Here’s to the “Do-It-Yourself”-ers!

We have a saying in Newfoundland to describe a person who has an innate, bordering on miraculous, talent for fixing things. We say that such a person can “put an arse in a cat”. Almost everyone knows someone like this, and these people are valuable friends. If they are inclined to put their talents towards motorized vehicles of the two-wheeled variety, they are especially valuable friends.

Anyone can go into a dealership, slap down their credit card, and order an infinite number of shiny bits and pieces for their bike. Sure it looks nice. But it doesn’t impress me. What impresses me is the person who buys an old bike, gets it running like a top, and then makes it his/her OWN through paint, upgrades and accessories. THAT impresses me…and makes me a little regretful that I don’t possess that particular talent.

There are some amazing bikes in this province, many re-built from the ground up by someone in their spare time. On any given day you can spot restored classics, choppers, bobbers, and bikes that have been customized to such an extent that it’s difficult to tell what it actually is. It must be an absolutely amazing feeling to stand back and look at a bike that you created yourself, and I would imagine that it would be very hard to make the decision to sell such a bike.

It seems like there are a disproportionately high number of people on Newfoundland who can do their own work. If I was a sociologist I would probably deduce that it’s a result of living in very isolated communities for hundreds of years, where resourcefulness meant survival. There was no repair shop to call if something broke down, you fixed it yourself even if that meant fabricating parts from whatever material you could find. Important skills and knowledge were passed down through generations, creating a breed of very handy people.

It’s unfortunate that along with most other aspects of our culture, these practical skills are being lost. Computers and cell phones are creating a generation of people who don’t know how to CHECK the oil in their vehicles, let alone change it. The most basic of skills, like how to use an electrical meter or a ratchet, are becoming rarer in the under-25 demographic. And that’s a shame.

This post is dedicated to the “Do-It Yourself”-ers: people with the skills and know-how to do their own wrenching on their bikes, from basic maintenance to engine rebuilds. You folks deserve the utmost respect in the biker community!

Do you have pictures or stories of bikes that you restored, rebuilt, customized, etc? I’d love to have a page on this blog showcasing the talent on this island!


Posted on July 15, 2013, in Behind the Visor. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Excellent!
    I could probably give you a few pics of my bikes semi restoration 🙂

  2. Do self-applied stripes count? 😉 LOL!
    I agree though, there is some dandy back-yard customization goin’ on here locally (your Streetfighter included!) … and Newfoundlanders are a clever lot generally when it comes to creativity and “making something out of nothing”!

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