Life-Changing Help for the Vintage Motorcycle Shop Owner

If you don’t know much about our business, we started out as a vintage motorcycle shop that restored, serviced, and repaired motorcycles from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. During this time, we’ve encountered 4 types of customers: those who are awesome to deal with because they are patient and realize that restorations can take a long time, those who are nightmares because they expect a full restoration to cost about $100, those who horrible to deal with because they think a restoration will only take a couple days, and those who are the epitome of the title, “Worst Customer in the World” who think both.

By taking to other vintage motorcycle shops, I’ve realized that these bad customers are way too common in the industry. They’re horrible because they make most of us so miserable to the point where we contemplate closing shop. (We did; now we just work on our own motorcycles as a hobby and sell apparel to have an income while still being involved in the industry.)

Because of this nuisance, I’ve created the following document. It can serve as a disclaimer for vintage motorcycle shops that they can share with potential customers during the estimation process. This disclaimer serves a couple purposes; it screens good customers from bad customers, it informs potential customers of what’s involved in the restoration process in a professional manner, and creates leverage for the shop owner.

If you run a vintage motorcycle shop, I strongly encourage you to use this template and use it “as-is” or change it in whichever way you’d like to and start using it in your shop. All I ask is that you let me know if it has cut down on the number of dead beat customers you deal with. Deal?

If you don’t run a vintage motorcycle shop, read it and you just might get some inspiration from it to use in your business.

Lastly, if you’d like me to create some sort of disclaimer for your business or industry, please send an e-mail to or tweet me. Not to toot my horn too much, but I also have some time available if you would like me to consult you in your business with any decisions, ideas, or issues you may have.

* * *

First of all, we here at (your shop name here) truly appreciate your business and the fact that you’ve chosen us to work on your vintage motorcycle. We eat, sleep, and dream vintage motorcycles so we’d like to thank you for the opportunity.

Before we get to work, we just wanted to let you know some things about older motorcycles so we’re on the same page.

Vintage motorcycle restoration and repair is an art form and like all great art, takes time. We cannot simply attach a computer to your motorcycle to diagnose its problems. Mostly everything is done the old-fashioned way; by using our senses. We do mostly everything by hand and we listen to the engine and other parts to make sure everything is running correctly. We also smell the various scents that the bike gives off to figure out if it’s running too rich or too lean among other things. There is no “MMI” or school to learn how to work on vintage motorcycles. We do have previous experience as car mechanics, but most of our learning on how to work on vintage motorcycles through hands-on experience.

Due to their age, vintage motorcycles vary greatly in condition. We’ve seen some which sat outside for the last 30 years with wasp nests in the carburetors to some that have been kept in a spare bedroom for the last 30 years. You don’t really know what you get until you take the bike apart and inspect every single part. Because of this, projects may take longer than originally planned. If you pick up a motorcycle that has sat outside for 30 years and hasn’t run that entire time, it is ridiculous to think that it will only cost $200-300 to get it in show-room condition again. If that’s the impression that you’re under, we politely ask that you take your business elsewhere.

There is also a good chance that projects could cost more than originally estimated. In some instances, we may open up the engine and discover that you have a cracked piston. This is something that you would want to take care of even though it is very costly. All parts work together as a system, if one part doesn’t work correctly, nothing works. If you are trying to restore a vintage motorcycle for as cheap as possible, then good luck elsewhere. That’s not us. We pride ourselves in doing everything correctly the first time and we hope that you can appreciate this as a customer and vintage motorcycle enthusiast. According to Sailor Jerry, “Good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good.” Please keep this in mind.

We try our best to give you an honest, detailed estimate. We’re vintage motorcycle experts who are trying to make an honest living just like you are. If we say you need something that wasn’t included in the original estimate, it’s because you truly do need it to get your bike running again.

In most instances, replacement parts haven’t been produced for the last 20 years or so. Because of this, actually tracking down the parts can be time-consuming. Also, because they are no longer produced, they are getting rarer and therefore more expensive to get our hands on. A lot of the time, parts can only be found in Europe, Asia, or Australia which can cause large delays in the project than what was originally quoted.

With that being said, we will always let know if your vintage motorcycle restoration will be more costly than originally quoted before we take the next necessary step in the restoration process. If you do not wish to continue the restoration and spend more money, please let us know and you will only be responsible for the parts and labor costs up to that point.

If there are delays with your project, we will try to let you know as soon as possible. It can be difficult to evaluate the project to figure out if there may be delays because there is always a chance of unforeseen circumstances coming up that can cause delays. For example, it may take longer to receive parts than originally planned. If things are taking longer than planned and you haven’t heard from us yet, please give us a call.

We hope that we’re on the same page now after you’ve read this disclaimer. We’ve created this document to inform you of unfortunate yet common nuisances which are involved with vintage motorcycle restorations. By signing below, you acknowledge that you’ve read the entire document and realize that vintage motorcycle restorations can be more costly and time-consuming than originally quoted even though we try our absolute best to give you a precise estimate as far as price and time needed goes during the estimate process. That’s why it’s called an “estimate.”

Thanks for taking the time to go over this material. We look forward to getting started on your project as soon as possible.

–  The proud owners of (Your shop name here), (Your name here)

Customer Signature: X                                                                                                   Date:

(This is in no way a binding contract. This signature solely represents that you acknowledge that you’ve read the document and understand it fully.)


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