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Technical Tips

Mechanical work on your classic motorcycle can be fun and rewarding. But knowing some of the tricks of the trade can save you hours.

Motorcycle Maintenance

Clutch Holding Tool

Motorcycle Painting

Motorcycle Handlebars

How to Ship Motorcycle Parts

Measuring 4-Stroke Crankshaft Clearances

How to Make a Motorcycle Cable
Making a motorcycle control cable is relatively easy and requires few tools. If the cables are to be made from scratch, the mechanic must first establish the length of the outer cable.

Classic Motorcycle Parts--Grit Blasting

Finding TDC

Welding Repairs on Classic Motorcycles

Motorcycle Handling Problems

Motorcycle Steering Dampers

4 into 1 Classic Motorcycle Exhaust Systems
Of the many performance enhancing items to be made for the Japanese bikes, none were more popular than the 4 into 1 exhaust systems.

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.

Cable Routing
Correct cable routing is a very important part of classic motorcycle safety. All cables, wires and lines were designed to follow a specific route.

Motorcycle Carburetion – Rich and Lean Mixtures
An internal combustion engine needs three things to operate: gasoline and air (compressed), and a spark. Optimizing the combustion is the tricky part. The spark must occur at exactly the right moment, and the gasoline/air mixture and ratio must be in the correct proportions, neither rich not lean.

Balancing Wire Wheels With Solder
Quick tip: How to balance a classic motorcycles' wheels.

Suzuki GS 750/1000 Tapping Noise
The Suzuki’s GS series motorcycles were good all round bikes. However, early versions did have one problem; some developed a loud ticking noise from the overhead cams, was this serious?

Spark Plugs
Examination of a spark plug can tell a lot about the conditions within a cylinder. From worn rings (oily deposits) to incorrect jets, the spark plug's condition is representative of the workings of a cylinder

Inside a Motorcycle Cylinder – how to Check Without Disassembly
Checking the internal condition of a motorcycle engine with a cranking pressure tester is a simple task the home mechanic can undertake. We follow the process through.

Jawa CZ Kick Start Gear Lever
Some motorcycles used a common lever for the gear change and kick start. This latter design was common on eastern block motorcycles such as the CZ and Jawa (two companies that eventually came together).

Part Out, or Buy Another?
There sometimes comes a day when we have to conclude that a bike is beyond (economic) restoration. There are two options at this point: part it out, or buy another and make one good bike from two.

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?

Classic Motorcycle Oil Change – Replacing the Seal
On many Japanese motorcycles, the oil drain plug doubled up as the location for the gear change drum detent plunger. This clever design worked well, but the mechanic had to ensure the sealing washer was replaced when doing an oil change.

Replacing a Broken Brake Bleed Nipple
The design of brake bleed nipples makes them prone to seizing and braking, particularly in older motorcycles. Luckily, removing a broken brake bleed nipple is relatively simple.

Motorcycle Handling Problems and Suspension Set-Up

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.

Balancing Twin Carbs
Carburetor balancing on twin-carb engines is very important. Each carb must supply the same amount of mixture (fuel and air mixed) for the engine to run smoothly, develop good power, and maintain fuel economy

Fine Bead Blast Finish
Trying to keep a classic motorcycle looking original during a restoration can be a challenge. This is particularly true when it comes to finishes on engine cases, for instance.

Drilled Rotors
Although drilling rotors will often make a classic motorcycle look period correct, the owner must consider the safety implications if the bike is to be ridden on a regular basis.

Classic Motorcycle Wheel Alignment
Checking the wheel alignment on a classic motorcycle is relatively easy. Although this is not part of a regular maintenance schedule, it should be undertaken on an older machine, especially during a restoration.

Motorcycle Weight Distribution
A tank slapper (handlebar oscillation) is a front end handling problem that can be caused by a number of issues, including air flow affected by a rear top box (tail shaking the dog), heavy rear luggage containers, loose head-stock bearings and buckled wheels.

Thread Replacement with Heli-Coils
There are a number of different options to repair damaged threads, Heli-Coil® wire inserts are one of the top choices for classic motorcycle owners.

