Hobbies Cars & Motorcycles Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, Basic to Advanced Share PINTEREST Email Print J. Irwin/ClassicStock/Getty Images Cars & Motorcycles Motorcycles Restoration & Repairs Motorcycle History Buying & Selling Cars Used Cars SUVs Trucks ATVs & Off Road Public Transportation By John Glimmerveen John Glimmerveen is a former competitive motorcycle racer. He later worked as a race technician for several international race teams. our editorial process John Glimmerveen Updated February 25, 2019 After rebuilding an engine, there is no better sound than to hear it start at the first kick (or a touch of a button). But 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. There is no set learning path for most home mechanics. Often, their knowledge increases with the necessity to undertake repairs or maintenance: from changing a dirty spark plug, through a full service to carb cleaning, for instance. However, getting expert guidance is the preferred way to expand a person's mechanical knowledge; for example, a home mechanic may enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend or attend classes on motorcycle maintenance. However, the complexity of mechanical work can be seen in the following lists. The order gives an idea of the knowledge required, and the list progresses from the easy to complex. Needless to say, as the complexity of work increases, so too does the amount and quality of tools required. In addition, the mechanic may require special tools, such as extractors, when disassembling some engine parts. For example, an extractor will be needed to remove flywheels. Basic Mechanical Work Setting tire pressures Changing spark plugs Cleaning or replacing air filters and fuel filters Replacing light bulbs Setting control lever positions Oil and filter changing Fitting new brake pads (as applicable) Balance wheels General Service and Repairs Full mechanical service (including carburetor balancing where applicable) Full electrical service Replace chains and sprockets, and set wheel alignment Fit fork seals Replace/service headstock bearings or swing arm bearings Replace shocks Fit new tires In-depth Mechanical and Electrical Work Fault diagnosis and repair (mechanical noises, for instance) Electrical fault diagnosis/repair Fuel system, carburetor fault diagnosis, and repair Engine and, or, gearbox replacement Complex Work Fully disassemble, inspect and repair as required, an engine or gearbox, then rebuild same Full restoration Race or competition preparation Race tuning Obviously, the home mechanic, wishing to do his or her own mechanical work, would not start with the more complex tasks, but rather build up toward them. However, the more complex jobs are simply a combination of the more simple ones. For example, the home mechanic may be considering removing a cylinder to get it rebored and be put off by the apparent complexity of the task. But he must remember, a lot of the work associated with this task may have been done previously: plugs will have been changed, exhausts removed, and carburetors removed etc. Of paramount importance, when contemplating more complex mechanical work, is to work methodically. Included in working this way are to following. Leave plenty of time to do the job (little or no time pressure to complete) Work in a well-lit area Start with a clean bench and clean parts (it is easy to get dirt in all the wrong places) Photograph as you go Lay the parts out as you take them off (label everything if possible. A felt tip marker can be used on internal engine parts) Make a stand for gearbox work (it's a good idea to do this with two columns to place gears and shims etc. onto as they come off to keep them in order). Although this list is not definitive, the classic bike owner can judge his or her competence level and decide which jobs they would feel comfortable undertaking.