Project planning fundamentals

While bucketloads of fun, building a custom motorcycle can also consume bucketloads of time and money you might not have anticipated when you started the project. However, basic project planning can help you keep your build on track and under budget.

There are unlimited ways to plan and manage a bike build and there is no perfect approach. Because every project and builder are unique, the best approach is the one that gels with your style of work and gets your bike on the road. But that’s not to say that there aren’t specific strategies and tools that are helpful, or common pitfalls to avoid.

Project management is the practice of organising every task required to complete your bike build in the most logical order, with a focus on budget, quality of work, and risk mitigation.

In essence, it’s about planning out your work, asking what can go wrong, and putting contingencies in place to prevent disaster and disappointment.

It’s not a massive undertaking you must learn from scratch. You already use many of the approaches and techniques in your life numerous times a week(if not daily) but on a smaller scale.

A good plan will help you;

  • Understand the direction and pace of your project so you can achieve your goals within a specified timeframe
  • Break down overwhelming mountains of work into digestible chunks
  • Check off small victories along the way to boost motivation and helps you stay on track with your project
  • Highlight any risks you might face during your build

However not all project plans will have the desired effect. You might focus too hard on a particular element of the build that you enjoy or are especially good at, leaving less enjoyable (but no less important) tasks up to chance. Or you might not get detailed enough, so when you start work you’re still left scratching your head. So how do you ensure your plan will be effective? Apply the right planning tools to the following framework, and you’ll build confidence and momentum for the first stages of your build.

Of course, there is no requirement for formal project planning for your build. You can just jump in, pull the bike to bits, and start bolting on parts with reckless abandon. And you may very well be successful in knocking out a great build. But the more complex the build, the more likely something will go wrong. You may end up pulling parts on and off the bike redundantly because you completed the work in the wrong order; remaking custom parts because you hadn’t allowed proper space for the interaction with other parts on the bike; or reaching a point where you just don’t know what to do next.  

By investing some time up front in your planning, you can avoid some of these problems. It might feel like there is no immediate benefit, but often whatever time you spend planning at the start will be more than repaid over the course of a project, either through saving time or money, achieving a higher quality outcome, or keeping you motivated and accountable to hit that end goal.

Planning out your project will give you an end-to-end view of what your build will look like before you get elbow deep in grease and grime. This high-level overview allows for tasks to be effectively organised to get the build done fast and under budget while achieving the quality you want.