That’s where Fix My Hog, Inc. steps in with their series of DVDs covering basic maintenance, tune up, and adjustment procedures for various Harley-Davidson models. I reviewed the Fix My Hog DVD, Sportster Edition set but there are also specific DVD sets for the Softail and Touring series available. Watching this DVD is the next best thing to having a mechanic in your garage with you as you learn your way through the covered procedures. The video covers only routine adjustment, maintenance, and replacement of wear items. It does not address troubleshooting or more involved repair procedures.
I consider myself a pretty competent wrench, so I watched closely to see if I could find any errors or poor practices but instead came away impressed. The host pretty much goes by the book and into enough detail for the viewer to fully understand the procedures being explained. The video work is excellent, always clearly showing the necessary detail. I watched the entire DVD from start to finish and found it a bit of a challenge to my limited attention span (more on this later). Luckily the various maintenance procedures are organized into easily navigated chapters that allow you to go straight to the procedure(s) of interest. It makes sense to use this DVD in a manner similar to the way you would use a service manual—nobody reads those cover to cover, instead referencing just the section(s) of interest.
Though the Fix My Hog product provides excellent illustration of the hands-on procedures, it won’t replace your service manual as you’ll still need that for torque values, part numbers, and other information not addressed in the DVD. There are also likely year to year and model differences that will require you to refer to the manual for your specific bike. Although the information presented is specific to the Harley-Davidson Sportster, there are many sections (such as those covering steering head bearing lubrication and adjustment, fork oil change, chain lubrication and adjustment, battery maintenance, tire and brake pad replacement) that are generic enough to apply to most motorcycles.
After my viewing, I gave the DVD to a Harley riding and wrenching colleague for his comments. He was quite positive in his review, saying that it was very well produced
and much easier to follow than the manual. He felt that although the presentation is quite dry, it isn’t boring and the pace is just right. He thought a similar video focused on engine repair and modification would be a good addition.
I have only a few minor criticisms of this product. The material, through clear and accurate, is presented in a dry manner. The host and his assistant, while obviously quite knowledgeable, appear completely humorless and matter of fact. A little more personality or a bit of humor would make this video a bit easier to watch.
I also noticed what I think were a few afterthoughts. For example, when changing the fork oil, our host dribbles it all over the front brake disc but never addresses this. Instead, some subtitles appear advising that all braking components should be cleaned of any spilled oil. I thought this was an important enough point (from a safety perspective) that it should have been directly addressed in the video and proper clean up technique illustrated. In addition, the host insisted on using only Genuine Harley-Davidson parts on several occasions, which we all know isn’t necessary in every case, for example, spark plugs and batteries.
Among the bonus material on the second disk there are some safety suggestions and general battery maintenance sections, but I thought it was poor form to show riders wearing chaps, fingerless gloves, and no helmets in a couple of scenes. At least all of those shots were made when the bike was stopped and not running. The battery maintenance section only covered the latest sealed GRT-type batteries and was too brief to be of much use. It struck me as mostly an advertisement for Battery Tender products.
In spite of these minor faults, I think these DVDs represent a good value and if you use them only once, they will have paid for themselves. I wish they were available for a wider range of manufacturers and motorcycle types.
The Fix My Hog Sportster Edition retails for $42.95 and can be ordered by visiting www.fixmyhog.com or by calling 619.269.9321.