Motorcyclists know that while cruising the open road is an unmatched thrill, the time spent working on a bike provides equal joy. Even if you aren’t an avid rider, nothing is as awesome as rebuilding scrap into a working machine.
From start to finish, bringing a bike back to life is a rewarding, challenging and ultimately fulfilling experience that makes riding that much more special. If you’re considering taking on this challenge, the right set-up will lead the way to success. Starting with choosing the right bike, how you preface your restoration project can mean the difference between smooth sailing and sleepless nights.
Find the Bike
From a bike enthusiast’s perspective, an old, run-down motorcycle is potential in tangible form. Finding the right bike to restore isn’t always easy, but once you see it, all you’ll see is the image of that hunk of metal powering down the road.
Real-life considerations must be taken in to account. For example, if you have only limited experience working with mechanical engines, a bike that requires a wholesale engine rebuild would probably induce frustration quickly. A better option might be a motorcycle with a working engine that mostly requires body restoration.
Ask around to see if friends or neighbors have given up on any old rides, and check Craigslist for abandoned motorcycles waiting for a second chance.
Get the Gear
A restoration project can’t begin until you collect the parts necessary to bring a bike back to life. Previous home mechanics were limited to part shopping at the scrap yard or through local mechanics, but 21st century riders have greater resources. Shopping online offers comparison on parts and prices, potentially lowering the amount you spend on your restoration project.
There are also brand-specific marketplaces where you can find specialized parts. For example, Honda motorcycle parts from BikeBandit will give Honda riders a starting point on shopping for parts in the online landscape. In general, scour the internet until you find the parts you need at the right price.
Set Up the Shop
For any significant restoration project, you’ll be dedicating hours (and possibly days) of your life to a vehicle. An undertaking this significant deserves a work space dedicated to keeping you focused on the task at hand. Whether it’s your garage, back patio or shed, outfit a work space with everything you’ll need to restore your bike.
Stock up on the necessary tools, lighting and cleaning supplies you need to keep the operation running smoothly. The type of project will dictate what tools you need, but count on standard wrench and screw driver sets at minimum.
You may be restoring a motorcycle by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to face challenges alone. Create a network of resources to assist you through the restoration process. Start with the bike’s owner manual, which should offer helpful illustrations and tips.
Online motorcycle forums often have first-person stories of similar projects, and connecting with like-minded enthusiasts can encourage and assist you when the restoration hits a bumpy path. Motorcycle.com/forums contains brand categories to lead you in the right direction. If possible, strike up a rapport with a professional mechanic. His or her insight and expertise can be invaluable when you hit a dead end.
It won’t do the work for you, but a well-thought set up will put you in the best position to succeed in restoring the downtrodden bike.
Dominic Rodriguez | Elite.