Do It Yourself or Pay The Professionals? – Motorcycle Service

Pliers with wire cutter

I have a question for you guys and gals. It’s time for my 5,000 mile service on my new Dyna which is under warranty. It has been 1 year since Diana’s Sportster has been serviced. I was going to take them in and have them both professionally serviced which will run about $500. A very good friend reccomended we service our own bikes for a fraction of the cost. I am sure we could successfully change the fluids and plugs, but I like the idea of having a pro do it because they may notice other things that need attention. Considering that I blew up my first Harley by installing the battery backwards, my mechanic told Diana to take my tools away, and I hate working on the bikes….  what do you think? What do you do?

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12 Responses to “Do It Yourself or Pay The Professionals? – Motorcycle Service”

  1. RC,

    Sorry this may be a bit long, but I have a lot to say about your question.

    I am extremely mechanically inclined. I can do basic auto mechanics, basic motorcycle mechanics, body work, paint, custom paint, & all kinds of construction., But I don’t F’ with my Harley when it comes to mechanics.
    I know a lot of people who do. But for me, I just feel that the motorcycle is something that I put my life on the line with when I get on it and ride. I also don’t want to get stranded, or have anything fall off and cause a crash that will kill or seriously injure me because of something stupid I did, or did not do properly.
    I know I can follow a manual and do the basics, but I’ve done enough major mechanical with a trusted local mechanic that I just simply have him do everything now., including dissassembly and re-assembly of tins etc. for painting purposes. To me it’s just easier that way. We have such a long standing good relationship, he treats me right for the small jobs and the big jobs for that matter. His hands are the olny ones to touch it mechanically, and I trust him (with my life) essentially. I’ve watched him work. He actually uses a torque wrench to proper specs. If anything goes wrong with the bike and it’s due to mechanical negligence, I only have one guy to go to. He knows he is my exclusive bike mechanic too. Plus you made a good point. It is easy to do the easy job, like change fluids, etc, but this is when he checks my internal chain tension, timing, etc., and also checks the bike over for things that a non mechanic might easily miss.
    I don’t disagree that you can get the job done yourself for a fraction of the cost – though It’s your call. I just gave my reason’s for spending the $ for my piece of mind.
    When I hit that throttle and I’m flying down the road, I don’t worry about the mechanics. I KNOW it’s done right. To me that is money well spent.
    Good luck with what ever you choose.

  2. I love comments, the longer the better. Thank you Mr M!

  3. With my car, I always bring it to the dealer for diagnosis, get an estimate, then have a friend who is a mechanic do the work for half the cost. I trust my mechanic to do the work, but I feel like the dealer knows my car better than someone who sees a wide range of vehicles every day.

    I feel the same way about the bike…as far as diagnostics are concerned. But I also know that for a simple oil change the dealer is going to have the low-man/grease-monkey/new-guy do the work. And he is probably just as likely as me to f*** it up!

  4. Mr. M pretty much covered it, but I have a few things to say.

    You answered your own question in the post. If a mechanic told your wife to take your tools away, then you best put them away. You also said you “hate” working on the bikes, and if that doesn’t put the yellow “caution” tape up, then let me help you.

    I’m no jack of all trades, but I am a master of one. I know how to use tools. As a professional who has walked in on more frustrated “Saturday afternoon plumbers” than you can imagine, I practice what I preach – each according to his gifts. It’s one thing to flood your bathroom and have your wife giving you the “I told you so” speech until you’re ready to smash something, but as Mr. M rightly says…these are your lives. I take my bike to a man who knows what he’s doing, and has the shop full of all the right tools to do it in, and so should you.

    If you hate something, that’s dooming yourself from the start. That makes it a task, not a labor of love. It invites frustration and anger, which result in mistakes. You don’t want to make mistakes on your bikes. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. If you want to play with tools, go stain your deck or something. When it comes to your rides, pry your wallet open and suck it up. Let the professional handle it – seriously.

  5. Mr. Motorcycle is right about safety and unfortunately, my experience wth mechs, is the reason I do it myself. I know that didn’t make sense but I have never seen a mechanic actually use a torque wrench except on someone’s head. Mr.M is fortunate to have a mech who does this. I use a torque wrench on everything. If it has a torque value it’s for a reason. I have heard mechs say over and over, “Oh, i have been doing this so long I just know how much to crank it down”. Bullcrap, I’m sorry but I need to go now and find a real mechanic. Honda mechs are the worst from my experience. (Sorry guys, you did it to yourself, over and over again. Yeah, I’m real bitter. )

    Wow, that helped didn’t it. lol. RC, time is money, mistakes are expensive and if you don’t learn from your mistakes then history will repeat itself. Cost of tools, loss of time that could be better used, voiding the warranty somehow, breaking a bolt, scratching the paint, having to dispose of the fluids, …man the list goes on. In your case just keep your ride fun and enjoyable your own way and don’t let it turn into another job that has to be done. You already have enough of those.

    I love working on my bike and thats part of the fun for me. In your case, fork over the duckets or you might be crying buckets. (It will give you more time to keep us supplied with great blog reads too.)

  6. Well Dave you’re alot of help… most mechanics don’t use a torque wrench but I should hire a mechanic? How about saving over $300 and what about the satisfaction of doing my own work? Whenever Diana and I do our own home improvements I am constantly reminded of the amount of care and extra time I put into the work that a pro wouldn’t. It would be just another job to him while he is watching the clock. I am a perfectionist and I am the one who has to live with the results… so maybe I will do it better.
    Keep the comments coming as I am still unsure which way to go!

  7. Well brother, I don’t want to sound like a dick or anything, but you said you hated working on the bike, you already blew one up and a mechanic told you to put the tools away…based on that info I would be giving bad advice if I told you to do it yourself. Sorry man, just the truth. If you do decide to go for it, it would make a great “how to” post, especially for others who may have the same bike.

  8. The truth hurts! Thanks for being candid with me. This is quickly leading into a review of the Fix My HOG DVD series.

  9. I am mechanically inclined so changing fluids etc is easy. But if you feel uncomfortable pay someone. Hard to put a price on a piece of mind!

  10. I do the oil and filter changes myself, tire changes, brake pad changes, some basic readjustments, and fix all the little stuff. The way I handle the 5,000 mile service, is that I’ll take it into a independent shop (I don’t like dealer shops if I can help it), and have them do it. Then when the next 5,000 miles comes up, I’ll just do an oil and filter change myself. Then the next 5,000 miles comes up, and I’ll take it in again. And so on… So that kinda cuts the expenses in half.

  11. Thank you everyone for your input and lack of confidance in my mechanical ability. My bike is now in the hands of a professional.

  12. I took my motorcycle to Custom Cycle & Machine where my friend Scott wenches. Scott is a great performance guy. He can get more horsepower out of any two wheeled vehicle. They serviced my bike very fast. Brought it in on Tuesday and it was done by Friday so I could have it for the weekend. If you are in Delaware, check them out:

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