I’m always surprised to learn that that some motorcycle owners don’t perform any of their own maintenance on their bikes.
Now I know that everyone has different tastes, wants and desires, but it just seems natural that owning a motorcycle requires at least a basic understanding of mechanics – at least enough to perform the regular (and relatively frequent) maintenance tasks that are part of living with motorcycles.
But we hear of many owners who don’t even change their own oil, much less take on a project like, for example, adjusting steering head bearings. I have always found that working on my vehicles brings me much closer to them, and I feel more in touch with all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies.
It also gives me confidence that I know every little nut, bolt and part is just as it should be. This is very important, especially with motorcycles, because a bike must be in nearly perfect condition before every ride to avoid danger.
But even for those who don’t want to perform their own maintenance, due to lack of time, knowledge, skill or availability of tools, it’s still important to know what makes a motorcycle work. And that’s why I like to study books like The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance.
The book does have lots of tips for many of the different maintenance tasks that a motorcycle owner might find necessary. But let’s face it – there’s simply no way a single book could cover every maintenance procedure in detail for every type of motorcycle.
The book is designed to teach the basics of engine and motorcycle design and engineering, and then to cover, in general terms, just about all of the maintenance tasks an owner can perform by him or her self. Knowing how the bike works is also important so that the owner can at least have an intelligent dialog with the repair or maintenance shop to communicate problems or issues without ambiguity.
In this regard, the book is a success. No matter how much I think I know about motorcycle maintenance, I am always able to learn more from books like this. It covers everything from explaining the basics of combustion to the types of tools necessary for working on a motorcycle to some detail on various types of maintenance and repair.
Sure, it falls down in some areas. For example, the section on replacing a sprocket doesn’t cover one of the most important tasks – staking the master link on the chain. So the reader should not think that the book is a complete guide to every motorcycle repair that could possibly be undertaken. But for all types of riders, inexperienced or not, the book serves as a nice background to understanding what makes a motorcycle work.
If you like this book, you may also like Kevin Cameron’s excellent Sportbike Performance Handbook, which explains in easy to understand language all of the engineering theory on how motorcycles and engines work.