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« on: June 25, 2015, 07:22:53 pm »

I'm so mad right now. Seems like today it is harder and harder to find good service. I usually do as much as I can do to my own bikes.

Since moving here three years ago I had to find a Yamaha and Kawasaki dealer for my two bikes. I settled on the KTM/Kawasaki dealer for tire changes. Took my FJR and ZX14 there. Last year had trouble with them when they took a long time as the service guy spent time out in the parking lot working on a young girls jeep. The bike is done and I double check his work on the FJR. I spot that he did not tighten the nut on the brake caliper "stay arm". It was on only a couple of threads. Had I left I don't know how far I would have ridden before the nut vibrated all the way off and when I hit the back brake I would have had a real nice surprise.

So I go to the Yamaha/Honda dealer now to get the ZX14 tires changed. I have to talk the Service Mgr into doing the bike. He says it is not a Yamaha/Honda.    This morning I have a 9:00a appointment because I am on a tight schedule today. His man is thirty minutes late today. At noon he's done and I'm double checking his work. Yes sir, there it is. He puts the rear axle through the upside down chain adjuster slider chingus. You know, so I can't see to adjust my chain now. And no, I wasn't going to point it out to him. Maybe I should have but now they are also off my list.

I have to find a good Kawasaki shop down the hill some fifty or more miles away for my valves and so forth. Anyone know of a good Kawasaki shop?
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2015, 07:51:27 am »

Good luck.

I just got back from a 2700 mile trip up and down the Eastern US. When I left Nashville, I thought I had a pretty good chance to make it to MA where I'd replace the rear tire. It turned out my 'pretty good chance' was about 300 miles short, so I was forced to do a tire at  Martin Moto in PA. My bike is a 2008 Sprint ST, with the single sided swing arm; pull off the spring clip and spin the nut, and you've got the wheel in your hands. If you bet me a cold one, I could complete a wheel r& r in under 20 seconds. You see where this is going...

I didn't have the rear hub nut socket with me. But, I figured they wouldn't gouge me for the 'on bike' labor, as they are a Triumph dealer, and therefore would understand how fast and easy the rear wheel removal/installation process it. I said to the guy "hey my bike is that Sprint there; only one nut on and off for the wheel. I was hoping maybe you could cut me a little slack with the on-bike price." He replied that he can't do anything about it, it's standard pricing etc. The service manager is right there, and he says the same thing. I try to explain again that there is no chain/brake/axle thing going on, that it's just one nut. He says "ok, what I will do is this: if it takes him less time to do it than what the $40 on-bike add-on is for, I'll give you a break on it." Fine.

They have a window into the service area. After about 10 minutes, the bike gets rolled onto a lift, and left there for about 10 more minutes. Then a young guy comes over, stares at it for a few, removes the wheel, and he takes it out of view. About 35 minutes later, he re-appears with the wheel, and installs it, but doesn't check the torque. He disappears again. About 5 minutes later he reappears with a torque wrench, torques the nut, puts the clip back on, and lowers the lift. About 5 minutes after that, he wheels it back out of the service dept. Total elapsed time: 1:05. Total time actually working on my wheel/tire: roughly 11 minutes.

I go to get the paperwork, fully expecting that I'm getting a break just wondering what it will be, and the service mgr says "ya, it took him over an hour to do that, so I can't really do anything for you on the cost." I just stared at him. Then (this is the best part IMO) he...wait. Here is where I remind you that a) this is the service manager. At a Triumph dealer. Talking about working on a Triumph, with a single sided swing arm...and b) I have actually explained (twice) the easy wheel r&r process. Ok, so he says this:

"Ya, well I know sometimes it seems like extra cost, but you know, we had to mess with the chain, and the brakes, and all that stuff, and sometimes it doesn't go as quickly or easily as you might think it does."

To which I say, somewhat incredulously, "No, you didn't. It's a Sprint. It has a single sided swing arm. It's one nut, and the wheel is off, without touching any of that stuff. And on top of that, I watched the whole thing, and your guy spent a little over 10 minutes actually doing the work. The rest of the time it just sat there using up that hour." He mumbled something ridiculous, and I just wanted to get out of there, so I just told him to give me the bill so I could do so.

I can't help but wonder how you get to be the service manager at a Triumph (or any other) dealer, and not have any idea how a wheel is mounted to a bike like mine. I would recommend steering as far away from this ridiculous place as possible, unless you fancy paying $70 for 11 minutes of work.

Oh, and for that money the guy didn't bother to remove the tape residue from my wheel. Back when I was a young'n working in bike shops I always did that; it just seemed like part of the job at hand.
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2015, 10:31:20 am »

I have seen it in many different circumstances related to business. It is a lowering of standards I think. No pride in a job well done.

