We've all done it. Hell, I've done it many times. If you're a new rider, trust me when I say that you will do it too.
One of these days, you'll find your beautiful motorcycle laying on its side. Maybe you were trying to get out of that tight spot and hit the front brake with the front wheel pushed over. Maybe you found that cleverly concealed patch of fine gravel in the turn. Maybe some oblivious cager knocked it over. Or maybe you just spaced out the side stand. Regardless of the reason... now what?
Obviously, you gotta get your machine off the ground and back on two wheels. The first thing to remember is: picking up a motorcycle is DANGEROUS. Work smarter, not harder. Just because you CAN pick it up by yourself doesn't mean you should, and if there are people around willing to help... LET THEM. Remind them that the exhaust pipe(s) are hot, and remind them that plastic parts and turn signals are NOT holding points. Remind them that the bike is heavy and the goal is to get it back up without injuries to anyone involved. Keep in mind that a back injury is a life-changing event!!
Now... what if you are alone? Let me assure you that a small woman can pick up an 800-lb bike. Yes. It's true. And with a couple of mats/towels, it's a skill you can practice with your own bike in the comfort of your own driveway or garage.
Step One: Self-Assessment. Your bike is not going anywhere without you. Take a few moments to run a self-diagnostic. Are you injured? Are you sure? Is it safe to pick up your motorcycle? Is the area in which your motorcycle is down conducive to righting it? Do you even WANT to pick up your bike? Is there help available? Asking yourself a series of questions allows you to calm down and assess yourself and the situation without the clouding influence of adrenaline. It's embarrassing to dump your machine, but the situation will quickly escalate from embarrassing to dangerous if you rush your decisions without properly assessing the whole picture. Give yourself the gift of time.
Step Two: Check it out. Are you in danger from traffic? If so, get away from your bike and wait for a law enforcement response. If not, take a good look at your surroundings. Is the bike on wet pavement? Is there sand, gravel, or loose dirt/mud? Is the ground sloped? Is there a ditch on either side of you? Again, picking up a motorcycle is dangerous, and should only be done solo in really good-to-optimum conditions. Check it out and be realistic.
Step Three: Your Bike. Shut off the engine with the cut-off switch or ignition switch. If you have a fuel supply valve, make sure it is shut off to avoid spills and leaks. It's really common to have spilled fuel and maybe even oil in these situations, so use caution. If your bike is on its right side, put the side stand down and put the bike in gear. If you bike is on its left side, make a mental note that you'll have to put the side stand down once you get it up and use caution - you don't want to get it up only to dump it over on the other side.
NOW... if you've decided you're gonna go for it, pick up your bike!!
1. Turn the handlebars to full-lock position with front of tire pointed downward.
2. Find the "balance point" of the two tires and the engine, engine guard, or footpeg. The motorcycle will be fairly easy to lift until it reaches this point because it's resting on its side. Once you start lifting from there, you are responsible for the most of the weight of the bike.
3. "Sit" down with your butt/lower back against the motorcycle seat. Be very careful to keep your back straight and your head up. Put your feet solidly on the ground about 12 inches apart, with your knees bent slightly.
4. With one hand, grasp the handgrip of the handlebar (underhand, preferably), keeping your wrist straight.
5. With your other hand, grip the motorcycle framework (or any solid part of the motorcycle), being careful to avoid the hot exhaust pipe, turn signals, etc. If you can get a good grip, the frame directly under your seat is a good spot.
6. Lift with your legs by taking small steps backwards, pressing against the seat with your butt and keeping your back straight. On slippery or gravelly surfaces this technique probably won't work. On inclined surfaces this can be very dangerous. Maintain control while lifting and never twist your body during the process.
7. Be careful not to lift the motorcycle up and then flip it onto its other side! If possible, put the sidestand down using your foot and put the bike in gear.
8. Set the motorcycle on its sidestand and park it safely. Thoroughly check your bike for damage before riding it. If you have any doubts about its rideability, don't take the chance.
Here are some sites with video and photos to help: