Redelk reviews the "Complete Hydraulic" TCML Motorcycle Lift Table

Everyone who has ever owned a bike has been there. On your knees while changing the oil or just cleaning the bike. Sure, you think that you'll be under there for just a minute. You might also think that rolling stool you got at Wal-Mart is low enough to get at anything you'd ever need to. Or you might go as far as getting a kneeling pad. More often than not, those items of convenience end up sitting in the corner while you crawl around or even lay on you back, while changing oil or doing other stuff to the lower parts of your bike.

Then comes a day when you finally get tired of crawling around on the floor when servicing or cleaning your bike.

For years, you've dreamed of getting one of those lifts you've seen at your local dealer, but after a quick look on the internet, the price was always just a little too much. Some of our more ingenious friends have gone as far as to attach two of those electric winches on their garage ceiling and used them to lift their bikes. Pretty trick concept and probably works fine... kinda. I'm sure that when it is done properly, there is no problem having one's $10,000+ bike dangling three fee in the air... when done properly. That's something I'd never be sure I could do.

After reading Dubious' post about his bike lift, I again thought about getting my own. The price was reasonable (compared to my chiropractic bill) and unlike another trick part or modification for my 10R, this purchase could be used for any bike or four wheeler I might ever want to work on. Still scared of getting some Harbor Freight special, I ask Dubious to send me some pics of his. Just to give me a better idea on what it really looked like. He kindly obliged and my fate was sealed. He even told me about how he had used grip tape on the center, just to keep the bike steady if the table might have some type of "unseen liquid" left over from a previous servicing. WOW! What a great idea!

So I called Craig Griggs at Complete Hydraulic and ordered my new lift. I went ahead and spent the $100 for the TCMLW version. It came with two additional 12" sides that made the lift a full four feet wide. The table length was 84", but came with an extension that would take the center two foot wide part out to either 97" or 110" long. They recommended that you have it delivered to a location that had a forklift, since they said the crate could weigh up to 650 pounds. I had read where others had just got a buddy and unloaded it themselves, but I'm a wuss and most of my buddies are too. I just had it shipped to a friend's business and wouldn't worry about that "unloading with a buddy" part.

I placed the order on a Tuesday and the following morning, Craig had e-mailed me the tracking number. It arrived at my friend's place that Thursday. The total cost for the lift was $599 and the freight from IN to AR was $125. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get it from his place to my home. Since I have a camper shell on my truck and the tailgate is over 36" high, I just hooked up my 5 x 10 trailer and threw in one of our shop's big rolling carts to put the crate on. When I got there, there were actually three packages. One was the wooden crate that contained the lift table itself. One was the two sides in a big cardboard box and the other was a small box (when compared to the crate) that had the jack in it. The jack was another "bonus" when you buy the TCMLW. Basically, it is a big scissor jack with a few slide on attachments.

After loading it all up, I went home and opened everything up to see what I had got. I had already bought a roll of 2" grip tape, so I figured I was ready to go. Opening up the crate was pretty easy, only to discover it was upside down. Luckily, my son in law was there to help me flip it over. After opening up everything, only one thing was missing. It wasn't the fault of the folks at Complete Hydraulic. The "missing part" was a quick disconnect for attaching a air hose to the foot pedal. Good thing I keep spares.

Everything easily went together and only required a brief glance at their simple instruction sheet to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Thinking the front extension would not be needed, I set it aside and attached the wheel vise and wheel stop onto the end of the table. After getting the sides and the ramp parts attached, I was almost ready to test it out.

The table and all its parts are powdercoat painted in black and orange. As far as paint jobs go, I'd give this one a "C". There are several small spots that look like they have been touched up with a brush. Also, the cardboard box that the side extensions came in, left a dull "corrugated" impression that runs almost the full length of one of the sides. It would take some serious buffing to get it out. If I was going to use this table to "display" a bike, I'd be pissed. Since it a "true" work table that will have parts drug across and tools thrown down on it, I might give it a "B" instead. If I wanted it to be "show pretty", I'd just look at it and never use it.

When the table is on the ground, it is still 7" tall. The 20" ramp makes pushing the bike onto the table pretty easy. With the one foot wide side extensions attached, why push the bike when you can just ride it onto the ramp? You could probably ride the bike up on the table without the side extensions, but for someone like me, who is "inseam challenged" (30"), it would have been a scary proposition. With the bike now on the table, I checked the location of the adjustable wheel stop and cranked the wheel vise onto the tire sides. Everything was working as promised. The were even two eye bolts so you could strap the bike to the table.

