There are two kinds—small, portable, foot-operated dirt-bike lifts that fit under the engine cases, and larger, deluxe, full-bike platform lifts. Either one is surprisingly affordable; some even store vertically, saving space when not in use.
You need power to lift the bike: electric, compressed air, or hydraulic. Hydraulic lifts often use a foot-pump jack to actuate either parallel or scissor arms under the platform.
Lifts are a piece of cake to use. Roll your bike up onto the platform, put the front wheel into the chock provided, put the bike onto the sidestand or centerstand, or use tiedowns to secure the machine. Then use the power source to raise the stand to working height, engage the locking mechanism, and be sure the bike and stand are level and secure.
The most important thing about any bike lift is to use one that’s up to the job. A lift designed for a small-sized dirt bike is unsafe with a massive Harley.