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Old 5th September 2018, 05:23   #1
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Wink Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

This is one of the more subjective areas of motorcycle ownership and since I like everyone else have my own reservations as far as motorcycle brand reliability goes I will take a conscious effort to not let my personal brand preferences dilute the topic at hand, though at times I would be quoting a few examples for the benefit of everyone.

The goal of this topic is to help motorcycle enthusiasts both present and potential candidates make better calculated choices as far as motorcycles go.

So first off, as far as my understanding goes the factors that result in determining reliability as experienced by myself and communicated by fellow enthusiasts are;

1. Issues faced in general.
2. Recurring issues.
3. Quality of A.S.S.
4. Spare availability.
5. Grievance redressal.
6. Spare Pricing v/s Quality conundrum.

Having listed out the major concerns we will go into each point in detail to figure out if the perceived issues are issues in the first place considering that like motorcycles motorcyclists also do come in all forms and factors with varying knowledge and opinions when it comes to motorcycle riding and maintenance. Hence, here we go!

Issues faced in general.

We’ve all experienced a hick-up once in a while, some of them are disconcerting and require attention whereas the majority of concerns are baseless and a result of our misinformation, so to clear those here are a few pointers, but before moving on to them you must realize that your motorcycle is a machine with numerous moving components that get affected by numerous factors internal and external, so a blip here and there like the below are no reason for panic;

a. Cold Starting: We’ve all heard tales of motorcycles starting in the first go but for the majority of us that is a hit and miss scenario, at times the motorcycle fires up in the first thumb/kick but at times it takes several turns to fire the motorcycle up, which is quite normal as a stock motorcycle is tuned to run fine within a ‘range’ of atmospheric conditions which as far as India Is concerned is a pretty wide one.

A few misconceptions surrounding this area is the use of the choke and kick-starter. You are expected to only use the choke sparingly due the chances of ‘bore wash’ happening, a scenario where a richer AF mixture can wash away the cylinder lubrication and result in premature wear and tear, so only use the Choke If the motorcycle is absolutely refusing to start otherwise. Concerns regarding battery load is pointless, because a motorcycle battery should ideally be replaced once every 3 years and within this service limit the battery would have no issues pulling several cranks of the starter before actually facing considerable drains, this has been confirmed with a multi-meter, plus it is common sense to load the battery in the convenience and safety of your garage than to end up stranded in less ideal situations.

Now comes the use of the kicks-starter, some motorcyclists believe that the first start of the day should be done only using the kick-starter, now this is absolute baseless. And as for a matter of fact the kick-starter is just a fail-safe on motorcycles with a self-starter, which is why it should only be used if the self-starter is unable to start the motorcycle, as otherwise it runs the risk of the kicker seal wearing down which makes a good percent of the having a self-starter in the first place pointless, then the next matter of concern is that kicker mechanisms on some modern motorcycles are not made to take on such daily abuse, so on these motorcycles it is just a matter of time before you break the kick-starter and run the risk of it not being functional when you might actually require it.

b. Engine Noise: Unless you hear anything ungodly there is no reason for panic, all components have a predetermined service life and clearance ‘ranges’, and as long as replacements and adjustments are made in a timely manner there is no reason to be alarmed over slight changes to engine note, that ideally you won’t even notice with a good helmet on.

c. Vibrations: Same follows, especially in the case of single cylinder motorcycles, even with counter-balancers being present. As long as all fasteners are periodically inspected and replaced as per recommended intervals all is fine.

d. Throttle response: Same thing, slight fluctuations are common and more prominent in the case of carburetted motorcycles, and for the record a stock carburettor on a stock motorcycle should not be fiddled with unless it is completely dismantled and overhauled as too much fiddling would cause premature wear. The idle speed should be adjusted when cold so that the rev’s doesn’t drop below the operating range of the auto-decompressor which ideally is below the 1.1k mark, when the temperature goes up it is fine for the idle to go up and in some occasions when extremely hot almost close to the 2k mark which again is normal and adjusting the idle speed on a very hot motorcycle would only result in idling issues when cold, so leave the idle screw alone. Plus it is common-sense to not let a motorcycle idle for long especially air-cooled motorcycles so its engines off when halting for extended periods.

e. Fuel Efficiency: As long as all consumables have been replaced in a timely manner the fuel efficiency of a motorcycle is dependent on the rider and riding conditions, and fiddling with the carburettor would only result in premature wear and component failure. So if you’re not satisfied with the fuel efficiency and there’s no smoke coming out of the tail pipe then most likely you chose the wrong motorcycle.

f. General Rattling: Again, unless you can hear it while riding with a good helmet on, it is best to ignore it, as panels tend to rattle eventually which is inevitable and measures such as double-sided taping, reassembling fairing etc. would only give you limited peace and is not worth the time, money or effort considering the whole scheme of things.

