After recovering my motorcycle from dropping it off a steep embankment, one of the three Italian man who helped us asked “Why do you have this rope and pulley system? Do you drop your motorcycle off cliffs regularly?” I didn’t find his comment amusing at the time, but afterwards could see the humor in the situation. How did we get ourselves, or should I say myself, into a situation where we needed to use a Motorcycle Recovery System?

The Problem

While scouting out a narrow trail that I hoped would deliver us to a remote wild-camping site, I ended up realizing that this trail was going to be too difficult to continue. I decided to turn around in the widest portion of the trail, but it had a 10-foot steep embankment that went down to a rocky dry river bed. As I was attempting to do a 15 to 30 point turn, my rear wheel began to drop over the ledge. Trust me, this is not a feeling you want to experience on a motorcycle! The bike slipped down the steep embankment, and I ended up somehow standing on my feet, holding the handlebars with the motorcycle balanced on its rear tire! I yelled to Chantil on the bluetooth headset, “I’m in big trouble here! I just rolled my bike off the trail!”

After a bit of panic in her voice, she replied “Ok! I’ll bring the recovery kit.”

“Hurry! I don’t think I can hold this position for much longer!” A few seconds later, I screamed for more strength to hold up my motorcycle, but the muscles in my arms were quickly failing me. I dropped the handlebars. The whole motorcycle pitched over to the left side and fell even further down the embankment. It landed with a sickening sound of weeds and rocks being crushed by the sound of plastic and metal. My motorcycle was in trouble.

The Solution

My G650GS Sertao weighs 425 lbs (193 kg) from the factory. We’ve added a heavier skid-plate, handlebar protectors, crash-bars, pannier racks, and a tail rack that raises this by about another 15 lbs (7 kg). Throw in my luggage and gear and I’ve got myself a rather heavy adventure motorcycle tipping the scales at somewhere under 550 lbs (250 kg)! I personally don’t know of anyone who can dead-lift this kind of weight, especially in the adventure motorcycle demographic of mid-40s to late 60-year-olds. The folks that could actually dead-lift 550 lbs would probably weight well over 200 lbs. There has got to be some other way than carrying around a weight-lifting pillion with a strict workout and diet program. Welcome to the Motorcycle Recovery System by BestRest Products!

Motorcycle Recovery System (MRS)

The Motorcycle Recovery System (MRS) is a system with “a z-drag rope-and-pulley system originally developed for mountaineering and rescue teams and has been modified for motorcycle recovery operations.” We purchased the kit from BestRest Products in Nov 2016 for $160 USD. The current price, as of Oct 2021, is less expensive at $135 USD.

The bag and equipment weights 2 lbs 1 oz. The current kit uses a smaller fabric bag.

The kit includes:

  • 65′ of rope rated to 1,700 lbs
  • 2 – 1″ x 5′ flat tubular webbing
  • 2 – pre-tied prusik loops
  • 2 – non-locking carabiners
  • 2 – prusik-minding pulleys
  • A quick reference “crib sheet” describing setup and knots used for recovery and towing
  • A bag to hold everything  

This system is designed to provide a mechanical advantage of 3:1. This should allow a 150 lb rider to lift a 450 lb motorcycle, like our G650GSs. If you have a much heavier bike, consider buying the upgrade kit that includes two double pulleys with a mechanical advantage of 5:1.

The complete system rigged for recovery operations.
Is it Worth It?

We’ve used the MRS on a few occasions. Two times to tow our motorcycles, and one time to recover my motorcycle from a dry river bed after I dropped it off a steep embankment. The first time we used the webbing, rope, and carabiners to rig a system to pull my motorcycle 14.3 miles (23 km) to a welder where we could get my front sprocket re-welded to the counter shaft. The second time we used a similar system to pull Chantil’s bike fast enough so she could push-start the engine when she had a dead battery. We also used it once for recovering my motorcycle after I dropped it off a 10-foot embankment.

The MRS was extremely useful for both of these operations. In the case of the the two towing instances, If we didn’t have the webbing and rope, we would have had to call a recovery service. These services are not typically covered by the standard insurance we carry on the motorcycles while overlanding in foreign countries. Some countries, we’ve traveled to, don’t even have such services. We would have had to wait for someone with a truck or van to help up. In the event of the recovery operation, the pulley system allowed two men to pull the motorcycle up the bank while two others pushed it up from the side. Without the MRS, it would have been extremely difficult and might have hurt someone or damaged the motorcycle. Having the MRS has definitely made us more independent.

Considering that a professional recovery service could easily charge well beyond the $135 – $190 USD price tag for the MRS, I feel the kit is worth it. The advantages, compared to the relative cost and extra storage requirements, are enough for us to continue keeping it in our list of necessary overland gear.

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