Group #2 - The at-home mechanic that does everything on their own and are fully independent.
When it comes to group #1, if you have a relationship with a shop, not just the price of parts should be considered when purchasing. I believe if you have a good relationship with a shop you count on for some of the maintenance work required on your bike, the first place you should turn for parts is that shop. By ordering parts through the shop you are supporting their business which in turn supports you. Growing your relationship with a shop you trust will be beneficial in the long run as you will be more likely to get better prices on labor in the future, may be able to borrow a specialty tool from time to time, and get free advice with a mechanical job you are working on at home.
For group #2, the mechanics that never associate with a shop, price is truly the only factor when it comes to picking up parts, so supporting a shop by purchasing parts through them doesn’t really benefit you.
Perhaps some folks who fall into group #1 don’t have a great relationship with their shop, and have found their parts to be exorbitantly high and want an alternative. Below are my suggestions on sourcing parts for these at-home mechanics.
1. Order through a friend that works in the industry
I have several close friends that work in the motorcycle industry (shops, OEM manufacturers, and aftermarket manufacturers) and will use them from time to time to source parts. Most of these folks get a pretty big discount on parts and if I’m after expensive items I will try to use them. I respect their time and willingness to help me out and don’t do this too often (no one wants to be overbearing or a burden). I wouldn’t suggest running out and trying to foster a relationship with someone just to use their discount, but if you happen to have a friend you are close with don’t overlook the opportunity.
One of my favorites for ordering aftermarket parts and gear from. The prices are reasonable, but the main draw for me is Dennis Kirk has an option for order pickup. This is great for locals (Dennis Kirk is in Rush City, MN) who live nearby. I can phone in, order more gear than I intend on buying (for sizing purposes), tell them when I’m coming, and show up with my entire order neatly organized in a box waiting for me to try on before I buy. Plus they have a huge selection of aftermarket parts, so if I need something ASAP I can drive in and pick it up. DK also offers free shipping on orders over $89.
I’m starting to check out Rocky Mountain more frequently, but don’t typically order too many parts from them. Usually I find Rocky Mountain has the best prices on specialty tools like flywheel pullers, deglazing/honing tools, and other miscellaneous tools.
If there is a particularly expensive part I’m looking for I’ll usually check Ebay just in case there is a new one conveniently available. I’ve also had good luck finding assorted gasket kits and bolt kits for various engine models. Ebay is a golden mecca of used parts and if I’m in the market for something used - this is where I turn. I’ve had good luck finding reasonable prices on complete engines, bottom ends, transmissions, and other various parts. I will advise using caution though, making sure you know what you are exactly looking for when buying used off Ebay because I have been burned a time or two when buying engine related components.
I’ve found Amazon to be a fairly good spot to get the best prices on maintenance items such as air filters, oil filters, fork oil, and engine oil. In addition, the tool selection and prices that Amazon offers is reasonable.
I hope you’ve found my recommendations helpful. These stores are not the end all be all for buying parts - it’s just what has worked well for me. Do your own research before buying to make sure you’re getting a fair price. If you have a favorite place to shop, a recommendation, or advice help everyone out, please leave a comment below!
*Please note I am not affiliated with nor do I benefit from my recommendations of the aforementioned companies.