Sunday, 23 November 2008

Finding a Good Bike Mechanic

Part of the joy of owning a bike is being able to understand how it works, and be able to fix it when it goes wrong.

There's a lot more to looking after a bike than there is a car. Every week the chain needs to be tested - too loose and it could come off, too tight and it could snap. Both options end in a horrible mess.

It needs to be kept lubricated (much easier with a ScottOiler). If you plan to carry a pillion, everything needs adjusting to the extra weight. Tyre's need to be inflated properly at all times. Brakes need to be able to stop in time. Rust can be a pain (and it shows more than a car!).

If like me you're not yet confident enough to carry out the more complicated tasks, you need to be able to find a good garage that can do it for you.

Bad Experience

Just before moving down to university in London, I made sure everything on my bike was in top condition. After all, I'd be riding 100 or more miles in one trip, every week now.

Everything was fine until 2 days before I was due to leave. Then my back brake started playing up. With my usual garage unable to find space, I had to use someone else.

I took it to the only place I could find that had time to look at it and fix it. They told me the brake disc needed changing - but when I asked about the pads, I was told they should last another 6 months at the very least.

I paid up and had to work done. Everything was fine until about two weeks ago when I noticed a sound coming from the back wheel.

It turns out my pads have worn through, right to the metal, and have been rubbing on the new disc. I now need not only new pads, but new seals and another new brake disc - just two months after it was done.

Trust the Professional

I know if I'd known enough about my bike to understand what was going wrong then there would have been a chance this wouldn't have happened.

I am learning, but only as things come up that need to be looked at. My mistake was to trust the guy who seemed to know much more than me: and after all, he did work on bikes for a living.

The total cost to me for having a new disc, pads and seals was £205. I had to get it fixed while down in London, as by the time I realised what was happening, the back brake had become dangerous to use, and certainly not up to a 100 mile trip.

When I had my new brake disc fitted the first time around, it cost me around £100. As a student, I can tell you that £100 goes a long way. That's about two months of food shopping, with change to spare!

Good Garages

This time however, I made sure the garage I went to had a good reputation. I took it to Grays Moto Bikes in Harrow: not the closest garage to where I am living but the one I felt most confident going to.

I also looked into ways to tell what kind of a reputation motorbike garages around you have. I found a website that allows you to search for garages that have signed up to a code of practice - hopefully meaning they are more trustworthy.

The best way to find a good garage is by word of mouth. When I first moved down to London and didn't know any bikers, I headed to the Ace Cafe one day on a ride out and asked around. The garage I took my bike to was one of the ones mentioned.

1 comment:

fasthair said...

Ms. Fylix: Since I am in the business of auto repair I can hear your pain. Glad to hear you found a place that is honest and that you can trust. You did the right thing by going with recommendations of fellow riders. That is how I get all my new customers.

A bit of advice if I may. Buy a service manual for your motorcycle. Sure you may not be able to do a lot of the work but you will gain an understanding of how your bike works. Then you will able to tell if someone is filling you full of bull or not. Plus you may find out you can fix more on your bike then you though.

I'm enjoying your blog. It's fun to watch a new rider discover all of the things that is motorcycling.