Now at times in spite of timely maintenance (provided that actually happens), there would still be issues, now these are things that require your undivided attention, if components fail within the warranty period then you can get them changed under warranty and if the motorcycle is out of warranty then better to go for a complete part replacement than make-shift overhauls as the latter is the prime cause for recurring issues. Now an untimely component failure is something that is exceptionally rare these days so if you do face anything it would be best to think back on what you might’ve missed which could’ve resulted in the failure than jumping the gun to blame the manufacturer, there are exceptions in this case as at times fault can be with the manufacturer and in which case you should reach out via the former channels to ensure redressal all the while ensuring that you maintain a record of all transactions, such issues usually show up within the warranty period especially if the product in question is new, which would ideally mean that the issue would be resolved with the least possible inconvenience to the rider.

All being said and done, do note that minor inconveniences would pop up on brand new motorcycles with odometer readings below the 10,000 km’s mark which actually is normal as most motorcycles being mass produced in India it takes some running for some parts to bed-in at times, so don’t be worried just because the motorcycles runs rough for the first couple of thousands, which in other words the technician politely tells you that issues would go away as you complete more services when in fact there is no magic going on during regular servicing other than consumables being inspected and replaced. And while we’re on consumables please be aware that certain consumables may give up any time without warning, hence better to carry spares even in spite of timely replacement, for components such as Control Cables etc, as such components would not be replaced under warranty for obvious reasons.

Recurring issues.

These without saying are the issues that frequently pop-up, they can be further drilled down to;

a. Issues caused by neglect: These are the issues caused by the riders neglect, either by ignoring to follow recommended service intervals clearly mentioned in the ownership manual or by blindly trusting someone else to carry them out for them. The engine oil and air filter is not the only thing that needs to be looked into, every individual component in your motorcycles has a recommended service life/limit after which it has to be replaced, so be proactive to ensure that your motorcycle is not plagued with such issues.

And just to note things have changed a lot in the past few decades in favour of reliability, hence when the service limit of a certain component is up, you are expected to replace the component in question than go for a make-shift tips and tricks that would end up causing more harm than good.

b. Issues that are not issues in the first place: The service life of certain components vary between motorcycles due to their respective configurations, state of tune and the riding conditions to which they are subjected to, which is why it is unfair to compare apples to oranges.

Meaning it is normal for a motorcycle with a single cylinder configuration running a higher compression say at around 12.6:1 to blow a couple of seals or require more frequent clearance adjustments than a lower displacement single cylinder configured motorcycle running a lower compression say 10.7:1, now I know what you might be thinking of next, so hold your horses, with a change in cylinder configuration the service life of components would also change, which is why a parallel twin with more displacement running a 11.5:1 compression would still be more reliable the aforementioned single running a 12.6:1 compression as in the case of the parallel twin, the per cylinder displacement is just half of that of the big displacement single cylinder motorcycle. And it has nothing to do with the big displacement single being made in India or the parallel twin being a CKD or CBU import. I did say from the beginning that I won’t be taking names, as the intention is to share information, not opinions, so go figure.

And if you’re still displeased with the motorcycle in question then the fact remains that you’ve made a less informed decision by choosing the wrong product, which again is your fault and not the manufacturers as all specifications were made available before purchase.

Quality of A.S.S.

There are two types of riders when it comes to this;

a. Those who care about their A.S.S.: Now these are the folks entirely depend on the Authorized Service Stations, which is ideally how it is supposed to be but given that we live in India, do your research before making the purchase as the quality of service stations are highly subjective to geographies and related factors and any unfortunate experiences could take the fun away from automotive ownership. Which is why it is always recommended to go through the ‘Owner’s Manual’ before operation to ensure that you stay better informed in the event that the worst might happen in which case most users simply blame the manufacturer rather than taking into consideration that they might’ve skipped due diligence on their part, which I again stress is due to us living in India, after all, it is always better to be safe than sorry. To make things easy you could just observe how a A.S.S services a motorcycle, whether they cut corners or use appropriate tools, my thumb rule is to ask the main service technician if they use a torque wrench, a feeler gauge or any such precision tools because if not then that would be the last of it.

b. Those who don’t care about their A.S.S: These are the people who do their own maintenance, you seldom hear complaints from these people and that too only when the A.S.S. in question fails to stock spares, which is something that would be addressed in detail in the next pointer.

Spare availability.

In an ideal world this is something that should not be an issue but as everyone would have realized by now we do not live in an idea world. Having said that some manufacturers offer better support as far as spares go compared to the rest but that doesn’t mean that you should not opt for a motorcycle from one manufacturer over the other because this is not a matter concerning the majority of owners, the ones who are affected are the high mileage users who require spares more frequently and in such cases it helps to opt for a manufacturer or product that has better spare availability because it makes sense. For the rest you may got for any motorcycle your heart desires and if you come across a scenario where there is shortage of parts make sure to put in an expedited order, which is something most owners are not aware of as per my understanding, because when it is placed you would be receiving the spare in question within a matter of days, some say that this is manufacturer dependent but personally I have placed expedited orders for parts from a couple of manufacturers and they all have sourced the said part within a matter of days or a week at best.

