I will admit to having rushed to obtain a copy of Ricky Burns’ book, “The Beginner’s Guide to Classic Motorcycle Restoration,” from Veloce Publishing for two reasons.
First, I am a beginner in the area of classic motorcycle restoration and, second the book’s cover features a Honda CB350F, a motorcycle I have in my shed, which will benefit from a thorough going over by the time I’m done with it.
Burns covers all the bases and writes from a perspective that a lot of back yard would-be classic bike restorers can appreciate. For example, he talks about how to use cardboard on your garage floor to keep your feet warmer in the winter and other tactics for being able to work in an unheated garage year-round in colder climates; both of which are directly applicable to me and many others, I’m sure.
His 144-page soft cover manual is one of the most massively and clearly illustrated examples I have yet seen — by my count, the book contains about 585 images in all.
Unlike some similar books that have poorly lit photos that really don’t show what they are supposed to or poor illustrations, Burns has well-lit, full-color images that are accompanied by useful captions.
It is printed on heavy, high-quality stock, so the images not only achieve maximum clarity in print, it will probably stand up to years of the kind of rough use it will see sharing a work bench with ball peen hammers, greasy wrenches and grimy motorcycle parts.
If there is a change that could be made to how this (and other) workbench manuals are presented, it would be to use a high-strength spiral binding instead of the stock spine construction; that would allow the book to lay flat and open without having to have a cylinder head or something sitting on it to keep it open to the right page. Maybe for the second edition.
Some may feel the text is almost too basic, and even though experienced mechanics will find some sections to contain much of what they already know, the book is targeted to beginners and so, Burns’ coverage of the fundamentals is great for his target audience.
But even experienced back yard mechanics will probably find the book a source of very useful information. The other bit of advice Burns provides is that this book alone should not be the only reference book in use for the restoration of any given bike. He advises getting a shop manual specific to the bike to be restored, as well.
Much of the work shown and described in the book derives from work done on a GT750 Suzuki liquid cooled two-stroke triple, but other types of machines are touched on, as well and the work serves well to illustrate how similar work could be done on other makes and models.
Broken down into 17 chapters, the book covers everything from how to set up your shop, basic tools required, finding parts, picking the right project to start out with, safety in the shop and out on the road, and perhaps most important, techniques that are not likely to be covered in owner or shop manuals, such as polishing, cleaning, repainting and refurbishing decals and badges.
Chances are, if you have never restored a motorcycle of any age or brand, a good first step before you lay out the cash for a bike to restore might be to lay your hands on Ricky Burns’ book.
- Title: The Beginner’s Guide to Classic Motorcycle Restoration
- Author: Ricky Burns
- Published: 2014 Paperback.
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
- ISBN: 978-1-845846-44-2
- MSRP: U.S. $49.95 U.K. £30.00 Canada: $54.95
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