So you've decided that you'd like to do maintenance on your motorcycle yourself. That's great, but if your bike doesn't have a centre stand, you have no choice but to hoist it on a jack (also sometimes called a lift) in order to work on it. If you're working on the front wheel, you'll want to jack your bike up regardless of whether or not you've got a centre stand. With a little guidance and the proper tools, you'll be wrenching away on your bike in no time.
If you're not already familiar with the underside of your bike, get familiar with it. Use your bike's shop manual to help you identify the best and most supportive places from which to lift your bike using a jack. If you have a cruiser, you'll have the advantage of frame rails. These will make hoisting it up with a jack and mounting it on jack stands for work much easier. If you have a sport bike, look for your frame sliders.
If your bike has a centre stand, use it. This will help to position your bike so that jacking it up will go as smoothly as possible. Move to Step 4 if this is the case.
If you only have a side stand, use a spare block of wood or something similar underneath the side stand before putting it down. You want your bike to be standing and supported as straight and upright as possible when mounting the jack underneath. If you've got a friend helping you, have them stand in front of your bike, straddling your front wheel with their legs. From the rear, help them to guide the bike to an upright position, making sure your friend grips the front brake lever tightly. Once the bike is straight up in the air and it and your friend are balanced securely, proceed to Step 4.
Make sure your motorcycle's jack stands are nearby and ready to use.
Carefully place your jack in the place you've determined is best to lift your particular bike. Lift slowly and evenly, and don't be afraid to lower it and start again if you feel unsure at any point. It's better to take your time and do it right than to dump your bike onto your garage floor or hurt yourself.
Once you've got the bike properly and securely jacked up, follow the directions on your motorcycle's jack stands for mounting them underneath the bike.
Don't start removing your jack until you're absolutely sure that the jack stands are securely in place. It's perfectly normal to feel apprehensive the first time you try jacking up your bike. After all, no one ever purposely wants to dump it right off the jack. Don't rush yourself, and don't be afraid to start over if it feels unbalanced at any point.