All manufacturers are liable to ensure that spares be available for a certain period of time even after a product has been discontinued and in almost all cases they do, it is the A.S.S. at times that becomes a hindrance, so next time they say that a spare is not available make sure to put in an expedited request and collect receipt after making an advance payment if required, and if you do not hear from them within the stipulated time, escalate! As there is no point in deeming a motorcycle or a manufacturer unreliable simply because of the shortcoming of one irresponsible A.S.S. know your rights and act on it making sure to document each and every transaction.

Grievance redressal.

In this day and age you might expect to be treated the way you think it would go about in your head, but as always that is not the case. As far as some manufacturers are concerned if the product sells then that’s where customer support ends, don’t trust me? Tell me about the last time you sent a query to a market leading manufacturer and got a reply? You did?

Good for you!

For me the experience was mixed, when it came to one Japanese manufacturer that has a reputation of making under tuned (Or as the Indian consumer understands: Reliable) motorcycles neither the official grievance page or contact number worked like literally! The number was non-existent and the link did not work and guess how we ensured they made good on their warranty terms for a product that was barely a few weeks old? We emailed a Japanese dude who ended up making the right calls to get us what was rightfully ours to begin with, the whole ordeal took over a week if I remember correctly.

But does that mean all Japanese brands treat customers alike? Well sadly going by the number of reported issues on the internet a majority seems to be doing so but with another Japanese manufacturer who makes budget friendly enthusiast oriented motorcycles the response was swift when the regional A.S.S messed with us by refusing to change consumables that were paid for, an email with pictures were enough for us to get a call from the A.S.S the very next day, same was the case with another indigenous manufacturer who sells re-branded variants of a Japanese manufacturer, within a day of sending an email I’d received a call and the A.S.S owned up to making a near fatal mistake while servicing my brand new motorcycle and rectified the issue shortly after, same was the case with 2 other indigenous manufacturers, swift response with confirmation call’s to see if the issue was resolved to my satisfaction or if the requested technical information was provided by the respective A.S.S within a matter of minutes.

So does that mean indigenous brands are better at grievance redressal compared to their Japanese counter parts? Well going by my experience and the number of instances I would have to say yes. But on this front it would be best to form your own opinion after doing your research by collecting information from reliable sources, Team-Bhp ownership forums being an example over other loosely moderated forums but then technical know-how of the user in question might vary so do proceed with a pinch of salt.

Spare Pricing v/s Quality conundrum.

Now this is the really misguided part about first time motorcycle ownership and this doesn’t usually end with the first motorcycle because I have close friendly who are motorcycle enthusiasts who still believe that paying more gets you better stuff which may be true when it comes to a lot of things but is not always true when it comes to motorcycle parts mostly the cycle part, mechanicals and some consumables because a bush is a bush and a bearing is a bearing and guess what most likely they are manufactured by the same O.E.M supplier and this is something that I am not making up, I have worked on two motorcycles one from an indigenous manufacturer and one from a Japanese manufacturer and have observed that a good percent of the spares were manufactured by the same O.E.M, you could have a closer look at your carburettor or crankshaft or cylinder kit to confirm that.

This might not always be the case but when you’ve ridden a motorcycle over a period of time you might encounter scenarios where you’d have to source spares from another manufacturers A.S.S due to various reasons and that is when you realize the impact a brand image has on pricing, and I say this because I’ve bought the exact same spare made by the same O.E.M and paid ten times more the price at one manufacturers A.S.S compared to another which was no big deal as the article in question was small to begin with and it wasn’t a problem considering the urgency of the spare but in hindsight it does make you think, doesn’t it?

Now this is right about the time when those still reading would be ready to shoot comparisons of how X manufacturers consumables last more than Y manufacturers consumables well this is true but the reason behind it is not that you get better quality stuff because you paid more but it is due to the fact that state of tune and motorcycle design plays an important part here and as I’ve already gone in to the technical aspects I will just add a basic metric for comparison; Tire Wear, you may have used the same tires on two different motorcycles with similar engine configuration and observed that one eats them up whereas on the other they age gracefully, this is what state of tune does and just like how the aggressively tuned motorcycle eats up tires it would eat up all other consumables as well so it is not a matter of price v/s quality but rather that of state of tune.

