Book Review:
The Motorcycle Handbook

THEREIS A GREAT DEAL of basic information about motorcycle functionthat is an essential prerequisite to successfully completing any kind ofmaintenance or mechanical modification on a motorcycle.  Unfortunately,it takes time and training to get this information -- time and trainingthat most recreational riders don't have.  Many of us, myself included,have charged headfirst into projects involving carburetion, exhaust systems,electrics, and handling without ever having gained a basic knowledge ofhow these systems work.  This approach usually winds up costing agood deal of time and often money, when a real foul-up during the backyardmechanic method lands the bike in a shop for repairs.

John Hanney, proprietor of The Bike Yard in Toronto, Ontario(Canada), has put together a compendium of solid information that everymotorcycle owner needs to have at his or her disposal before attemptingto work on their machines.  The volume, which consists of over 120pages, contains thousands of words and dozens of images that address thefundamentals of motorcycle function and repair.  The key word hereis fundamentals; the book is general in the sense that a backyardmechanic would still need a service manual for his motorcycle before attemptingany major maintenance task (such as a valve adjustment) for the first time. On the other hand, it is marvelously replete with details on topics suchas the various kinds of alternators found on motorcycles and how they areconstructed.  Other examples of this attention to detail are the treatmentsgiven to topics like final drive options (belt, chain, or shaft); bodyworkrepairs (this alone could save the cost of book many times over); ignitionsystems (from points to CDI); tires (speed ratings, sizing, and application);and tools (a comprehensive list of specialized motorcycle testing and repairtools, along with illustrations, is provided).

Suffice to say that the information contained in this volume could notbe had by reading the technical tips columns in a thousand motorcycle magazines. It is needed before proceeding with anything more sophisticated than checkingtire pressure, and will save the potential backyard mechanic a truckloadof time, money, and grief.  If you are completely certain that youhave a comprehensive understanding of basic automotive and motorcycle engines,chassis, and electrical systems -- and how they are integrated into theoverall operation of the machine -- you may not need this book. All others will wonder what they did without it.

The Motorcycle Handbook can be ordered from The Bike Yardwebsite, at: