When I first began working on my bikes, I had a lot of help. I wasn’t much of a mechanic and originally planned to simply haul my motorcycle back to the dealer for any maintenance or repairs. But hanging around other riders, I quickly saw that besides saving money on regular maintenance and necessary repairs, I would be able to afford changes and modifications if I did the work myself that would be beyond my reach if I relied soley on the dealership. But additionally, there is a peace of mind that comes from understanding your machine and having confidence in your ability to repair and maintain it. I now carry tools and enough experience to handle most problems I’m likely to encounter on the road. If a problem arises, I can start to fix it rather than feel helpless about it. I also know maintenance is performed routinely and correctly. I don’t have to simply trust that the dealer did it right. I know that I did. But all of that starts with taking a wrench to your bike. And in the early days, I needed the support, guidance and encouragement from other riders.
The earliest efforts involved more watching than wrenching. I’d haul my bike to somebody’s shop for a wrenching session. Often this would be an open session with many people and several planned projects. Occasionally, mine was the only bike in the shop. The folks with the most experience would take the lead, and the rest of us followed along as our skills allowed. In my case, that was mainly watching and learning. As I attended more wrenching sessions, I began to occasionally pick up a tool or two and tackle part of the project. Success with these ventures led me to buy a few tools and start to work on my own bike in my own garage. Each successful project gave me the confidence to tackle a harder one. But knowing that help was a phone call away also played a part in my willingness to try it on my own.
I now find that I rarely need to work on my bike at a wrench session. I’ve already taken care of most things that need to be done on my own. But I still go to those I can make. And I still pick up a tool when I think I can make a contribution. My tools and experience are always available to a fellow rider. And when I am able to help in some small way, I think back to those early days I was completely relied on others. Every time I’m able to help a beginning wrencher, it’s like I’m paying back a little of the debt I owe to them.
－ Guy Wheatley