So all being said and done let’s explore how subjectivity has a play in a motorcycles reliability, for which we would have to differentiate the type of users;

a. High mileage user who is attached to his motorcycle:
For this user what matters most is minimal downtime and reasonable pricing, minimal downtime because he can’t stand being without a motorcycle for long and reasonable pricing because his spare consumption turnover is high and the real cost of ownership only shows up when you’ll be swapping more than just consumables which is expected of this user as he is attached to his machine, which would be evident from the several lakh’s on his odometer.

b. Low mileage user who is attached to his motorcycle:
These are the kind of riders who’ve been riding the same motorcycle for decades without considering a change due to emotional attachment and because of considerably lower odometer readings they would not be fazed by the likes of spare pricing and downtime but what they would in turn lean towards is how well they (more than their motorcycles) are handled by the A.S.S.

c. High mileage user who is NOT attached to his motorcycle:
These are the users who do not bother much about long term ownership because it is very unlikely that they would keep their motorcycles past the honeymoon period (ideally 30 ~ 50k km’s) for these owners what matters most is resale value of their motorcycles and depending on the km’s used they expect to get a guaranteed amount when going for the next motorcycle of their choice, which makes sense as a decent resale for your current motorcycle would mean that you’d be spending less that the total amount involved In its long term ownership compared to paying the premium involved in getting a new machine that would run maintenance free for another 30 ~ 50k km’s before the cycle repeats.

d. Low mileage user who is NOT attached to his motorcycle:
Now this is the type of user who would get a motorcycle and keep swapping just for the heck of it, this person has no clue regarding ownership costs and consumable replacement intervals, at times even resale value doesn’t matter but what does matter is the perceived value of the motorcycle in question meaning if the average Tom, Dick or Harry find it appealing then that is where all further logic ends. Most of time you find a low mileage premium motorcycle on OLX then you should be thanking this guy.

Having listed out all factors involved in a motorcycles perceived reliability in as much detail as I possibly could I hope all upcoming and existing motorcyclists would keep an open and educated mind when going for a motorcycle, having even listed the type of owners out there now I hope potential motorcyclist would not go about seeking advice from just about anyone because you might be in it for the long haul whereas your advisor might unfortunately be someone who rides for the bling factor and after the honeymoon period things can start to get weary if you’re riding the wrong motorcycle and trust me when I say that irrespective of public perception, brand image or other insignificant criterion's, riding the right motorcycle for you makes all the difference.

Happy Riding
A.P.

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 5th September 2018 at 05:30.
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Old 5th September 2018, 14:43   #2
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Default re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

Thanks for the thread ashwinprakas. One major pain point that I have faced owing a big bike(which has been updated for the umpteenth time and is 7 years old) is the lacklustre attitude of the A.S.S when i take the bike for a routine service. There is nothing done excerpt for the customary oil change and wash even when I have reported small niggles when giving the bike for service. The bike is returned with the same niggles and absolutely nothing done to address it, and of course a hefty bill to add insult to injury.
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Old 5th September 2018, 15:56   #3
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Default re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

Dear ashwinprakas,

I'll share you my opinion regarding motorcycle reliability. This is based on the 3 year, 30,000 km of ownership of a RE Thunderbird which is now in a poor state for the last 2 years. What I have noticed in general there are three main areas from which the problems related to unreliability can originate.
  • Design
    • Bikes, in general are made with cheaper quality parts compared to cars. Especially Indian manufactured bikes.
    • Things like exposed cables, wires and terminals without weather sealing
    • Nooks and crannies like the cooling fins surrounding the spark plug, area under the seat which generally houses the battery, cut out in engine side cover, area under speedometer
  • Environment
    • Dust, moisture, rain
    • Mud, and grit from the roads
    • Poor standards of cleanliness in workshops (roadside ones specially)
  • Maintenance
    • Open parking
    • Skipping on minor things which do not feel important (chain tensioning and cleaning, worn out drum brake shoes, sticky cables, cracked wires/leads,
    • Not cleaning the bike after it gets dirty or wet
    • Not being thorough with cleaning. Cleaning a car is easier due to large body panels which look clean very quickly whereas on a bike you need to get into every little crevice which is very tedious and less rewarding.

Some of my comments on issues faced in general.
a. Cold Starting: when was the last time the guy checked for cracks or leak in the spark plug cables? When was the last time the spark plugs or the carburetor were cleaned? When was the last time fuses or battery terminals which are located under the seat checked or cleaned? When was the drain hole around the spark plug de-choked.

b. Engine Noise: In general bikes are noisy but sometimes they feel smooth and sometimes they feel running strained. Engine noise also has a similar connundrum. Daily users who are observant can spot this and can relate it with their driving style, fuel level in tank (which has a damping effect on NVH) etc. and others won't notice anything amiss.

c. Vibrations: I've seen many times the vibrations coming from loose or extended parts such as exhaust heat shield, shaking of speedometer even when all bolts are tight, shaking of number plate holder, loose panels, missing rubber dampeners in critical areas (engine fins, under the seat, under the fuel tank, rattling from internals of locks, even key-chains.

d. Throttle response: This comes from the fact that the cables for throttle/clutch/brakes are all exposed to the elements, dust or rain whatever. Secondly because of skipping cleaning of carburetors and the throttle body mechanism. Thirdly, and most importantly due to not changing the fuel filter EVER.

e. Fuel Efficiency: The only thing I can comment here is to check the condition of the clutch and the driving style. Clutch, because I have personally experienced a jump in FE after clutch replacement. Driving style, because most two wheelers are marketed with 60+ kmpl but people can never replicate the test conditions in which those figures were achieved.

f. General Rattling: This is a design issue mainly because when you are generally not going to be able to hear anything which is not louder than the wind noise filtering through your helmet, why bother on improving NVH levels on a 2-wheeler.

