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Updated May 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best motorcycle lifts

Motorcycles are heavy. You can’t easily pick one up by yourself, so when you have to do maintenance or repairs, you need help raising the bike high enough so you can work on it. You can use a motorcycle stand, motorcycle jack, or motorcycle lift. It’s important to know the difference between them so you buy what you need and what is safest for your situation.

No matter which tool you buy, the weight capacity must be enough to support your motorcycle. The lifting height is also a factor that can make the difference between satisfaction and frustration. If you’re using a motorcycle lift, the size of the platform is also crucial.

If you aren’t sure what you need, it helps to read through a comprehensive buying guide so you know which features are most important and why. Another useful tool is a list of recommendations that provides information at a glance so you can review highly rated models.

motorcycle lift
Make sure the lift is fully lowered before placing your motorcycle on it.

How to buy the best motorcycle lift

Do I need a motorcycle lift?

If you routinely perform your own motorcycle maintenance and repairs, having a lift or jack is a necessity. Some tasks are not only inconvenient without a lift, they can also be dangerous. Having a lift isn’t so important if you take your bike to the shop for maintenance and repairs. Also, if your bike has a center stand, that’s all you need for the most basic maintenance from wheel work to lubricating the chain.

Benefits of using a motorcycle lift

Reduces risk of injury: Whether you're hunching, squatting, or on your back when working on your motorcycle, if you need to apply force or reach out from one of these positions, you increase the risk of straining a muscle. When you use a lift, it raises the motorcycle off the floor, greatly reducing the chance of injury.

Secures your bike: A motorcycle lift is also beneficial because it secures your bike in a position that enables you to work on it. This makes maintenance and repairs safer for you and your motorcycle. You don’t have to worry about the bike toppling to the ground or on you.

Easy to use: A motorcycle lift is easy to operate by yourself.

Convenient and cost-effective: A lift doesn’t take up much space, and for the convenience and added safety it offers, a lift is a good value.

Motorcycle lifting devices

For this article, we have categorized motorcycle lifting devices into three broad categories: lifts, stands, and jacks.

Lift: A motorcycle lift, with a platform you raise, is the best and most expensive option. The bike is still supported by its tires and secured with clamps and wheel chocks, so it is also the safest way to elevate your motorcycle. The platform must be large enough to fit the entire bike, so these lifts take up more storage space than stands or jacks.

Stand: A motorcycle stand is a simple, stationary device. If you have a dirt bike, the stand you use looks like a large, heavy-duty stool. The stand has no moving parts, so you need to pick up the bike and place it on the stand. Make sure you’ve been trained on how to do this so you don't injure yourself.

If you have a heavy bike, you can use a rear swingarm stand or front fork stand. These devices support your motorcycle by the rear or front wheel, respectively. Using leverage, you can raise one end of the bike up a few inches so you can perform minor maintenance tasks.

Jack: A motorcycle jack operates like a car jack. You slide it under the bike to lift it safely off the ground. A motorcycle jack can only be used when the lowest part of your motorcycle is the frame. Jacks are compact, so one won’t take up much room in your garage.

Before using a motorcycle lift for the first time, carefully inspect it to make sure no damage occurred during shipping.

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Features to look for in motorcycle lifts

Lifting mechanism

There are three main mechanisms for raising and lowering a motorcycle: manual, hydraulic, and electric.

Manual: A manual lift operates with a twisting motion like a car jack. When you rotate the end clockwise, the bike raises; counterclockwise, it lowers. This is the most affordable type of lift. It also requires the most effort and is slightly more dangerous because you must be close to the bike to operate the lift.

Hydraulic: A hydraulic jack raises the bike using a lever and pumping action, while a hydraulic lift raises the bike using a foot pedal. Both methods are smoother and safer than a manual jack. They also require less effort, but these are a little more expensive than manual models.

Electric: For the ultimate in ease, an electric lift raises and lowers your motorcycle at the touch of a button. It’s safe and nearly effortless, but this type of lift is by far the most expensive.

