Low-budget bike lift

I wanted a bike lift that didn't monopolize the shop, especially if it wasn't in use. I decided that a left over 2' x 8' piece of 3/4 inch plywood flooring would work, providing it was strengthened. I sourced two 8' pieces of 2"x2" square steel tubing from the local metals shop. I determined they would be strong enough by standing on one of them and noting the deflection with my 190lb on it - not much, like 1/2".

I bolted the steel tubing to the sides of the plywood, using eyebolts in four locations so I'd have someplace to attach tie-downs. At one end of the platform, I put a scrap of 2x10, so that when the platform is sitting on the floor, it forms a ramp, where the middle of the ramp is just high enough to fit the Harbor Freight bike jack. A couple of furniture dolly wheels on the 2x10 allow the thing to be wheeled about (when empty) if needed.

Since the Harbor Freight bike jack only goes about 17 inches high, I cut down two saw horses to just under that (16 3/4 inches or so). To make loading easier, I added a little wedge of rubber to the low end of the lift to avoid the 3/4" step.

To put a bike on the lift:

  • Assuming platform is on the ground, put the HF bike jack under the center.
  • Roll the bike onto the platform and into the wheel chock.
  • Tie the bike down to the eyebolts on the platform.
  • Raise the platform using the HF bike jack.
  • Shove the little saw horses under the platform, approximately under the wheels of the bike.
  • Lower the HF bike jack and remove and store it.

The platform can be stored on its side when in use so it takes almost no floor space.

Bill Dudley
July, 2009
view of platform as one loads/unloads a bike
Ambassador on lift, not yet raised to working height
Ambassador on lift, sans rear end
detail of front wheel in HF wheel chock, with saw horse support
detail of rear of lift on saw horse; note rubber ramp
HF bike jack about to slide under the bike platform
HF bike jack in position under bike platform
rubbish tip chair ready to receive mechanic
detail of front of ramp/platform on the floor, front wheel in HF wheel chock