Let me make one thing clear right from the start:
My motorcycles do not fall into this category. Even non-running motorcycles have some value and if I messed something up it could end up costing me a whole lot to have someone else repair my damage. So I'm on a first-name basis with my mechanic. Joel does good work and I help support him in the lifestyle he has chosen.
I do change my own oil, and on my old bike I also adjust the chain when it needs it. But I'm not going to do anything that has the potential to harm my much newer Kawasaki Concours. I don't need some fool like me messing with that fine piece of machinery.
I know a lot of guys who do work on their bikes and it's tempting to try to save some money. My friend Kevin owns several Suzuki V-Stroms and he works on them. Of course the V-Stroms have the benefit of being a super dependable bike that rarely needs repair, but if we were out on the dirt, miles from civilization, Kevin is a guy I'd be really happy to be with if one of those bikes had trouble.
With this all in mind, I did decide recently to take a shot at replacing an oil seal on my old bike. I had somehow managed to put too much oil in and ended up blowing a seal, and repairs wouldn't have been excessive but the actual part was only about $3. So I took a crack at it. And thanks to some assistance from an online forum for owners of this particular model bike, I was successful. Now, it wasn't easy. I had the shop manual but those things always seem to leave out at least one really crucial, but to the author, really obvious step, and you try to go 1. to 2. to 3. and something just doesn't gibe.
The guys on the forum were very helpful but I needed a very thick skin. They helped me but at the price of enduring their scathing ridicule. My first mistake was in not reading all of the ground rules they have set up to minimize answering the same questions again and again. I'd ask a question and they would SCREAM AT ME and I'd do what I should have done first. Eventually I mollified them and they gave me the info I needed. The job got done.
Now just recently I had another issue. My speedometer broke. I told Joel about it and he said he'd let me know when he had the part. He called and I took the bike over and it turned out not to be the right part. So Joel sent me to the salvage yard to get the right part. I did and then Joel spent all of about 10 minutes putting the replacement speedo on. I sat there thinking, 'I could have done that.'
And in this case, Joel wouldn't have been at all unhappy if I had. The wrong speedo that he got from the salvage yard couldn't be returned, so he was out almost exactly what I paid him for the installation. It was a wash for him. But I could have cut my cost by half. Maybe next time I'll be a little bolder.