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Harbor Freight/Central Hydraulics
1000 LB. Motorcycle Lift

by Martin Hackworth

Photos and Video: Martin Hackworth, JR Hackworth

Harbor Freight Lift #2

HFL #1
     The Central Hydraulics 1000 lb. motorcycle lift #91764, available at Harbor Freight, is an inexpensive, sturdy and reliable hydraulic lift that performs admirably well for its low cost. Is it worth the $279 we paid for it - you bet. Should you buy one? That requires some internal dialogue.

     Harbor Freight has, over time, acquired a whole slew of motorcycle related tools in their catalog. We've had long-term relationships with their motorcycle tire changer, the Haul Master motorcycle wheel chock and the 880 lb electric hoist. Each of these items has met or exceeded our expectations and this lift is no exception.

     Harbor Freight currently carries several different models of motorcycle/ATV lifts. The 91764 is their base model. More expensive units feature greater lifting capacity and some may be driven with an air compressor. After examining each of these at our local Harbor Freight store we decided that the widely advertised 91764 represented the greatest bang for the buck. Although the list price is $399.99, this lift is commonly available for less than $300 due to the wide availability of various Harbor Freight discounts.

     The 91764 will easily lift 1000 lbs with very low effort via a hydraulic foot pump and lever (left in the photo above). It takes about 55 pumps to raise the 86" x 27" deck from floor level, about 6", to it's maximum 30" height. Another lever (right in the photo above) lowers the lift and this lever has enough sensitivity to vary the lowering speed from rapid to as slow as you'd like. It's very easy to get the lift to just the right height for working on any part of a motorcycle (video).

     The 91764 is equipped with a rear ramp, a removable panel on the rear deck (to facilitate removal of the rear wheel), a fully adjustable vise-type lock for the front wheel, an adjustable front-wheel stop, a locking bar and a set of tie-down attachment points. The deck and ramp are made of beefy diamond plate. The lift will easily roll on its sturdy wheels and casters - even fully loaded - but may be secured in place with a set of lifting screws.
The sturdy front wheel chock will hold a bike securely enough that the tie down loops are largely superfluous. Motorcycles with 17" front wheels (or smaller) and large brake rotors may run into clearance problems.

     The only problem we have encountered with the 91764 lift was getting it home and out of the truck. The lift weighs 350 lbs and comes in a box that probably weighs 50 lbs by itself. It takes two men and a boy to lift it all out of the back of a pickup truck. Setup is a two-person endeavor.
     So the 91764 lift is sturdy, works very well and is an excellent value. It will easily lift most normal motorcycles and hold them securely for work. It's low floor height and long rear ramp make rolling bikes on and off a snap. About the only real complaint we have is that you will scrape your knuckles on the head of the shiny bolt shown in the photo on the right when tightening in the front wheel vise. Other than that what's not to like?

     In a word - origin. I would not be the least bit surprised to find it costs more to ship these lifts to the United States from China than it does to manufacture them there. The "real" costs of inexpensive imports should always be considered when purchasing an item from China (or anywhere else in the third world for that matter): labor conditions that may vary from substandard to wretched (including the illegal use of child labor), near complete disregard for environmental issues, the enrichment of  repressive political regimes and contributing to a massive trade imbalance thats tilted in the wrong direction for nearly everyone in the west. Though it may be difficult to find a TV set that's not either made in China or assembled from parts made in China, it's entirely possible to find high-quality motorcycle lifts made right here in the USA - for not that much more money. 

     We are not here to pontificate on what moral choices you should weigh when purchasing items for personal use - just to make you aware of what they are.
The last thing in the world we endorse is jingoism in any form. Knowledge, however, is power. 
Harbor Freight Lift #5
Harbor Freight Lift #6
Central Hydraulics 1000 LB. Motorcycle Lift:

Price Paid: $279.00 - Harbor Freight Tools

The Good: Easy to find.
The Rad: Inexpensive.
The Gnarly: Chinese paint and metallurgy = sketchy?

Video: Raising and lowering the Harbor Freight 91764 lift

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