WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Learn How to Build a Motorcycle

By James - 7/1/2006

My husband is interested in learning to build motorcycles. How’s the best way to get started? I wondered if there’s some type of school or training program that I could surprise him with for his birthday? Any suggestions?
- Dena

There are two things I would suggest to learn how to build motorcycles.

The first is read. There are books about building custom bikes and there are manuals that deal with the engines, braking systems and everything else. Here are the most popular books about building choppers on Amazon:
How to Build Choppers - Amazon.com

The second thing he should do is practice. There are “bootcamps” and there are aprenticeships, but if this is just a hobby those may be too instensive for the weekend builder. The best option for you seems to be community college or university auto shop. For a fraction of what it would cost to rent or buy all the tools you need, including welders and paint sprayers, you will have access to all the equipment and an instructor to show you how to do it.

Don’t start from scratch on the first bike you build. Buy a cheap “clunker” and bring it back to life. Make sure it is cheap so you can experiment and fix it if you mess up. Start on a older and/or smaller Japanese V twin and hone your skills until you are confident in them and then you can reburbish a bigger motorcycle, get a kit bike, or start from scratch.

Lastly, unlike the motorcycle shows on TV, slow and steady is the way to build a motorcycle. Making sure it is done right is the most important thing in bike building. Don’t rush it. Your life as well as your passenger’s depends on it.

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