This is a guest post by The Boyfriend!
I'd like to say that I live my life pretty frugally; recently we even sold the car. I like having some form of transport and have a small motorbike as both a hobby and occasional transport. It's only a 125cc so it’s very cheap to run; I get between 80 – 90 mpg so I rarely have to fill it with fuel. Many people think of them as dangerous however I see little difference between a motorbike and a bicycle, so I got my CBT and set about pootling around town.
Back in December tragedy struck; it was stolen from right outside the house. Luckily the police found it about a month later, however anything that could be easily removed had been taken. I was left with the difficult decision to keep it or let it go. I decided to use this as an opportunity to learn something and opted to rebuild the bike myself.
This was something new for me. I'm pretty handy around the house with odd bits and bobs but frankly when it comes to anything bigger than that I'm lost. The experience has been long and difficult in places but on the whole it's come out well. Having totalled up the amount of hours a mechanic would've spent on it I’ve saved in the region of about £600 in labour charges with a bit of time and patience. I've come to realise that the only reason I'd never repaired the car and bike myself was fear. Since starting this endeavour I’ve found that a lot of it is simple and that which isn’t can be solved with a little patience, so I present the five essentials I've learned to save money on your own maintenance.
Get a manual
It seems an obvious one but you wouldn't believe how many people I hear say “I don’t know where to start…”. Well, look it up. In my opinion the Haynes manuals will do you in good stead. They cover a good range of general maintenance, they're easy to understand and have step-by-step instruction for the majority of things.
Take some pride
I have to admit, I've been guilty of rushing tasks just because I can't be bothered. Taking your time and getting it right first time gives you a strange satisfaction and will alleviate the hard work and pain that comes from redoing a hash job. No one likes time wasting on a job like this and it can save a lot of money from rectifying your mistakes.
Balance the costs
'I'm not going to say get the cheapest of everything; that’s false economy. Think what items are key (i.e. main mechanical items) and spend the money there BUT do you really need to install all those gadgets while you're at it?
When you go to the local auto store or mechanic, ask them stuff. Most of them are willing to give you advice on what to do and some things just aren't written in a manual. Many mechanics will also undertake smaller jobs such as a stuck bolt for a nominal charge or free. I encountered this because the previous owner of my bike had left the bolts either rusted or rounded off.
Get a basic tool kit
Once again it seems like an obvious one but get yourself a good tool kit. No need to go crazy with space age spanners but a good quality medium range kit comprising of spanners, sockets and the like will save you money over the long run through many years of service.
Of course, there will be times you will need a trained mechanic, but by taking on some maintenance and simple repairs, you will better understand how your motorbike works and save yourself some money in the process!
Have you ever tried to maintain or repair your own motorbike or car? For more tips, check out this guide on easy car maintenance steps!