE THE STAND BEFORE HEATING!! I won't be responsible for replacing your switches, oil pans, tires, friend's garages, clothes, or complete motorcycles. This is how I did it on "MY" '85 K100RT. Everything still works OK; I didn't burn down my friend's garage, and didn't fry the electrical stuff. But I'm real scared of fire myself! Fire is the big danger! (I'll say this again later, so be prepared to see it again.)

Flame on!

Now for the story:

Don't know if this has happened to you before, but it happened to me. I didn't remember my K-RT leaning that far over. After throwing a leg over the saddle I didn't seem to be as strong as I had been. In fact, it took way too much strength just to get the thing vertical enough to go for that long awaited ride. Then I noticed that the stand didn't retract nearly as far as it used to! The darn thing's bent! The next thing that happened is that I went to get my "Harley wrench" (OK, so it's really called a five pound hammer) to beat it back into shape.

My guess is that most others won't admit to it, or would rather just blame those nice folks in Germany, for poor design or something. Mine bent because I didn't check my tiedown straps during a 500-mile trip inside a U-Haul trailer. The bike ended up bouncing on the sidestand for around 450 miles! Yours could have been from overloading with camping gear (or adult beverages). It doesn't really matter how it got bent. The fact is that it ain't right.

Back to the Harley wrench. DON'T! I know that it can be beaten back into shape. The problem is that there's some weird things that happen to the metal itself (I don't know, grain or molecules, or some of that stuff that engineers say with that "knowing" smirk on their faces) when beaten repeatedly with a hammer. If it doesn't break on the seventh swing of the hammer, it does eleven months later at an Interstate rest-stop (or maybe at a rally registration, in front of the in-laws, or during your first meeting with a bunch of new riding companions.) Then it becomes another opportunity for everyone to blame those nice folks in Germany.

Instead of the five-pounder, how about bringing out that butane torch you had to buy when the water pipes froze last winter?

Those engineer guys (I mentioned them earlier) would rather see you heat the metal before hitting it. Just put it on the center stand (as long as you've kept an eye on it for cracks and it hasn't broken too), and lower the offending sidestand.

REAL STRONG DISCLAIMER AGAIN! Be Real Careful!! Fire is Dangerous!! Gas and Oil Burn Quickly!! On 16V'ers and bikes with interlocks - REMOVE THE STAND BEFORE HEATING!! If you need to, look in your shop manual (if you don't have one, you should get one and read it before doing anything not detailed in the owner's manual) and see if there's any electrical stuff near the stand. But be even more concerned with "combustible" (that means that it might BURN) stuff near the torch! I won't be responsible for replacing your switches, oil pans, tires, friend's garages, clothes, or complete motorcycles.

If you had the "good sense" to remove the stand, place one end in a vice. (I didn't, but that's my problem.) Then apply the heat to where it's bent (it's supposed to turn "cherry red" so don't worry about that), clamp a vice grip on it, and push real hard. Don't worry, it'll take a number of times and a lot of leaning. Just reheat all around the "bend" and push over and over.

You'll also see that it seems to "remember" better than your teenage kids - when you let off the pressure it'll try to "spring" back to that bend you didn't want. Something like the Nike guys, you just have to do it over and over. When it's finally the right shape, those engineer guys might tell you to "douse" it in water to temper it (I didn't, but again, you're on your own - it worked for me, and I guess the molecules, or grain, or whatever, ended up near where they were supposed to be). Then clean off the rust (oh yeah, I hadn't watched the sidestand for rust either) and soot, then spray some paint on it (not a good idea to let it rust after all the work you just did). It might not be as good as new, only better than when you started

I know that this sounds like it takes a long time, but it only seems that way. Mine only actually took about ten or fifteen minutes. It just seems longer when you've got a torch aimed right under about five $4.25 quarts of BMW 20W50 oil. Take your time, a watched crankcase doesn't boil.

And in the future, remember to watch how you treat that appendage!

 

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