Ideally, every motorcyclists would be at one with their machine. They’d have the mechanical skills to fix every problem, the space to do the work, and the necessary tools and time. Outside help would be unnecessary.

Alas, that isn’t the case. Thanks to limited resources and the ideas that Adam Smith explained in The Wealth Of Nations, most of us end up working for a living and putting some of that money into paying other people to work on our bike for us from time time. I still think most riders should learn the basic maintenance and repair tasks their bike requires: oil changes, valve adjustments, fork seal replacement and so on. But if you wrench long enough, most of us will need outside help, particularly if we have an older bike—or a problem that the dealership requires big bucks and a lot of time to address.

So, you need “a guy.” Someone with a knack for tackling specific pesky problems. Here are guys that I use; let me know if you have any suggestions of your own.

If you’re tired of the attitude, wait and cost at your local dealer, find someone who changes tires in their barn. They’ll do just as good a job for a lot less money, but you generally get much better service if you bring the wheels in already dismounted from the bike. Photo: RossHelen/

Tire Guy

Motorcyclists should be able to change out their own tires if they have spoked wheels. But if you’re on a high-power bike where balanced wheels make a much more noticeable difference, and especially if you have cast rims, you need a tire guy with a machine. Yes, your local dealership will do this job for you. No, most of them won’t do it in a timely or affordable fashion. If you don’t have your own tire changer, then you need to find someone who does, the kind of guy who will change tires for $20 a pop, and do it while you wait. As a bonus, he will probably be more careful with your rims than the jaded minimum-wagin’ teen at the local dealer.

A good welder can fix your rad or your frame, or even stretch your fuel tank to more capacity. Most of us can’t specialize in this skill, so find someone who does, and who’s willing to work for a reasonable rate. Photo: Max4e Photo/

Radiator Guy

I almost had to cancel my 2019 trip around Labrador due to holes in my WR250R’s rad. I didn’t have time to wait for a new one, and didn’t have the money for one either. Lucky me—even after all the local radiator shops turned me down, a TIG welding wizard fixed me up. The repair has held ever since. At that time, he told me he’d fixed many “curved” motorcycle rads that were prohibitively expensive to replace, or unavailable. If you find yourself in a similar jam, trying to avoid an expensive replacement radiator, look for a welding expert who’s done this sort of thing before. Of course, a good welder is also useful for other repairs, particularly to your bike’s frame or exhaust. Or maybe you need an oversized gas tank built for a bike that has none available on the aftermarket? The early days of rally raid racing and other desert riding were filled with tales of motorcyclists who got a friend to expand their fuel capacity this way.

Even if you’ve done an engine rebuild or three, having a specialist look at the valvetrain is often a good idea. They have the experience to know whether or not work is needed, and can do it quickly. Photo: GolfStandard/

Top End Guy

Working on a four-stroke engine rebuild? It’s never a bad idea to go beyond the usual piston-and-rings job and have a look at the valves as well. A real keener would have all this stuff in their shop. For the rest of us, who might only fiddle with the arcane workings of a top end a couple of times in our life, then it’s worth knowing someone who can quickly and competently work on your engine’s top end. Look for someone who has a history of success in vintage racing—they know what they’re doing.

Chances are your dyno guy won’t be in as nice a shop as this. Photo: Stockmanushots/

Dyno Guy

You can tune your bike with plug chops or Gunson Colortunes or the seat of your pants… or you can find yourself someone with a sniffer dyno and remove a lot of the guesswork from the process. This is often the same person as the Top End Guy mentioned above. Whether you’re tuning a carb’d bike or a machine with EFI, you can benefit from data from a sniffer dyno, although this is admittedly an area where many of us will see diminishing returns. Small changes mean less benefit, big changes (such as putting a carb on a big-bore Suzuki DR790) will benefit more.

Do you have “a guy” you use for specialized work on your bike? Let us know below…

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