Nervous to Work on Bike?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Sandscape, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. Sandscape

    Sandscape n00b

    Oct 14, 2018
    South Jersey

    Does anyone else get nervous when they try to fix something on their bike?

    As a newer rider, I got nervous putting my bike away for the winter because I wasn't sure I'd do everything right and it would degrade somehow. I get tense reading maintenance manuals and just think "Man, there's so much that could go wrong". I love everything about motorcycles, I'm just wondering what kinda mindset I should have when solving mechanical issues, especially for the first time.

    jjjjjjay likes this.
  2. inbred

    inbred Sweeter than Yoo-hoo

    Jan 19, 2011
    Weedsport, NY
    If Robert Pirsig were still alive, he'd say this to you:

    "You can reduce your anxiety somewhat by facing the fact that there isn't a mechanic alive who doesn't louse up a job once in a while. The main difference between you and the commercial mechanics is that when they do it you don't hear about it—just pay for it, in additional costs prorated through all your bills. When you make the mistakes yourself, you at least get the benefit of some education."
    FMFDOC, cal08, Mattbastard and 18 others like this.
  3. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

    Jul 23, 2010
    Central Mn
    Welcome, Sandscape.

    What kind of bike are you working on?

    Just go slow, pick one task like checking your battery, pulling your battery, cleaning the airbox and doing an oil change and master things one-at-a-time. While your in there, look at other things. See anything LOOSE, leaking, broken or MISSING?

    Much can be caught with visual inspection. You can do this. You will feel more confident as you go. I have had my bike stripped to the bare frame, strung up like deer a couple years ago deer for a long, winter overhaul. I enjoyed every minute of it, (when I wasn't dealing with bearings....:arg) and value all that I learned about my own bike. It makes you more confident as you travel distances, knowing that you know some areas of your machine in considerable detail.
    jjjjjjay likes this.
  4. usgser

    usgser Long timer

    Nov 6, 2005
    Westside WA
    Anxiety is part of the deal. It lessens after time w/experience. The "factory" shop manuals are good guides if you can follow instructions but be realistic of your skills/capabilities.
    Will you ever screw up? Sure. That's how all of us learn.
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    I'll tell you a story about my first motorcycle.

    It was about 15 years ago, and I saved up what I could and found a bike I could barely afford on eBay, a 1991 Honda ST1100. I took a Greyhound bus to Dallas to pick up the bike and rode it home.

    For the most part, it was in good shape, but the bike had been sitting for a long time, plus it needed tires.

    So a couple days after I bought the bike, I brought it into the Honda shop and asked them to go through the whole bike. Change all the fluids. Check anything that should be looked at. And install new tires.

    The service rep filled out a work order and gave me an estimate: over $1500 worth of work.

    There was no way I could afford that. So I took the bike back home, bought a service manual, and started reading online how to fix and check things.

    The next year, I decided to pull the bike into my apartment and do a complete refurbishment. So I went from not even able to check or change any of the fluids to this:


    YouTube can be great for showing you how to do some of the smaller jobs. It's also likely that more than a few people on this site have the same bike as you, and they can answer questions you have. And you can join a site dedicated specifically to your bike. The guys on the ST1100 website were incredible whenever I was trying to figure out how to fix something on my bike, and more than one of the guys came over to help me.

    As it turns out, I'm very thankful the shop wanted so much money to work on my bike. It forced me to figure out how to do it myself, and in the end, I much prefer working on my bikes myself, rather than someone else.

    One thing I always say: nobody cares more about your bike than you do.

    FMFDOC, Slideways#96, LoboR1 and 14 others like this.
  6. Electrical

    Electrical Adventurer

    May 21, 2016
    Florida, USA
    Imo research research research. Know what you're doing before you start. Be deliberate. Go slow. THINK. Assume nothing. Take pictures to aid reassembly. Enjoy the pride of DIY.
    Rockred likes this.
  7. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

    Dec 11, 2015
    pictures and notes...lots of all of them

    I had the whole front end off the bike yesterday for a fork oil service...
    Had a lovely morning ride today

    If the swing arm bearings show up, next weekend
    the whole rear end is coming off for an output shaft seal issue.

    Work slow, lay everything out in the order you remove,
    bag and tag anything that will be off for more than a few minutes....

