Tool Time With The Banks Lift

Anyone who has ever put a motor in a bike or taken one out can attest to the fact that no matter how bad ass you think you are, they are heavy and awkward. Now you might be Mr. Atlas and jerk them up off the floor but what if you are assembling a new bike build or fresh restoration and you are alone. Many times we have shown you the trick of having two buddies help you lay the frame over the sideways engine, but by yourself you’re stuck.

Enter the likes of Tom and George Banks, the Banks Brothers and their award winning piece of shop equipment, “The Banks Lift.” The Banks boys are lifetime riders and during the natural progression of shop life it occurred to George that they might be getting a little old to just throw around motors while restoring bikes in their collection. When it comes to those of the caliber of a ‘36 Knucklehead, you surely do not want to damage anything as it goes together.

George put his thinking cap on and went to work designing this piece of machinery. We’re just gonna jump right in and show you how it works and explain along the way. The fellas came up to HQ as we were getting ready to tear Missi’s Evo motor out of her frame for a rebuild.

It’s all about the hands. The thing that makes this work, aside from gravity, is the system of hands that they developed for the different type of Harley cylinders. These are the Evo style and the back you can see have a rubber type coating to keep from marking the cylinders.

The operation starts by squaring up the lift arms to the motor. You can widen the crank to get the arms in the right position to slide in.

Banks Brothers Lift

From there you slide the lift into the motor compartment, and tighten the crank to squeeze the jugs in the arms. Now at the same time if the lift is to high or too low, a simple push on the hydraulic jack changes the position.

Here you can see the hands correctly placed along side the cylinders and ready to lift the motor out.
The final step is to tighten the posi-bolts that keep the arms securely in position from side to side during extraction and installation.

A couple of pumps on the hydraulic jack and the motor lifts effortlessly up out of the engine cradle and is ready to come out. Now because the Banks Lift is so stable you can leave it stand and walk around to the other side of the bike to check clearance or move anything that might be in the way.

At this point you can grab the top of the motor with one hand and apply light pressure to tilt it and begin to roll it out of the frame.

Because the hands are attached with Heim-Joints, the engine can swivel, making it much easier to maneuver.

And with light pressure again, out it goes with the rollers under the control of the single operator. Now you can roll it over to your bench or engine table and attach your stand as it hangs in the air with the security of knowing it isn’t going anywhere.

Once you’re at the table, simple spin the knob on the jack and let the engine come slowly down to rest.
Now here’s an added cool part. Once you’re done with the lift it folds up like a cherry picker does…. but even smaller. One bolt removes the hand unit and lets it hang on the base.

Then you drop the jack to the lowest position.

Pull the two pins on the legs and fold them up, using retaining clips in the upright position.
And then the whole lift rolls away to a storage spot, taking up a very small amount of square footage.
Additionally, I should mention the extra mounting holes in the upright to mount the arms and hands of the lift give the user the ability to pick an engine up off the floor. Then, once it’s up on something a little higher the hand unit can be moved to the top again and the engine can be lifted the rest of the way to eye level.

There is very little these cats didn’t think of and they have been refining their original design through several versions to get to what they feel is the absolute solution for removing and installing bike engines, we agree and so do the readers that voted this product the 2019 Best Shop Product. For those who would say “Yeah but how many motors are you gonna do?” I can tell you that the right tool to do a job the right way more than one time is plenty enough reason to buy that tool. Go check them out, the lift comes in around a grand but is American made, strong as hell and made by real bike guys doing real bike shit! Tell ‘em we sent ya!

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