I hope that you are more mechanically inclined than I am. I hope that for your sake. I do okay, but when it comes to complex work, I turn to professionals. But even with my limited skills, I have been able to tackle a number of projects related to my motorcycle.
Winter is the best time to get work done on my bike. I’m more patient, and less distracted by the opportunity to ride.
The first project that I tackled this winter was organizing my workspace. I tore out some clunky old cabinets and shelving in my garage, and replaced it with a more efficient system. I didn’t spend a ton of dough — I refitted my whole two-car garage for under $500. But I made better use of space, clearing floor space for my motorcycle, and organizing my stuff in the process. Now all of my motorcycle tools, supplies and spare parts are in the same area, easily accessible and ready to use. I’ve even got a workbench to help with staging work comfortably, up off of the floor.
My next project will involve some bolt-on parts. Years ago, I used to hesitate before putting a wrench anywhere near my Sportster. Once I finally plunged in, replacing a taillight assembly and license plate holder, I realized that the basic structure of a motorcycle is pretty simple. Using good basic hand tools, following the instructions, and exercising plenty of patience and common sense, there are few bolt-on tasks that I can’t accomplish.
I have exchanged or replaced many of the bolt-on parts on my bike over the years, mostly to get better ergonomics and function. Sometimes I’ve replaced parts purely on the basis of looks. The list of parts that I’ve replaced with my own hands includes mirrors, hand grips, foot pegs, air cleaner assembly and cover, derby cover, clutch cables, brake lines, hand controls, gas tank, saddle bag supports, sissy bar, luggage rack, windshield, running lights, and other doodads that I can’t even remember.
This winter I have vowed to replace my handlebars. My bike is currently equipped with buckhorn bars, which pull back, and I’m going to put on a set of sportier, flatter bars. I tend to ride more challenging roads now than I did a few years ago, and I want more leverage and control. This change will involve a bunch of mechanical systems, including electrical, clutch and braking. It will probably take me a few days of work, but will make my bike much more fun to ride.
If I had never started out with bolt-on parts, I would not have the confidence or experience to tackle a job like this. So, I encourage you to tackle those little jobs, take it step by step, and soon you’ll be ready to make your bike work for you. Then, those long rides will be even better.