Excessive Smoke from 2-Strokes
If you own a twin, or any multi-cylinder 2-stroke, and the clutch side exhaust system begins to smoke more than the others, this is an indication that the crank oil seal on that side needs replacing.

First Time Riders on Classic Motorcycles
Riding a motorcycle for the first time is often exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. If the bike happens to be a rare classic, the owner will be very nervous too. But there are some basic riding rules that the first time rider must adhere to that will alleviate some of the potential problems.

Classic Motorcycle Riding Learning to Ride a Sidecar
Throughout the history of the motorcycle, sidecars have been attached to most solos at one time or another. But learning to ride these machines takes a special skill set.

Noise - Electrical
Noise - Electrical

Custom Helmet Painting
Personalizing riding gear by painting helmets is something motorcyclists have done since the very beginning. The home mechanic, with access to basic painting equipment, can transform a standard helmet into a custom designed unit.

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.

Motorcycle Seat Re-covering
For many classic bike restorers, having the seat recovered is a must. Removing the old cover is relatively simple. However, before paying to have the seat professionally re-covered, the owner should check to see if there is a cover available, or a complete seat, as a spare part.

Classic Motorcycle Cruise Controls
Cruise control systems have been around for a number of years in various guises: throttle lever lock, push button, and more recently computer-controlled electronic devices.

Learning to Drive with a Trailer
Having the knowledge to drive a motor vehicle with a trailer attached has many advantages. For the classic bike owner looking to take his classic to a show or to a race, etc., having the knowledge to drive with a trailer is essential.

Making a Bobber
Done properly, a bobber is a motorcycle that has had unnecessary components removed (unnecessary in the opinion of the owner) and is styled to the owners tasteno rules.

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.

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.

Motorcycle Final Drive Ratio Changing
Many classic motorcycle owners change their bike’s gear ratios. This is particularly true on racers, but it does apply to street bikes too.

Motorcycle Jobs for Winter Time
Motorcycle Jobs for Winter Time

Special Tools for Motorcycle Repairs and Maintenance

Classic Motorcycle Hardware
Modern hardware, and locking compounds, can almost eliminate items coming loose on a classic motorcycle due to vibration.

Checking Motorcycle Head Stock Bearings
The vast majority of steering head bearings used on motorcycles are of the tapered roller variety. The free play in this type of bearing is controlled by the amount of torque applied to the clamping nut—the greater the torque, the tighter the steering. Checking these bearings is a simple task.

Classic Motorcycle Updates

Repairing Loose Baffles

Motorcycle Frame Modifying Using Jigs and Fixtures

Motorcycle Engine Disassembly (in the Frame)

Motorcycle, Engine Disassembly (Bench Work)

Polishing and Buffing Motorcycle Engine Cases

Replacing Bearings and Seals from Motorcycle Cases

Classic Motorcycle Engine Parts Examination
Motorcycle parts can be examined in a number of different ways. These include examination of a part (or component) by visual means, pressure test, NDT'g (Non-Destructive Testing), measurement, inspections for color change, and a touch test (checking for roughness).

Replacing Motorcycle Valve Guides

Five Things not to do When Braking on a Motorcycle

Mechanicing on a Classic Motorcycle
Whatever the reason a person does his or her own mechanicing, there are some things that they should not do during the process.

Reboring a Motorcycle Cylinder

Motorcycle Fuel Tanks

Motorcycle Painting

Swapping Motorcycle Engines
Motorcycle engine changing, or swapping, has not been limited to café racers. Many motorcycle owners have created their own versions of the ideal motorcycle by replacing the stock power unit—some out of necessity, some by choice. However, although it sounds simple to do, fitting an engine into another manufacture’s frame is not easy and there...

Reassembling a Motorcycle

Motorcycle Wheel Building

Making a Motorcycle Wiring Harness.
Replacing the wiring harness, or loom, on a motorcycle is a relatively easy task but can be time consuming.

Motorcycle Riding
Riding on when a problem arises on a motorcycle can be dangerous. Sometimes it is imperative to pull over and check.

Motorcycle Wheels
The evolution and development of motorcycle wheels have typically followed performance increases. But not all new designs were successful.