Once the vise was snug, I realized something. The vise could easy hold the bike in place by itself. Then again, it probably won't. There is a reason why those eye bolts are there. Just ask the Tuttles at OCC. Man, that sucks. Sure, I might get away without strapping the bike down, but what if I wanted to do work on the front end? Even with the vise, getting to the brakes would be no problem, but what about changing the front tire or working on the forks? Does that mean it's back to sitting on the floor again? How could I use my Pit Bull front stand on this thing? Even with the vise removed, there isn't enough table length.

After a little more frustrated thought, it hit me. I took the vise and wheel stop off and put the front extension on at the 97" length. I put the vise back on and then realized that if I was going to use my front stand, why would I even need the vise? I put the wheel stop back on... just in case. I got my front stand, put it on the bike and BINGO! We have a winner. I could now use both my front and rear stands on the bike, while it is on the table. Breaking out the grip tape, I put two strips down the center for the bike's tires. Then I put two more strips down on each of the side extensions so my feet wouldn't slip. I added strips for both of the stands' wheels and a short strip for the kickstand. Just so it wouldn't scratch up the table (or slip off).

So everything is perfect now, right? Well... not quite. At first, I thought that my garage floor might not be perfectly level, but that wasn't it. It turns out that the rear square tubing that acts as the rear table support wasn't "perfectly" level with the wheels up front. It was off less than 1/16" on one side. With the empty table fully raised and without the side extensions, you could rock it just a little bit from side to side. Not enough to be even remotely unstable or unsafe, but annoying. When the side extensions are use for a four wheeler or something like that, there is a four foot pipe with screw on end caps, that your supposed to run through the open square rear support for extra stability. Interestingly enough, even though the metal end caps have a lip on the side, they too do not touch the ground. They are about an 1/8" from touching. This SUCKS!

Oh well, I guessed it was safe enough to test it out with the bike on the table and using my stands. Up goes the bike. So far, so good. I walk around the table and sit on each corner. No wobble. No table rocking. Nothing. Strange, but I'll accept it. I had thought of either welding a small shim on the short side or doing a little grinding on the other side to even it out. For now, I'm not doing a thing. Overall, I am very pleased with this table and its features. For $724 and a roll of grip tape, it is one of the best "bike things" I've ever purchased.

Thanks Dubious. Thank you very much.

This is the lift with the side extensions attached. The extra bolts in the front extension are for the wheel vise. I just put them there so I could keep up with them. Yeah, I know... I could have just as easily left them attached to the vise.

Another view of the table. Note the grip tape for the bike, kickstand, my feet, and the Pit Bull stands.

Table raised.

Having easy access to everything can be a little difficult with the sides attached. Here are two views with them and the ramp off.

Pulling the sides off and putting them back on is a no brainer. Takes about 30 seconds and a 12mm wrench. The long front pipe runs through the table and both sides. There are two short pipes used to hold the back of the extensions. The short pipes are held to the table with a 12mm pinch bolt. They all use pin on the ends of each pipe to hold the sides in place.

Putting the wide table support pipe is even easier. Just take off one of the end caps (which they have kindly greased the threads for you) and slide it through a open end of the rear square support. Since it normally isn't touching the ground, there are two holes drilled in the support pipe. Once installed, they are on each side next to where it exits the open square support. I'm guessing this is for putting in "stop pins" to keep the pipe from sliding out too far in one direction. CH did not provide any type of pins and I don't think the holes are threaded. They can be, of course.

This is with the front and rear poles attached for the sides and the support tube with the end caps running through the rear table support.

A close up of one of the quick release pins. Since the sides are interchangeable, the holes on the end of the extension could be used as alterate tie down points. On the back end, the holes are also used to attach the ramp.

This is with the front extension attached. It has an additional set of holes that can move it out further and makes the table 110" long.

The ramp can be either 24" wide or a full 4' wide. The side parts can easily be removed with two bolt on each.

With the foot pedal in the "neutral" position and the air hose detached, the table remains raised. The table's air cylinder looks like it came off of a dump truck. Its HUGE! At 100 PSI, it takes the table and bike about 10 seconds to go from the floor to fully raised (33"). I believe them when they say this table will lift 1,500 pounds.

For sanity and safety's sake, there is a safety bar that will lock the table in place with a choice of seven different heights (19.5", 21.75", 23.5", 25", 27", 28.5", 30"). There is a tab that holds the bar up when raising and lowering the table. Note the two of many grease fittings that are located on just about every moving part.

This is the "bonus" jack that comes with the lift. It is rated at 1,000 lbs and has 7 locking positions. Its height range is 3.5" to 15" and has two different sized "lift saddles" that go into the provided sliding brackets.

So what is that orange plate on the back of the table? It can be lifted off and according to CH, the opening is to help with rear tire changes. Kinda pointless when using a rear stand, but if one was to use the jack to support the bike, I guess it would be nice.

Contact: Craig Griggs
Phone: 1-888-736-5094


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