Motorcycle Restoration Process - How This Works!
The first thing we will do prior to starting a project is have a phone conversation. Not a text or email conversation, an actual phone call. Texts and emails are simply too impersonal. It's always good to have a live chat for what will be a lengthy relationship. There is always the chance we cannot come to an agreement on a portion of the project or there could be a variable that was unknown before we have a quick chat.
Once we have decided to work together on a restoration, the bike is delivered either by you personally or the shipping agent of your choice. Once the bike has arrived, or any time prior to the start of disassembly, a deposit in the amount of your choosing is required. Once a deposit has been made, you will receive a link to an online invoice showing your credit. You will use this link throughout the project to see what labor has been performed and also the parts that have been purchased. Once the initial deposit money has been used, I will contact you saying I am in need of more funds to continue the project. This process will continue until the project is completed. I always have the same response when someone asks "how much do you want". Long story short is the more you give me, the less I bug you and more progress will be made on the project. I do not continue unless I have a positive balance to work with on any given project.
Why do I do it this way? There are two reasons:
1. If for some reason you find yourself in a sudden shortage of cash, you may essentially "pause" the project without the added worry of owing me for work that has already been completed. There are customers who literally provide me with a credit card for purchases and labor. There are also many who do not have an unlimited supply of discretionary cash laying around. This method allows both of us to have periodic "where do we stand" conversations and also address any concerns with the project as it continues. This situation has presented itself on at least a few occasions most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Life can throw you challenges which everyone understands. There's no need for any unresolved financial debts or obligations on either end this way.
2. By using this method, I will not be in the hole for work that has already been performed. Even for a small Z50 the typical initial parts bill is $1500 right off the bat. Add on a week of labor and the amount I could be in the hole is pretty large. Again this is beneficial for both parties and serves as an effective check and balance. This has also proven effective allowing for a smoother flow. It is much less hassle to work ahead vs behind in terms of balance. I've done it both ways and this has always been the smoother method. Any concerns or questions regarding labor or parts are addressed as the project continues.
You as the customer have to be realistic with your expectations. I've experienced situations where a customer has expected Level 1 results for Level 2 money. It simply does not work that way. PLEASE READ the page describing typical costs for given projects. You must also prepare yourself for the unknown as the project progresses. I've had bikes that came in here with a good engine that "ran when parked" but are now nowhere near being a healthy engine. Once such instance had an engine that had the top portion of the cylinder pitted from corrosion which produced zero compression. Again, it ran years ago when parked. Typically issues like this are discovered VERY early in the process. Truth be told, if you have any reservations about spending a significant amount of money on your bike, you probably shouldn't do it.
Another item that needs to be accepted is delivery time. I have started to express as clearly as possible, face-to-face verbally not to expect your bike back in an Amazon Prime delivery window. This is not a TV show either. This is reality. For example, if you are doing a Level 1 restoration with chrome plating involved, the current wait time for chrome is 12-16 weeks as of early 2023. This is nowhere near ideal but is a simple fact of the production process. Also, zinc plating which applies to all the nuts and bolts is a lengthy process. Nothing I can do about it. Neither of these processes are done in house. I also do not do comparisons with other shops who "said they can do it quicker". This is a one-man operation working with a continuously changing workflow based on parts availability, delivery of those parts and also delivery of certain services provided by outside resources.
Level 1 Starts At, Level 2 Starts At...
I have provided rough numbers on the restoration options page. PLEASE READ this carefully and understand what you are reading. The term "starts at" means just that. The "starts at" number is literally a bare minimum price for a bare minimum amount of work. For example if you are doing a Level 1 restoration but your bike has nice, original fenders and you choose not to plate the hardware you can expect to have a final cost lower than others. If you go all-in and chrome all your pieces and zinc plate all your hardware you are obviously going to spend more than the "starts at" cost. This also applies to your painted pieces. You might have very nice original frame, side covers or gas tank that do not require paint which saves a bunch of labor and material costs. The condition your bike is in when we start and what your expectations are will determine how far beyond the "starts at" price we go.
When it comes to parts, I make every effort to preserve the original pieces within a reasonable amount of effort. Some pieces can be saved, some simply cannot without a major amount of time and money. You will have to decide if you want your original pieces repaired at all costs or if you are OK with using replacement parts. I have had customers who flat-out wanted everything that was on the bike when new to be on the bike when restored. There's no right or wrong. It's your bike and your choice. Also keep in mind there are conditions where there are literally no available replacement parts. For example I have recently had a hard time located NOS or reproduction fork tubes for certain bikes. There is no choice but to chrome the originals should this be the case.
If you want a written estimate for a restoration, a non-refundable $500 fee will be required as well as the motorcycle on-site to visually inspect the machine and what it needs. It takes AT LEAST one day of labor to do an estimate. A day of labor that otherwise I would be using towards a bike already under construction.
Once your bike is complete, you will receive a video of the bike being cold-started as well as a general guideline on the operation of the bike. I will go over the whole bike showing all the details, etc. This video will be published on YouTube as private. Viewable by invite only. At this point you can ask any questions or voice any concerns.
If everything is good, the bike must be picked up by you, your selected shipping agent OR have me deliver the bike for an agreed upon fee. Bikes that are from a relatively close proximity should avoid being put on a truck with a bunch of strangers if at all possible. I'm primarily talking about any place east of the Mississippi. The west coast is another story. I have shipped bikes to California and have more to send. This is honestly the most stressful part of the project. Truth is once the bike is out of my hands, unless it's you or someone you know delivering the bike, they simply will not care as much as someone with a vested interest (you or I). That being said, choose your return shipping agent carefully. I can provide resources for this part of the project also.
If you have other questions or concerns, feel free to send a note or give me a call.