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Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles

Tools and tricks to make hard jobs easier

By Tricia Szulewski, Associate Editor
10/15/2018

Women who ride motorcycles are on the rise, as are more women working on their own bikes. We are doing everything from basic pre-ride inspections such as checking the air in the tires to installing accessories to performing maintenance services that take more time, tools, and know-how. There are more women technicians working at shops and dealerships, and I’ve met some amazing young women who are designing and building some incredible ground-up custom motorcycles.

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles
Krystal Hess and Sofi Tsingos are two of today’s hottest female custom motorcycle builders. Here, they show women how to perform basic maintenance at the Revved Up Women Motorcycle Expo using an Indian Scout Krystal customized.

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No matter what your skill level is or how simple the task at hand may be, you’re going to run into some snags once in a while. I always joke about how a simple job that should take 5 minutes to complete can sometimes take me 5 hours. From installing something upside down, to not having the right tool and rigging together an assortment of household items to “make” what I need, I’ve run into my fair share of issues. And I’ve learned more than a few things along the way.

Here, I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help you tackle and prevent some common problems women have when working on their bikes. While all of these tips can be helpful for both men and women, some of them specifically address the problem of not having enough strength to loosen or tighten something, an issue I’m faced with more often as I get older.

We would love to hear about how you may have overcome a challenge while working on your motorcycle too. Please use the comment form after reading our list to share your DIY garage tips with our readers. Let’s learn (and laugh) together!


1. Magical Zip Ties

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Zip Tied Wrench
If you are working alone and need 3 hands, zip ties can sometimes be your best friend. Here, I needed to have a firm grip on the wrench I was holding to loosen a very tight screw, but there was a nut in the back that needed to be held still. I asked my daughter to help, but she wasn’t strong enough to hold the wrench firmly. So instead of using one hand on each wrench, I was able to zip-tie the wrench holding the nut in place so I could use all my strength to loosen the bolt.

2. We Need Torque!

Top_10 Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Hollow Torque Bar
I have a heavy hollow bar that I can slip a wrench into. This adds more torque to the wrench for when I don’t have enough strength to loosen a tight bolt. It works great for loosening axle nuts and in this scenario as well.

3. The Right Tools

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Stuck Screw
Having the right tool for the job is non-gender-specific, but for women who struggle with having enough strength to get tight nuts and bolts free, it’s even more important. I struggled and sweated with a simple screwdriver on this seat screw for about 10 minutes. Then, when I decided to try a Phillips head bit on a ratchet, the screw immediately loosened. Again, it’s a matter of torque, but having the bit and ratchet was essential in this case for getting that torque.

4. Get Comfortable

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Racedeck
Consider installing plastic flooring like this or use a thick rubber mat for when you need to sit on the floor to work on your motorcycle. OK, so it turns out that the old wives tale of getting hemorrhoids from sitting on concrete is just that. But no one can argue that it’s not comfortable to sit on cold hard cement for any length of time. I installed this snap-together RaceDeck flooring years ago and have been extremely happy ever since. Besides it being easier to stand, sit, and jump on (my garage is also my gym), when I drop a nut or bolt (which happens more than I care to admit), it’s really easy to find.

5. Find A Helping Hand

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Vice
I rarely have a helping hand nearby, so I rely on my vice. I installed this inexpensive tool to my sturdy workbench and use it for all kinds of things when I just need another hand to hold something. It’s helpful when I need some extra strength or if I’m cutting something and want to make sure it’s not going to move.


6. Prepare

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Manual
Before there was YouTube, figuring out how to do something mechanical meant you might have to read a maintenance manual. I still swear by them, but also get great ideas from seeing what others have done online. I definitely recommend preparing for every installation by reading the instructions that came with the parts.

7. Lay Out Parts

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Lay Out Parts
Most of my installations are for magazine articles, so I’ve gotten used to laying out the parts neatly for a photo. But doing this also allows me to organize myself and think about the install before I begin.

8. Take Your Time

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Tools
If you are new to working on your motorcycle, it will take time to acquire a thorough toolkit and get the job done. I’ve been working on bikes for more than 25 years and still have to run out to Harbor Freight Tools in the middle of a job every now and then, but over time this is how I acquired all my tools—one project at a time.

9. Stay Organized


Top 10 DIY Garage Tips Women Work on Their Own Motorcycles order reinstall
I like to lay out all the pieces I take off in order so when I reinstall the parts I can easily backtrack my steps. As an example, look what I found when I removed a bolt from my BMW R 1200 RS in order to install a MachineArt Moto cylinder guard. Because I had to reuse some of this hardware, it was important to note the exact order of the washers.


Top 10 DIY Garage Tips Women Work on Their Own Motorcycles order
Because I’d stored it in order, when it was time to reinstall the bolt, I knew the correct order to put everything.

10. Use Gloves

Top 10 DIY Garage Tips for Women Who Work on Their Own Motorcycles Gloves
Finally, consider investing in a box of throw-away technicians gloves. Wearing them while working on the bike makes cleaning your hands and nails a lot easier and will save your manicure.

Now it’s your turn. Using the comments box below, share your tips on how you solved a problem while working on your motorcycle.


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Motorcycle Smarts: Basic Terminology
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