Two must-haves for your vintage business

Publish Date: 
Jun 24, 2013
By Dave Koshollek

IT'S DIFFICULT FOR me to reckon with the reality that motorcycles built in the 1970s are now considered vintage.

I wrenched during those years at dealerships and independent shops from Wisconsin to Texas to Arizona. How did the time go by so quickly?

The truth is, for most dealers today, I’ll bet any motorcycle made before 1999 seems pretty old. And if the bike is a little road-worn, it may take some serious begging from the customer to get the machine accepted for service or repair.

I don’t blame shops for being hesitant. At minimum, there are three major obstacles to the repair and service of vintage motorcycles: 1) parts availability, 2) technician know-how and experience, and 3) accurate specifications.

To find parts, start by checking out the vintage directory listings in this issue. To locate technicians with a background in vintage product, look for hires that lived through the era, because the only vintage technical training I’m aware of is MMI’s Early Model Harley-Davidson program. For any other brand, you’ll have to search for someone with experience and hope they will share their hard-earned knowledge with the younger techs before they retire.

For accurate specifications, you can shop on eBay for old service bulletins and parts catalogs. Or, for specs on models 1977 and later, you can purchase the 400-plus-page ATV, Motorcycle & Snowmobile Specification Blue Book which provides specs for Arctic Cat, Bombardier, BMW, Can-Am, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Polaris, Ski-Doo, Suzuki, Victory and Yamaha.

The Blue Book provides quick access to specs for tire sizes, spark plugs, engine oil capacity, OE oil filter numbers, valve clearances, Yuasa battery numbers, fork oil capacity, and drive system info like chain size and link count, or final drive oil capacity.

Because the Blue Book is published in Canada, measurements and capacities are listed in metric (which isn’t a problem for anyone except Harley techs, who just need to do a quick calculation using the conversion charts the book provides on multiple pages). All specs are derived from the manufacturer’s service literature, so they should be as accurate as the source.

The publisher, All Seasons Ltd. ( has published the Blue Book since 1988; Volume 8, which covers 1977-2011 model years, costs $89.95. (Continued)