Best Motorcycle Jacks: Safely Work on Your Bike
Put your bike in a secure position with these top lifts
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BY Austin Fracchia / LAST UPDATED ON June 28, 2019
Motorcycle maintenance usually isn't as complicated as automotive maintenance, but wrestling a heavy bike while working on the engine, tires, or other parts can be difficult without a jack. Motorcycle jacks, just like their automotive counterparts, take the weight of the bike, lift the frame high, and keep it balanced so you can work on it without fear of it tipping over. Since most jacks are rather small, they are also easy to use and store in cramped spaces if needed. Convinced you need a motorcycle jack? Here are our top recommendations.
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Why Buy a Motorcycle Jack
- Keep the bike balanced. Motorcycles are obviously tricky to work on given the two-wheel design of the bike, meaning it's going to tip without any kind of support. Motorcycle jacks sit under a bike's center of gravity and keep it balanced (front-to-back and side-to-side). Combined with the bike's weight to hold it in place, the jack creates a stable setup to maintain the bike without having to support it yourself.
- Lift the bike up. Jacks make maintenance easier by lifting a vehicle up to access the sides and undercarriage; motorcycle jacks are no different. A bike jack raises the motorcycle up so you can work without crouching down. The extra height also makes tire and wheel changes easy.
- Store the jack in small spaces. When not in use, most motorcycle jack designs fold down into a compact profile. This makes it easy to store a jack nearly anywhere around a garage or workspace, keeping everything organized until you need to work on your bike once again.
Types of Motorcycle Jacks
Scissor jacks are the most basic and affordable type of motorcycle jack available. The design uses diagonal metal pieces joined together by screws to raise the main platform from the base. A spanner is usually required to move the metal frames together or apart, raising and lowering the platform respectively. Since the mechanism is all mechanical, jack maintenance is relatively simple.
Hydraulic jacks, also known as floor jacks, use a hydraulic pump filled with fluid to raise the bike off the ground. While they are more expensive than simple scissor jacks, hydraulic lifts can raise and hold heavier objects safely. As a result, these tend to be preferable for heavy-duty motorcycles or for professional work where you're likely to work on multiple bikes in a single day.
Top Brands of Motorcycle Jacks
Motorcycle jacks from a garage door manufacturer? It might seem a little odd, but the company's history of developing the lifter for garage doors has influenced the quality it infuses into scissor jacks like the Extra Wide Jack. Like its other products, its scissor jacks tend to break the mold a little with useful design features you will rarely find in competitive models.
Torin is a company that focuses on making things lift heavier things. As a producer of reliable service jacks, bottle jacks, scissor jacks, and jack stands, it has a whole line of useful products that make automotive maintenance safer. For motorcycle jacks, consider the Big Red Jack as a great option for general motorcycle maintenance and work.
Motorcycle Jack Pricing
- $100 and under: Home-use motorcycle jacks tend to be at or below $100 in price. The build quality tends to be high, but the designs are rather simple. In fact, most jacks in this price range are just a simple lifting platform the motorcycle balances on for stability.
- $100 and above: For anything with a high weight capacity (generally above 1,100 pounds) and convenient design features, you will need to spend over $100. Lifts in this range tend to be hydraulic with pumping levers, built-in cradles, caster wheels, and more.
The main platform of a motorcycle jack is where the bike makes contact with the lift. As the main balancing point, the platform supports the whole weight of the bike and keeps it stabilized while you work. Platforms come in different sizes, but it's generally good to have a wide surface area if you have a large bike. Some jacks also have a two-prong platform to create two separate contact points with the bike instead of just one.
Balancing a motorcycle on a jack can be dangerous without some extra safety features. Beyond basic straps and tie-downs, some jacks come with built-in safety features. The most common is a cradle built into the platform itself. The cradle helps secure the bottom of a motorcycle a bit more by creating more contact points than just with the platform itself.
- Lifting Capacity: All jacks have limitations when it comes to the lifting capacity. In other words, there will always be a limit to what it can lift. Knowing this limit is important for finding a jack that can handle your motorcycle. Otherwise, you risk overloading the jack, potentially destabilizing the setup and damaging the bike, the jack, or even yourself. The general lifting range of jack options tends to be around 300 to 5,000 pounds.
- Storage: To get the most out of your jack when it's not in use, find one with a low-profile design that is compact enough to store. Something that collapses down to at least 4 inches is best for easy storage in cramped spaces. The handle (if one is included) should also be detachable.
Best Motorcycle Jacks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- You can use ratchet straps or safety locks to keep the bike stable while it's on a jack instead of just relying on its balanced state.
- Sit on the bike as you position it over a jack. This will help you find the balance point as you gently raise the jack to support the weight of the bike.
- Hydraulic lifts tend to require more maintenance than scissor lifts. The pistons, in particular, require frequent lubrication to keep running smoothly.
Q. Should I buy a scissor or hydraulic jack?
A. This mainly depends on the lifting capacity you need. If you have a heavy bike (around 2,000 pounds), a hydraulic jack will be a better choice.
Q. Can I use a jack on any type of motorcycle?
A. Most jacks tend to sport a near-universal design, but you may find the mounting process to be different since all motorcycles have different centers of gravity. Specialty motorcycles like trikes or ones with a sidecar may not work with a single jack.
Q. Do motorcycle jacks need maintenance?
A. Basic lubrication and cleaning is typically all that's needed. As the jack ages, you may need to replace parts or hydraulic fluid to keep it running smoothly.
Our top spot for the best motorcycle jack goes to the Extreme Max Jack. It's a versatile lift that doesn't break the bank.
To save even more money with a great motorcycle jack, check out the Zeny 11000-Pound Jack instead.