Most professional motorcycle mechanics wouldn’t do without a motorcycle lift but they’re also a very handy bit of kit for the home mechanic.
Commonly called a motorcycle workbench or motorbike bench, they enable you to roll your bike on, clamp the front wheel in place and then lift the bench to enable you to get better and easier access to your motorcycle as you work on it.
You might think they’re a bit extravagant but with quality hydraulic workbenches available from £350 they’re much more affordable than many would think. Sure, you can spend £2,000 on an electric motorcycle lift but most home-mechanics wouldn’t be able to justify that outlay. The top-end ramps really are only worth it if you’re a professionalmechanic and will be wheeling several bikes a day onto a bench.
The SwitZer 800lb Hydraulic motorcycle lift has a max height of 680mm and is made from strong and durable steel. Fitted with an added safety bar to prevent the bike falling and front-wheel clamps to keep the motorcycle positioned correctly, it also features a removable rear panel to support wheel removal. Ramp size 42 x 53 cm, table size 190 x 53cm.
They are almost all raised and lowered using hydraulic rams and there are three main types of lifting mechanism:
Manual pump – Controlled by a foot pump, you just work the pedal with your foot to raise the bench and then use another pedal to lower the bench in a controlled manner.
Compressed Air – You attach an airline to the ramp and use the air to operate the pump, which powers the hydraulic strut. These types of benches will also come with a foot pump.
Electro-Hydraulic – Plugged into the mains, an electric motor drives a pump which pumps the hydraulic fluid into the struts. These benches don’t always have a manual pump override.
Factor in the types of bikes you’ll need to lift and their weight. Most sportsbikes weigh around 210kg, a KTM Duke 390 weighs around 160kg, a BMW R1250GS around 250kg, a BMW K1600 weighs 310kg, a Honda Goldwing around 370kg and a Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra is one of the heaviest motorcycles and weighs around 430kg.
The more expensive lifts come with a higher load rating and are designed for motorcycle dealers who will be working on many different types of bikes.
For the average home mechanic, a lift with a 360kg load rating is more than enough.
Below is a round-up of all the different types of motorcycle lifts you can buy in the UK including a link to where you can see more information on each lift.
The Progen is fitted with an extra-large removable loading ramp making it suitable for motorcycles with kickstands. A foot-operated hydraulic lift provides a max height of 780mm for effortless maintenance while the max weight capacity of 450kg lets you work with some of the heaviest motorcycles. With built-in casters for transportation, the lift is fitted with an automatic safety lock to prevent any unwanted movement and drop ion lift height. Included in delivery are a front-wheel vice and two hooks for securing your bike.
Easy to use for professionals and home mechanics alike, the CML3 has a max lift capacity of 450kg and features a removable panel to assist with rear-wheel removal, hinged ramp for easy loading and off-loading, adjustable height (770mm raised, 177mm lowered) with a safety lock to prevent any slippage and a rubber padded locking clamp to secure the front wheel.
The MC365 is made from durable steel and has a foot-operated hydraulic pump. Fitted with a locking mechanism for three heights, you can work on your bike at comfortable levels. The support base is fitted with a loading ramp and transport wheels for maneuvering when not in use. Max lift weight, 365kg. Only suitable for motorcycles with centre stands or you’ll need to use a paddock stand at the rear. If you want to use an airline then look at the MC365A below.
Control the platform via the manual foot pump or attaching an air line. The compressed air is great for a fast and effortless lift. Max lift capacity is 450kg with a max lift height of 770mm, lowered height 177mm.
With a max lift capacity of 360kg, the Draper 37058 is a foot-operated motorcycle lift. Constructed from heavy-duty steel, the lift features a locking device to prevent accidental lowering along with a front-wheel clamp and stop bar. A removable rear panel supports the change of the rear wheel and the surface is stippled to provide added grip. The lift has fitted wheels for easy transportation with a locking system to prevent movement while you’re working.
The MC365 is made from durable steel and has a foot-operated hydraulic pump or connect to a compressor for easy lifting. Fitted with a locking mechanism for three heights, you can work on your bike at comfortable levels. The support base is fitted with a loading ramp and transport wheels for maneuvering when not in use. Max lift weight, 365kg. Only suitable for motorcycles with centre stands or you’ll need to use a paddock stand at the rear.
