Many choose to ride a motorcycle because the running costs are considerably lower than that of a motor vehicle. However, motorcycles generally need a fair amount of maintenance and unless you are able to do many of the routine tasks, like changing the oil yourself, the maintenance costs can quickly absorb your running cost savings.
Generally, motorcycle maintenance is much easier than car maintenance and many motorcyclists maintain their own bikes. The only problem with maintaining a bike is getting to the working parts. Without the correct equipment, even routine oil changes or proper cleaning would see you hunched over the engine or lying on the ground. The ergonomics are appalling.
Motorcycle lifts have been designed to make motorcycle maintenance easier by lifting the machine to a level at which it is comfortable to work. This equipment is essential for motorcycle owners who do their own routine maintenance. It is not cheap but, with the savings that you make on maintenance, you will quickly recover the cost.
Motorcycle lifts come in a variety of configurations from the very simple to lifts that sport extensions to accommodate all-terrain vehicles or choppers. Most lifts are equipped with a front wheel clamp to anchor the bike, and some have a rear drop hatch to make it easier to access the back wheel.
If you attempt to lift your bike without the correct equipment you could damage the vehicle or worse still, someone could be injured. It is therefore absolutely essential that you understand what you need before you purchase the lift.
In this article, we investigate the different types of motorcycle lifts on the market, offer some insights into what you should take into consideration in choosing a motorcycle lift, and review some of the best motorcycle lifts on offer.
Motor Cycle Lifts – The Basics
One of the most important features of a motorcycle lift is the lift capacity. The lift capacity of the motorcycle lift that you purchase must be higher by at least fifty percent than the wet weight of your bike. Wet weight is the dry weight plus the weight of oil and fuel. If you’re not sure of the dry weight of your bike you should consult your motorcycle manual or the Internet.
For safety reasons, the motor vehicle lift should have wheel locks and a way to lock the lift into position to prevent it from dropping unexpectedly. You should ensure that the lift has strap attachment loops. Padding in the lift area will help you to preserve the paintwork on your bike.
A power source may be required to lift the table. This can take the form of compressed air, hydraulics or electricity. Hydraulic lifts are often activated by a foot pump and can have either parallel or scissor arms.
Bikes that are infrequently ridden can get tyre rot or flat spots. You can prevent this by storing your bike on the motorcycle lift.
Types of Motor Cycle Lifts
- Airlift. These tend to be the cheapest options and they use compressed air.
- Air hydraulic lifts use both air and hydraulic fluid. They tend to be smoother in operation due to the addition of fluid in the system.
- Electric hydraulic lifts use electricity to power the hydraulic pump. These tend to be the most expensive lifts but they do have some added benefits such as convenience and the tendency to operate at a consistent pressure.
- Mechanical lifts. This type of lift works in a similar fashion to a car jack and depends upon you doing the work of lifting it usually by means of a wrench or socket.
- Lift tables Rather than lifting the bike, the table is raised and then the bike is put into neutral and is simply wheeled up the approach ramp. Some lift tables are fixed and some are on wheels
Considerations to Take into Account
- How much space do you have?
- How big is your bike?
- What is the lifting table clearance? Does it easily slide under your bike?
- Does the lifting table extend upwards as far as you want it to?
- What type of table is most suitable? Some motorcycle lifts have big flat tops with or without a rubber covering and others just have a few posts that minimise the amount of contact with your bike, reducing the risk of scratching the paint.
- What size platform or arms do you require? Consider the length and width of the vehicles that you plan to lift. You must also ensure that you have adequate place to store it. Some lifts can be stored vertically to save space
- How durable are the component materials?
- Do you need to move motorcycle lift? If so wheels or castors will be required.
- How much do you want to spend?
- Never overload the lift
- Ensure that you use the correct lifting points
- Always engage the lifting lock
- Ensure that the motorcycle has been properly stabilised before commencing work
- Ensure that the bike is properly balanced
Top 7 Motorcycle Lifts – Reviewed
1. Extreme Max 5001.5044 1100 lb. Motorcycle Scissors Jack, Wide
The Extreme Max scissors left is a heavy-duty motorcycle lift with a load capacity of 1100 pounds (500kg). This sturdy lift is designed to lift motorcycles large and small from the machine’s centre.
The heavy steel frame is covered with durable rubber to prevent scratches or chafing on the paintwork. It lifts from 3 3/8” to 14”. It is a manual scissors lift that is operated with a socket or wrench. If you need more mobility Extreme Max has designed a dolly which you can purchase and fit onto your lift for ease of movement.
This lift is solid and durable, but small enough to tuck away in the corner of the garage. Overall it offers good value for money, and it comes with a two-year warranty.
