Why Every Rider Needs A Motorcycle Stand (Or Two)
Racers made them popular, but a good set of stands are useful for every rider
The specificity of motorcycle models today is great for the industry and the various forms of riding people are into, but there’s an aspect of motorcycling that has become a little more difficult now compared to years past – maintenance. It used to be that nearly every bike came with a centerstand, which made it easy to prop the back wheel in the air in case you needed to perform chain maintenance or change a tire. As motorcycles became more specialized, the centerstand has been reduced to largely touring machines and some adventure bikes.
Granted, those are the types of bikes that would benefit most from having a centersand, but every bike still needs to have its wheels up in the air from time to time. This is why having a set of motorcycle stands comes in handy. The reasons are plenty, so let’s dig into the world of motorcycle stands.
Motorcycle Stands 101
We’re going to state the obvious here, but at their core, motorcycle stands serve to lift one or both wheels off the ground. Usually when the topic of motorcycle stands is brought up, people think of racing bikes. The reasons are obvious: this is where you most often see stands being used in the wild. Motorcycles converted for track use typically do away with the factory-supplied sidestand to help reduce weight and eliminate the chance of it contacting the ground at extreme lean angles, which could lever the back tire off the ground and result in a crash. But it’s not just sportbikes that use stands; off-road bikes, especially motocross bikes without sidestands, use stands. Even cruisers, too. The reasons are all the same: maintenance.
To keep the bike upright when not in use, motorcycle stands take the place of the side stand. At a minimum, a rear stand is all that’s needed to keep the bike from tipping over, but a front stand could also come in handy to raise the front tire off the ground. This is necessary in the event the rider is using tire warmers on their bikes for their track-specific tires which need a lot of heat to perform at their best. But all this racing talk is diving into the weeds.
Even if you and your motorcycle never see a racetrack, stands still serve a purpose. Not least of which is motorcycle maintenance. Getting the rear tire in the air makes chain or belt servicing easier, and you obviously need it if you ever plan on changing a tire. And while it’s not mandatory to use a rear stand during an oil change, having the bike level instead of leaning to one side is helpful.
Front stands are similarly helpful. They clearly make front tire changes a heck of a lot easier, but depending on the kind of front stand you get, they can facilitate the ability to service or make changes to your front suspension and service your brakes.
Now that you know what kind of stands exist, we can get into more detail about each one.
The rear stand is the most common type of stand, and as the name implies, it picks up the rear of the bike and lifts that tire off the ground. For motorcycles with double-sided swingarms, rubberized tabs on the stand contact the swingarm and you pull or push the handle (which acts as a lever) towards the ground. Instead of rubberized tabs, a more secure method involves spools that are threaded into bungs on the swingarm. The stand uses hooks that cradle grooves within the spools, and you lift the bike up like normal. This is the more secure method.
For motorcycles with single-sided swingarms, there’s another kind of stand that features a sturdy dowel that is placed inside the wheel hub or axle. The long lever of the handle acts to lift the bike up when you pull or push the lever down.
To be clear: you don’t need to have your factory sidestand removed in order to use a rear stand.
If a rear stand brings up the rear of the bike, then a front stand lifts, you guessed it, the front! Like rear stands, there are two different types of front stands, too. One type of fork stand uses rubberized pads or locating pins that either cradle the bottom of the fork tubes or insert into them. Then you lift the front up via the lever. These are easier to use, have less moving parts and are, therefore, lighter.
However, the biggest drawback of these fork stands is the inability to turn the bars side to side or remove the fork tubes if they need servicing. The other option for front stands is called a triple tree stand (although there are other terms for it in other parts of the world). These use an articulating arm with a pin at the end that fits into the bottom triple tree (one of two clamps that keep your fork in place) and lifts the front up like any of the other stands mentioned so far. As you can likely guess, the big advantage of the triple tree stand is the front wheel is free to move side to side and you can even remove the fork tubes entirely if you need to perform suspension work.
The downside to triple tree stands is that they are slightly more difficult to use, have more moving parts, weigh a little more, and in most cases, you need to purchase the correct pin to fit into the bottom of your triple tree. If you have more than one bike, this could require purchasing multiple pins.
Though the topic of stands tends to favor sport, sporty, and sport-touring motorcycles (they work equally as well on adventure bikes, too), we didn’t forget the cruiser crowd. Cruisers also need maintenance, and getting the wheels off the ground is equally as important. In fact, cruisers have it easier. Because a typical cruiser frame envelopes the entire engine, the bottom frame spars underneath the engine make a perfect – and balanced – lift point for a motorcycle-specific scissor jack.
Motorcycle-specific scissor jacks have a platform the bike sits on to disperse the weight. In a pinch, we’ve also seen people use automotive floor jacks with a piece of wood across the lift platform to disperse the weight. It’s neither ideal, nor recommended, but does showcase how much easier it is to get a cruiser off the ground compared to a sportbike.
Finally, we have moto stands. Made for dirt bikes, which also have the frame cradling the engine like a cruiser – but are significantly lighter – moto stands come in a few different shapes and sizes. Essentially, a moto stand is a solid, raised platform that the dirt bike sits on top of. Placing it under the frame is a good balance point to get both wheels off the ground. Riders generally leverage the bike from their hips and lift the subframe just enough to get the frame over the stand, though there are more expensive versions that can raise and lower the platform with the kick of a lever so you don’t need to throw your back out to get the bike up. The thrifty among us have also resorted to resting the bike atop a five-gallon bucket to achieve the same result. But we don’t recommend that.
A Quick Aside
These are not to be confused with motorcycle lifts, which you commonly see at shops, dealerships, or service centers and require you to place the whole bike on top of before lifting the whole thing in the air (and still don’t get the wheels off the ground). While they’re nice to have, we’re going to steer away from motorcycle lifts for now because those are a bit outside the scope of what we’re talking about here.
Stands We Like
Motorcycle stands are made from a few different materials, the most common being aluminum and steel. They are available in several different price points as well, but buyer beware because as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” There are several different versions of all of the stands mentioned above. The links below are just representative of what’s out there.
Standard rear stand: Pit Bull standard rear stand – Pit Bull is the gold standard when it comes to motorcycle stands. Literally. Tough as nails and built to last, you’ll know a Pit Bull stand a mile away with its gold finish.
Spooled rear stand: Woodcraft spooled rear stand – Woodcraft is another top name when it comes to stands, and these have features like hardware holders to keep axles and hardware organized when taking a wheel off.
Single-sided swingarm stand: Pit Bull hybrid rear stand – These are considered a hybrid because the handle is removable and can be installed on either side of the stand. When used on the drive side, wheel removal is easy. When installed on the non-drive side, sprocket removal is easy.
Fork lift front stand: Vortex front stand – Vortex stands are strong and robust, and feature dual sealed bearing wheels.
Triple tree front stand: Vortex front head lift stand – Vortex’s head lift stand includes five pins at time of purchase to fit most applications, saving you time and money.
Scissor lift: Drag Specialties Center Jack Scissor Lift – The flat base is wide and sturdy, and operating the lift is very easy.
Moto stand: Trackside Steel MX Box Stand – It really is as simple as this. Fancier options exist, or you can go cheaper with a bucket (but we wouldn’t).
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