I would classify myself as a high mileage user who is attached to his motorcycle until it left him stranded. Though taking a break from motorcycling I definitely am wiser in terms of what I need in my next bike and in terms of maintaining it better.
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Old 6th September 2018, 01:22   #4
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Default re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

I am using a CBR250R from the last 7 years and here are my 2 cents on how I have kept my bike in top shape despite not being very gentle while riding:
1. No matter what the emergency could be, when I start the bike, especially in the morning or when the engine is below normal operating temperature, I have always and always made it a point to let the engine come to a stable RPM atleast and controlled myself from hard acceleration till I see the three temperature bars.
2. My CBR technician is my best friend. He knows my bike inside out. He has seen it through its worst and most tortured rides and has always brought it back to life. Even though his service center was a good one and half to two hour ride from my house, I never went to anyone else. Lucky for me now, he’s moved closer to my work place.
3. Some may call it OCD but I do not let any little dirt or scratch on my bike stay. Except during the monsoons, you will always find my bike gleaming and this is with the original factory paint. The tank still shines like when I first saw her. And this is only because I am careful with what touches my tank. I get a good detailing done every 6 months now although initial years were all just DIYs.
4. Any small noise and I am off to my trusted technician. I do not procrastinate when it comes to my bike.
5. I avoid others riding my bike as much as I can not because I don’t trust them but because I know they won’t love my bike as much as I do and hence can’t take care of it the way I do.

To this day, after 7 years, I would still go on the most treacherous of rides with my CBR in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t think twice if it can do it or not because I know it can. I’ve never been gentle with the throttle but she really loves it that way. :P

Last edited by saishivaj : 6th September 2018 at 01:27. Reason: Grammar
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Old 6th September 2018, 04:05   #5
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Default re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo18 View Post
Thanks for the thread ashwinprakas. One major pain point that I have faced owing a big bike(which has been updated for the umpteenth time and is 7 years old) is the lacklustre attitude of the A.S.S when i take the bike for a routine service. There is nothing done excerpt for the customary oil change and wash even when I have reported small niggles when giving the bike for service. The bike is returned with the same niggles and absolutely nothing done to address it, and of course a hefty bill to add insult to injury.
A big bike or a premium motorcycle is a lifestyle product in itself and like any prominent lifestyle product comes with its own accompanying resources be it dedicated forum's, aftermarket workshop manuals etc., so if I were you I would simply start working on my own motorcycle, quite contrary to common belief a big motorcycle is a lot easier to work on for beginners due to various materials available whereas in the case of indigenous small motorcycles every time you have to work on it you'll have to do hours of research and practically reinvent the wheel in your head before going ahead with the work at hand due to lack of resources.

Start with procuring a workshop manual, rather than the OEM one I've seen experienced motorcyclists recommend Hanes manuals, do give them a shot and also invest in proper tools, thumb rule is to always get 6 point sockets and precision tools also not to forget sourcing an impact driver, the rest would be a walk in the park and the money saved henceforth would be more than enough to recover the deficit created by the A.S.S's exorbitant service bill's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
Dear ashwinprakas,

I'll share you my opinion regarding motorcycle reliability. This is based on the 3 year, 30,000 km of ownership of a RE Thunderbird which is now in a poor state for the last 2 years. What I have noticed in general there are three main areas from which the problems related to unreliability can originate.

I would classify myself as a high mileage user who is attached to his motorcycle until it left him stranded. Though taking a break from motorcycling I definitely am wiser in terms of what I need in my next bike and in terms of maintaining it better.
That is very unfortunate as 30k km's is very low mileage and practically within the warranty range, please share more details of the issues faced so that with the help of experienced members on this forum we could work something out.

As for reliability of the said motorcycle, RE's have a standing reputation for producing motorcycles with below optimum material integrity, but for some reason owner's only get infuriated on concerns regarding paint schemes which is something I honestly do not understand.

As for washing, motorcycles are not mean't to be washed unless it is time for an evasive service because unless water finds its way into the least accessible nooks, settles there and starts shorting or corroding stuff. Here's my experience of pressure washing my CT100B for the first time Bajaj CT100B - Utilitarianism Redefined!

Plus as disgusting as it might seem the dirt and grim adds an extra layer of protection from external factors.

As for changing consumables, stick with service intervals like when you change the sparkplug at strict 10k intervals you get to also see and feel the condition of the distributor cap and cable and determine whether to go in for a replacement or not, thumb rule is to change as much spares as you can while still in the comfort of your garage.

