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To remove both wheels from my 1100cc motorcycle, I needed to raise the bike up off the ground somehow. I ended up purchasing a Harbor Freight model 2792 atv/motorcycle lift to do the job. It was on sale for $99, so I decided to give it a try. In this review, I explain how I assembled it, how I used it, and whether it was worth the price.
The price was the lowest I could find for a 1500 lbs. capacity lift of this type that is designed to be used for motorcycles. It came packaged in a box with instructions and was not too awful heavy for me to carry. Minor assembly was required, but was very simple to do using basic tools I already had.
While preparing for a motorcycle ride one morning, I took my bike off the center stand and discovered the rear tire was flat with a nail in it. Removing motorcycle tires is not the easiest thing to do. Because my motorcycle is a large touring bike, it is not possible to remove the rear tire by just having it on the center stand. It had to be lifted high enough for the rear tire to clear the bottom of the rear fender and rear bumper guard that the hard saddlebags are bolted to.
Unless I could lift the rear of the motorcycle high enough, there was no way I could attempt removing the rear wheel on this shaft-drive bike. I have a small floor jack that I use for my car, but I tried jacking the motorcycle with it and it proved to be too small and unstable. I tried it and quickly decided I needed something safer that I could use by myself.
One of the factors in my motorcycle lift purchasing decision was the physical size of the lift. I have a fairly small garage without room to store a large lift. I needed something that could slip under a small bench out of the way. This one does that when you pull the pin and remove the tall t-handle. The t-handle is just for maneuvering the lift on the floor and has no role in jacking. The tallest part is the frame that the jack pushes against, and the jack itself. You can easily remove the jack with 2 screws if you needed to further reduce the height for storage. The frame it pushes against is held with 2 bolts that can also easily be removed.
The Harbor Freight 2792 motorcycle lift has two pedals. A large, very easy to press foot pedal does the jacking. The small pedal is what does the lowering. The lift was has a wide stable base on casters and has two leveling feet. The 4.5 inch lowered height is plenty low enough to slide under most any motorcycle or atv. The 16 inch max lift height also is plenty to work with.
The two flat surfaces that the bike sits on has firm rubber pads. I chose to place a few sections of 2X6 wood across the lift surfaces because of the shape of the underside of my particular motorcycle. This worked perfectly for me.
A safety feature of the Harbor Freight motorcycle lift is a self-ratcheting stop mechanism. To lower the load, you simply tilt the stop mechanism back towards the handle and hook it there to prevent it from contacting the teeth on the lift. It would otherwise tilt into the teeth via gravity to secure the load.
To use the stop mechanism to hold the load, you simply unhook it from the handle and allow it to engage into the teeth as you jack up the bike. If you then try to lower the bike, the stop mechanism will only allow it to lower a very short distance until the teeth engage, then the load becomes held by the steel frame of the lift, not the hydraulic jack. This is how you hold the bike up while you are working on it. It is like having a built-in jack stand. Very simple and convenient!
Another nice feature of the Harbor Freight motorcycle lift is that it has steel loops for connecting tie-down straps to. This can helpful to keep the bike or atv stabilized on the lift. Tie-down straps do not come with the lift.
When you open the box, you will find an instruction manual and a few other instruction sheets. The lift packaging is minimal, just a few styrofoam pieces and a few sheets of bubble wrap, so not a lot of waste to throw away (which I like). The lift was protected fine and had no signs of damage.
Within just a few minutes I had the entire lift assembled by following the instructions that came with it. It requires two hex wrenches (Allen wrenches), a philips screwdriver, and two open end or box end wrenches (or adjustable wrenches will work too).
Probably the most important instruction is that it has a two-stage lowering pedal that seems counter-intuitive to use. To lower the lift quickly, you press the pedal slowly and only part way. It needs a load on it for this to work. The important thing is to know how to lower the motorcycle slowly. To do this, you press the pedal all the way down quickly. Because the lowering method seemed backwards to me, I decided to play it safe and practice this with a few 50 lb. bags of cement before I actually used it with my motorcycle. It worked just as the instructions said it would, and it actually worked very well.
After having used the Harbor Freight 2792 motorcycle lift to change the rear tire on my motorcycle, I can say that I fully recommend it. It worked well for my motorcycle, a Moto Guzzi California, except that the center of gravity of my motorcycle farther rearward than the lift could be positioned. The weight of the motorcycle caused it to tip gently towards the rear. I easily worked around that by using my small floor jack to lift against the center stand on the bike to help counterbalance it. This worked perfectly and was very easy to do.
As a mechanical engineer, I tend to have a critical eye for design and quality of mechanical things such as this. The quality of this motorcycle lift appears to be very good. It had a few very small paint chips, but nothing to complain about considering the very low price. The welds all looked good, there was no hydraulic fluid leaking, and the fasteners were all very good too.
If you own a motorcycle or atv, and like to save money by doing your own maintenance, it is better to go ahead buy a motorcycle lift like this one so that you’ll have it ready to use when you need it. Why wait until you get a flat tire or need it for some other reason? If you are like me, you hate waiting to ride!