My new bike lift

I don't have a centerstand on my '93, and everytime I look for one on eBay, they wind up being as much as buying a new one. So being the cheap bastard that I am, I started thinking about alternatives. I've never liked the "motorcycle" floor-jacks that you can get at Walmart for $80 - some folks have said the exhaust can support the bike, but I'm not too keen on testing it out. So I thought harder. I need something that will let me lift the front end off of the ground. A frame to suspend the bike would do the trick. I'm not a welder, so I decided to make it out of iron pipe. It's strong. It's relatively cheap. It comes in a variety of sizes and lengths. And it's easy to put together. So that's what I decided to use.

I did a bit of measuring. The handle bars are roughly 32" wide, and with the fairing I've got, the bike is over 4 feet tall but less that 5 feet. I hoped that I could find pre-cut, pre-threaded pipe at the local Lowes or Home Depot that would be close to those measurements.

Here's a cleaned-up version of my sketch for the lift.

The parts list is pretty simple:
1 - 36" pipe for the cross-bar
2 - 60" pipe for the down-tubes
6 - 90 degree elbows
2 - Tees
4 - 4 to 6 inch nipples for the feet (feet nipples? bizarre...)

I took a quick trip to Lowes and found all the parts in the lengths I needed. I used 1-inch iron pipe. Total cost: $58. Take that,eBay...

If I had to do it over again, I'd probably use 1.25" pipe to make it a bit more rigid. The 1" pipe seems strong enough, but it's a little bit springier than I'd like. And galvanized vs iron, I dunno. The iron was cheaper by a little bit, and I figure it'll last OK.

Also, I used 4" nipples for the feet. 6" nipples would probably give better stability, but I was more concerned that the longer nipple wouldn't handle the stress as well once I got the bike lifted. It'd probably be OK, but better safe than sorry.

So here are my parts

First, get the cross-bar and down-tubes assembled.

Then start assembling the feet.

Another set of feet go on the other side (need pic)

And there you have it. (need pic)

It took less than an hour to assemble.

Now let's try it with the bike.

Hooray. Success. The stand seems solid - no bending of the cross-bar, and the feet aren't spreading (although that would be easy to fix by using a strap between them)

I used a ratcheting strap to lift the bike. It's not perfect, but it does work. At some point, I need to figure out a better way, though. Maybe something involving a come-a-long. Or a crane. ;)

So all in all, I'm happy with the $58 bike lift. It does what it's supposed to do. And what makes it even better is that I can ALSO use it to work on my rat bike:

I couldn't do that with a Nighthawk centerstand... ;)

Oh yeah, one final thing - if you lift your bike with one of these, make sure you've got the tranny in gear so the bike won't roll. The lift might be able to handle a little rolling, but not much.  I doubt it's much fun to pick-up a Nighthawk with a missing front wheel.

4 March 2008