What Skills Do You Need To Build Your Own Motorcycle?

What Skills Do You Need To Build Your Own Motorcycle?

  • Updated: 2023-07-30

A designer’s eye and a clear concept 

While most people can make a difference between a nice bike and a gorgeous one, not everybody is capable of coming up with practical and aesthetic ideas that would allow them to customize their bikes. One of the essential abilities you need to have to do this is to know a thing or two about design. 

Design is crucial when you plan on customizing your motorcycle, and it can either make or break your dream of riding the most beautiful bike in town. Even if this is the first time you are customizing anything, you need to have a clear idea of what your end result should look like, even if changes might occur on the way. 

Besides being able to mentally picture your motorcycle, you should also be able to draw a sketch to have a physical representation of your concept. This drawing will serve you throughout the process of building the motorcycle, so you should always have it at hand.  

If you are not good at drawing, don’t worry, you don’t need to have the skills of an architect or art student to sketch the basic elements of your motorcycle. Moreover, there are plenty of readily made sketches you can find online. 

You can simply print one of those and use it for your idea. The sketches you can find will comprise a basic or more complex representation of the bike’s frame. Even if the models you find are not quite like the motorcycle you plan on assembling, they can be extremely useful as you can just adjust them without having to draw everything from zero.

After you’ve found the best frame sketch, you can proceed by adding and highlighting the parts and features you want your motorcycle to have. Since you might work in a team at a point in the construction process, it is all the more important to have the design ready before you ask for help. This will allow anyone working by your side to easily understand your vision.

A sense of proportion

This is another fundamental skill that will contribute to your work. While being able to come up with a viable design is the basis upon which you will start building the motorcycle, a good sense of proportion can help you create a balanced and perfectly functional machine. 

Proportions are extremely important when building any type of vehicle. Besides the visual impact they’re responsible for, the different sizes of the bike’s elements also influence the overall riding experience. 

One of the main things you need to think of before you start gathering parts for your bike is the size of the wheels or rims. These should fit the motorcycle model and they will dictate what type of tires you can use. Different tire sizes will provide you a distinct performance, which is another aspect you should consider from the beginning.

To maintain a good sense of proportion, you need to choose wheels that are suitable for the overall size of the motorcycle. Similarly, the other parts of the bike also need to blend in, so that the final result can be a nice-looking bike that offers a smooth riding experience and has a well-balanced design. 

Technical skills 

Besides the above-mentioned capabilities, there is a set of technical skills you need to possess if you want to build your custom motorcycle from scratch without paying other specialists to work for you. 

Mechanical skills 

Building a motorcycle requires mechanical skills. You have to know how these machines work and how to assemble the different components. This means either some sort of previous experience as a mechanic or in-depth knowledge of motorcycles and handiness.

Working with tools such as cranes, wrenches, or pliers shouldn’t be new to you and, of course, all these items should be in your arsenal already.  

Metallurgy & electrical systems knowledge 

Knowing stuff about metallurgy is not a geek thing. This is essential knowledge for those who want to build their custom motorcycle. You have to know a bit about the properties of different metals so that you choose suitable ones for different parts of the motorcycle. 

For example, you might want to choose aluminum for the parts that shouldn’t weigh too much such as the fenders and tank. Nonetheless, for the bike’s frame, you wouldn’t normally opt for this material, but for alloy steel. 

Moreover, you should have pretty good metal shaping knowledge and experience if you want to customize the different parts of the bike by cutting, bending, or shrinking the metal. Then comes the welding part, which means you need to buy or borrow a welding machine and learn how to use it. Complex customization processes normally involve some sort of metalwork. 

Furthermore, as you start crafting and modifying your motorcycle, you will get to the part where you have to deal with its electrical system. If this is the first time you’re working with such a system, you might feel overwhelmed, but don’t fret. There are numerous resources you can find online on this topic and forums where you can get help.  

Painting skills 

After you’ve successfully modified or crafted the different components of your desired motorcycle, you will get closer to the finish line where you have to handle the bike’s exterior aspect. Choosing the color and applying it correctly are key factors that will influence the outcome. 

You could, of course, take your beauty to a professional to get it painted. However, if you want to stay within your budget or you’ve got painting experience, you might want to do it yourself with aerosol spray paint. 

Workload & budget planning skills 

It goes without saying that a project like this requires both time and money. Both can be problematic especially if you depend on your motorcycle to commute to and from work and you can’t find good alternatives. 

This is why you need to understand the scale of the project before you embark on a long journey that might drain your energy and empty your pockets. If your bike is not only a pastime but a necessity, it might not be recommended to start a drastic intervention program. 

Taking things easily, one by one, and applying small modifications might be a better option. You can gradually change the essential parts such as the fuel tank or the seat or decide to customize the bike by changing its color. In the end, you will get that new motorcycle you dream of, but you will also be able to still use it as the modifications are implemented gradually. 

This method also puts less strain on your budget, allowing you to spend less money over a longer period of time rather than a bulk sum you might not afford. 

If, on the other hand, you have both the time and the finances to start a radical process, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. You can order all the different parts you need and then simply get down to work at your own pace. 

Before you let yourself get carried away by the initial burst of enthusiasm, take a pen and a piece of paper, and start budgeting your DIY project. First of all, be realistic when considering the budget you can allocate to your new motorcycle. Then, list all the different elements you will have to invest in and make a rough estimation of how much they will cost in total. 

Whether you want to build a motorcycle by customizing the model you already have, or by buying all the parts you need and starting from scratch, you will need to invest a lot of energy in this process. Passion will definitely not lack, but keep in mind that you might have to be off the roads for up to several months before the work is completed and you can take your shiny new bike for a ride.