And the bad news for us enthusiasts, the bikes now are getting much tougher to work on. Rear wheel removal excepted.

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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2017, 10:44:11 pm »

Got another astounding surprise today related to periodic maintenance pricing and service shop knowledge. I went with a buddy to a large dealer in Riverside, CA. I am planning on quite a bit of routine maintenance in the next month or so on my FJR1300. I already have the parts and oil and am going to do the work myself. So when my buddy is done I ask how much for changing out the brake fluid on my FJR. Service man says $50 per caliper plus fluid cost that's $150. WOW, seems high to me but I don't let on. I ask about changing out the fork oil and I have the oil to give him. He asks if my seals are leaking?! No, I just want fresh oil in the forks. We don't change the fork oil he says. Oil doesn't go bad!         I almost fall over but ask him how much anyway. $300!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 07:02:37 am »

Buy some tools and a service manual and do your own work as much as possible. There is a good KTM shop 2.5 hours from home that the bike goes to for valve adjustments (not checks) and suspension rebuilds/service. I do basic maintenance myself (tires, chains, brake pads, oil changes, other fluids, etc.). That way I know if it's screwed up, it's on me.

It really is a shame that it's so hard to find a mechanic you can trust, that actually takes pride in their work, and treats customer bikes like their own.
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 11:30:44 am »


Buy some tools and a service manual and do your own work as much as possible. There is a good KTM shop 2.5 hours from home that the bike goes to for valve adjustments (not checks) and suspension rebuilds/service. I do basic maintenance myself (tires, chains, brake pads, oil changes, other fluids, etc.). That way I know if it's screwed up, it's on me.

It really is a shame that it's so hard to find a mechanic you can trust, that actually takes pride in their work, and treats customer bikes like their own.


Yes, sir. I do as much work as I can or time allows. I just figured if the shop quoted me a cheapo price I might have left my bike with my buddy's and saved myself some time.

It would have cost me $450 labor plus fluid costs. For a simple brake bleed and fork oil change.      Just ain't right.
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 06:43:32 pm »


I do basic maintenance myself (tires, chains, brake pads, oil changes, other fluids, etc.). That way I know if it's screwed up, it's on me.


Same here. But even if I trusted them, they have priced me out of using them.

A couple months ago, my wife and I were walking around the neighborhood and a couple blocks over we saw a few guys working on bikes in their garage. We stopped and talked bikes for awhile. Since then, I've gone over and hung out a few times. It turns out one of them does bike repair on the side so I may end up giving him a shot next time.
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 07:00:32 pm »


Good luck.

I just got back from a 2700 mile trip up and down the Eastern US. When I left Nashville, I thought I had a pretty good chance to make it to MA where I'd replace the rear tire. It turned out my 'pretty good chance' was about 300 miles short, so I was forced to do a tire at  Martin Moto in PA. My bike is a 2008 Sprint ST, with the single sided swing arm; pull off the spring clip and spin the nut, and you've got the wheel in your hands. If you bet me a cold one, I could complete a wheel r& r in under 20 seconds. You see where this is going...

I didn't have the rear hub nut socket with me. But, I figured they wouldn't gouge me for the 'on bike' labor, as they are a Triumph dealer, and therefore would understand how fast and easy the rear wheel removal/installation process it. I said to the guy "hey my bike is that Sprint there; only one nut on and off for the wheel. I was hoping maybe you could cut me a little slack with the on-bike price." He replied that he can't do anything about it, it's standard pricing etc. The service manager is right there, and he says the same thing. I try to explain again that there is no chain/brake/axle thing going on, that it's just one nut. He says "ok, what I will do is this: if it takes him less time to do it than what the $40 on-bike add-on is for, I'll give you a break on it." Fine.

They have a window into the service area. After about 10 minutes, the bike gets rolled onto a lift, and left there for about 10 more minutes. Then a young guy comes over, stares at it for a few, removes the wheel, and he takes it out of view. About 35 minutes later, he re-appears with the wheel, and installs it, but doesn't check the torque. He disappears again. About 5 minutes later he reappears with a torque wrench, torques the nut, puts the clip back on, and lowers the lift. About 5 minutes after that, he wheels it back out of the service dept. Total elapsed time: 1:05. Total time actually working on my wheel/tire: roughly 11 minutes.

I go to get the paperwork, fully expecting that I'm getting a break just wondering what it will be, and the service mgr says "ya, it took him over an hour to do that, so I can't really do anything for you on the cost." I just stared at him. Then (this is the best part IMO) he...wait. Here is where I remind you that a) this is the service manager. At a Triumph dealer. Talking about working on a Triumph, with a single sided swing arm...and b) I have actually explained (twice) the easy wheel r&r process. Ok, so he says this:

"Ya, well I know sometimes it seems like extra cost, but you know, we had to mess with the chain, and the brakes, and all that stuff, and sometimes it doesn't go as quickly or easily as you might think it does."

