Service and Repair
Tools, Cheap or Expensive?
Building up a tool kit can be very costly, and few people have an unlimited budget. Buying the best tools available makes the most sense, but is it necessary?
Classic Motorcycle Hardware
Modern hardware, and locking compounds, can almost eliminate items coming loose on a classic motorcycle due to vibration.
Classic Bike Brake Fluid
Choosing the right brake fluid for a classic motorcycle should be based on the original manufacturer’s recommendations. However, understanding the different types is essential--not all brake fluids are the same!
How to Make Braided Brake Lines
There are few more useful modifications to do to a motorcycle than replacing the rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel lines. For the home mechanic, this task is relatively simple.
Classic Motorcycle Tools, Air Powered
At one time, air tools were used only by professional shops or race teams, but today, anyone with a workshop should consider using them.
Setting the Ignition Points Gap
Setting the ignition timing on Japanese 4-cylinder, 4-stroke motorcycles starts with the contact points. Without the points gap being set, the timing cannot be properly checked or adjusted.
How to Maintain and Adjust Drum Brakes
Many classic motorcycles use drum brakes. These simple, reliable brakes have been around since the beginning of motorcycling. Adjusting and maintaining them is also relatively simple.
How to Adjust a Chain
To ensure safety and longevity, motorcycle chains must be correctly tensioned and lubricated. For most classic bike owners, this is a simple task. But there are some important aspects to consider. See a step by step guide to motorcycle chain adjustment.
How to Fix a Carburetor
For someone not familiar with working on a carburetor, the notion of dismantling one can seem daunting. But by following some basic procedures, the task is relatively simple and of course rewarding when the bike runs well later. See a step by step guide to fixing motorcycle carburetors.
How to Diagnose Carburetor Problems
Carburetor problems generally fall into three areas: rich mixture, lean mixture, and incorrect adjustment. But to complicate things, the problem can be any combination of these. Diagnosing carburetor problems is relatively easy and follows some telltale symptoms.
How to Wash a Motorcyle
If you wash your classic bike you should avoid high-pressure hoses that damage bike parts.
Identifying a Thread
Sooner or later, the classic bike owner will come across a left-hand thread. But can you identify a thread by just looking at it? Yes, by following this simple tip, you will be able to glance at the threads and know straight away which type they are – left or right handed.
Motorcycle Oil Advice
How often should you change oil on your classic motorcycle? What is the correct grade for your bike? Should you use additives? An oil company expert answers these questions and more.
Running In a Rebuilt Motorcycle Engine
During a restoration, the engine and gearbox will most likely have been rebuilt with new parts. As with a new bike, a rebuilt engine will require a period of "running in" or "bedding in," which is the process of meshing interconnecting engine parts. But how should that running in period be undertaken, and how long should it last?
Motorcycle Mechanic's Tool Box
Choosing an appropriate tool box can be a daunting experience. But for the classic motorcycle mechanic looking to upgrade his box, or even to buy his first, there are some basic guidelines to follow that will help decide on the best box for the price.
How to Balance A Spoked Wheel
Balancing a spoked motorcycle wheel is a relatively easy task. By following some basic guidelines a competent mechanic can ensure his wheels are balanced.
How to Remove Damaged Crosshead Screws
Crosshead or Philips head screws can be a real problem on older bikes, even on new ones at times. The heads can be easily damaged making screw removal difficult. However, by following some simple rules, the process can be painless.
Diagnosing Motorcycle Noises
Occasionally, a motorcycle will develop a noise that is not typical and needs serious investigation. For the most part, noises can be both traced, and the root cause diagnosed, without disassembly.
Motorcycle Service, Electrical Systems
The electrical system on a classic motorcycle is a typical example of a system that requires special attention for service and inspection. Electrical system or component failure can, in most cases, be avoided by these simple checks and some basic maintenance.
Motorcycle Workshop Safety
Setting up a work shop seems easy on the face of it: lots of light, a bench and some tools. But working on a motorcycle that will be ridden (against just displayed) requires more than basic mechanical skills, and therefore, requires more than a basic work shop.