Weight capacity

Most motorcycle lifts can easily handle the weight of an average motorcycle. To be safe, you should always check the weight capacity of the lift you want to buy.

Platform size

The size of the platform on a motorcycle lift is very important. Make sure it's wide and long enough to support your bike. This is especially crucial if you have a bike that isn’t a standard size, such as a chopper.

Lifting range

The maximum height of motorcycle lifts varies greatly. Some models only raise the bike an inch or so off the ground, while others lift it high enough to keep you from having to bend over. Consider the type of work you plan to do on your bike and purchase a lift that has a suitable range.

Safety

If the lifting mechanism malfunctions for any reason, you want to have a fail-safe in place that keeps the bike from falling on you or the ground. Look for a motorcycle lift that has features that will keep you safe at all times.

motorcycle lift
DID YOU KNOW?
The motorcycle frame is the only part that should contact the motorcycle jack. If you try to lift the bike using the exhaust system or oil pan, for example, you’ll create an unsafe situation and possibly damage the bike.
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How much do motorcycle lifts cost?

Inexpensive

You can get a motorcycle stand or manual scissor jack for less than $150. For the average motorcycle enthusiast, this can be a great tool because it’s affordable, versatile, and doesn't take up much room.

Mid-range

If you prefer a lift that requires less physical effort to raise and lower, you’ll pay a little more. Hydraulic motorcycle lifts cost roughly $150 to $300.

Expensive

If you do all or most of your own maintenance and repair work and/or you have multiple bikes or a small repair shop, you want a high-end hydraulic or electric motorcycle lift. The benefit of a lift is it has a platform, so you can raise the entire motorcycle while it's still supported by its wheels. These models cost between $800 and $3,000.

Never sit on the bike while raising or lowering the lift. Even a slight shift of weight can cause the bike and you to fall.

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Tips

  • Clear the work area. When using a lift, the first thing to do is clear the floor around it. This is important because you don't want to trip while walking around the raised bike, and if the bike falls, you don't want it to land on anything.
  • Pad the platform. Consider padding any part of the motorcycle lift that comes in contact with the motorcycle to help prevent scratches and abrasion.
  • Safety first. Before raising the motorcycle, make sure it's balanced and secure. The average weight of a motorcycle is around 400 pounds, more than enough weight to break bones should it land on you. Take precautions to be extra safe. After you're certain the bike is secure, check it again.
  • Steady the bike as it rises. If this isn’t possible because of how your lift works, enlist the help of a second person. If the bike starts to fall, don't try to catch it. Get out of the way to prevent injury.
  • Keep clear when the lift is operating. Stay clear of the lift when it’s moving up or down. If you stand too close, clothing, your hand, or your foot could get caught between or under moving parts.
motorcycle lift
Take particular care when using a scissor jack. It has pinch points that can easily crush a finger or hand.

FAQ

Q. Can I build my own motorcycle lift?

A. No. It's never a good idea to use a makeshift motorcycle lift. Motorcycle jacks and lifts have been tested to ensure they can support the full weight of your bike (and more). Piecing something together with items you have lying around your garage is extremely dangerous. You could wind up in the hospital (or worse) if it fails. If you aren’t worried about your own safety, think of the damage your bike will sustain when it falls.

Q. Is a motorcycle lift hard to use?

A. No. The hardest part of using a lift is making sure the bike is balanced and secure. After that, the mechanism used to lift the bike off the ground requires very little effort. The toughest ones to operate only require a twisting action to raise or lower the jack. The easiest models work with the press of a button.

Q. Do motorcycle lifts require any maintenance?

A. Inspect your motorcycle lift before using it. If you have any assembled parts, such as side extensions or wheel chocks, make sure they’re fastened securely. Since there are different types of lifts (manual, hydraulic, electric), consult the owner’s manual to determine what maintenance is needed and how often it must be performed. For example, hydraulic lifts must be cleaned, oiled, and tested to verify that all safety features are still functional and reliable.

 

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