Years ago, you didn’t have to be a genius to work on cars or motorcycles. Even if you were mildly mechanically inclined and had a few tools, you could probably diagnose and repair most problems on the average bike. Today, things are a little different. Just like electronic systems have taken over control of the automotive sector, albeit quite a bit earlier, the modern bike is more complex than it ever has been. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that motorcycles are becoming harder to work on.
Still, motorcycles aren’t all that complicated, so in addition to your mechanical aptitude and toolbox, have you considered adding a motorcycle repair manual to your toolbox? Indeed, you should, but why?
Your Most Important Tool
Mechanical aptitude is surely helpful in maintaining and repairing your motorcycle, such as knowing the difference between a hex socket and hex key and which way to turn a screwdriver. Then there are tools, because you’re not going to get very far with a butter knife and soup spoon. Now, the real question arises when it comes to applying that aptitude, tools, and basic knowledge to your bike, but how much do you really know?
Do you want to “learn” by failure, that is, by breaking things or having an accident? Learning from your mistakes is important, but this isn’t something you should do when your life is on the line, as so often it is on a motorcycle. Therefore, you need a motorcycle repair manual, one specific to your bike’s YMM (year, make, model). A motorcycle repair manual gives you knowledge, which could be the most important tool you can put in your toolbox.
Motorcycle Repair Manual Content
What makes a YMM-specific indispensable when it comes to taking care of your ride? True, there are generalized motorcycle owner’s and service and repair manuals, but they’re not specific enough to cover your specific bike. Here are a few things that make it worth your consideration.
Maintenance – There are always variations between brands, years, and even models in the same brand. To keep your engine or transmission running properly, you’ve got to know what specific oils you should be using and how often to inspect or change them. Use the wrong fluid or change it too long and you’re looking at some expensive hardware.
Diagnosis – Not all bikes act or sound the same when they’re experiencing certain problems. While some factory manuals assume that a professional is reading them, chances are you aren’t a professional. That’s why DIY motorcycle repair manuals are so good, because they are written so you can clearly understand without excessive explanation or background. This makes accurate diagnosis easier.
Repair – Again, there are differences across the lineup that you need to know. A motorcycle repair manual has such information as proper torque specifications, so you don’t rip out threads, break bolts, or cause leaks. It’ll tell you if there’s a gasket between two pieces, and what kind – RTV, fiber, metal, etc. – so you don’t waste your time on the wrong parts.
In the end, the whole reason you should consider a motorcycle repair manual is so that you can keep your bike on the road. A repair manual will help you maintain, diagnose, and repair your ride – there are even restoration manuals – so you can get back to doing what you like best, riding.