One of the most common and universal methods of lifting a motorcycle is using paddock stands, especially the rear for that all important chain maintenance.
They’re easy to use, quick to grab and relatively inexpensive to buy but there are a few things you’ll want to give thought to when you set out to buy one – something we’ll be exploring over the coming segments.
What kind of lifting?
Deciding whether a paddock stand is the right kind of lifting method for you, depends on three things:
- What you are aiming to lift the bike for
- What kind of bike you have
- Do you want to do simple maintenance and cleaning or extensive overhauls
Paddock stands are a great go-to for general maintenance and cleaning purposes, what they don’t do is raise the bike up any significant amount.
You won’t be able to perform work on suspension and steering components (except for the head lift in the case of fork removal) – this is where a proper motorcycle lift can have the edge.
Whether it’s a home setup or a professional bike workshop the simplicity and ease of these stands means one thing holds true – no well-equipped garage would be without a good set of them.
Value, strength, ease of use
The Oxford Premium rear stand gives a huge amount of value for money. The build quality outpaces that of more expensive competitors, it’s easy to use and comes with pad and bobbin adapters.
As an overall package it’s tough to beat and for most users this is going to be a wise investment giving many years of usage.Check On SportsBikeShop
Value, clever design, strength
The MotoGP Front Stand gives an impressive level of build quality, design and finish.
Easy to use owing to its single wheel design and comes assembled right out of the box. if you’re in the market for a front paddock stand this is well worth considering.Check On SportsBikeShop
Types of paddock stand
Front and rear paddock stands are available and each can come in a few different configurations.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these set ups which we will break down below.
Rear: Swingarm pad lift
Swingarm pad lifts use two rubberised pads to lift the swingarm from underneath raising the rear wheel into the air, they’re a relatively universal fit for most kinds of motorcycle (some bikes have oddly thin or wide swingarms so check the range of fitment).
They can be a bit fiddly and feel a little unstable particularly on rounded profile swingarms. There’s also the risk of marking the swingarm as the pads will be resting on the finish.
Fairly universal fitment
Tend to be cheapest by a small margin
Can be fiddly to get into position
Not as stable as hook in bobbins
Rubber pads may mark your swingarm
Bobbin lifts hook into a set of “bobbins” you will have to install into your swingarm – whether these will be sold with the stand or sold separately depends on where you buy.
Bobbins may also be a specific size to that stand, so others may not fit.
This is a more secure system than the swingarm pad but does cost a little more overall and requires a little more work to be done.
Not all bikes will allow you to install bobbins in the swingarm and you’ll need a set for every bike you intend to lift unless you wish to swap them round.
Easy to use
No chance of scratching or leaving marks
Requires you to fit bobbins to all bikes you intend to use it on (could be pricey)
More expensive than a pad lift when you factor in the bobbins
Rear: Single sided swingarm
Relatively specialist but worth a mention, where a bike has a single sided swingarm one of the considerations you’ll need to make (other than accounting for the time spent looking and admiring it!) is that a normal rear paddock stand won’t fit.
You’ll need to purchase one made specifically for single sided swingarms, this has a long pin that you insert into the hub.
Enable you to lift single sided swingarm bikes
Only work on bikes with single sided swingarm
You may need a specific hub pin size for your bike
Front: Under Fork
Under fork paddock stands are true to their description, it uses a pronged rubberised cup to sit in under the fork bottoms and allow you to lift the front wheel off the ground.
This is much like pad lift stands for the swingarm with a mostly universal fitment and tends to be the cheapest kind of paddock stand used for lifting your front wheel.
However, because you’re lifting by the forks you will be unable to remove them – it’s also worth bearing in mind you will need to be mindful of preventing the forks bouncing as this could destabilise the bike and topple it off the stand.
Mostly universal fitment
Can be unstable
May mark fork bottoms
No method of fork removal with the stand alone
Front: Head stand
Head stands lift from underneath the headstock, they use a pin to sit in the recess under the lower yoke and lift the front wheel off the ground. This pin will need to fit that recess correctly, so you should measure before purchasing.
These lifts also tend to be pricier and slightly more difficult to use than an under-fork lift. But you have greater access around the front wheel and you will be able to remove the forks for servicing.
As it is unaffected by suspension bounce it’s also significantly more stable.
Good access to wheel
Pin may not fit multiple bikes
Can be pricy compared to under fork
Fiddly to use
There are a number of unbranded paddock stands available, providing cut price but perfectly usable products. They may have more flex in the design reducing stability and things like the wheels which allow the stand to pivot tend to be more prone to failure.
For occasional use they are fine but for peace of mind (and considering the price difference is often not that much) it’s usually better to buy from a brand.
That way you’ll have some after sales support even if you’re at the budget end of the market.
Budget to mid-range
In the budget to mid-range area of the market you’ll see motorcycle accessory brands like Oxford, Black and MotoGP.
These companies provide a wide range of motorcycle accessories and generally have a good name for providing quality goods and good after sales support in the event of a failure or a question.
