You both should buy a Clymer's manual for your 175's- lots of questions answered.
The forks are very flexy and a fork brace will help a lot. fresh ATF fluid in them will help but they are crappy forks none the less.
New rear shocks will help the ride a lot. Make sure your wheel bearings and swingarm bushings are in good shape. Shake the wheels from side to side- any play and you need new bearings. Grab the swingarmat the rear wheel and move side to side. If there is play you need new bushings.
Tearing into one of these motors is pretty easy. You will need a flywheel puller to get the flywheel off- other wise a crancase splitter is nice too. Depends on how tool friendly you are.