And it would always be best to work on your own motorcycle if intending to so long hauls, reason being no matter how good a mechanic is he might not know your motorcycle as well as you do, and as for the above mentioned case of the distributor cap, he/she would just change the sparkplug and leave it at that, but if you were to be the one working on the motorcycle then you will take the time to carefully inspect every bit before going back on the road.

And since the Royal Enfield is also a life style product you would get a lot of information and support regarding DIY maintenance so I would urge you give that a shot before calling it quits for good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saishivaj View Post
5. I avoid others riding my bike as much as I can not because I don’t trust them but because I know they won’t love my bike as much as I do and hence can’t take care of it the way I do.
Same pinch! Most people think I'm selfish for me not sharing my motorcycles but then again most people have never held a spanner in their life neither have they invested time on working on their motorcycles, hence I pity their ignorance and move on.

Plus on a different note Indian's in general don't know how to ride or drive, they have a preset notion of riding in high gear at low speeds and do not shift according to load and requirement which might not be an issue on their machines they use to do grocery runs but it definitely has an adverse impact on my machine that I mostly use and rely on to cross state borders.

Quote:
To this day, after 7 years, I would still go on the most treacherous of rides with my CBR in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t think twice if it can do it or not because I know it can. I’ve never been gentle with the throttle but she really loves it that way. :P
Though I might never own a CBR simply because of the potential downtime for my type of use I still have to say that it is a machine on its own level, both the 150 and 250, the front heavy weight distribution and distinct way both motors are tuned really is commendable, though fact is that most CBR owners have not extracted the best out of their CBR's because they perform the best closer to peak power, you get to feel the single cylinder oomph only at those RPM's and I doubt most conservative owners would ever attempt that due to the misconception from playing too much drag races on NFS and believing that the engine might just explode when in fact modern engines are both idiot and enthusiast proof to a greater extent.

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 6th September 2018 at 04:12.
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Old 6th September 2018, 13:31   #6
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashwinprakas View Post
That is very unfortunate
I bought the bike used at 27,000 km. Its had 2 previous owners. RE warranty is 12,000 km. Work done on the bike:
  • Engine mount stud replaced
  • bend removal from frame
  • chain and sprocket set replaced
  • carb diaphragm replaced
  • disc brake master cyclinder replaced twice
  • clutch replaced
  • clutch cable replaced twice
  • seat replaced since it rusted out
  • lock set replaced twice
  • speedometer replaced
  • neutral indicator switch replaced
  • gear shifter o-ring replaced twice
  • rear tail lamp harness replaced twice
  • rear shocks replaced
  • starter overhaul once then gave up
  • swing arm bush twice
  • spark plug lead and connectors
  • front shock seals replaced twice
  • exhaust pipe gasket
  • rocker cover gasket
  • miscellaneous rubber bits and bungs which service centers do not feel the need to put back on the bike
  • unreliability related to wiring cannot even be mentioned here

The bike has done 61,000 km in total. Currently down due to electrical issues.
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Old 6th September 2018, 16:17   #7
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
I bought the bike used at 27,000 km. Its had 2 previous owners. RE warranty is 12,000 km. Work done on the bike.

The bike has done 61,000 km in total. Currently down due to electrical issues.
That is unfortunate, for the rest of the motorcycles it is around 30~50k depending on manufacturer. I previously remember hearing that RE has also changed their warranty policy but if you say otherwise then I'll go with your word. Either way 30k km's is still new, but at 61k you would definitely have to replace a lot of consumables which is normal, my opinions given below;
  • Engine mount stud replaced

    Good call, these should be periodically replaced, on regular motorcycles they are changed at around the 50k mark, might be sooner for RE's considering the vibrations.
  • bend removal from frame

    Not a recommended course of action, if chassis has taken a hit, then better to replace than fix, an undetected undulation is enough to result in fatalities on panic braking same goes for impact on riders body and joints, if there is even a slight misalignment then that could cause your hip to slip or misalign which is something I have personal experience with and was nearly bedridden for over a month. After all this there is the concern of material integrity.
  • chain and sprocket set replaced

    Can be purchased directly from OEM which would be cheaper than sourcing via RE.
  • carb diaphragm replaced

    Not worth the effort, get the right size carburetor from Bajaj A.S.S, brand new one costs around 2.5k, sizes available are 24mm, 26mm, 28mm, 29mm, and 32mm
  • disc brake master cyclinder replaced twice

    This is a common spare, if you're not satisfied with what RE is offering then go to a Bajaj A.S.S and get a master cylinder of your choice the one for the P220 costs about 400/-
  • clutch replaced

    Periodic wear and tear, the more the motorcycle makes, the sooner the clutch would have to be replaced.
  • clutch cable replaced twice

    Thumb rule is to change control cables once every 10k km's or every year to ensure that things go smooth, if RE is overcharging for the cables then you could simply swap the inner cable along with that of a Bajaj RE clutch cable inner, OEM one including the lock costs about 60/- and it easier to adjust than the conventional cable.
  • seat replaced since it rusted out

