® Restorers

The public is mislead by many who portray themselves as mechanics. They are actually restorers. Restorers labor under a significant delusion. Most restorers think of themselves wrongly. They invariably are very good at painting or detailing or have a lot of experience in polishing and chroming. They have learned how to find NOS parts. They have taught themselves how to restore instruments and will zinc or chrome plate every fastener in sight. That's great. But they seldom could be called mechanics, though they view themselves as such. Invariably, their work exhibits much that they are unaware of when it comes to best mechanical practice. Honing engine cylinders instead of machining them, ignoring receded valves and worn camshafts, fitting "hot" ignition coils while improperly rebuilding the brakes. I have never seen a "restored" Honda that wasn't like this.

A large number of my customers and folks I deal with are restorers. Their work is beautiful, exceptional, appealing. But always there are mechanical shortcomings. And this is because they think being a mechanic means simply making it look good. That there are no best practices. Mechanical methods to them are less important than shine and newness. They're unaware of mechanical principles. A few restorers have come to realize the difference between polish and professionalism. But most have not.

The way to put the whole restoration ethos in perspective is to consider the cost to have a mechanic do a full restoration. For a large 70s Honda it's at least $30,000. This is not an exaggeration. The engine is responsible for most of that, say $15,000-plus. Of course the finished bike can't be sold at a profit, which means one important thing. Those who say they are making money at this are not restoring these bikes, they are "flipping" them. They're putting the minimum necessary into a bike in order to sell it at maximum profit. Just like with houses. Good for them. But these bikes aren't "restored". Something else viewing restorations correctly means, when you have a 70s Honda repaired, and you realize even a full service on the thing comes to more than its market value, bear in mind the cost of its professional restoration. If your qualified mechanic wants $10,000-$15,000 to get the bike in a condition he would be satisfied to own, be grateful. Compare that with the cost of restoration. Put it into perspective.

Last updated August 2023
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