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Sometimes I marvel at how different wrenching is today than it was 15-20 years ago. In particular, I think about how much technology has changed motorcycle restoration.
That said, I felt like it would be interesting to take a few minutes and reflect on the ways technology has changed motorcycle restoration.
1) Technical Literature: I remember when I restored my first bike, my only real technical resource was my Clymer manual and the miniature manual I found under the seat of my non-running Kawasaki KZ440. I had to order the Clymer manual in person from a shop and pick it up about a week later. At the time, that manual seemed like a TON of information. Now we have the full depth of the Internet and that manual seems kind of puny.
2) Multimedia Resources: The information boom related to the internet went beyond just books. I remember a lot of times back-in-the-day wishing that my paper manual had a few more pictures (or even some color ones instead of the dim black and whites). Now we have Google images and YouTube videos. To me these were game changers in terms of knowing what I was looking at.
3) Parts Availability: During my early days of restoration, I depended heavily on my local hole in the wall motorcycle shop for parts. They had giant catalogs on pre-made binder stands that the major vendors would provide to shops in their network. The idea of using Amazon, eBay, or some other online seller didn’t exist. I think this is my favorite way that technology has changed motorcycle restoration. There are probably classic bikes on the road now that couldn’t have been restored 20 years ago simply because the parts were unfindable/unavailable.
4) Online Forums: These days if your manual doesn’t have the answer to your technical question and you can’t find a picture or video on the Internet, there are about a million online forums you can peruse. Look, if you are asking a question, someone else has probably had the same question before. And if not, you can post the question yourself and some motorcycle-obsessed blogger with a cartoon themed wrench will probably respond.
5) Small Electronics: Cell phones with cameras and iPads for video watching has turned the garage into a connected space. If I am working on a bike or part I am unfamiliar with, I will take pictures as I am taking things apart. This is especially helpful when I don’t get around to reassembly until several months later.
The bottom-line is that between the increased availability of information and the rapid ability to find and order parts, we live in the golden age of motorcycle restoration.
Technology has not only eliminated some of the more frustrating aspects, but allows us to spend more time turning the wrench than waiting to find that one part we need at the next swap meet. We also have technology to thank for blogs, forums, and other electronic communities that bring those of us more isolated from the mainstream together over our mutual love of two wheels.
Technology has changed motorcycle restoration for the better.
Didn’t find what you needed in this particular post? Check out the HappyWrench Motorcycle Repair Link Database. It is a one-stop shop for all your DIY motorcycle repair information needs.
Also, forgive any typos or grammatical errors a I wrote this blog post from my phone.