    Custom fabricate to your taste, would also last longer than OEM.
  • lock set replaced twice

    Next time source directly from OEM, would be cheaper than sourcing via RE, BTW you are lucky, on my co-riders new Bullet 500 the lock set broke and the key almost flew away if it weren't for the tethered key-chain, this happened while we were riding the GQ circuit, the RE faced many issues whereas my CT100B was touch-wood, goes to show a lot about per component build quality as the Bullet 500 and CT100B both were ridden at similar speeds for extended periods during the sub 8k km's run.
  • speedometer replaced

    If this is recurring then you could try speedometers from other manufacturers, the CT100B's speedometer doesn't come with a fuel guage just like the RE's and is cable driven, plus it is cheaper in comparison. Or you could build you own one as I've seen an enthusiast do using Mahindra/Ambassador spares as each unit i.e speed, oil pressure, amp's etc can be individually sourced.
  • neutral indicator switch replaced

    Happens, but not a matter of concern as functionality is not affected much considering that shift patter remains at 1N2.
  • gear shifter o-ring replaced twice

    Something that needs to be periodically replaced depending on the motorcycle in question, but if they're giving up sooner than expected then doubt either shabby installation or compression leaking into the crank case, a compression test would give you a better idea.
  • rear tail lamp harness replaced twice

    Fabricate and Replace with non OEM components, motorcycles like the CT100B comes with independent harnesses that do not sit inside panels.
  • rear shocks replaced

    Quite normal, I expect to replace mine at 50k intervals or sooner if an issue is noted with rear tire wear pattern. Plus shocks are common accessories so you could approach Bajaj, last time I checked a pair costs around the 2k mark.
  • starter overhaul once then gave up

    Carbon bush is something that would require periodical changes, I've heard RE people say that the ones from Bajaj Pulsar's are a direct fit and cheaper in comparison.
  • swing arm bush twice

    Quite normal, for the CT100B I keep a mental note to change it at 25k intervals, for the P220 I'll wait till 50k as it comes with roller needle bearings instead of the conventional bush.
  • spark plug lead and connectors

    Consumables that are to be periodically replaced, if you don't find the quality or pricing adequate you could always get spares from Bajaj A.S.S
  • front shock seals replaced twice

    Quite normal, I replace my P220's seals and coneset once every 15km's, ensures they don't leak mid ride
  • exhaust pipe gasket


  • rocker cover gasket

    Put in a new gasket and use Anabond to coat the gasket before fixing, its a one time fix, but yeah not a matter of concern my P220's head cover casket is a goner for the past 20k km's and I'm just too lazy to change it, oil loss is present but not a matter of concern and I maintain strict 2k interval drain cycles.
  • miscellaneous rubber bits and bungs which service centers do not feel the need to put back on the bike

    Happens to all of us, hence why it is best to work on your own motorcycle than waste time and money at the A.S.S
  • unreliability related to wiring cannot even be mentioned here

    RE's being rudimentary motorcycles you could either redo the wiring yourself or invest in a new harness to resolve all issues once and for all.

I'm not at all brand conscious and all I care for is covering the maximum km's reliably with the least possible impact on finances, which is a philosophy many find hard to digest, hence I apologize in advance if you find my spare alternative's offensive by any means.

Cheers;
A.P.
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Old 18th September 2018, 23:06   #8
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

Great thread!

Another important thing that that adds to the reliability is the after sales service since a motorbike is not a home appliance! I've seen lots of great bikes being ruined due to bad A.S.S. Honda is a classic example of notorious service and Bajaj/Hero is known to have a great A.S.S

(Alos we need to have a survey about the reliability of bike brands in another thread)
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Old 19th September 2018, 15:48   #9
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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Originally Posted by saishivaj View Post
To this day, after 7 years, I would still go on the most treacherous of rides with my CBR in a heartbeat. I wouldnít think twice if it can do it or not because I know it can. Iíve never been gentle with the throttle but she really loves it that way. :P
What is the ODO reading now after 7 years?
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Old 19th September 2018, 15:59   #10
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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What is the ODO reading now after 7 years?
Itís currently reaching 70,000 km. I know thatís not much but various reasons for it:
1. I didnít use the bike for two years and half because I was out of country.
2. I need to use our other vehicles as well since no one else is around to use them.

But I am sure I have never babied my CBR.
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Old 20th September 2018, 02:27   #11
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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Another important thing that that adds to the reliability is the after sales service since a motorbike is not a home appliance! I've seen lots of great bikes being ruined due to bad A.S.S. Honda is a classic example of notorious service and Bajaj/Hero is known to have a great A.S.S
True to the dot. A.S.S Plays an important role in how consumers in a market like India consider a piece of technology reliable or not.

