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Perfect Workshop

The Perfect Workshop

(from our Travels with Guido series, MT #220, circa Aug 2009)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen


Ever wondered what a shed with real street cred should contain? Let's walk through the essentials…

1. A bar
No-one should be forced to work on a motorcycle while they’re sober. Let’s face it, bikes are cleverly designed to have parts which are actually too small for the human hand to manipulate, with most critical components hidden behind another critical component that requires special factory tool #239567A-281 to remove.


2. Special tool #239567A-281
No-one other than the savant who designed it actually knows how to use this tool, but that’s missing the point. You need it to hang on your shed wall (or shadow board if you’re a tragic) as a way of showing your mates that you’re clearly at the cutting edge of things mechanical. They don’t need to know you haven’t the faintest idea of how to use it.


3. Throwing tools
To be kept aside from the real tools and used when (inevitably) the sparkplug strips the thread on your fourteenth attempt to get it in straight. We recommend large and old ring spanners for their rounded edges and satisfying acoustics. Workshop manuals, dogs and stray children can also be useful in an emergency.


4. Used sporting equipment
Good reputation-builder, so long as you pick the right gear. Worn-out surfboards (preferably with shark teeth marks) and mountain bikes with slightly twisted forks have a certain amount of street cred, while punching bags, weights and tins of rubbing oil are just a bit too butch to be completely beyond suspicion.


5. Used riding equipment
Two kinds needed here: 1. Race suit with a scrape marks down one side that are so deep it now looks like a mosquito net (“happened when Rossi fell off in front of me, dontcha know…”); 2.Off-road helmet with a tree branch sticking out one side and a Dakar rally sticker on the other, preferably signed, “Thanks for saving my life, Charlie B”. No leather chaps (see sporting equipment, above).


6. A library
This should contain a well-thumbed copy of Tuning for Speed and a Penrite Oils catalogue. Nothing else. Copies of Zen and the Art of Motorcycling should be shredded, burned and buried – twice. For the last time, it's not about motorcycles.


7. A large and sturdy screen
Something with a mesh that’s fine enough to prevent the ingress of toddlers and other unwelcome visitors, but still (in case of emergencies) allows the passing through of food and bar supplies.


8. Tacky calendar
A useful backstop in case the screen (7) fails. Go for something as disreputable and unattractive as possible, preferably with corn-fed models who look as though they once promoted some kind of dairy product.


9. An angle grinder
All sheds need a power tool calculated to strike fear into the unwary. We particularly like angle grinders for their ability to turn a simple cutting job into a rampaging bloodbath quicker than you can say “bandage”. Go for the 100-plus-hp kick-start models.


10. A dog
Useful for many things, including sticking its wet nose in your cake-hole just as you’re juggling that delicately-balanced shim which will disappear down the camchain tunnel forever and wreak irreparable engine damage. Also handy as an emergency hand towel.

More Travels with Guido columns

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