Editor's note: If you're having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith's Garage, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with "Keith's Garage" as the subject.
Q: Can you tell me what to look for in a good motorcycle lift for home maintenance? — David Geiger/via email
A: Thanks for a great question. Which of course raises other questions, because what lift you buy depends on what kind of work you'll mostly use it for. I usually see two different types of lifts, the platform lift and the parallelogram lift. If you have the room for it, you can't beat a platform lift. If your space is limited, the other type takes up less space and is usually light enough to lean up against the garage wall. I use both, depending on the work at hand. If I'm replacing old tires, the parallelogram lift allows me to remove both wheels at once, handy for me because I don't have tire changing equipment and take all my tire business to another local shop. If I'm working on a long-term revival, the platform lift gives me room to place parts removed from the machine and lets me raise the bike up high enough to work on it comfortably. I started out with a Harbor Freight lift over 10 years ago, and that lift is still being used at editor Backus' shop. I replaced it with a Titan air-operated lift because I got tired of pumping the Harbor Freight lift up manually several times a day when I was working on multiple bikes.
Most if not all the platform lifts will have a rear wheel drop-out for tire work. Most if not all the platform lifts will come with an adequate front wheel chock, but if you use them much you will want something better. I've got a Condor Pit Stop/Trailer Stop. It works perfectly.