Paint the walls, and the concrete floor if you have one in your shed or garage. A light colour – white, or magnolia if you don’t want it to feel like a dentist’s surgery, will maximise the effect of the lighting and help when you are working on fiddly tasks. Painting concrete will prevent it wearing and creating dust, and it’ll be easier to see dropped fasteners. Carpet makes life more comfortable and a touch warmer, and also helps stops those dropped parts bouncing out of sight. A wipe-down material under the bikes is worth considering so you can deal with spilled oils without them becoming a drama.
Place it so you’re not impeding access or working too close to the bikes – you won’t be pleased if you slip with a tool and dent your tank, or shower it in sparks. Aim for a bench at least as big as your armspan – bigger if you plan to keep a toolbox on it permanently. Build it as sturdily as possible – you might not want to strip a Gold Wing engine on it now, but you never know what projects the future holds. Best to be ready. Use the space underneath as storage for larger tools and spares.
Crates and great
Cheap plastic tubs from the pound shop will shatter when you load chunks of bike into them. Thicker, less brittle plastic tubs with a lid cost around £20, but if you have spares to store they’re an organised, long-lasting solution that’ll keep them safe and clean. Keep spares for different bikes separate, and use smaller containers inside to keep it ordered. When you need that vital spare, you know where it’ll be. Try not to store parts filthy either – fishing through greasy clag is misery.
Not just a place for that picture of you wheelying over Cadwell’s Mountain – hanging lighter items like paddock stands or soft luggage on the walls keeps floor space clear and saves shelves for heavier stuff. If your workspace is shared with bicycles, there are some inexpensive and secure solutions for keeping those up and out of the way. If you have eaves, fixing boards on them allows rarely-used items to be stashed out of the way.
The more you can fit, the better. Aim to have it as close to the back of your shed or garage as possible to make more room for getting bikes in and moving around them. Cheap plastic efforts from DIY shops are OK for light stuff such as helmets, but for boxes of spares, tools and so on you need some with wide, deep shelves, spaced so you can get large items in if necessary without injuring your back. Options are available to suit all budgets – from knocking your own up with old timber and cast-off materials to pro-spec workshop racking. Old wall-mount kitchen units are good for keeping chain lube and fluids ordered and also protected from sparks.
Fishing through unsorted tools in a cheap box isn’t the way to make working on a motorcycle stress-free. Invest in a drawer unit so you can separate tools out and access them easily. Well-kept tools last longer, and you’re less likely to lose things if everything has a specific home. If you have room and never need to take tools away from home, a tool board on the garage or shed wall gives ultimate ease of access and can be made in an afternoon with a sheet of ply and some small nails – it can be as basic or as complex as you like. Keeping items such as drills/grinders out of sight prevents thieves using them to break your locks if they get into your garage. And it pays to separate your bike tools from tools used for general DIY tasks around the house.
A stool at workbench height is great for longer, fiddly tasks such as stripping carbs. It’s also somewhere to stop, rest and take a minute to consider a problem and drink a cuppa. It’s a small addition, but it makes working much easier, and the opportunity to rest is welcome more often than you’d think – working on the bike is supposed to be a pleasure, not a punishment. You could also consider a stool on caster wheels for working around a bike – some have a tray underneath to store components as you remove them from the bike.
Protect your bike
There’s little more frustrating than damaging your bike in the garage. Look for potential accidents, and prevent them from the start. If you have to park close to walls, fix an old piece of carpet or soft material to it to avoid scuffs. Covering bikes helps prevent scratching them, but use something reasonably snug fitting so you can see and avoid hitting delicate items like indicators as you pass through. Got a flip-up stand? A bungee through the front brake disc carrier to the stand stops it flipping if you nudge the bike.
Order is essential when working on bikes – especially if you have more than one project on the go. Magnetic parts trays are great, or other trays/containers for keeping parts together. Anything from used takeaway tubs/old baking trays (free) to carbon parts trays (less free) will do – the key is having something ready to receive fasteners and parts as they come off. Things won’t get lost, damaged or mixed up that way. Using the same sort of container enables them to be kept stacked and ordered, saving space.