These days, when most people need to fix anything, they usually head to YouTube to find the ‘how-to’ video. There’s a million videos on every subject, from ‘how to change your brake pads’ to ‘how to change your underwear in public’ –– seriously, search it. But there’s something gratifying about getting off the screen and reading a manual with beautiful illustrations and step-by-step instructions. ‘How to Build a Motorcycle’ is such a manual. Sideburn magazine’s head honcho and editor-in-chief, Gary Inman, has put together a hardback guide taking inspiration from vintage workshop manuals –– from well before there was YouTube –– and the result is something worth passing down to the next generation of grease monkeys.

There are many reasons why people decide to customise their own bike: some just want to save money, others want the satisfaction of learning something new. The book covers many of the simple, high-reward jobs of bike customisation, including fitting bars, swapping the rear shocks or wiring in a new tail light. Even though these require relatively little effort, they can transform the look of your bike, and completing them will give you the confidence to undertake the more difficult jobs – like swapping out the stock front forks for more modern units.

“This book was written to give the inexperienced mechanic inspiration, knowledge and confidence,” says Gary. “One thing the book won’t do is replace the workshop manual for your specific motorcycle. Each bike has its own quirks and specific requirements, but some aspects of modifying a bike are no more complicated than assembling a flat-pack chest of drawers.”

The book has 300 charming illustrations which are the handiwork of Adi Gilbert, best known for his bicycle and motorcycle drawings for clients including Harley-Davidson, Guy Martin, Wired magazine, Nike and, not surprisingly, Sideburn magazine.

There’s also a glossy 32-page section of photographs of finished bikes with valuable lessons and words of advice from experienced builders like J. Shia of Madhouse Motors, Calum from deBolex Engineering, and Danny Schneider from Hardnine Choppers –– just to name a few.

So if you’re keen to learn more about customising your motorcycle, grab a copy of the book, put some old clothes on and start getting your hands greasy –– no doubt you’ll soon discover how rewarding even the smallest of modifications can be. Who knows –– you might even end up building something we can feature here on Pipeburn.

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