Brands like R&G and Renntec tend to run in the upper end of the market.
For the money you’ll see better materials, well thought out design features and overall great quality. You can buy cheaper stands which will do the job just as well usually so whether you consider the extra expenditure worthwhile is down to your requirements.
If you do a lot of work on bikes, it’s worth considering a more high-end product.
How to use
Front and Rear Stands
Front Headstock Stand
Oxford Premium (Rear)
Coming in at the mid-range pricing point is Oxford’s premium rear paddock stand, one thing which stands out on this is the rigidity – it uses thick heavy gauge tubing and doesn’t feel like it’ll give a lot of flex when you’re using it on heavier bikes.
The wheels are substantial and rounded which should help them stand up to some abuse when using this a lot. It also comes with adapters to use as both a bobbin and a pad lift, providing greater flexibility than its rivals.
Given its slightly wider design it might not fit on some narrower swingarms which is something you’ll want to check prior to purchasing but for most bikes this shouldn’t be an issue.
For most bike owners, especially those with heavier machines this is a great choice.
Great value for money
Pad and bobbin compatibility
May not fit on narrower bikes (305-372mm range)
R&G Racing (Rear)
Heading into the upper end of the market is the R&G Racing rear paddock stand, out of the box the parts are all finished in a beautiful black powder coat and once assembled it looks and feels like a well-made stand that’ll give you confidence in the lift.
However, for the premium price there doesn’t appear to be a significantly higher level of build quality than that of lifts seen in the mid-range area of the market.
Further adding to this cost, it is a bobbin only lift compatible with R&G bobbins and sliders which you’ll also need to buy – no other adapters provided.
While it is a solid paddock stand it’s hard to see what you get for the money compared to cheaper stands, other than a nice sleek design.
Powder coated finish looks great and should last
Bobbin only (R&G sliders – other bobbins may not work)
Oxford Big Black (Rear)
At the budget end up the lineup the Oxford big black provides a simple and inexpensive no thrills pad lift stand. It does lack some of the stability of more expensive stands and only comes with basic plastic wheels and without bobbin adapters.
For those on a budget especially with smaller/ lighter bikes, it would be no bad choice at all. However, if you intend on lifting your Harley Fatboy this is probably best avoided in place of something more substantial to support the extra weight.
Fits dual swingarms 260-355mm
Ideal for smaller bikes
Not as sturdy, some points of flex especially on heavier bikes
No bobbin adapters
Square profile plastic wheels are a point of weakness
Very much in the upper end of the market when it comes to price the Renntec “MoovaMoto” appears.
A slightly different design compared to most other rear lifts, it comes with swivel casters at 4 points underneath – effectively enabling you to use it to shift the bike around whilst it’s on the lift.
While this is a nice feature the issue is when trying to get the bike on to the lift these castors can move about and buck making this more finnicky than a traditional design.
You can’t help but feel it’s primary job is to move the bike around and it’s use as a paddock stand is an afterthought.
The lift is otherwise really well made – the frame is thick, the welds are really nice and the castors appear to be great quality. But the question has to be asked – if you don’t need the ability to move the bike when it’s on the stand is it worth paying such a high price?
For people with many bikes and a large garage space this might present a neat solution to moving around bikes in long term storage but for your average user it’s hard to see the benefit.
Allows Movement of bike rear end around
Really solid construction
Fiddly to use – castors rotating and bucking
R&G Racing Single Sided (Rear)
When it comes to paddock stands made specifically for single sided swingarm bikes the cost tends to rise due to the need to support the entire weight of the rear from a single piece of tubing and hold it steady – something which requires stronger materials and more careful engineering.
The R&G Racing paddock stand made for this configuration is up there in the higher end of this pricing band, further adding to this no pins are included and must be purchased separately, something which other stands of this kind come with out of the box.
This really does push up costs, and while the lift does appear to be well made with a nice powder coated finish and substantial thick-walled tubing it doesn’t appear to justify the additional expenditure when compared with products at lower pricing points.
Powder coated finish looks great and should last
Feels well made
No lifting pin included in package
One of the things not seen in paddock stands very often, particularly in this price point, is a single tube construction without joints. This aids in rigidity and comes with the additional bonus of having it assembled out of the box, ready to use.
The MotoGP front paddock stand is a great design, and really easy to use – the presence of a single wheel each side (which appear to be well made enough to take the abuse) aids in reducing the drag when lifting the bike and makes its action in the lift very smooth.
Overall build quality and finish is fantastic, and for the money you’d be hard pushed to do better – for a mid-range front lift this is a great choice.
Great build quality and powder coat finish
Could feel unstable on certain bikes depending on fork setup
We’ve explored the ins and outs of paddock stands during this piece and hopefully you now find yourself well equipped with the knowledge to shop with confidence.
It ultimately comes down to:
Type of and Number of different bikes you’ll be lifting
The reasons for you lifting (Maintenance, Cleaning, Storage etc.)
Your Frequency of use
Recommended Reading: Motorcycle Gear Hub
All product images via SportsbikeShop