Testing Motorcycle Components
During an engine rebuild (overhaul) or restoration, many of the components must be tested to ensure they meet the service recommendations of the manufacturers. Luckily, most of the tests are relatively simple to do.

Checking Motorcycle Parts and Settings
There are many checks to do on a motorcycle. Learning to check certain components and settings is how most motorcycle owners learn about the mechanics of their machines.

Test Riding Motorcycles
For motorcycle enthusiasts, riding a motorcycle is pure pleasure. However, occasionally it will be necessary to test ride a motorcycle for reasons such as to road test the carburetor settings, for instance.

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.

Adjusting Motorcycle Cables
Adjusting the free play of motorcycle control cables is a relatively simple job, but there are safety issues that must be considered.

Triumph 'C' Series Oiling Systems

Supercharged Gold Wing

Classic Motorcycles and Gasoline

Classic Motorcycle Brake Upgrades

The Honda RC 161 Replica
Making a replica of any engineering piece is challenging. Making a replica of a factory racing motorcycle is especially challenging, but this is what the employees at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Museum did when they built a replica Honda RC161.

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.

Christmas 2013 Quiz
Think you know all about classic motorcycles? Take our 2013 quiz to test your knowledge.

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.

Book Review, Continental Circus, by Jan and Hetty Burgers and Frank Weeink.
Continental Circus - The Races and the Places, the People and the Faces, is a new book by photo journalists Jan and Hetty Burgers and journalist Frank Weeink. The book covers the early 70s of Grand Prix racing, F-750 and other international races with an in depth look at the riders, machines and circuits.

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.

Problems Starting a Motorcycle After Storage

Five Easy Ways of Improving Your Classic
Modifying older classic motorcycles, in light of new technology or materials, can make a huge difference to the owners enjoyment of riding it.

Burt Monro's Indian
How did Burt Monro get 190 mph out of a 55 mph street bike? We take a look at the engineering behind Burt Monro's incredible Indian Scout.

Classic 2-Stroke Racers
Chris Barton is a well-known British motorcycle racer. Since starting racing in 1977, Chris has ridden most of the popular 2-strokes on both road courses and many European race tracks.

Motorcycle Rewiring
Rewiring a motorcycle is a relatively simple task as long as some basic guidelines are followed.

Motorcycle Electrics
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.

Classic Suzuki Racer
Taking a stock T500 Suzuki twin from a garden (where it had stood for ten years), to 2nd place in a classic race at the Nürburgring is a major accomplishment, but that's what one Dutchman did.

Replacing Motorcycle Disc Brake Pads

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.

How Not to Crash a Motorcycle
Riding a motorcycle brings pleasure to many people, but riding is not without its dangers. Learning the limits of a particular machine will go a long way to avoiding crashes.

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.

Evil Handling Racers

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.

Classic Motorcycle

Making Motorcycle Emblems and Badges
Emblems and badges can be hard to find for older motorcycles, making them may be only option.

Building a Manx Look-a-Like
The legendary Manx Nortons are becoming rare and expensive, so for one English owner, the only alternative was to build a look-a-like.

Classic Road Trip
Thinking of taking a classic motorcycle on a road trip? Smart riders know to plan for “just in case.”

Triumph Tiger 90
With a top speed approaching 90 mph, and a fuel consumption of 80 mpg, the little Triumph is truly a great classic motorcycle.

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.

Costs of Racing Classic Motorcycles
Thinking about starting motorcycle racing, on a classic? First you must work out a budget. All teams have to have a budget, from MotoGP to the smallest owner/rider team.

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.

How to Fix a Motorcycle Carburetor
Fixing a motorcycle carburetor need not be a daunting task to any reasonably competent mechanic. By following some basic guidelines the bike can be up and running again in no time.

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.

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.

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:

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.

Motorcycle Mechanics
Removing and refitting motorcycle wheels is a relatively easy process as long as some basic guidelines are followed.

Motorcycle Mechanics
Replacing motorcycle wheel bearings sounds scary, but to the competent home mechanic, it is a relatively straightforward job.

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