How to Salvage & Rebuild a Motorcycle

Written by bryan schatz
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How to Salvage & Rebuild a Motorcycle
Rebuilding a motorcycle is an arduous yet fulfilling endeavour (The motorcycle image by Andrey Zagaynov from

The rebuilding and restoration of a motorcycle allows you to combine an interest in the vehicles and an appreciation of craftsmanship and hard work. In order to be successful, you need to begin with a full range of motorcycle tools and equipment, as well as a competent knowledge of mechanics. Before rebuilding however, you will need to determine which bike you would like to salvage and rebuild.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Full range of motorcycle mechanic tools
  • Welder (possibly)
  • Motorcycle and components

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  1. 1

    Research and determine the type of bike you would like to salvage and rebuild. If you are going to go down the classic motorcycle route, consider rebuilding an English bike from the 1950s or 1960s, which are popular choices among enthusiasts, according to Vertical Scope Inc.'s website "Motorcycle." The 650cc twin-engined English bikes of the late 1960s and early 70s are an alternative if you prefer a bike with components that are more readily available.

  2. 2

    Purchase the bike you wish to rebuild along with any components that will need to be replaced. Make sure you get a hold of the owner's manual or manufacturer's parts book corresponding to the bike as well. Perform a tear-down of your motorcycle and document all of the parts with notes and photos. Arrange them in a manner that is organised and accessible.

  3. 3

    Bring the motor to an engine shop, preferably one that specialises in the type of bike you have, for it to be adequately cleaned. Engine shops will also have the tools and knowledge necessary for rebuilding any of the engine components that need it, as well as polishing the metal.

  4. 4

    Strip the bike's paint by sandblasting the frame and swing arm. Analyse the frame and swing arm for any damage such as cracks, extra holes and twists. Weld any cracks and repair other damaged areas.

  5. 5

    Replace all of the nuts and bolts. Use stainless steel replacements that are as close to the original size as possible. When changing out the engine frame studs, however the exact size must be used, otherwise you will run into vibration and further problems in the future.

  6. 6

    Purchase any replacement parts that are damaged. Shocks for many classic motorcycles can be purchased new. Have your forks rebuilt by a forks specialist if you notice any bends or cracks. Other components that may need to be replaced or rebuilt include the hubs, brakes and rims.

  7. 7

    Powder coat the frame, swing arm and any frame-related components according to the bike's original colour or to your aesthetic preference. Re-chrome any metal parts that have rusted or lost their shine to return the bike to its original brilliance.

  8. 8

    Rebuild the bike with all of the rebuilt and replaced components once the powder-coats dry completely. Store your motorcycle in a clean, dry and warm location to ensure its preservation.

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