Becoming proficient at bike mechanics- where to begin?

Hey, I was just wondering if anyone could give me a little advise on where to begin in terms of learning the mechanics behind bikes. I know that most riders service and sometimes repair their own bikes, but there seems to be a lot to learn. I was thinking about trying to get ahold of a manual for my bike (Suzuki GS125) and just read it cover-to-cover, i’m fairly good at retaining information that I read. I’m having a fair bit of trouble finding it though. So, do you guys think that would be a good place to start? and anyone know where I can find the manual? (ideally online as a pdf, i’ve searched quite a bit, in vain.)

I’d love to eventually be able to take a bike that’s falling apart and fix it up myself.


Hmmm…imo forget about pdf and reading cover to cover, it will mean nothing .You need to do it the old fashioned way , buy a haynes manual a few tools , put the book on the seat of the bike open to the relevant page while you start on the basics such as cable adjustment,oil and filter changes, etc .

If you don’t end up with a dog eared manual,greasy jeans and filthy hands after a short period of time then you’re learning nuthin !

i think the most inportant tool to have is a torque wrench…you wont get very far with out comment above hayes manual the best place to start oil,filters,plugs,coolant,chain,brake pads and so on

once you can do all the small jobs youll then build up confidence…good luck buddy:)

Yeah, I’d go with the haynes manual and some tools as above, really.

I started doing motorbike mechanics through buying a falling-apart SR125 and a haynes manual, and now I appear to be a bit of a go-to for bike mechanics.

Probably start off by doing the servicing (it’s easier than repairing and less rushed), read through the directions in the Haynes manual, check you’ve got the tools and parts, and make sure you’ve got time to do it, ideally on a weekday so you can rush out and get any parts you suddenly notice yourself needing.

+1 on the haynes manual and tool.

if you still lack confidence get a more experienced friend to help out. or you could attend a motorcycle maintenance course (do a search here)

The way I learned was by having to do stuff myself - when I was 16 (back in '85), I had a TS50 and no money to get it fixed / tuned.
You gradually learn by taking stuff apart, seeing how it works and sorting it.Within a few months I had fitted a big bore kit, fettled the ports, modified the squish (how many on here know what I’m on about :wink: ), fitted a spanny and sorted the brakes.
These days there is nothing I won’t tackle on a bike - although electrics are technically witchcraft.
Get a manual - Haynes is good, Clymer is much better and a selection of tools (I bought a set of Britool combination spanners when I was 16 - 10,12,13,14,15,16,17mm and they still get used in preference to any other spanners), and spend some time getting to know the bike.
You’ll save yourself a fortune and you’ll probably enjoy it !

what if Haynes dont do a manual for your bike? :frowning:

zx10 2006/7 - nope

SV650 K1 - yes (and I have it)

KTM LC4 2000 - very difficult to get hold of…


I would not have my CCM now if it wasn’t for the wealth of knowledge and willingness to help
from other owners/riders.

So a big thanks to all helpful forum “mechanics”…

wooohoooo i had a ts 50 Er! was older than me!

+1 for Britool - one set of spanners that aren’t going to let you down, cheaper sometimes to import from the US.

Sounds like something you’d hear on a spaceship.

“Big Bore Kit?”






“Excellent. Make ready for departure Mr Sulu.”

Try and get hold of the shop manual - you can sometimes download them for a fee as a PDF - failing that buy it off of the manufacturer - although it will cost more than a Haynes.Remember that a shop manual will take for granted that you have a grounding in mechanical skills and understanding rather than leading you by the hand like a Haynes manual.regarding learning to maintain and fix your bike - agree with Zeph and the others - good idea to get a shed of a bike and restore it with a haynes manual - start with the basic jobs and build up your skills gradually along with your toolkit - e.g. get a basic socket set, spanners and graduate to stuff like torque wrenches, multi-meters for electrics etc.Also expect to make mistakes/break stuff/get frustrated when you can’t get bolts undone etc at first - this is why you are practising on an old second bike shed and not your p&j which has to be ready to take you to work on monday morning.

i signed up to a course which was ‘basic mechanics’ at merton college (sutton, carshalton, morden kind of area).

we have learnt quite a bit for £200! we’ve taken apart the top of engines, done some brakes (disk and drum), head bearings, wheel alignment, clutch etc… course is for 2 hours a week over 10 weeks. it’s good to get some basics and obviously you can go away and develop everything because 2 hours isn’t exactly loads of time. it’s that good i’m signing up for the ‘advanced’ class aswell.

oh i forgot to mention. the GS125’s are the bikes we mainly work on too!

God knows how you fit on it!

i have a pdf manual if you want gabs

the workshop or service manuals are pretty easy to find for free :wink: and as mentioned, they do explain things in a way that implies you have some mechanical knowledge. lots of pictures to help and exploded diagrams etc

Can’t go wrong with a haynes that’s how I avoid the extortionate labour costs. Buy the parts, do it yourself. Simples!:smiley:

thanks for the advice. I bought the manual from amazon (quite hard to find anywhere else). =]

got a shed full of hundreds of tools, so i’ll probably spend a day sorting through it to find out what’s useful to me ><, buy new stuff once i know what i need.

No doubt i’ll be back on here in a few days asking for a mechanics help putting my wheels back on after somehow removing them while trying to top up the oil =]

Haha, good luck :smiley:

You will also need time and patience. These are amost as important as a Haynes and some tools. In some respects more important.

Theres nothing better than experience really, but everyones different, if you wanna read stuff go ahead, it’ll give you knowledge about the thing you have in your hand and how it works…

I still have this book from my NVQ/C&G, i refer to it every now and then, very good…