Today, we’re going to chat about things that make life easier in our garage or motorcycle workshop.

Being an old fat guy, I don’t make my way around bikes all that well when they’re sitting on the ground. But even if you’re young and slender, if you’ve got enough room and enough coin, a motorcycle lift is one of the best “must haves” in your workspace. My back and knees don’t permit me to crawl around on the ground like a toddler. As an added benefit, a good lift makes it easier to inspect the nether regions of your bike.  Western Handy Lift has been the industry standard for many, many years. An alternative supplier for bike lifts is K&L Supply.

Ninety percent of all jobs on your bike require a basic set of hand tools (both metric and SAE). However, Harley-Davidson’s are a little more specialty tool crazy, so there are some things that you just can’t find over the counter in order to finish a particular procedure.

How are you supposed to know when a special tool is needed? That’s simple, because the very first tool out of your box when starting a new project should be your service manual. If you don’t have “the book,” you’re just taking a stab in the dark. Saying, “I’m going to wing it,” when you’re working on a complex machine is like a redneck saying, “Watch this.” Nothing good can come out of it, and a lot of damage can result.

A service manual for your particular ride tells you in black and white exactly what special tools are required and it describes what procedures must be performed.

One of the basic (and messy) jobs we likely do at home is change the oil in our bikes. A good-sized drain pan and a Greg’s oil filter funnel will keep the mess to a minimum when tackling this job. When adding oil, pay attention to what your service manual tells you . Do not overfill the oil tank! There has to be airspace above the oil in the tank. Too much oil and — splat! — out the breather it goes, along with a half-hour of your valuable time spent cleaning up the mess on the side of your bike.

A good tire-pressure gauge is another mandatory tool in your garage arsenal. Other items to recommend would be a decent detailing kit to keep everything clean and shiny. Personally, I like the “Rollastand” wheel-cleaning stands in my own shop. These allow the wheel to turn instead of moving the bike, making it easy to clean the tires and wheels.

I also keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol around. I spray this on from an old 409 squirt bottle to assist me in removing fingerprints and handprints from the bike. Since it won’t damage anything, I can get crud off every surface of the bike. This works even better than Brakecleen.

That just about wraps things up for today. Until next time, keep the rubber down and the shiny side up!