Doing routine maintenance or repair work on a motorcycle usually means you have to get down on your knees to get to all the important stuff. This makes things difficult and uncomfortable, before long your back and knees are aching and you just want to quit.
But there’s a solution – you can use a motorcycle lift table to raise the bike up to a more comfortable level, providing you with much easier access to the engine and other components. Lift tables used to be expensive items, which meant they were mostly reserved for professional motorcycle workshops, but now they’re much more affordable.
What is a motorcycle lift table?
A motorcycle lift table is a large flat piece of steel plate which you can wheel the bike onto, with a wheel-chock (also called a wheel-vice) at one end that locks the front wheel into place, securing the bike in the upright position. Most models will also feature metal d-loops which allow the bike to be further secured with tie-downs.
Usually the steel plate that forms the table will have a textured surface which makes it easier for the motorcycle tires to grip, and less reduce the risk of slipping. Also, most lift tables will feature a ramp so that the bike can be wheeled on or off easily, and this can often be removed for convenience once the table is in use.
Once the bike is safely secured to the table, it can be raised up to a suitable level, using compressed air, hydraulics or some other system. Air operated tables will require a suitable compressed air source, so might not be ideal for everybody, whereas hydraulic systems are self-contained. Most hydraulic lift tables are foot operated, with pedals to raise and lower the the table.
Lift tables are rated for different weights, so owners of large touring or custom motorcycles will need to ensure they choose a table that can safely handle such a heavy bike.
Some high end motorcycle lift tables feature a built in jack or center-stand, which allows the user to raise one or both of the wheels so that they can be removed for tire servicing. Most tables also feature a ‘drop-out plate’ which, when removed, makes it easier to take off and replace the rear wheel.
Do not confuse lift tables with other equipment for lifting bikes, such as a motorcycle jack, which is a much smaller device that sits under the frame or engine block to raise it off the ground. Jacks are good for taking wheels off and servicing tyres, but don’t provide the stability that a lift table does. If you’re going to be doing a lot of work on the bike, a table is the best option because it won’t wobble or tip when you’re applying a lot of pressure to troublesome bolts and suchlike.
The best motorcycle lift tables
Budget option: Hydraulic: Roughneck Motorcycle Lift
At the time of writing this table is listed at under $500. It uses a hydraulic lift, which requires no external air or power supply – you just use a foot pedal to raise or lower it. It can be raised to its full 30 inch height in under 20 seconds. Despite the low price, the table is fully featured. It has a diamond plate steel base, adjustable wheel vice, drop out plate, and d-loops for tie downs.
The table itself measures 86 and 1/2 inches by 26 and 3/4 inches, and it has a lifting capacity of 1000 pounds. Once raised to the desired height, the table can be mechanically locked into place for extra security.
Air Operated: Redline LD1K Light Duty Lift Table
At the time of writing, this table is priced at under $600. it uses an ‘air over hydraulic’ system, so you will need a compressed air supply for it. This table has most of the features that you’d expect from a high end product: a sturdy tire-vice at the front to hold the bike upright, a ramp, a drop-out plate, d-loops to attach tie-downs.
Don’t be fooled by the “light duty” name either – this table has a 1000 pound lifting capacity, and an 86.5 inch table length, so it can handle most motorcycles. It can be raised to a maximum height of 30 inches.
Heavy Duty: Rage Powersports BW-PROLIFT-HD
At the time of writing this table is priced at just under $1,100. If you want to work on really big bikes, you need extra lifting power, and this high end table can lift up to 1,500 pounds. It also has a large table area than the other tables too, 105 inches long and 24 inches wide.
The table features a ramp, adjustable wheel vice, and drop out plate. It also includes an integral center-lift to make it easy to lift the wheels off the able for easier tire servicing. It’s air operated, so you’ll need a compressed air supply with a minimum of 90psi.
This is the pricier option, but if you have a larger bike it’s worth the investment.