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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









PRODUCT REVIEW: A Jack That Lifts a Downed Motorcycle

Upright a bike without straining your back

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor
4/1/2011

This story originally ran on 3/9/09: By now, you've probably witnessed someone demonstrating the technique that uses your back and legs to lift a motorcycle that has fallen on its side. (If not, click here to read the WRN story and see our video of it.) In all the times I've watched volunteers from the audience attempt the bike lift, only one out of three women has been able to execute the technique. I suspect either not enough leg strength or coordination has prevented them from lifting the bike.

 

Here's a bike lift demonstration put on by Harley-Davidson at Femmoto 2007.
Here's a bike lift demonstration put on by Harley-Davidson at Femmoto 2007.

Most women have a hard time lifting a bike the first time using this technique.
Most women have a hard time lifting a bike the first time using this technique.

I tried the technique on a Sportster at the Femmoto event in 2007 at Harley-Davidson's booth. It was harder than I thought and required a lot of leg strength to push up the bike, as that is how it is lifted. You anchor your butt on the seat and use your legs to push back on the seat as your arms guide the bike upright. I'm an athletic person, and I found it moderately difficult to do.

When I learned of the Save Your Back Jack, a jack designed to lift a motorcycle, I was intrigued. Dale Klco started advertising his bike jack on WRN a few months ago. I recently tested the jack to see just how effective it is and if it can be a substitute for lifting the bike on your own. 

Not an attractive sight, but I needed to lay down the bike to try out the jack.
Not an attractive sight, but I needed to lay down the bike to try out the jack.

To test the jack, I had to lay a bike on its side. I didn't dare use my new 2008 Street Glide for this, so I asked my husband, Norm, if I could use his 2000 Road King. We laid it down carefully on a rug in our garage, as you can see above.

Before I explain how the jack works, I must tell you that the Save Your Back Jack does not work on all motorcycles. Dale, the inventor, originally created the jack to lift Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles because that is what he rides. The jack uses the passenger floorboard as the jacking point.  

Because of the overwhelming demand for his product, Dale created an accessory so that the jack will work with motorcycles that have engine guards, regardless of brand. The clamp accessory, available on his Web site, turns the engine guard into a jacking point. I asked Dale if the jack would work with a metric motorcycle that has passenger floorboards but no engine guard. He said he's not tried it, as the jack was specifically built for a Harley floorboard. Dale is available to answer any questions regarding what bikes the jack works with. His contact information is at the end of this article. 

When you order the Save Your Back Jack, it comes with a sturdy carrying bag, a wrench that fits on the jack, and a yellow Velcro strip used to secure the brake lever. The jack is 15 inches long and weighs 9 pounds.
When you order the Save Your Back Jack, it comes with a sturdy carrying bag, a wrench that fits on the jack, and a yellow Velcro strip used to secure the brake lever. The jack is 15 inches long and weighs 9 pounds.

The first thing the instructions say is to wrap the Velcro strap around your engaged brake lever, ensuring the bike won't move when jacking it up. Follow these images of me while I attempt to use the jack. You can click on them to make them larger for a closer look.

 

Norm wraps the Velcro strap around the engaged brake lever.
Norm wraps the Velcro strap around the engaged brake lever.

In addition to wrapping the brake lever, make sure the bike is in first gear so it doesn't roll. That's what you do in the "bike lift" technique.
In addition to wrapping the brake lever, make sure the bike is in first gear so it doesn't roll. That's what you do in the "bike lift" technique.

Then slide the jack under the passenger floorboard.
Then slide the jack under the passenger floorboard.

There is a curved notch in the jack where the floorboard will rest when you start to jack up the bike.
There is a curved notch in the jack where the floorboard will rest when you start to jack up the bike.

Using the wrench that came with the jack, I turn the fixed nut, which moves the jacking mechanism upwards.
Using the wrench that came with the jack, I turn the fixed nut, which moves the jacking mechanism upwards.

I turn the wrench back and forth as the bike slowly starts to lift. You can see that the top part of the jack (where it meets the floorboard) is now off the ground partway as it starts to lift the bike.
I turn the wrench back and forth as the bike slowly starts to lift. You can see that the top part of the jack (where it meets the floorboard) is now off the ground partway as it starts to lift the bike.

It took me about 15 to 20 turns of the wrench to ratchet this Road King upright. It's not hard to do; it takes some muscle, but not much. Any woman should be able to move the wrench back and forth. I like to use gloves so I get a good grip and my hands won't slip. 

After about three minutes of turning the wrench, you can see the jack holding up the bike. The kickstand is not down. The only thing holding up this 800-pound Road King is the jack. I don't recommend stepping away from the bike like this, but I wanted to take this picture.
After about three minutes of turning the wrench, you can see the jack holding up the bike. The kickstand is not down. The only thing holding up this 800-pound Road King is the jack. I don't recommend stepping away from the bike like this, but I wanted to take this picture.

Here is a close-up of the jack holding up the bike, with the wrench still on the nut. The wrench does not need to be on the nut for the jack to hold up the bike. I just left it there so you could see where the wrenching point is.
Here is a close-up of the jack holding up the bike, with the wrench still on the nut. The wrench does not need to be on the nut for the jack to hold up the bike. I just left it there so you could see where the wrenching point is.

The white cylinder on the front part of the jack is a plastic roller that allows the jack to slide easily over the ground surface when the bike is on its side. Normally, a bike won't be falling over on a carpet (well, hopefully it won't). I found that the roller slid a bit on the soft carpeting. If you’re going to test out the jack like I did, don't lay down the bike on a slippery surface.    

It's important to jack up the bike to the point where you can upright it the rest of the way yourself.
It's important to jack up the bike to the point where you can upright it the rest of the way yourself.

Once the bike is nearly upright, I muscle it up the rest of the way so I can put down the kickstand.
Once the bike is nearly upright, I muscle it up the rest of the way so I can put down the kickstand.

Now that I've described how to use the jack, here are my thoughts on it. I think it's a great product, one I will take with me in the saddlebag of my Street Glide next time I head out on a long road trip alone. I could do everything myself without help from someone elseand that is empowering. I like products that give me that kind of freedom.

The Save Your Back Jack is well constructedsolid and sturdy. I never felt that it wouldn't hold up the motorcycle. It also did not damage the bike or leave any marks on the floorboard. If you follow the enclosed instructions, it does what it says it will.

Before I tested the jack, I tried to see if I could lift the Road King using my legs and back. I could not, and I was quite surprised. I think I couldn't do it because Norm's Road King has 16-inch ape hangers, which make using the handlebars as a lifting point difficult. I also couldn't get any foot traction on the carpet. Perhaps if those two things were different, I might have been able to lift it, especially since a motorcycle with side bags is easier to lift than one without, like a stock Sportster.

I've not had the opportunity to lift my Street Glide on my own, but even if I could, why use all that muscle and might when the jack can do the job for you. It’s nice to have the jack and the knowledge of the bike lift technique in case you ever need to use them.

The jack sells for $159a fair price, I think. Buying the jack is like buying insurance. You don't know when you'll need it, but when you do, you'll have it and it'll be worth its price.  If you wish to contact Dale Klco, the owner of the company and inventor of the product, his email is SaveYourBackJack@aol.com. Be sure to let him know you read about the jack on WRN.

Related Articles
Feature Articles: Bike Lift Technique
Feature Articles: One Way to Avoid Dropping Your Bike

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