As classic motorcycle owners expand their knowledge of their bikes, they often undertake more in-depth mechanical work. One of the first items to get after a basic tool set and a good quality tool box, is a compressor.
Fire Extinguishers for a Classic Motorcycle Workshop
As fire is the biggest threat to both property and human life, it makes sense to have an appropriate extinguisher in a classic motorcycle workshop.
Motorcycle Service – Mechanical
Although each classic motorcycle will have different specific items to service (see owner's manuals where available), they will all need some general service. For instance:
Motorcycle Storage – Winterizing Your Classic
For many classic bike owners, winter is the time to do essential repairs or maintenance. However, winterizing the bike first is a high priority.
How to Bleed Motorcycle Brakes
Bleeding motorcycle brakes is not difficult, but as this task is obviously safety related, it is very important to follow correct procedures.
Classic Motorcycle Tire Changing
Classic motorcycle tire changing is something the home mechanic can undertake with a few tools and an understanding of the intricacies of the job.
Carburetor Balancing Using Vacuum Gauges
Carburetor balancing on multi-carb, multi-cylinder engines is very important. The most accurate method of balancing these types of carburation systems is by using vacuum gauges. When attached to the inlet systems, the vacuum gauges measure the amount of vacuum drawn on each gauge as the engine is running.
For many classic bike owners the pleasure of ownership is not simply about riding. Servicing, repairing or simple maintenance work adds greatly to the experience of classic bike ownership for many.
Checking for Worn Ignition Contact Points
Worn ignition contact points can cause a number of problems for a classic bike owner. From poor starting to misfires, a worn set of points will make the bike run badly. Typically, points performance deteriorates due to two issues: a worn heel, and/or a buildup of metal from one contact face to the other.
Early Japanese 4-cylinder 4-strokes were equipped with contact points. These points systems controlled the ignition timing. Although setting the points gap and the ignition timing are critical to the performance of these machines, it is a relatively easy job for the home mechanic to do.
Re-Jetting For New Pipes
The AMA Superbike championships brought manufacturers head to head on modified production machines. Tuning shops began to offer street riders the chance to purchase kits for their bikes that would give them the look and sound they wanted.
Starting a Motorcycle After Winter Storage
Protecting the various components and systems during long periods of storage, such as winter time, ensures a motorcycle will be in good condition when it is time to ride it again. However, if a motorcycle was winterized, it will need some basic checks before it is ready to ride.
Classic Motorcycle Mechanics – Basics to Advanced
For all mechanics, learning how to undertake mechanical work must be done in stages; it starts with basic jobs and progresses, as the knowledge base increases to more challenging work.
Drilling and Tapping
In most cases damaged threads can be repaired, or more precisely, replaced. For instance, a damaged casing thread can be repaired using one of four methods.
Flywheel Removal with Pullers and Extractors
Special tools are essential for certain jobs on classic motorcycles. One job in particular is removing the flywheel from the end of the crankshaft.
Engine Oil Leaks
When investigating engine oil leaks, it is very important to check if casing faces are flat and not warped. The best way to check for surface irregularities is to place the case onto a granite surface plate.
Replacing Motorcycle Cables
Sooner or later a classic motorcycle owner will need to replace a control cable. Replacement may be part of a restoration project or due to a breakage, but either way, routing and following the correct procedures is very important.
Setting the Valve Timing
Knowing the timing system before disassembling or reassembling an engine is critical, but one aspect of timing comes before all others: crankshaft position.
Instrument Bracket Fabrication
Supporting an instrument in a set position is the job of an instrument mounting bracket. For the classic owner, wishing to fabricate an item for his or her bike, these brackets are an ideal first fabrication project.
Motorcycle will not Start
There are many individual components on a motorcycle that can, if broken or damaged, stop the engine from starting. But in essence, an internal combustion engine needs three things before it will run.
All of the components on a motorcycle wear. One of the first items to need replacement is the drive chain and/or the rear sprocket.
Classic Bike Ignition Systems
There are two common ignition types associated with classic bikes: contact points and fully electronic. One of the shortcomings of the contact point ignition system is the tendency for the heel on the points to wear, which has the effect of retarding the ignition.
Glancing over a classic motorcycle can reveal all sorts of information, some good and some not so good.
