Have you ever had to change a tire on your motorcycle? It can be a tedious job and an unsafe one if you don’t have the right equipment.
One of the most important pieces that many people don’t know how to operate a motorcycle jack. It’s a lifting device that elevates your bike allowing you to change the tire or do any kind of repair.
In most cases, these use advanced hydraulics, compressed air or both. On top of that, there are many models available with quite a few significant differences in features, capacity, etc.
In the text below, you’ll find valuable info on different jacks, materials, and ways to use the machinery along with some tips.
How to Use Your Motorcycle Lift
The first thing you should remember is to always consider safety. It’s crucial you know how to work with a jack for the whole operation to be safe. This type of machinery is only safe when it’s used properly.
Before you get started, make sure you set it on a flat floor. It’s equally as important that you work on concrete and not a carpeted floor.
Another thing you want to do before setting everything is to look under your bike. You’ll need a flat surface under the engine. Lifting on an uneven surface can cause the bike to slip and fall potentially injuring you or someone else.
Put wood blocks under the side stand if you have one. This is to ensure your motorcycle is upright before lifting. You might want someone to help you with this by holding the front handlebars and the brake lever.
Stand at the back of the bike and slip the block under the kickstand with the help of the other person. Another safety trick you should consider is using two ratcheting tie-down straps to fix the bike to the jack.
It’s not a required step, but it can’t harm. The straps help prevent the bike from falling in case it becomes unbalanced while you work. This is something you’re most likely to get with your jack, but even if you don’t, you can get them at any automotive or home improvement store.
Use a large handle to roll the machine under the motorcycle. Position the platform on that flat surface you found earlier. Also, make sure your center stand is in the center of the two platforms. Lock the wheels as well.
See our in-depth guide for how to use your stand.
Keep adjusting this until you’re certain that the platforms are in the right place. Once you’ve done that, use the foot pedal and raise the jack slowly and steadily. Hold on the handlebar as you lift so you can steady the bike when needed.
However, if it feels quite unsteady, it’s best that you lower the bike and inspect the situation. Make sure it’s positioned well, and adjust if it’s not. It’s important you do this slowly and with care to prevent possible injuries.
Most machines lift to 11.8, 14.5, and 16.5 inches off the floor surface. There’s no such thing as the best height since this is up to you to decide. Consider the work you’ll be doing and select the lift height accordingly.
Consider jack stands if you’ll do more than some light maintenance. If you use them, keep in mind you have to be equally as careful. Place one under each wheel, release the jack and unlock the wheels. Now just slide the stand from under the motorcycle.
Whatever you do, remember that safety is the most critical factor. A wrong move can result in injury or damage to your bike.
Still, stands aren’t required for most light maintenance jobs. A floor jack is quite enough if you’re doing some tightening, oil change, or even replacing your wheels.
If you’ll do any kind of heavy-duty projects that involve aggressive wrenching, it’s strongly recommended you use stands to secure the motorcycle in place.
And just in case, check out how to pick up a motorcycle if it falls over.
Types of Jacks
Traditional scissor and hydraulic jacks are the two basic types. Hydraulic designs are somewhat more popular nowadays as technologies advance each day. Still, many people prefer and use the scissor type quite often as well.
It’s hard to tell which type is better since both do a reasonably good job. The choice is usually up to you and your preferences.
These are also known as screw jacks. They’re made of crosswise metal components that form a diamond shape.
It’s precisely that diagonal design that gives the device such strength. The construction is reinforced with screws and hinges for better durability and stability.
For this one, you’ll need a spanner tool to turn the screw and adjust the machine. It’s a standard and simple piece of equipment, and you can find it in my trunks and garages.
These are usually quite lightweight and compact, so they’re easy to carry around. Their overall compactness and weight make it ideal for emergencies.
Many people argue that these aren’t as stable as hydraulic jacks. Still, their stability mostly depends on the brand and design you go for. Some are easier to work with, while others are a bit more complicated.
The great thing about these is their self-locking mechanism. Once you lift the bike and there’s no more power, the screw will hold all the weight until you reapply the force.