The PS450 is a quality airlift at an affordable price. It features pneumatic operation, drop-down rear wheel access panel and bolt-on side trays are perfect for holding parts and tools while you work. Optional accessories include sliding rail mounted quick-detach wheel clamps; wheel kit; side extensions; length extensions and more. The PS450 pneumatic lift plugs into a compressed air supply and is operated via a convenient foot control switch.
Another lift that is comfortable with heavy loads, the MC680E can lift up to 680kg with a max height of 1000mm. This Sealey motorcycle lift is power by a 230V electro/hydraulic lifting system and includes a heavy-duty ramp and platform with a removable rear panel to make changing the rear wheel easier. Supplied with a motorcycle front wheel locking attachment for tyre widths between 75 – 340mm for added bike security.
The MT680 is perfect for regular use thanks to its heavy-duty hydraulic ram and air pump plus an included separate foot-operated hydraulic pump and reservoir unit. Made from solid steel, the max load is a massive 680kg with a raised height of 790mm. Additional features with a hinged ramp for easy on and off-loading, removable panel, safety locks and rubber pads for securing the front wheel.
Manufactured in Italy from heavy-duty steel, the EG600CE electro-hydraulic lift in CE and TUV approved for your safety. Featuring a front run off bar, side wing tool trays, rear slide away sections, safety locking systems, and an integrated electric pump unit, this lift has it all. With two different height options, 1.1m or 1.3m, it is also available as a flush floor fit lift. Max lift weight 600kg.
Operation: There are loads of options available, including air, electrics and hydraulics. Hydraulic lifts are the most common. Choosing one that is pedal-operated will give you more control as you can hold your bike to stop any movement during raising and lowering.
Base: Choose a lift with a robust and sturdy base, so you have a reliable platform for your bike. Lifts can have solid bases complete with bolts to fix to the floor or wheels. If you choose a wheeled lift, make sure they can be locked into place.
Ramps: The best ramps are the full width of the bench. This way, you have more control when you’re running your bike up onto the stand.
Work Surface: Opting for a wider work surface gives you more room to store your nuts and bolts while you’re working on your bike. Choose one with raised edges to stop any small parts rolling away.
Pedals: If you have a hydraulic pedal-operated lift, make sure you can secure the lever in place. Some come with adjustable heights, but all should come with a guard or locking pin to prevent accidental lowering.
Wheel removal: Lifts have front-wheel clamps to keep your bike secure when you remove the wheels. Choosing a lift with a removable plate helps with the removal of the back wheel.
The cheapest motorcycle lift we could find was on eBay. This unbranded product costs £259 and has a maximum load of 360kg. On the face of it, it looks great. However, there’s one catch and it’s a deal-breaker.
The bench itself is really short (1370mm – the wheelbase of a R1200GS is 1507mm). As you can see from the image above, the rear wheel is actually resting on the ramp and not the table itself. The bench can carry 360kg but the small print on this bench says that the loading ramp is not rated to carry more than 120kg. Even though a sports bike doesn’t weigh more than 230kg, do you really want half of your bike resting on the ramp like this?
If space is tight, you’re better off getting a different type of bike lift like an abba bike stand or 1jac or spend a bit more money (around £100 extra) to buy a proper full-length motorcycle lift that will do the job you need it to.
How much does a motorcycle lift weigh?
All weights vary but you’re looking at around 130kg minimum and up to 300kg for the professional standard electric lifts.
Do these motorcycle workbenches come assembled?
Most of them need assembly but come in a few main parts so they’re not that tricky to put together. The professional motorcycle benches come pretty much good to go, weigh a hell of a lot and will need a forklift or a good few hands to get it from the delivery lorry to your workshop floor.
What length motorcycle left do I need?
Our recommended buy, the Switzer is 1900mm long but the front wheel chock is set almost 250mm from the end of the bench, meaning you have around 1650mm to play with. The wheelbase of a BMW R1200GS is 1507mm meaning it’ll fit but it’ll be pretty close. If you want a longer ramp for a larger motorcycle but don’t want to spend big bucks then check out the Sealey MC365A which has a table length of 2200mm.