Sooner or later your motorcycle will need some basic maintenance and repair. Even when things are running great you still need to change the oil periodically, check tire pressure, look for loose bolts and nuts and make a few adjustments here and there. If you are new to all of this, owning your first motorcycle perhaps or even a veteran rider who just never took the time to learn, where do you start?
The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance is a pretty good place. One of the problems with a lot of maintenance books is they are either so basic you don’t learn enough to do much more than what I mentioned above or they take you so deep it scares off the mechanical novice. This book, by Mark Zimmerman, does a lot of what I try to do when teaching someone how to do something new. First, he explains how it works then he shows you how to perform the maintenance. I have never been a fan of the “just do it and don’t ask questions” method and you shouldn’t be, either. Blindly following rules doesn’t allow for new situations, knowing how it works gives you a chance to figure things out on your own.
The book is broken down into sections, each covering an essential part of the motorcycle, cooling and lubrication, transmission and primary drive, charging system and battery and all of the rest in a similar logical flow. What I found really interesting was that while being basic enough for a novice to start out and progress through the systems it is also advanced enough to explain things for those who already know quite a bit but never quite understood one part or another (and maybe didn’t want to ask). It doesn’t talk down to anyone and even knowledgeable home mechanics will find his writing informative and helpful.
This book will not take the place of a factory shop manual with all of the specifics for your particular motorcycle, but it will give you enough knowledge of how things work to make your way through a lot of the normal maintenance and repair work. If you master everything in here, you’re getting into pretty advanced territory. Replacing a clutch? Covered. Porting your heads? Not covered.
If you’ve been looking for a book to get you started, this is a good one. If you could use an occasional explanation but don’t want to be treated like you’ve never had a wrench in your hand, this is a good one for you, too. If you know someone who might enjoy getting their hands dirty, this could be a nice gift. Overall, I recommend it. Look it over, this could be the start of something.