It makes the whole thing much safer but only if you’ve opted for a high-quality machine. If the design is poorly made and out of cheap materials, it could dent or even break under pressure. It’s crucial that the materials and the construction are all sturdy and stable.
These are somewhat different having two cylinders. One is for pushing while the other one is for the transfer. The smaller one is pushed so the energy transfers to the bigger one via hydraulic fluid.
As a result, you get a tremendous amount of force. It’s precisely the reason why these can lift much more than the scissor models. Still, they come with some drawbacks even though they’re sturdy and efficient.
The entire device will stop working if the hydraulic force seizes for whatever reason. Nonetheless, these are quite durable and dependable, and many people think these are a bit easier to work with.
It’s a relatively simple design that’s equally as suitable for beginners who’ve never used it before. Keep the primary safety factors in mind and go slowly as you learn and progress.
Steel jacks are usually sturdy and quite reliable, but their main drawback is their overall weight. The lightest model is somewhere around 20 pounds while some models go as far as 100lbs.
It’s not so simple to move it around although it’s ideal for robust and demanding projects. If you’re a professional mechanic though, your jack might be even heavier. It’s best you go for something heavy-duty with a capacity of 5 to 10 tons. These steel machines weight a few hundred pounds.
Aluminum is definitely on a lighter side. Those will low capacity weight about the same as their steel counterparts. The difference is only noticeable if you go for jacks with greater carrying capacity. This is where you can notice the benefits of aluminum since a 3-ton machine weighs approximately 40 pounds less than that made of steel.
Steel vs. Aluminum
As you probably noticed, there’s a difference in weight and capacity ratio. On top of that, steel is more suitable for heavy-duty projects that involve robust wrenching.
Still, aluminum is more popular due to its weight and portability. Portability is quite important for most bikers, which is why they usually opt for lightweight jacks.
Luckily, you can go for the aluminum/steel hybrid if you want the best of both worlds. Such a machine is a combination of fairly light weight, strength and reasonable price point. It’s a good option if you think you want a durable and robust piece that’s easier to carry around than all-steel models.
Use for Storage
This type of machinery isn’t just for service or maintenance. It’s often used for storage purposes as well especially by people who live in cold areas.
When those winter days arrive, you want to set the bike up for storage. As you probably know, lifting the motorcycle on a wheeled jack is super important. It allows you to protect it from rain and snow while also prolonging its overall lifespan.
Or if you’d rather have a storage shed, see top picks here.
It’s unlikely you’ll fit everything evenly on your first try. In most cases, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to make it work properly. For this, you should put several pieces of wood between the frame rails.
Using towels to protect your bike’s paint is another useful advice. Regardless of whether you’re making adjustments or not, a towel will prevent any pieces from damaging the finish of your motorcycle.
Also, make sure to secure the straps and that you don’t place the platform on any cables. If you’re using the jack to replace the wheels, you should consider using automotive ramps as well.
Using Spanner Wrenches
These are specifically designed to be versatile which is why they come in many shapes and sizes. This type of tool comes in handy quite often for lots of home and mechanical projects.
Spanner set is one of the few things you’ll need at the end of the season when it’s time to store the bike. You might not need a set with many wrenches but make sure to have the ones compatible with your jack, the bike, and its stand.
It’s easier to maintain everything when you have adequate high-quality tools.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a motorcycle stand a better option?
Many people confuse the two together. While a stand is quite useful at times, a motorcycle jack is a bit more reliable.
It allows you to lift the bike on a platform from which you can repair tires (see repair kits here) or replace any parts of the bike. Still, the main difference is in the mobility since this one has wheels and is easier to move around.
As you’ve noticed, there are many benefits to having a motorcycle jack. It makes it easier to repair and maintain your bike while it also helps with storage.
Due to the many advantages, you should consider getting one especially as the biking season comes to an end. Using a jack isn’t as hard as people tend to think; not even if you’re a beginner.
It’s important to keep safety factors in mind and to take your time with using the machine. Regardless of the type you go for, it’s crucial you operate with ease and patience to prevent any accidents.
This type of machinery makes all the difference in how you do even the slightest tinkering on your bike. It’s reliable, easy to use and above all, very useful.