There are many brands, sizes and styles of motorcycle lifts currently available, usually falling into one of two categories – the professional market (service shops and dealerships) or the consumer market (motorcycle owners). The consumer market is interesting because it can be anyone from the bike owner who wants a better way to clean and detail his ride, to the wrench who wants to change tires, perform oil changes without kneeling or laying on his garage floor, or even fully servicing his ride, on his own and in his own garage. So we were intrigued when this company, Titan Lifts, started marketing their product to both the pros and consumers alike. Full disclosure – Titan has been an advertiser with this magazine. But “fuller” disclosure – we have taken ad dollars from companies and never provided product reviews. I’ll let you read between the lines on that one.
So when Titan asked us to review their product, we said we had a better idea – let an independent motorcycle shop review it, and we’ll chime in too. Jimmy’s V-Twins in Mission Viejo was chosen as the recipient and lab rat. A role he was happy to fill, because he’s got about 3 other brands of lifts in his shop and has had ample experience with them all. He has opinions about them all, and shared his pros and cons with this one. Before we get into them though, let’s go over some basic specs.
We tested the Titan SDML-1000D-XLT (always love these model numbers) which is their 1,000 lb. lift unit. It comes equipped with front tire vise, front extension and side extensions which gives it a large enough platform to work on everything from motorcycles and ATV s to jet skis and snowmobiles. It uses a 7” air powered cylinder which raises the extra-large platform up to 33”. It features a multi-positional front table extension (great for accommodating longer bikes), a standard rear wheel drop out, a roller plate drop out, detachable ramps, a two-wheeled dolly, 12-gauge diamond plate construction, powder coating in either black and grey or black and orange, and a 1 year parts warranty. Dimensions are 99 inches long (max length), 48 inches max width, and max height of 33 inches.
One of the things we (Jimmy and QT) liked right away about this unit is the overall fit and finish. It just looks and feels solid. The diamond plate and powdercoating give it a clean, tight look but also serve form and function. Many other lifts don’t do this and they look cheesy.
What really struck us though were the side extensions. You can really work around your bike, stand up with it on the lift (hell, if you get someone to work the pedal for the air compressor, you can ride up with your bike), set your tools on it, etc. Jimmy pointed out that other brands have these available for sale, to add on, but that Titan includes them in one price, that works out better than piecemeal. Another cool feature we like is the rear drop out plate. you can slide out the flat plate and slide in the roller plate, so that your rear tire sits on rollers! Imagine the possibilities….and, of course you can leave the plate out in order to more easily change or remove the rear tire.
Now Jimmy at Jimmy’s V-Twins is just like the rest of us – he had a perfectly good, standard set-up lift here, and immediately customized it! But this mod is one I think we’d all make – he ordered the “Bulldog moto cradle wheel chock” to replace the standard front wheel vise clamp. Certainly nothing wrong with the vice clamp, but it needs to be manually tightened to hold the front wheel (and thus the whole bike, at least at first) and that can be tricky if you’re the guy who just rode the bike onto your lift and you now have to dismount, and balance the bike with one hand while you reach down and tighten with the other…I’m having visions of my pride and joy falling right off the lift, so I’ll go with the Bulldog, thank you very much. All you do is roll the front wheel into it, it flips as you roll and holds the bike in place! No it’s not a new design, but it might be the smartest and safest lift or bike trailer accessory ever…so yeah, spend the money.
Now – were there any features we didn’t like? Of course. No product is perfect. We noticed that the air cylinder is a bit smaller than others on comparable lifts, but in actual use we can’t see the difference – this thing lifted an 800 lb. bike, two male adults and one small dog and it did it with ease. I didn’t see it lagging at all.
The other small complaint, very small, was on the bar that comes down to lock the platform in place, a safety feature after the air cylinder has lifted it. This bar folds up and out of the way until you need it. Well it had a tendency to come down when raising the platform, due to a lose catch. It was not at all a safety issue, just a mere annoyance. Easily adjusted or fixed with a $1 clamp.
There’s also a cool little detachable dolly that quickly hooks on and lets you move the rig around on it’s wheels. Important if you’re using it in your garage and like me, are always shifting stuff around.. So what’s the bottom line? We liked it, Jimmy likes it and is keeping it, it performs well as a shop lift, and in my garage would look good and perform just as well. In it’s price range of about $950-1150. There are competitors, but as a complete package this one’s at the top of the list.
Find more info at www.titanlifts.com