How to set up a home motorcycle work shop

Updated April 17, 2017

Anyone who owns a motorcycle knows how expensive having work done at a dealer or shop can get, especially if you do a lot of riding and need frequent service. People who wrench on their own motorcycles also know how frustrating it can get when you do not have a well organised and efficient place to work on the bike.

Fix the lighting. Just as cooks need task lighting in a kitchen, motorcycle mechanics need lighting in the shop. Place task lighting directly above your workbench and hang ceiling lights low enough that the lighting does not get lost in the rafters of an unfinished garage. Light colours on the walls and ceiling help also help bounce light back to where you need it.

Designate separate workbench and storage areas. If you are going to use the workbench to do work, you must have room to lay out the parts you are using. Mixing storage space and workspace makes you feel cramped, and you are more likely to waste time looking for tools and parts that are right in front of you but lost in a collection of tools not needed for the current project; the clutter can make even a simple job feel chaotic and complicated. Use the space under the workbench for storage if you don't have room for a storage bench.

Organise your tools. Some tools you use all the time. Those items should be within easy reach. Items you use less often can be placed in areas where it takes a little more effort to get them out. Ziplock bags or a tackle box keep things like fuses organised and handy without having them spill all over your workspace.

Prepare your space for work. Have a bright flashlight with working bulb and batteries available so you don't have to search for one in the middle of a project when a bolt gets "lost" in the bike or when you are checking to make sure there are no leaks after you change the oil. Keep a tray such as a Swiss roll pan on your workbench to put nuts and bolts in as you remove them so they don't roll across the floor or bench and get lost.


Ideally you have enough room to have a motorcycle lift where you can easily walk around all sides of the bike and still have plenty of room to use your workbench. If you don't have that much room, at least make sure you can access one side and the front or rear of the bike and still have room to use your workbench. Mobile kitchen islands with wheels that can lock into place are an alternative to a workbench in a tight space. You can put the island where you want it while you are working and then roll it back into a corner when you are finished.


Make sure that your bike lift can securely hold your motorcycle, and that someone walking into the shop can't open a door into it and cause the bike to fall on you.

Things You'll Need

  • Dedicated shop space
  • Workbench
  • Storage area
  • Tools
  • Task Lighting
  • Tray
  • Ziplock bags
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About the Author

Legal - I have 15+ years experience as a trial attorney handling criminal and civil cases. I taught classes at both the Anchorage Police Academy, at the Alaska State Crime Lab, and at Alaska Junior College. Motorcycles - I have a published book for beginning women riders, and own and operate a web forum with over 800 members from 10 countries. I am known in the motorcycling community as a distance rider and mentor for new riders.