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How-to articles were once a motomag staple, but no longer. When I got serious about bikes in the early '80s, I found everything I needed in Joe Minton's Motorcyclist articles (along with a shop manual). Shim-type valve adjustment, carb synch, brake maintenance, fork tweaks, etc. etc. were all covered.

Motorcyclist and Sport Rider are the only mags that regularly run how-to articles, and they archive them on their websites. The latter's Andrew Trevitt tackles moderately difficult tasks and describes them particularly well. Motorcyclist devotes too little space to their "How-To" column to make it useful for more involved tasks. In 2002, for example, they described in 750 words and 9 small photos how to check valve clearances but not how to adjust them. Duh.

For principles of operation and general workshop procedures get Hugo Wilson's Motorcycle Owner's Manual. It's an inexpensive little book but well-written and lavishly illustrated with color photos. You'll find it at the usual places.

Consider the factory shop manual your bible. Follow the maintenance schedule, pay close attention to minutiae such as torque specs, cable routing diagrams, and disassembly sequences. Highlight info you find important and use the margins for notes to make a job easier next time.

To prevent "leftover" parts, meticulously set fasteners aside after removing them. I use ice-cube trays and fill the little pockets with fasteners in the order I removed them and cover and label them with masking tape so I know exactly what goes where at reassembly time. I currently have 2 entire trays filled with ST1100 parts while I do 32,000 mile service and repair a coolant leak.

Be prepared to take a lot of time to do stuff at first. Never tackle an ambitious job on a tight deadline. You don't want to take off on a long trip and find out the hard way that, in haste, you forgot to torque the calipers.
 
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