How to Lift a Motorcycle with a Floor Jack

A red floor jack isolated on a white background.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-80
What You'll Need
Motorcycle jack
Wood blocks
Two ratcheting straps
Two jack stands

For the motorcycle hobbyist, a motorcycle jack is an inexpensive, at-home device that will make working on your bike safer and easier than other make-shift methods. However, considering motorcycles can weigh up to 1500 pounds, it is important to learn how to properly use your jack before something has the chance to go wrong.

Step 1 - Find a Flat Work Area

For the bike to be properly and safely lifted, the jack needs to be set on a flat floor, preferably concrete. Do not use the jack on carpeted areas.

Step 2 - Inspect the Under Side of Your Motorcycle

Get down on the ground and inspect the underside of your bike. Using a motorcycle jack requires that there be a flat surface under the engine to lift without adjustment. An uneven surface will cause the jack to lift unevenly and the bike will fall.

Step 3 - Make Adjustments

If your bike has a side stand, put wood blocks under it to make the bike as upright as possible before lifting. To do this, have another person hold the front handlebars while holding the brake lever. Then, stand towards the rear end of the bike, and coordinate with the other person while slipping the block under the kick stand.

Step 4 - Tie it Down

It is not required, but a good safety measure is to use the two ratcheting tie-down straps to secure the bike to the jack. The tie-downs will prevent the bike from falling if it becomes unbalanced during your work on it. Most motorcycle jacks are sold with two ratcheting tie-down straps included, but if you don't have them, any home improvement store or automotive shop should carry them.

Step 5 - Position the Jack

Place the jack under the bike. Make sure the jack platform is positioned under the flat surface you located earlier. If you have a center stand, make sure it is positioned in the center of the two rubber platforms on the jack, and lock the wheels.

Step 6 - Raise the Jack

Once the jack platform is properly positioned, use the foot pedal to slowly raise it. As you lift the motorcycle, steady the bike by holding a handlebar. If it does not feel steady during lifting, lower the jack and make adjustments to the platform placement and start over. Most jacks will rise to 11.8, 14.5, and 16.5 inches off the floor. Choose your lift height according to the work that you will be doing and the parts that need to be accessed.

Step 7 - Place Jack Stands for Heavier Work

Jack stands are recommended for doing more than light maintenance on a bike. If you have them, place one under each wheel, then release the jack, unlock the wheels, and slide it from under the bike.

Remember that safety comes first when using a motorcycle jack. Take your time to make sure the lift is properly secured and the jack is placed well to prevent damage to your bike or yourself. A motorcycle jack without the use of jack stands can be used for light maintenance such as an oil change, tightening, and possibly wheel replacement. If rigorous wrenching is needed, make sure to use jack stands to keep the bike in place.