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Do You Have to Be a Mechanic to Be a ‘Real Rider’?

Dear Lynda

I’m a very incompetent mechanic, and frankly, I’m just really uninterested in working on my bike – I love riding, but have zero interest in the mechanics.

Should I learn anyway, as the general feeling in the community is that you’re not a “real” rider if you don’t work on your bike?


Dear Judith,

If you are around motorcyclists long enough you will realize everyone has an opinion as to what makes a person a ‘real’ rider. Whether it’s using an electronic starter, the ability to get a bike on the center stand, being able to fix everything on your own, and now, the use of the DCT (dual clutch transmission) on some bikes, by someone’s definition you won’t be competent. So the answer is to ignore those opinions and focus on what makes motorcycling fun for you.

It is important, however, to understand your bike. Knowing when it’s running smoothly versus acting out of character, for example, can prevent heartaches out on the road. Being able to describe those differences accurately to a trusted mechanic can help pinpoint where potential problems may lie and get them fixed before they cause issues. You are the expert on your bike, and you are responsible for keeping it in good shape, even if you aren’t the one doing the actual work.

Wrenching on your bike is a great option for those who love getting their hands into the nuts and bolts of machines, but routine maintenance, such as checking oil, tires, and chains, is a critical skill for every rider to have. The further afield you go, adding knowledge such as repairing punctures, can spare you a lot of sitting on the side of the road waiting for help. And if you are travelling solo around the world into remote areas where mechanics are virtually impossible to find, then yes, learning to work on your own bike is a reasonable skill to possess no matter how little interest you may have in doing so.

But there are a lot of areas in our lives where we enjoy the experience without fully understanding the intricacies of how it all works. So unless you are embarking on a trip to the far corners of the earth, learn to ignore the most vocally opinionated within the motorcycling community. They don’t speak for the majority, and besides, it’s your bike and your ride. Instead of feeling defensive or guilty, or learning to do work you can easily have someone who loves it do, spend your time practicing the skills you’ll actually need to be the best rider you can be.


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