How To Lift a Motorcycle With a Floor Jack: A Detailed Guide
You can never have too much fun on a motorcycle as long as it’s in perfect condition. You’re assured of excellent acceleration power whenever you need a surge of power to overtake a slow 18-wheeler. A smooth touch of the brakes lets you roll down to a stop without breaking a sweat. You can weave through traffic without losing your balance or posing a risk to other road users.
Of course, your ability to get up to all these antics boil down to shape and condition of your bike. For motorbike hobbyists, that doesn’t mean spending a small fortune at the bike shop. You can service the bike right at home if you have the right floor jack. Floor jacks are relatively cheap and provide you with a safe and secure way to hoist your bike whenever you need to work on it.
Given that some motorcycles weight up to 1,500 pounds, you can’t afford to take chances. It's essential to learn how to lift a motorcycle with a floor jack so your precious bike doesn’t tip over when working on it. That would be a disaster of epic proportions that could cost you your health and bike.
How To Lift a Motorcycle With a Floor Jack
Choose a Flat Working Surface
As the name suggests, a floor jack sits on the floor. That means you need to look for a safe, flat working environment. Garage floors make a perfect working space if you have one. Consider laying down a tarp to avoid creating a mess and having to clean up afterward. A level driveway makes a perfect choice too but only if you’re sure that your kids won’t come running and knock over the bike.
Inspect Your Bike’s Underside
Before you get started, examine the underbelly of your motorcycle. You must be sure of that the part that comes into contact with the saddle won’t buckle, bend, or twist under pressure. Place the jack’s saddle on a stable surface to keep the bike from tipping over.
A quick perusal of the owner’s manual can help pick the sturdiest parts of the bike’s underside. You have a choice between frame sliders and rails depending on the type of your bike. The jack placement on bikes varies depending on whether you’re working on the rear or the front-wheel.
Use the Bike’s Stand
Motorbike stands come in two styles – center or side stands- and they affect the way you hoist the bike. A center stand makes it easier to raise the bike compared to side stands since they leave the bike standing upright. Place a block of wood on the floor before lowering the side stand. The elevation helps keep the bike in an upright position when mounting the jack underneath. Have a friend straddle the front wheels and keep the bike in an upright position while holding the handlebars. Lower the side stand and place a piece of wood so that the bike stands in an upright position without teetering or wobbling.
Secure the Bike with Straps
Securing the bike with straps is not mandatory but its best to err on the side of caution. Some floor jacks ship with ratcheting tie-down straps. Securing the straps to the jack keeps the bike in place as you work on it and helps to maintain balance. These straps are readily available from automotive or home improvement stores.
Place the Floor Jack
Roll the floor jack under the bike into the predetermined position of the bike’s frame or rail. How you place the jack depends on the size of the saddle.
A. Small-sized Saddle
Position the saddle under the chosen point. Place the saddle on the front-most corner of the rail or frame if working on the front wheel and lift until the wheel is off the ground. Move further towards the back when you need to work on the rear leg. If you don’t have much to work with, place the saddle under the exhaust part connecting to the engine.
B. Large-sized Saddle
If your floor jack has a sizeable saddle, you can lift the entire bike off the floor and have both wheels in the air at the same time. You only need to ensure that the bike is standing upright before engaging the jack. The large-sized saddle is in contact with the bike’s frame, real or engine block, making it quite stable.
If the bike has a center stand, position the stand between the floor jack’s two rubber platforms and lock the wheel.
Work the Floor Jack
Once you’re sure of the jack’s position, pump the foot pedal slowly to raise the bike off the floor. Hold the bike’s handlebars as you continue to work the foot pedals to lift it into the air. Don’t hesitate to lower the bike back to the floor and re-positioning it again if it feels wobbly. Depending on the specific make and model, you will achieve 16.5, 14.5, or 11.8 inches of floor clearance. The amount of clearance you need depends on the parts you’ll be working on.
If you need to go beyond light maintenance, then you need a pair of motorcycle jack stands. Place a jack under each wheel, ensuring a secure fit. Lower the floor jack by releasing the valve, then disengage the wheels. Move it away from the bike to have enough working space.
Safety is a crucial consideration when working on your bike from home. Never rush through the process of hoisting the bike. Instead, take the time to ensure that that the floor jack is well-positioned. Use straps to secure the bike onto the jack if you need extra support, especially when rigorous wrenching is involved. Some routine maintenance can be performed using a floor jack, including tightening and cleaning the chain drive, oil changes, and wheel replacement.
Now that you’ve learned how to lift a motorcycle with a floor jack you can safely work on your bike at home and keep it in pristine condition. Safety is a significant consideration when using a floor jack to hoist your bike.