One of the joys of riding a motorcycle is the low power-to-weight ratio.
There’s nothing like opening up on a bike that clears 100 horsepower but weighs less than 400 pounds!
But there’s a downside to everything—one of the downsides to lightweight-motorcycle riding has more than a few riders scratching their heads and asking themselves, how do you get a motorcycle to open an automatic gate?
Here’s How to Open an Automatic Gate with a Motorcycle:
Some double-door style gates allow motorcycle riders to separate the doors enough to sneak their bike through the middle. On a loop system, try stopping with the wheels and kickstand down on the lines cut out in the pavement. Or, try placing neodymium magnets on the bottom of your bike.
How Do You Get a Motorcycle to Open an Automatic Gate?
First things first, you’ll want to identify the straight-cut grooved lines in the pavement. These grooves will help you determine whether the automatic gate is a single loop or double loop system.
You’ll see a single square cut into the pavement on a single loop system. This square is what we call an activation mat. Pull up so your wheels are lined up with the line, and drop your kickstand.
If the gate you’re attempting to roll your moto through is a double loop system, there will be two activation mats next to one another. In this case, you’ll want to line your wheels up to the center line.
Depending on the automatic gate’s trigger system, the sensors can be triggered by either metal detection or pressure/weight.
In the case of a metal detecting gate system, aligning your wheels with the line on the edge of the square cut in the pavement hovers the metal chassis above the metal detector. If you drop your kickstand, you’re setting conductive material directly on top of the wire loop sensor rather than in the middle of the square, which is counterproductive.
If you’re attempting to ride your motorcycle through a pressure or weight-activated automatic gate, the kickstand helps concentrate your motorcycle’s weight to one side.
That said, if you’re on a real lightweight motorcycle, the kickstand might not be enough.
- If there’s a car behind you, try inching all the way up to the gate, as close as you can get, so that the car can inch up to the activation mat and put its weight on it, opening the gate for you both.
- If the driver seems confused, point to the activation mat and forward to the automatic gate, switching back and forth a few times to signal to the driver that the weight of their car is needed to activate the automatic gate’s sensor.
And finally, if the automatic gate you’re trying to pass through is part of your daily routines, such as the gate to the parking garage of your apartment or office building, try contacting the garage management company and getting in touch with the person responsible for gate maintenance.
I know what you’re thinking—can you adjust your automatic gate to make it more sensitive to motorcycles?
Both pressure and induction (metal detecting) styles of automatic gates sometimes have set menus allowing the gate owners to adjust their sensitivity. Turning the sensitivity up to its most acute setting can get it to open for lightweight motorcycles, scooters, and even bicycles.
8 Tricks to Try When the Gate Just Won’t Open
Here are eight tricks you can use to open an automatic gate that’s proving stubborn for your motorcycle:
1. Line Your Wheels Up Over the Activation Mat Line
As we mention in more detail in the previous section, some gates aren’t activated by pressure but rather are inductive, meaning they sense the presence of a conductive metal and open accordingly.
Although many motorcyclists believe the sensor is most sensitive in the center of the square activation mat cut into the concrete, that’s incorrect.
The lines on the edges of the square are where the induction sensors are, and inning your wheels up with the line might be enough to trigger the automatic gate to open with your motorcycle.
2. Drop Your Side Stand
If the height of your bike is an issue, or if the gate uses pressure or a weight-activated mat versus an inductive one, dropping your kickstand down after aligning your wheels with the line places conduction and concentrates your weight onto the activation sensor.
3. Kill Your Motorcycle and Restart Electric Starter
In some cases, automatic gate sensors are triggered by electromagnetic activity. If your motorcycle is powered by an electric starter, activating your bike’s starter and ECU releases an electromagnetic field.
Some bike riders I know claim they’ve been able to get their bike through automatic gates by lining their wheels up over the line, killing their engine and electronics completely, and then powering their ECU back on and activating their starter to fire up the motorcycle.
4. Brake Hard On the Line (Experienced Stunt Riders Only)
Other motorcyclists report they activate automatic gates with their motorcycles by braking hard and doing a “stoppie” on the line of the activation mat.
The friction and pressure generated by the inertia of the motorcycle’s sudden stopping force reversion can be enough to activate a pressure sensing gate, even from a lightweight, aluminum alloy bike.