Restoring Motorcycle Cylinders
Many classic motorcycle owners will face the possibility that their engine needs to be rebored. However, a compression cranking pressure test and a leak-down test will determine if a cylinder (and its associated components) requires attention.
Classic Motorcycle Restoration--Parts Lists
For a complete classic motorcycle restoration, an extensive list of replacement parts will almost certainly be required. Establishing this list at the outset will save a lot of time.
Classic Motorcycle Wiring
To completely rewire a motorcycle, the owner or mechanic must have considerable previous experience, or at the very least, the ability to read a schematic wiring diagram. That being said, it is a relatively easy task.
Classic Motorcycle Racer Checks
Checking a motorcycle is important, it is especially important with a racer. Racing machines will be pushed to their performance limits and this subjects the collective parts to considerable stress and wear.
Painting a Motorcycle a Non Standard Color
Painting a motorcycle is not easy. There are many do's and don'ts to consider to achieve a professional looking finish.
Classic Japanese Motorcycle Casing Finish
Replicating the surface finish on aluminum classic Japanese motorcycle parts can be challenging. But by following these eight steps aluminum parts can be made to look new again.
Honda GL Restoration (part 3)
The Honda Canada Riders Association Club's restoration of a Honda Gold Wing is nearing completion. In this article (3) the team are putting the finishing touches to the GL.
Building a Board Track Racer
Britney and Matt Olsen's 1923 Harley Davidson board track racer in detail.
Rewiring a motorcycle is a relatively simple task as long as some basic guidelines are followed.
Sooner or later a classic or vintage motorcycle will need its wiring harness or wiring loom replacing. For the home based mechanic this is not a particularly difficult job as long as he or she follows some basic guidelines.
Power Jet Carbs
One of the simplest, and most effective, updates to stock competition motorcycle carburetors were the fitting of a power jet. Mikuni introduced this design primarily for their TZ350 in 1979.
Motorcycle Tires, for Vintage and Classics
Motorcycle tires for newer bikes are easy to find, but older bikes - classic and vintage - it can be a challenge. Luckily there are a few dedicated suppliers that help to keep the wheels turning on some of the oldest bikes.
Motorcycle Maintenance—Overlooked Jobs
The list of serviceable items on a motorcycle increases as the machine ages. Some of these items may have been overlooked which can lead to safety issues.
Motorcycle Control Positions
The positioning of a motorcycles control levers are, for the most part, subject to the riders preference. However, there are some important points to consider when setting up the handlebars and levers.
Building a Classic Motorcycle
For a classic enthusiast looking to personalize a motorcycle, building one from scratch may be the best, and most economical, answer. But the builder must follow some basic guidelines due to safety considerations.
Making a Motorcycle Lighter
Building a bobber or a cafe racer is a good time to remove some weight from a motorcycle. Less weight will improve any motorcycle's performance.
Cleaning Classic and Vintage Motorcycles
Cleaning may be one of the easiest jobs on a classic or vintage motorcycle, but there are some does and don'ts to consider.
Motorcycle Mechanics – Removing Fairings, Fuel Tanks and Seats
Before doing maintenance or repairs on motorcycles, it is sometimes necessary to remove fairings, tanks, and seats. Although removing these is relatively simple, for the beginner, there are some important does and don'ts.
Replacing Spark Plugs
Changing a spark plug is probably the easiest job on a motorcycle, but if you've never done it before, a little guidance is always welcome.
Shaft Drive or Chain Drive?
If the final deciding factor on buying a classic motorcycle was whether it was chain or shaft driven, which way would you go? Both final drive systems have advantages and disadvantages.
Classic Motorcycle Workshop Hand-Tools
Owning a classic motorcycle often means undertaking most, if not all, regular maintenance and repairs. But the obvious problem you’ll run into when updating or when buying the first set of tools is price; for instance, how do you decide when to go expensive?
Motorcycle Units of Measurement
Component parts for motorcycles use a number of measurement units. In some instances, both SI and metric units are used to dimension a single unit, such as a tire.
Removing and refitting motorcycle wheels is a relatively easy process as long as some basic guidelines are followed.