So you’ve taken the plunge and bought yourself a project bike. Good for you my friend. Where to from here though? Here are 5 tips that I hope are of assistance in your journey.
1. Learn up. It doesn’t matter whether you are restoring to standard, or building a full custom. Join a forum specific to your make of bike, build style you are going for. Trawl the internet for ideas, but realise these bikes are built by experts, and photographed in studios. You are going to need a workshop manual, and try to ask a mechanic if he can point out any issues your bike are known to have. Decide which way you want the build to go, you don’t want to waste your time and money if you change your mind.
2. Get to know your local motorcycle wreckers, and make a friend at the local bike dealership. When you need parts, or interchangeability options for your build, knowing these guys can come in handy. Plus these sorta people are generally bike fans, and it’s good to hang out with people who have the same interests, and experience you might not have.
3. Make sure you have all the equipment necessary to do a job properly. Read ahead in the workshop manual, to make sure you aren’t caught short halfway through the process. For instance, on my bike I need vacuum gauges to tune the carburettors properly, I could do the half assed job of just winding the pilot screw, but that won’t give me the optimum tune. It’s better to take extra time fixing your bike now, than to realise it 25Kms into a full day ride.
4. Label what you take off, making sure that if you pull something off, you know where it goes when it’s time for reassembly. This goes for whether you are building a custom or just restoring a bike. Make a list of parts that need replacing, and order as much as you can in one go. This can save on freight charges, as well as yours and the parts interpreter’s time.
5. Focus on one job at a time. Don’t let yourself be thinking of the paintjob, while you are working on the brakes. The next job can wait, stick with the one you are on. The bike can wait, it’s not going anywhere right now, and the finish will be of a higher quality if you pay more attention to the now.
Hoping these tips can help out some, and feel free to comment on any more you may want to share. Most importantly, remember that fixing up a bike is supposed to be a good experience, whether by having fun, or by letting you tune out. Don’t let it be a chore, because you will lose interest and you won’t get that awesome feeling when you hit the road on the bike you’ve built yourself.
You want to be thinking: ‘oh my god, I’ve built this myself’. Not ‘oh my god I built this myself’!