Motorcycles break and require maintenance. It's a matter of what you do yourself versus hiring a shop or mechanic.
In my early days of riding, it was an easy decision. Like so many riders, I couldn't afford to have a professional repair my bike. I became good friends with the guy behind the parts counter.
There was a lot of trial and error. Mistakes were made. Yet it was one of the most thorough and valuable forms of education available. By taking an interest, then getting my hands dirty, I learned a lot about how motorcycles work.
As technology progresses, things change. People who know how to clean and rebuild a carburetor might be dumbfounded by fuel injection. Instrumentation was once a matter of checking to see if a mechanical cable was connected or broken. Now there is a computer inside that requires either replacement or a firmware check with a device only the dealership can obtain or afford.
Yet motorcycles by their nature will always have a mechanical aspect. Engines require oil changes, brakes need pads and fluid checks. Even with the most electronically advanced machine, there is still plenty of opportunity for the rider to get involved. Do it.
Like a lot of riders, I no longer have as much free time and patience to do some mechanical work. I'd rather just hand the bike over to a qualified expert, pay the fee, and get my bike back in perfect working order. That's a great convenience and something most of us will do at times. But it shouldn't always be done that way.
My most recent motorcycle acquisition is a sport bike with lots of bodywork that hides the engine and most of the underpinnings. When it needed an oil change, I looked at all the panels, screws and nuts that needed to be removed just to get to the drain plug and filter. It was daunting. Instead of making a service appointment, though, I resolved to get in there and see what my bike looks like beneath its svelte attire.
Next oil change I just might hire out. I can be too busy with work and family to bother taking things apart, getting dirty and worrying about proper disposal of old fluids. Whether I choose to do it myself next time or pay someone else, I'll never be sorry I did it the first time. Now I know where things go, what's underneath and exactly what I'm asking someone else to do for me.
Every bike, every repair and each maintenance item is simply another opportunity for an education. Whether it's about motorcycles or everything else in my life, learning is something I hope never will never cease.