One of life’s pleasures is mechanical repair… really. If you’ve never understood the reason so many of us spend hours in the garage, wrenches in hand, figuring out what went wrong or what needs to be fixed, it might be hard to explain. Motor vehicles have the advantage of moving when they work so if you did the job right, things make noise and something happens, you can climb on and go places, the potential energy stored in the gasoline turns into mechanical motion, … all very satisfying.
Motorcycles, among motor vehicles in general, are just the right size, you can fit a motorcycle into a very small shop where there’s no room for a car or truck, if you have no garage and the weather turns bad, any sheltered area will do. If you do have a garage, even a single car garage too small for serious automotive work, you have a relative palace for working on your motorcycle. You can even fit more than one bike into the space freed up by parking your car outside.
Motorcycles can be repaired alone, you’ll seldom need heavy mechanical assistance or more than two hands except in rare cases, though the space in your shop may fill up with onlookers offering advice, requested or not.
I’ve been fixing things for years, medical electronics, computer networks, digital systems and military electronics many years ago, but it’s the mechanical repairs that really bring a smile to my face, I guess I just like things that move.
Buying an old motorcycle may not make complete economic sense when some new or relatively recent bikes are available, but the promise of getting that old bike running again as it was designed to do and once did, hearing an engine that hasn’t made a sound in decades come to life, you just can’t buy that kind of happiness.
Motorcycle repair and restoration offers a little bit of everything. You can learn a little sheet metal and bodywork without having to make the kind of committment necessary as you would to rebuild a car. If you think painting might be a latent talent you’ve never had the chance to express, you can learn and practice without spending a fortune. Custom paint? Flames, pinstriping? Sure, give it a shot. Your one car garage or workspace can become a paint booth plenty big enough for a motorcycle.
Engine work fits on a bench and you don’t need a hoist to get the engine up there. Everything is right sized. You can put your repair manual next to you and prop it open with some odd heavy object, slide your tool box over, carefully disassemble the parts and lay them out in perfect order, sip on a beer and listen to oldies on the radio. Yep, life is good.
You can get up to speed in one of the tech schools that offer motorcycle repair courses or you can learn like a lot of us did, taking things apart to see what’s inside. There are pros and cons to both routes, if you’re planning to make a career of it and need to learn quickly, go to school, you’ll get the certifications service departments are looking for. If you have more time and want to learn for your own reasons, do it yourself.
If you’re a rider who’s never taken the time to work on your own motorcycle, not knowing how, not sure you could learn, I highly recommend doing at least some of your own work. Read the manual and start with routine maintenance and see how it goes, you might like it. If not, at least you know, but you might find you get a sense of accomplishment in the small jobs and next thing you know you’ll be looking in tool catalogs, thinking about your next project, clearing off that workbench, … that’s how it starts. Have fun.