To which I say, somewhat incredulously, "No, you didn't. It's a Sprint. It has a single sided swing arm. It's one nut, and the wheel is off, without touching any of that stuff. And on top of that, I watched the whole thing, and your guy spent a little over 10 minutes actually doing the work. The rest of the time it just sat there using up that hour." He mumbled something ridiculous, and I just wanted to get out of there, so I just told him to give me the bill so I could do so.

I can't help but wonder how you get to be the service manager at a Triumph (or any other) dealer, and not have any idea how a wheel is mounted to a bike like mine. I would recommend steering as far away from this ridiculous place as possible, unless you fancy paying $70 for 11 minutes of work.

Oh, and for that money the guy didn't bother to remove the tape residue from my wheel. Back when I was a young'n working in bike shops I always did that; it just seemed like part of the job at hand.


Had sort of the same experience there as I needed a rear tire change on the C14 before an unscheduled trip. Used the fast lane service watched the tire removed and then the tech disappeared for a while. Then I noticed him sitting in the corner on his cell phone and of course had to listen to it took over an hour.
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 10:26:38 pm »

My son's SV650 had a sensor go bad at the front wheel. We took it to a Suzuki shop to be repaired. When they said it was finished, I ran my son up there and he rode the bike home. When we pulled in to the garage, he told me the front end felt wrong and he occasionally heard a strange clunk sound. I looked at the front end and saw they hadn't tightened any of the bolts on the front calipers and one had actually worked loose and the caliper was hitting the wheel! The dealership ended up buying us a new front wheel and a new mirror that they had somehow managed to bang up.
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 09:49:18 pm »


My son's SV650 had a sensor go bad at the front wheel. We took it to a Suzuki shop to be repaired. When they said it was finished, I ran my son up there and he rode the bike home. When we pulled in to the garage, he told me the front end felt wrong and he occasionally heard a strange clunk sound. I looked at the front end and saw they hadn't tightened any of the bolts on the front calipers and one had actually worked loose and the caliper was hitting the wheel! The dealership ended up buying us a new front wheel and a new mirror that they had somehow managed to bang up.


Glad to hear that did not turn out worse.
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2017, 02:40:20 pm »


Buy some tools and a service manual and do your own work as much as possible. There is a good KTM shop 2.5 hours from home that the bike goes to for valve adjustments (not checks) and suspension rebuilds/service. I do basic maintenance myself (tires, chains, brake pads, oil changes, other fluids, etc.). That way I know if it's screwed up, it's on me.

It really is a shame that it's so hard to find a mechanic you can trust, that actually takes pride in their work, and treats customer bikes like their own.


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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2017, 03:27:56 pm »

I'm pretty much done with dealers except when absolutely necessary. I am lucky enough to have a motorcycle mechanic (who also works on my cars) just a hop skip and a jump from my house. He gets all my work because I trust him. He has worked on my track bikes so I have to trust him.

He has chased me out saying I don't need work, or quickly makes an adjustment and doesn't bill me when he knows I was ready to leave the car and expected a big bill.

Another mechanic inadvertently showed me the best way to test out a mechanics credibility (he moved to Florida) - I drop off my wife's minivan on the way to work because the passenger side slider door won't open from the inside. He gives me a ride to the train station. I am on the train for maybe 2 minutes and he says, "did you get on the train?!?!?"

I say, "just now - why?"

He says, "Your kid's backpack must have hit the child lock. Your door is fine."

No charge. He could have pulled the panels, done all kinds of shit, but proved to be honest. That guy had my business forever.

If you want to test your auto mechanic, flip the kid lock switch and complain of the door. If they bill you for some bullshit, you know not to go back..

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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2017, 01:42:52 pm »

I do all my own service. And am glad I can. My son caught the bike bug young. He got a job at Cycle Parts then at a Honda Dealership in Rockville, MD. He was responsible for assembling new bikes and moving inventory around. He got pissed off frequently at the "mechanics" because they would take a bike apart, then leave all the parts laying around. Move the customers bike out of the way and start on another. Then wait a week or so maybe figure out what part is needed and get it ordered. If/when a bike got completed, they often did not call the customer and let them know it was done. Just wait until the customer called. If a customer was called and didn't pickup their bike (which was often), they just let the bikes sit. No charge for storage.

I put "mechanics" in quotes because there's no certifications or schooling needed to get the position there. Most kids today don't know how to work on carbs. My local shop won't touch a carbureted bike. Sad.

