The Garage Motorcycle Builder’s Handbook


Possibly one of the dumber ideas I've had was to write a book about customising your motorcycle.

When the 'rona hit in 2020 and we were locked down, I had a bit more spare time on my hands. I can't remember the exact throught process but it went something like this: "I've already got a bunch of articles on the web about customising your bike, all I need to do it fill in the gaps between the articles!".

How wrong I was!

I was already in contact with Jordan Harris (@thirty7_moto) and Mike MIller (@mikemill333) through other avenues, and I emailed the proposal (brainwave? microwave?) to them on 27 July 2020. They were both onboard with the project and we started typing furiously to match the "table of contents" I had drafted as a framework. We committed to each other that regardless what happened, we'd get this content out to our audience. Lucky we did....

I create a single page website for the book with a synopsis and contact details, and promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward into late 2021, and with something like one hundred thousand words under our belt, we had a random approach from an editor in New York. They had found us via my articles on BikeEXIF, bounced back to my website, then found the link in my website footer to the book website. This guy was an editor at an imprint of one of the big guys, so we were naturally excited, however we didn't have much apart from a couple of highly polished sample chapters, and a hundred pages of very rough draft. We committed to finishing a solid and edited draft by March 2022 for further discussion.

We kept the correspondence ticking over by asking questions around the sort of supporting documentation he'd need, and a bunch of other dumb noob author questions. In parallel, we also started pitching agents to represent our work.

That turned out to be a big fat dead end. Even with an interested publisher, we had zero responses to our agent pitches and finally decided to risk doing it alone. 

But it didn't matter anyway.

After bouncing back and forth with the editor, he finally responded along the lines "well the sales guys think this is a declining market segment so, no deal".

A few people in the inner circle asked if I was disappointed, and I wasn't. We committed to getting the book to market so we just knuckled down and looked for other options.

Self publishing seemed to be the next logical option, however the cost soon became a major hurdle. We had scoped out more than 300 photos needed to support the content in the book, and I estimated this was many weeks of shooting and editing time, and a mid-five-figure cost. Pricing up the publishing costs also started to stack up into the tens-of-thousands to do it "right".

A couple of people suggested crowd-sourcing the funds, but this didn't seem feasible. I don't have a big enough audience to send to a Kickstarter, and investing the energy to set it up and fail wasn't on attractive option. 

Finally, we settled on the simplest option. Just publish the whole book, for free, on my Academy website. 

Yes, we could put it behind a paywall and make a few dollars (maybe). But if the content was hidden, less people would find it via search, and that wasn't consistent with our goals of sharing the work with interested readers.

So, while we don't have the hundreds of high quality photos I wanted, you still have the book text available for no cost. In the near future, we'll create some resources (like workbooks and checklists) that will help readers with the build process and we'll sell these to help with website running costs. 

We're hopeful the Garage Motorcycle Builder Handbook is your single source to get your build on the road. Go check it out.

About the author 

Matt McLeod

I teach people how to build custom motorcycles by helping them build skills and confidence with my coaching, articles and training videos.
I provide better technical information for custom motorcycle builders. And I shorten the learning curve getting you there.

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