To perform many basic motorcycle maintenance tasks you need to lift the rear wheel (and often the front) off the ground, and the easiest way to do this is with a motorcycle stand. Jobs like oiling and adjusting the chain, checking and replacing brake pads, or inspecting tires for damage, are much easier if the motorcycle is on a stand.
A rear wheel stand is the most essential, because you’ll use it regularly, but it’s also good to have a front stand too. As well as working on the wheels and chain, it’s just easier to access all of the different components of your motorcycle if it’s being held in an upright position with the wheels off the ground.
Rear stands come in a few different types, so it’s important to understand what you’re buying. Most stands have a universal fitting – a kind of L shaped bracket which grips the side and bottom of the swing-arm from both sides. This works well enough but it can be tricky to get the bike up onto it without a spare pair of hands to help. A common alternative is for the stand to have U shaped sockets which slot onto a pair of bobbins that screw into the side of the swing arms – most modern bikes will have screw holes for the bobbins to be easily fitted. Some people find this type of stand easier to operate single handed.
How to use a rear motorcycle stand single handed
It’s fairly easy to put a motorcycle onto a rear stand by yourself regardless of which type you pick. With the bike resting on its side stand, first slide the rear stand under the swing arm so that it’s properly seated onto both sides of the swingarm (or hooked onto the bobbins). Use one hand to hold the stand in place and with your other hand holding the rear grab rail (or other secure point) slowly pull the motorcycle up off the side stand so that it’s upright. Next, push the back of the rear stand downwards smoothly and firmly until its fully supporting the weight of the bike.
If you feel like you’re losing balance, just let the bike fall gently back onto its side stand. You will need a little upper body strength to do this safely, so if you’re not confident it’s good to practice with a friend holding the bike upright until you get used to doing it.
Front motorcycle stands
There are also different types of front stand for your motorcycle. A ‘triple tree headlift’ stand slots into the bottom of the steering yoke and lifts the front of the bike off the ground that way, so that forks extend a little with the weight of the wheel.
This type of stand is especially useful if you need to work on the forks. Alternatively, another type of front stand clamps onto the bottom of your motorcycles forks and lifts from the bottom – this causes the forks to compress in the same way is if the bike is just resting with the front wheel on the ground, and it means that you cannot remove the forks because they are supporting the weight of the bike.
For most motorcycle owners who only want to perform a basic level of maintenance and servicing in their garage, a set of front and rear motorcycle stands (also called paddock stands) like these will be all you really need. They’re affordable, easy to use and don’t take up too much space.
For more serious mechanics who are planning to do a lot of work on their motorcycles, it’s worth considering a motorcycle lift table. This will enable you to safely raise the entire bike off the ground high enough to comfortably access all of the engine components without having to stoop over for long periods of time.