So my son quit! Then opened up his own legitimate business! I'm so proud of him. He has lots of work and repeat customers. As Dan mentioned, my son has diagnosed a loose electrical connection, fixed it and released the bike. "I can't charge for that." he said. He was sorry the customer paid $100 to get the bike towed to his shop.

He's located just north of DC around the Silver Spring/Laurel area. AKCycles (https://akcustomcycles.com/ ) is the name of his business.
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2017, 02:01:37 pm »


I do all my own service. And am glad I can. My son caught the bike bug young. He got a job at Cycle Parts then at a Honda Dealership in Rockville, MD. He was responsible for assembling new bikes and moving inventory around. He got pissed off frequently at the "mechanics" because they would take a bike apart, then leave all the parts laying around. Move the customers bike out of the way and start on another. Then wait a week or so maybe figure out what part is needed and get it ordered. If/when a bike got completed, they often did not call the customer and let them know it was done. Just wait until the customer called. If a customer was called and didn't pickup their bike (which was often), they just let the bikes sit. No charge for storage.

I put "mechanics" in quotes because there's no certifications or schooling needed to get the position there. Most kids today don't know how to work on carbs. My local shop won't touch a carbureted bike. Sad.

So my son quit! Then opened up his own legitimate business! I'm so proud of him. He has lots of work and repeat customers. As Dan mentioned, my son has diagnosed a loose electrical connection, fixed it and released the bike. "I can't charge for that." he said. He was sorry the customer paid $100 to get the bike towed to his shop.

He's located just north of DC around the Silver Spring/Laurel area. AKCycles ( https://akcycle.com ) is the name of his business.




Very good business  model. I believe if more businesses had that mentality their profit would go UP!
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« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2018, 10:45:33 pm »

I posted a coupe of days ago about beginning some maintenance on my FJR1300. Well, as luck would have it the front forks I need help with. They are conventional right side up, cartridge forks. Hex bolt on bottom of fork that needs an impact gun to break loose. Then the forks can be disassembled for seal replacement, etc. I don't have an impact gun. So I go to the local Pep Boys. They are helpful in doing easy stuff for free. Sure enough they take the two fork legs back and bring them out with the hex bolts loose. So far so good. I get home and realize that the inside damper rod is spinning so the hex bolts won't come out. OK, fine I go to the local Yamaha dealer that I hadn't been to in two years after they tried to get me. I call ahead to see if they still have the same Service Mgr. No, so I go over and explain to the new Service Mgr that I just need him to use his damper rod holder tool and then I will give him some business of swapping the seals.

$120.00!!!!!!!! Wait, the tubes are drained and it may take you 30-45 minutes. I'll use my fork oil and reassemble the  forks myself and I have already purchased the Yamaha seal kit from your parts counter. That's what it costs he says. OK, instead of getting some business, referrals and a new customer he gets nothing except bad news about him. I get home and call around. $160 or $200 dollars!! Crooks!

I then call around and find a Mom and Pop that says bring over the forks I'll remove the hex bolts for nothing. After the forks are part I give him and his wife some dinner money. He now has a new friend and referrals from me.
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2018, 11:44:48 am »

Messing with forks isn’t for amateurs  Bigsmile
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2018, 01:04:34 pm »


I'm pretty much done with dealers except when absolutely necessary.



I then call around and find a Mom and Pop that says bring over the forks I'll remove the hex bolts for nothing.


When I lived in Seattle, I went to independent shops for everything. My favorite was a guy who used to work at one of the BMW shops but then opened up his own. He knew exactly what to do, did it right and charged a fair price.

In my experience, indie shops are the best for everything. The WANT to do this line of work and they NEED to keep their customers happy and coming back  Thumbsup
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2018, 01:40:50 pm »






When I lived in Seattle, I went to independent shops for everything. My favorite was a guy who used to work at one of the BMW shops but then opened up his own. He knew exactly what to do, did it right and charged a fair price.

In my experience, indie shops are the best for everything. The WANT to do this line of work and they NEED to keep their customers happy and coming back  Thumbsup


Well damn

We agree on something  Lol
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2018, 02:16:52 pm »






When I lived in Seattle, I went to independent shops for everything. My favorite was a guy who used to work at one of the BMW shops but then opened up his own. He knew exactly what to do, did it right and charged a fair price.

In my experience, indie shops are the best for everything. The WANT to do this line of work and they NEED to keep their customers happy and coming back  Thumbsup


I am dead serious here Mrs DD. What is an "indie" shop?     And don't laugh at me, please.
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2018, 03:48:18 pm »




I am dead serious here Mrs DD. What is an "indie" shop?     And don't laugh at me, please.


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