Fixing a motorcycle on a budget

written by Cornelius Quiring on June 11, 2011 in Journal and motorcycle blog with 2 comments

I started riding a motorcycle roughly a year ago and living downtown Toronto, I do 90% of my riding in the city. I rarely get to go above 60 km/h so after a summer of  galloping in the stirrups, I decided it was time to take my two wheeled steed out for a run in the pastures. I met up with a group of riders making a day trip along winding country side. Long story short, I went too fast into a corner and had to bail on a bend heading straight for a barrier.

honda-cb450sI ride a 1988 Honda CB450S and after bringing the bike home post crash, I thought my riding career was over. I intended to sell the bike for parts and move on but heading to work the next day on crowded public transit, I realized I needed to find some sort of solution.

I knew I couldn’t afford to have the bike professionally repaired, didn’t have the money for a new one so I toke a second assessment and figured I could probably fix it myself. Having grown up as a Mennonite, I like to think I have general mechanical skills. I’ve helped fix machinery, built a few go-karts, but I digress. I’m restoring her to her former glory.

The majority of the damage was cosmetic making the job much easier. The biggest issue was bent forks. After an ebay debacle that headed south, I discovered forks could be bent back as long as there weren’t any kinks in the tubes. Crisis averted!

Winter was approaching and I needed somewhere to spend the season working on the bike. Thankfully, I managed to secure a bit of space in Shepdaddy’s barn and proceeded to take the bike apart.

Not exactly nice ad straight like they should be. Bent but not kink at least!

Not exactly nice and straight like they should be. Bent but not kinked at least!


The front end being torn off.

The front end being torn off.


Almost the entire front end had to be taken off

Almost the entire front end had to be taken off.


The tail plastics took a bit of a hit as well and needed some love too

The tail plastics took a bit of damage and needed some love too.

After everything had been taken off, I took the forks to the mechanic and $100 later they were back to their former glory. Now the problem of fixing broken plastics. Since the barn was a bit of a journey on public buses to literally the far corner of Toronto and a lack of proper room temperature for painting, I took everything home. A stop at Canadian Tire for essentials and it was time to teach myself how to fix broken plastics. Thank you Google!

the light casing was broken in several spots. All those curves and angles are not fun to work with

The light casing was broken in several spots. All those curves and angles are not fun to work with.

The basic supplies for the job. When you have limited space in a town house, you sometimes have to find any space available

The basic supplies for the job. When you have limited space in a town house, you sometimes have to find any space available.

Ready for her first coat of paint. Although I did the painting in the laundry room, I stored them in my room. I never knew how potent the smell of paint is!

Ready for her first coat of paint. Although I did the painting in the laundry room, I stored them in my bedroom. I never knew how potent the smell of paint is!

After all the plastics where done and I picked up the forks, it needed to be put back together again. Although she still has a few scars on the tank, my bike is back on the road and riding just like she was before the crash. Everything that I had to end of fixing included the front forks, front wheel/mud guard, gauge casing, light casing, tail plastics, new indicators and mirrors. All for a couple hundred bucks.

The damage wasn’t too great but with a bit of self motivation and hard work, a motorcycle can fixed for fairly cheap. Like anything in life, pay the dividends upfront and you’ll reap the rewards later. Had I not fixed it myself, I wouldn’t be riding this year.

I also learned a valuable lesson about group riding with strangers, making sure to watch your comfort zone on a motorbike but most importantly, I got to know my motorcycle and its mechanics a bit more intimately. The crash only intensified my love for motorcycles.

The only remnants the slide: a bit of tank damage.

The only remnants the slide: a bit of tank damage.

Post accident, she still rides like a beauty.

Post accident, she still rides like a beauty.