That said, doing a stoppie in a close space is dangerous, and performing a stunt incorrectly can also be detrimental to your motorcycle machine parts and tires and hazardous to the driver.
Again, a stoppie is a stunt. Stunts aren’t to be attempted by anyone other than serious, experienced stunt riders who understand the risks inherent in doing stunts on a motorcycle. We’re not responsible for any damage or injuries incurred.
5. Lean Bike Close to the Ground
If you’re desperate, this might be a safer bet than braking hard on the line, as mentioned above, especially if your motorcycle has crash bars.
Carefully laying your motorcycle down on the pavement where the activation mat line is cut has helped more than a few motorcycle riders open automatic gates with their motorcycles. That said, laying down a bike that doesn’t have crash bars can scuff the body and paint up, at the very least.
Unfortunately, crash bars generally come on heavier bikes that have less trouble activating automatic gates. Still, it’s an effective method for sportbikes owners who know how to lay their bikes down without damaging them carefully. Mind the engine components, footpegs and controls, paint, and bodywork if you attempt to try this method.
6. Wave a Car Up to Go Ahead of You
If there are other cars around, letting a car ride up ahead of your motorcycle allows the car’s weight pressure to open the gate for you.
If you’re already on the activation mat and don’t have space to turn around, pull up as close to the gate as you can so that the car behind you can pull up onto the activation mat and let you and your bike get through the automatic gate.
7. Adjust the Automatic Gate’s Activation Sensitivity
Both weight pressure and metal detecting (induction) automatic gates occasionally have setting options that let the gate owner modify the gate’s sensitivity.
Cranking the activation mat’s sensitivity up to its most keen setting could be the trick you need to pass through an automatic gate on your motorcycle.
You won’t always have the means of contacting the gate maintenance personnel and convincing them to adjust the gate’s settings for you. Still, if the gate is at your job or home and you interact with it daily, it might be worth your time to try.
8. Install a Neodymium Magnet or EMP Device?
From EMP-releasing greenlight interference devices to Dynium magnets that release some thousand pounds of magnetic pressure, all kinds of devices are mentioned in the forums and in custom bike communities.
There are multiple reports from riders upselling neodymium magnets, and EMP interference devices they promise will activate automatic gates and red lights into green lights.
Some riders have successfully used neodymium magnets to open automatic gates. That said, some electromagnetic devices are illegal, and others are scams that don’t work. We suggest doing thorough research before installing devices like this.
Consider not only product reviews but also the laws of the region you live and ride.
What Are the Best Gate Systems to Work With Motorcycles?
Here are some of the most effective gate systems for motorcycles:
Radar Movement Sensors
These types of automatic gate activation sensors detect movement in a specific area, like the area leading up to the gate. These are good choices for automatic gates frequently passed through by motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians, since weight isn’t a factor; only movement is.
Optical Motion Detectors
One style of an automatic gate that’s gaining popularity uses optical lenses stationed on the side of the gate to direct motion, triggering the gate to open when movement is detected.
The downside to these is that some optical sensors are more sensitive to others when it comes to picking up a crawling motorcycle—do the research to get one that allows acute sensitivity adjustments.
Also, ensure to keep the optical lens free of crud and debris to detect uninhibited moto motion.
As its name implies, infrared-sensor-activated automatic gates hold either a passive or live thermal image of the gate. When the image changes, say, due to the presence of a motorcycle, the gate opens.
Induction Metal Detectors
Induction gates open automatically when they detect the presence of metal, such as motorcycle wheelsets, frames, and kickstands.
These are effective for motorcycles since they detect conductive metal instead of weight pressure, allowing them to open even for bicycles if they’re set to be sensitive enough.
That said, some particularly lightweight racing motorcycles use aluminum alloy frames that aren’t always conductive enough to trigger induction-triggered automatic gates.
Do All Automatic Gates Work with Motorcycles?
Pressure sensors were the original type of automatic gate activation or control mats. The control mats equipped with these gates sense a weight pressure change on a particular pavement location. The location is generally discernable by one or two square mats embedded in the pavement.
Pressure sensors have what’s called a trigger limit: the amount of weight required to activate the automatic gate.
Weight pressure-activated automatic gates don’t always work with lighter motorcycles that don’t exceed the trigger limit of the gate’s control mat, making them the worst choice for use with a motorcycle. Unfortunately, these were the original style of automatic gate and are still the most commonly used in some places.