Even if you’re not new to riding motorcycles, you might be new to working on your bike. Maybe you just got into the whole scene, or maybe the latest repair bill from the local motorcycle shop made you sit down and really think about your life choices. Either way, knowing how to work on your own motorcycle can not only save you money, but it can get you out of some side-of-the-road scrapes.
We here at RideApart have been fixing our own motorcycles for almost as long as we’ve been riding them (in some cases, longer), so we’d be remiss if we didn’t drop a tip or two. When it comes to motorcycle repair best practices, there are some things to keep in mind. First and foremost, do not hurry. Take your time when you’re learning so that you do not make mistakes in your rush. Buy a good shop manual specific to your bike and use it.
Be sure you’ve seated the tool into the fastener as completely as possible before putting any sideways force on that tool. Use the correct size tool for the fastener: this applies to SAE vs Metric just as much as it does using the correctly-sized phillips-head screwdriver. Torque values are important; buy some good torque wrenches and use them. If you’re worried you might cross-thread that fastener, loosen it in its threads until you hear the last thread “tick,” then tighten. Remember “righty-tighty-lefty-loosey” applies everywhere except when something is labeled “reverse threaded.” Check whether your socket wrench is set to tighten or loosen before you put that tool on a fastener.
If you have interest and mechanical aptitude, a well-designed, relatively inexpensive, used, simple motorcycle might be just the gateway dru– ah, I mean, learning experience you’re looking for. We’re not talking about restoring old motorcycles here, or customizing bikes. We’re aiming to take something relatively modern but still old enough to be inexpensive on the used market, and keep it road worthy. From that angle, click through these photos for some examples of the best, simplest motorcycles for a beginner to learn to wrench on.