Outsourcing versus do-it-yourself

Wrenching on your bike is great fun and there is immense satisfaction looking back at a tangible machine you’ve created. Additionally, performing your own work is often cheaper than paying for professional labor if you consider your own time to be free. When you do it yourself, you complete the work on your own schedule, gaining knowledge, pride, and a deeper understanding of your bike as a result.

However, not everyone has the time, space, tools, or skills to complete every aspect of a build on their own. That’s okay, too. If you count yourself among these ranks, you may instead have the funds to support a build financially and still execute the design you want using professional assistance.

Whether your time is more valuable to you than the hourly rate you would pay for a certain job, or you aren’t confident you have the skills to get it done without help, it’s recommended contracting out certain work to fabricators, painters and engine builders. You may have to do a little digging to tap into the network of professionals that welcome retro work and are willing to execute on your unique vision, but it can be worth the hunt.

Paying a professional should not be considered selling out either. Many professional builders still farm out specific tasks in areas they aren’t particularly skilled or interested in. If you follow this path, you’ll still experience all the joy of creating a design and working on the specific parts of the build that interest you most.

If you are a first timer, the quality that professionals can deliver should inspire confidence in your machine. Because they are trained to do the work and have years of experience, the outcome will likely be showroom quality and more reliable than what you could produce on your first or second try. They’ll also do the job right in most cases, where you could overlook small details that could become big problems down the road.  

For what it’s worth, you can build a custom motorcycle without getting your hands dirtier than you want to. The one hiccup is finding trusted professionals to do a good job. Be prepared to do your research, ask around, and expect a bit of trial and error. However, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll want to do as much as possible on your own once you get started.

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