    And remember installation is the opposite of removal...
  8. Treedguy

    Treedguy Long timer

    Mar 24, 2008
    NY Hell
    Take pics before you remove something.
    Get some decent tools.

    You can build anything with today’s resources.
  9. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

    Feb 11, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    Study up, and take the plunge! Sometimes you just have to dive in. This is a 2019 BMW R1250GSA worth about $25K. No manual, so I just wing it:

  10. gmiguy

    gmiguy You rode a what to where?

    Oct 17, 2006
    Western NC
    Unless you're messing around with engine/transmission internals, fuel maps, or ignition timing modern bikes are actually pretty robust and it's somewhat hard to catastrophically damage them during casual maintenance or repair.

    Things to keep in mind as somebody new to working on motorcycles:
    • Take pictures, make notes, and properly sort/track hardware during disassembly
    • Make sure all the fasteners wind up back in place and tight at the end of the job
    • Use a torque wrench on any screw that is doing more than gross fixturing or retention
    • Use fluids that meet the OEM spec
    • Don't try to "fix" or re-engineer a part or subsystem that is currently working well
    • Stop and research/rethink if anything looks, feels, or smells wrong
    If you do these things you'll be miles ahead of most home wrenches and many paid mechanics.
  11. ennui

    ennui audio and oil

    Mar 13, 2019
    The chutzpah is strong in this one.
  12. olegbabich

    olegbabich Been here awhile

    Sep 2, 2013
    Think this way - "NO ONE will care more about my bike than me".

    It is not Rocket Science - Have Fun and Good Luck.
  13. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

    Sep 21, 2010
    this is why everyone should change the oil of the family car with their sons and daughters.
  14. Schmokel

    Schmokel "Falling Down" makes more sense every day.

    Jun 29, 2015
    Up. And to the right.
    For me it depends on the bike. My DR, tear right into it. FZ09, I don't have the slightest idea what us going on.
    Plebeian and CCitis like this.
  15. tominboise

    tominboise Long timer

    Jun 17, 2007
    Boise, ID
    Totally true statement. The internet and the availability of tools and hardware to the average person has been a major game changer in this.
    spokester, vagueout and ohgood like this.
  16. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

    Sep 21, 2010
    so true!

    there is a YouTube video !
  17. 1greenmachine

    1greenmachine Long timer

    Aug 28, 2010
    green bay, wi
    I'm scared shitless and I'm a diesel tech, everything is so tiny compared to the engines I work on.
    mitchapalooza likes this.
  18. Kris

    Kris Long timer Supporter

    Jun 28, 2008
    Spend some time watching Mustie1on YouTube. He has an easy going style..lots of can we get it running again type of videos. If you watch a few videos of his you will be thinking about your own project to work on.
  19. MauiCowie

    MauiCowie Long timer

    Jun 28, 2014
    At the Huki-Huki-Huki-Huki-Hukilau
    "Winterizing" a motorcycle is more of a ritual than a necessity. It's a good idea to have it on a battery tender or, if you live in a really cold place, pull the battery and leave it inside for the winter.

    When you bring it out in the spring, top off the tires, check the brakes and lights and you should be good to go.
  20. vagueout

    vagueout Long timer

    Mar 3, 2010
    sydney, east
    Helps a great deal to have a good roomy space to work, a lift or ramp is really good, likewise a good clean work bench and a radio/music playing softly. I use sides of cardboard boxes on the floor to put pieces on as they come off, shallow cardboard boxes from a fruit barn to leave parts and assemblies in . I use kerosene for most of my parts cleaning. Make sure you start gathering clean rag, a roll of kitchen paper towel is handy as well. You ask if any of us get nervous prior to doing some work? i do at times. A couple of weeks ago i had to go back into my 1150 to re- replace the output seal that leaked sometime after i rebuilt the gearbox. My inner brain obviously was telling me i failed ( with that one seal) and that made me nervous doing that seal again in a way that approaching the whole gearbox rebuild didn't. Maybe it's an age thing, fear of failure i would reckon. I'll ad to that that anyone who says they don't make mistakes is a bullshitter or doesn't do his/her own work. You will build on your experience and learn from stuff ups and mistakes. This particular forum has had huge meaningful contributions of how to's over the years, a great resource, quite a bit on youtube, and although i don't have any, from what i see JVB's dvd/download maintenance guides are excellent value. Oh, and a shitload of tools!:photog