2. Venom 1,100lb Motorcycle Center Jack Hoist Scissor Lift Stand Motorcycle Dirtbike ATV Motorcycle Center Jack Hoist Scissor Lift Stand
Made from heavy-duty steel and with a load capacity of 1100 pounds (500kg), this is a centre jack scissors lift, which is suitable for lifting motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs. When fully extended it will lift even large bikes up to a maximum of 14.5”. When folded it measures just 3 ½” so it easily slips under the bike.
The surface of the lift is covered with durable rubber to stop slippage and to prevent scratches or chafing of the paint finish.
The compact design makes for easy storage. The lift is operated with a wrench which is not included in the pack.
3. Black Widow MC-JACK Jack (Motorcycle)
The Black Widow is made from heavy-duty materials and has a load capacity of 1100 pounds (500kg). The lift is manually operated, with a scissors lift that is socket driven. This lift is capable of lifting cruisers from 3 ¾ inches to 16 ¼ inches. The low folded height makes it easy to slip under the motorcycle.
There are two frame adjusters included in the pack. This is to allow the table to extend by an additional 2” to 3 ¼”. The lift has welded and pre-drilled brackets on either side for permanent mounting.
This lifting table is designed to pick up either end of the bike and not the entire bike. The lift is very compact, requiring little storage space.
4. Titan Ramps 1,000 lb Hydraulic Motorcycle Lift Table Extra Long Heavy Duty
This heavy-duty motorcycle lift is made from 11-gauge steel and is one of the strongest lift tables on the market. It has a load capacity of 1000 pounds (450kg). The platform is 21 ¾” wide and 81 1/4’” long. The large surface means that there is plenty of room to work. The lift has a drop panel approach ramp for easy loading. You just push the bike up the ramp and then lower the stand.The ramp surface is slip-proof diamond plate.
The lift has a two-pedal operation. Raise the ramp by pumping one of them and lower it by pressing the other. It is equipped with a front wheel vice lock and stop plates. Tie down straps are used to keep the bike steady when it is raised. The ramp is held in place by a removable safety bar. It is equipped with wheels so it can be moved around. The only downside to this product is that it is a little expensive.
5. OTC 1545 Motorcycle Lift
With 1500-pound (680kg) load capacity and seventeen-inch skids use this motorcycle lift to raise even the longest and widest bikes. At 3.5” the lift has a very low profile making it really easy to fit under the bike. It has a variable lift range that extends from 3.5” to 16.75”.
The lift is easy to move around. It has front and back wheels and a T handle that is removable for easy all-around access. The rear wheels automatically lock for safety. The foot pedal operation leaves your hands free to balance the bike. As an added bonus the lift comes with ratcheting tie down straps.
The hydraulic lift drops a little faster than expected so if you purchase this model operate the retraction with care.
The lift has a two-year warranty.
6. PowerZone 380047 1700 LB Hydraulic Motorcycle/ATV Jack
The Powerzone is a heavy-duty motorcycle lift that is built to last. With a capacity rated at 1700 pound (770kg), this lift can be used for both motorcycles and ATV’s. The hydraulic cylinders are activated by a foot pump freeing your hands to manoeuvre the vehicle and ensure that it is balanced.
The lift is equipped with a lock that can be secured in several lift positions from 4.5” to 14.5”. Easily move the lift by making use of the steady removable T-grip handle. Removing the handle allows you easy access to all areas of the motorcycle.
Wheels on the front and the back of the lift ensure easy manoeuvrability. Rubber saddle pads on the lift will help to protect your motorcycle paint from scratches and dents. The lift is equipped with loops for safety straps.
When no longer in use the lift collapses to just 4.5” for easy storage. This height also makes it convenient for wedging under the bike or ATV.
This lift is easy to assemble as there are just three parts to put together and this can be quickly achieved with the use of long nose pliers and an adjustable crescent wrench.
At eleven inches, the arms are a little shorter than some of the other lifts, so check that your chassis fits before you purchase it.
7. Powerbuilt 620422E Heavy Duty 4000 lb Triple Lift Jack
This strong and durable lift is capable of lifting up to four thousand pounds in weight. The patented Triple Lift design includes both a removable saddle and fully padded arms. The product lifts and holds the vehicle combining the capabilities of a bottle jack and a jack stand. This versatile lift can be used for several different types of vehicle from cars to small trucks, bikes and machinery.
It is equipped with a safety lock bar that will ensure that it stays safely in place when in an extended position. The product also has welded tie down loops.
It is designed to lift from low points of 8 5/8” to an extended 18 5/8” The large base ensures that it is sturdy and won’t dig into soft surfaces. It meets or exceeds all ANSI standards.
This versatile lift will be an asset in any workshop. Able to lift almost any vehicle, it will not drop once extended. Best of all it is very affordable.
The Right Choice Ensures Your Comfort and Safety
There is a lot to consider about before choosing the motorcycle lift that best suits your requirements, but knowing what to look for and what to expect, can help you to ensure that you can comfortably and safely maintain your trusty motorcycle for years to come. Saving money and keeping it in top form.