Just like us, motorcycles are prone to the effects of time. One minute they’re gleaming, raring to go and boasting a smooth, adrenaline-fuelled drive, the next, they’re worn out, a little on the scratched side and have lost their raucous roar.
Lucky enough to own an old motorcycle? Spotted a second-hand model on the market? There are many reasons to restore a much-loved bike, and doing so isn’t as hard as you may think.
Providing you have the skills, patience and passion, you can transform a neglected garage hideaway or barn found motorcycle into a king of the road - but why should you? Keep reading to find out!
Why is a motorcycle restoration such a fantastic project?
There are many reasons why you should consider a motorcycle restoration. Asides from being a fun journey to embark on (especially if the outcome results in an actual road trip), motorcycle restoration is something you can do as a team, from a project with a few friends to a challenge you and your son can tackle together at the weekends.
Such restoration, with the right knowledge, tools and hard work, offers great rewards. So what are the reasons you should give your barn find motorcycle or family classic new lease of life?
1. Gain new skills
Now, more than ever is the time to learn new skills! And learning the ins and outs of motorcycles is something that can prove very handy should your bike break down while out on a ride.
Whether you’ve seen a great bike on the road or at a show, learning how to build something exactly like this is a dream come true for many motorcycle enthusiasts. Plus, transforming a factory stock bike into a custom two-wheeled icon is guaranteed to turn heads.
Making this dream a reality requires a mixture of soft skills and hard expertise. The good news? From motorcycle forums to online tutorials to specialist site suppliers, there are many places to look when it comes to learning the skills required for motorcycle restoration projects. You’ll also have loads of fun doing so!
2. Engage whole family
We all have more time on our hands at the moment than we know what to do with. Rebuilding an old motorbike is a great father and son project - besides using the time to bond, you’ll both learn a handful of new skills! From tweaking engines to perfecting a paint job and researching the best places to buy bike supplies, motorcycle restoration is a hobby all ages can enjoy.
And why not get your wife or partner on board as well? Surely she loves looking for bargains! Ask her to help you find the best deals on parts that you need. You might be surprised with the outcome and money savings.
3. Pass the Legacy
Whether you’ve been gifted your grandfather’s old 1967 Yamaha YCS1, your father’s vintage Enduro, or you’ve stumbled upon a racer in an old family barn, bringing back a legacy through restoring an old bike back to its former glory is one of the reasons many choose to embark on a classic motorcycle restoration project.
It’s also an easy way to bring back memories, honour past generations and add your personal touch to an old bike.
4. Save a bike from the scrapheap
Is a neighbour, friend, family member or colleague about to throw an old bike on the scrapheap? Does it break your heart seeing another bike thrown out to be replaced with a more fashionable model? Stepping in to save the bike is what’s known as the ‘saviours feeling’. It’s a feeling only those truly passionate about giving old objects a new lease of life know about. Cue motorcycle restoration projects!
5. Make few extra coins
A motorcycle sitting at the back of your garage, accumulating rust and not much else, is no use to anyone. Whether it requires a new lick of paint, a thorough clean or a new engine, investing in parts to put it back on the road isn’t as difficult as you may think.
If easy enough to fix, it can also be a great way to make extra pocket money should you choose to sell the motorcycle once restored.
Motorcycle restoration, although a fun pastime, can also be a hobby you can turn into an income, especially if you’re good at it! Buying a cheap fixer-upper, transforming it into a masterpiece and putting it back onto the market is a great way to make a few extra pennies.
6. Enter competitions & shows
Ever thought about entering your newly customised motorbike into a show? The sooner you get it finished, the sooner you can! From motorcycle events to shows, to various tracks days, social meets and race events - there is a bike competition to suit all tastes and styles, with more events being added every year.
7. Customise your old bike
Sometimes the item you want to buy just isn’t available. This spans from fashion to food to (you guessed it) bikes!
Whether it’s a particular shade of blue you’re after, bespoke handlebars or a seat that rivals that of your armchair, one way to create the bike of your dreams is to customise it! This is the perfect way to fashion a motorcycle that fits you and your lifestyle.
There are an array of differentmotorcycle machines on the market, including everything from drag bikes, to choppers, bobbers, café racers, complete custom-builds and others. When remodelling old bikes, providing you know where to get the parts, the world is your oyster!
When should you NOT restore a motorcycle?
As with all projects, including motorcycle restoration, there are upsides and downsides.
When it comes to a classic motorcycle, it’s important to consider few factors, including the time required to research and service parts, the costs involved, the time it will take to complete the motorcycle restoration and the risks at hand.
One of which includes having to pay a mechanic or a team of engineers to help if you lack the experience or patience to finish the project.
1. You have limited time to spare
If you have the time, great! If you’re planning on working a motorcycle restoration around your work and home life, you may need to reconsider the scope of your project. Those wishing to revamp a classic motorcycle will need to spare evenings and weekends and dedicate months if not years to it.
Asides from working on the bike, you will have to make sure you have the time to learn new skills, research parts and everything in between.
2. You have no budget at all
Building a classic motorcycle requires time and money. This depends on what model you are working on and how old it is. If it’s been sitting in a garage for the last 40 years or involved in a crash, it will likely need a lot of work as well a few major parts, including a new engine, frame, a master cylinder, or a fuel tank.
These items tend to amount to more in price than brake fluid, a new tire, spark plugs, brake shoes, nuts, bolts and paint. If you have the choice, choose a project that doesn’t require too much work, especially if it’s your first try.
Also remember that lots of parts in any motorbike are made from rubber or separated by rubber dampers and seals. These would have cracked and harden over time and will all need replacing. Though costing a couple of pounds each, the overall cost can add up very quickly.
If you are thinking about buying a bike to restore, a 1970s Yamaha is a great option. Not only are the spares easy to source out, it’s one of the easier machines to work on in comparison to others on the market or later models.
3. You don’t have the determination or support to finish it
The last thing you want is an abandoned bike in bits collecting dust and taking up your garage, especially after spending hours on it. Suddenly realising the workload is too much, you’re unable to fit a particular part or worse still, you can’t find the spare part anywhere - these are all risks you should be taking into consideration when it comes to restoring bikes.
Restoring a motorcycle isn’t a project you can complete with your eyes closed. If you’re new to the restoration game, you’ll need to spend a lot of time upskilling yourself. Both your availability and the costs need to be factored into the equation.
Spending money and time away from your family is something they will need to be on board with. If it’s a lifelong dream of yours or a restoration project you’re extremely passionate about, it’s important to make your nearest and dearest aware of this and make sure they’re willing to support you.