What I've seen and observed so far is that the entire population is not equipped to handle automobiles on a daily basis, might sound preposterous but almost anyone I know who is Non-Indian and rides a motorcycle knows his/her way around a motorcycle and seldom depend on the A.S.S whereas in India a consumer gets a motorcycle mostly for the wrong reasons and ends up wholly depending on the A.S.S and this is something even companies are aware of, which is why if you compare the Indian version of the instructions manual of any international motorcycle you'll see that they're all made for the sake of it, recently what I've noticed is that even the bare essentials i.e valve clearances etc. are not even mentioned of in the owner's manual which creates a sort of salient dependence at a psychological level if you ask me, and if that's not all then if you compare the owner's manual of any millennial Honda you'll also notice that many longevity tips have been completely skipped i.e use of choke, warm-up time, recovering from flooded carburetor and the likes. But the exploitation didn't end there it went on a bit further taking a more sinister route i.e extended drain intervals, which defeats all logic but as far as the regular consumer is concerned is fine as the same was suggested by the manufacturer.

To sum it up, motorcycling has become a sad affair in our country with consumer preferences leaning more towards form than function.

Just to compare, here's an inside shot of the Kawasaki motor currently available on the CT100B;

Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room-whatsapp-image-20180914-16.41.20.jpeg

You would notice that the centrifugal filter is humongous, almost as big as the clutch, as this engine was developed back in the day with developing markets in mind the designers had considered that the motor's would be worked to death with minimal to nil maintenance, hence they build it in such a way that come Armageddon the motor would still be running, compare this with any modern engine and you'll see how design ideology has shifted more from actual market requirements to profit turnover, which again is why I believe to be a reason why the modern generation is not as much attached to their motorcycles as they do not see any substantial reason to invest emotions into a machine that was not built to withstand the test of time.

Now add lack of properly regulated A.S.S support to the above equation and its madness!

Quote:
(Alos we need to have a survey about the reliability of bike brands in another thread)
You could try that but as experience has proven when it comes to sales figures of manufacturers such as Honda and Royal Enfield, I doubt you would be able to come to a honest conclusion from the polls, as just recently I've had a friend tell me that he didn't like X manufacturer because they didn't offer him tea when he went to test ride their motorcycle and he ended up going for Y manufacturer because the staff was pleasant and they offered him tea and the likes, which in short means that the showroom experience was determinant in him choosing a motorcycle which doesn't make sense to someone like me because I see this situation the same as my mom wanting to go to X hotel due to better ambiance in spite of Y hotel serving better food, what confuses me is that the sole purpose of going to a hotel is to have good and reliable food rather than pay a premium for below par food served under soothing lighting.

But hey! I might be wrong or there might be something wrong with the way my though processes go about. So guess all we can do is observe and see where things go.

Last edited by ashwinprakas : 20th September 2018 at 02:35.
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Old 21st September 2018, 11:13   #12
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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Originally Posted by ashwinprakas View Post
... recently what I've noticed is that even the bare essentials i.e valve clearances etc. are not even mentioned of in the owner's manual which creates a sort of salient dependence at a psychological level if you ask me, and if that's not all then if you compare the owner's manual of any millennial Honda you'll also notice that many longevity tips have been completely skipped i.e use of choke, warm-up time, recovering from flooded carburetor and the likes. But the exploitation didn't end there it went on a bit further taking a more sinister route i.e extended drain intervals, which defeats all logic but as far as the regular consumer is concerned is fine as the same was suggested by the manufacturer.

.....

@aswinprakas

Great thread, this is a much needed perspective to bike ownership.


I 100% agree with you, and this is not just restricted to automotive sector - lack of data, and misguidance extends to many other sectors/products (including appliances).


Just for my own knowledge I'd like to know what the best practices are with regard to the points that you mentioned, i.e use of choke, warm-up time, and drain intervals (I ride a 2017 TVS victor). Since the manual cannot be relied upon are there any other sources that one can refer?
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Old 21st September 2018, 11:42   #13
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Default Re: Motorcycle Reliability - The elephant in the room

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Originally Posted by Neo18 View Post
Thanks for the thread ashwinprakas. One major pain point that I have faced owing a big bike(which has been updated for the umpteenth time and is 7 years old) is the lacklustre attitude of the A.S.S when i take the bike for a routine service. There is nothing done excerpt for the customary oil change and wash even when I have reported small niggles when giving the bike for service. The bike is returned with the same niggles and absolutely nothing done to address it, and of course a hefty bill to add insult to injury.
IMO, these issues have a direct relation with the attitude of the company and the commercial terms the company has with the dealer. When a company does not give adequate profit margin for the new bikes as well as the spares, when the company does not send the spares timely, when the company does not provide adequate training to the mechanics at the dealership, we see such issues.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
Bikes, in general are made with cheaper quality parts compared to cars. Especially Indian manufactured bikes.
Absolutely agree with this, based on my experience with my gearless scooters and the motorcycles of my friends and relatives.

TVS Jupiter seems to be an exception, based on my observation.
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