Some day, your motorcycle is going to break down. You’re going to try to start your bike, and it’s not going to work. You’ll try everything you know how to do, starting with the simple and obvious steps and progressing to the more complicated, and it’s still not going to work. You need a motorcycle mechanic.
The easiest thing to do is to call the dealer where you bought the bike in the first place. But that’s not always practical, nor is it the only option. Before you blindly hand your pride and joy over to a dealership wrench, take some time to discover whether or not it’s the best way to go.
Use common sense when you deal with a motorcycle mechanic. Look for a mechanic who has been trained to work on your specific brand and vintage of motorcycle, and who has a lot of experience doing it.
Many manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson, have ongoing training and certification programs for mechanics who work at their dealerships. Independent mechanics can also get specialized training. If you’ve got a late model bike, you’ll want to use a mechanic who has kept up with the latest technology, and who has access to the latest and greatest tools and diagnostic equipment.
According to business licensing site License123.com, “Although a few states (such as Texas) have no special licensing requirements to work on bikes, most states and some cities and counties require motorcycle mechanics and their businesses to be duly licensed. A motorcycle mechanic may need a professional license, a state license to run a repair shop, a county auto repair permit, county HAZMAT permits and a city business license. Regulations vary from state to state.”
Your motorcycle represents a big investment, and you should be very careful about who works on it, and where. Always inspect the shop before you leave your bike with a mechanic. Is the work area clean and organized? Are there a ton of bikes awaiting repair, and if so, how are they being stored and protected? When you consider leaving your bike with a mechanic, be very careful to get a written repair order with an estimate, and place a dollar amount cap on how much you’re willing to spend.
The right mechanic for you is one who listens to you, tells you in plain, understandable terms what he or she is going to do to your bike, and provides a firm estimate of cost and a timetable for completion of repairs. A written warranty for parts and work performed is also essential.
The Internet is a great tool for getting a lead on a good mechanic. Yelp reviews, Angie’s List and other peer-to-peer reviewing sites can be great resources. Contact a local motorcycle mechanic training center, like Universal Technical Institute or other technical school, and ask for recommendations for local graduates.
The best recommendations will come from word of mouth, first-hand experience. Talk to fellow bikers, especially riders who ride the same brand and model that you ride. Ask for recommendations, and interview multiple mechanics before you take the plunge. Hire your new mechanic to perform a simple repair, oil change or routine maintenance service before you undertake that big engine upgrade or overhaul, and make sure that you’re a good match and that the work is of high quality.
Finding the right mechanic can help keep you on the road, so it’s really worth the time and effort. Not all mechanics were created equally. Find the best one for your bike.