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How do YOU use the Internet to facilitate Motorcycle Repairs

  • I don't, I take my bike to a shop for repairs.

    Votes: 2 4.5%
  • I seek help from knowledgeable guys on MC forums

    Votes: 25 56.8%
  • I only order parts using the web

    Votes: 9 20.5%
  • I research speciric problems looking for Silver Bullets

    Votes: 11 25.0%
  • I think most of the repair advice on the web is crap

    Votes: 3 6.8%
  • The web, and experts on forums, have helped me tremendously

    Votes: 30 68.2%

  • Total voters
    44
1 - 20 of 68 Posts

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My last adventure, "Vespacross America" ended in Woodward Oklahoma with a flat tire that could not be swapped out because of a "swingarm plate" containing the rear axle bearing that could NOT be removed because the "tech" at the previous shop apparently ran the axle nut on with an impact wrench, forcing the bearing up on to the flanged portion of the axle. Evidence of this "mis-repair" were that a breaker bar and cheater pipe were required to remove the axle nut, which, being a castled nut with cotter key, had NO NEED to be tightened down so forcefully.

Rather than risk destroying the bearing to remove it, or cutting it off with a Dremel, etc. the tire was plugged and I rode on, albeit much slower, to Dalhart Texas where a friend picked me up with a trailer.

So we start the story with me "home" in Albuquerque, with a brand new tire awaiting installation, awaiting removal of the swingarm plate / bearing by whatever means is necessary.

I'm not a beginner at this, nor was the tech at Covington Cycles in Woodward who attempted to remove the swingarm plate, using lightly tapping on the axle (shocking) while prying against the plate, PB Blaster, Spray freeze, everything BUT the die grinder / dremel.

So as per my usual repair technique, I start on the Internet by ordering whatever parts I suspect I might even POSSIBLY need so the bike doesn't "tie up a bay" for days or weeks while working on it. So in this case, a new rear bearing.

So I start on the Internet trying to find out what size rear bearing the Vespa GTS250 uses, so I can hunt one down locally OR order one from ScooterWest in San Diego, the only RELIABLE and KNOWLEDGEABLE source of parts I've found, (so far) for this Italian job. The guys at Covington WERE able to cross-reference the rear bearing to a Timken, BUT...there wasn't one in Woodward. (So I headed for Amarillo, next biggest town, on the plugged tire and iffy bearing)

So immediately upon searching on Vespa GTS250 rear bearing I find several posts on the Vespa forums about stuck rear bearings, anti-seize, AND a custom removal tool which ScooterWest sells for a mere $39. Apparently I'm far from alone in being unable to remove the swingarm plate.

So all day long on MC forum I see (primarily new) motorcycle owners asking for help in repairing (mostly used) motorcycles, which won't crank, won't start, etc.

Apparently turning to the Internet is now almost an ...expeccted step for many owners. This despite the often dreadful quality of advice one USUALLY gets from the Inner tubes.

JustAsk.com and other websites now allow auto owners to ask QUALIFIED, CERTIFIED techs repair questions for fees ranging from $29 and up. IS anyone aware of something similar for motorcycles?

The Internet is truly great for "Silver Bullet" type answers --- youknow where "almost every 1990-1996 Honda XYZ" has a voltage regulator problem.

As for TEACHING non-techs how to actually diagnose their bikes....I really wonder how useful it is. Yet they come hear hoping for magic answers, seldom providing sufficient information, or even undertanding the BASICS of electrical system electricity, fuel air and spark, etc.

I don't think the Internet is going away no matter HOW good or HOW BAD the advice passed out on Motorcycle repair.

So instead of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" it seems to have become "HTTP and the Learning of Motorcycle Repair"

Most frustrating, of course, is noobs who ask for help, receive several correct and valuable pointers, who then either fix or DONT fix their bikes, but never report back on the outcome, or offer any thanks for the advice given.

I also see many knowledgeable folks who will seldom or never tell a noob "Hey, go pay someone to diagnose/fix this for you." Instead they remain silent, knowing the noob is in completley over their head, and not wanting to get involved in a FUBAR situation. Can't blame them...including myself.

So how are YOU using the Internet to facilitate motorcycle repairs? Just ordering parts? Asking advice? Going to HD or Vespa or other mfr specific forums? Using Yelp or other sites to find out which dealers do decent work, and which ones jam an axle nut on with a powerful impact gun?

Midway Cycles in Madison, Alabama, btw. Installed a new rear tire before my trip.
 

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943 Posts
My father was a mechanic and I spent WAY too much time as conscript labour in his shop and learned far more than I ever wanted to know!

As a result, my standards are too high and I don't trust anyone else working on my vehicles unless I am watching over my shoulder and I seldom 'farm out' my work unless it is a job with special tools or that requires something like a hoist. When it comes to motorcycles, I simply don't trust ANYONE!

I often seek advice on The Net but, fortunately, I have enough knowledge to recognize competence from B.S., whether it is aircraft, steam engines, or motorcycles.
 

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Premium Member
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7,848 Posts
Repair

Wade, that is a quite clear and coherent post.
Some sites like the XS11 forum offer good advice on those bikes. They have helped me many times. They have cautioned about doing some things. All round good guys, good advice.
The tractor forum I frequent borders on being brilliant for information. They have manuals, diagrams tutorials and much more. Even an off topic and politics portion.
I agree with what you have said about some of the questions we get here. It is nearly impossible to answer some of them.

I often seek advice from many sources. I usually do not ask a question until, and unless I already know a lot about the subject.
I have been cautioned about messing with the middle gear drive on my XS11. It has bevel gears and a crush washer. I am friends with two guys on my Island who know how to set up bevel gears. I will rebuild the middle drive. Meanwhile I have a spare drive in place.

I have had two A170-40 solenoid relays fail on my XS11. would like to know why, but it could be they were both very old.

Unkle Crusty
 

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Registered
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3,162 Posts
You got me, Wade

I admit that I look at post count sometimes before helping out a newbie. I also look to see if they power post the same question all over the forum. I have no time for that nonsense. Recently, a guy did not know the proper position for ign."ON" and then got angry when it was pointed out. BTW, you and OEJ pointed that out and the guy left in a huff after just 2 posts. His loss.... http://www.motorcycleforum.com/showthread.php?p=1520258#post1520258

Lately, I have been posting some questions right on the search engine and let google find possible answers. Same with Honda part #s This forum often comes up, but with the older 70's bikes, a certain twins site often shows up as well. I lately tried [google] it with a rather obscure bike and it took me to a forum I never heard of and gave me something else to try.

I just might buy the zen book. I invite you to look at dansmc.com and check the repair manual. Pretty good basic stuff for the old Hondas because Dan did most of his work in that era. Dans and this forum is where most of my limited knowledge came from. That and stuff figured out in farm shops.

Don't feel put out if some newbie or OP is hopeless. Know that someone else might happen along and learn from the good advice given while reading the thread even if the attempt to help the OP "failed"
 

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Driftless Rider
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1,485 Posts
Advice on the internet comes with the same rules as advice from other sources.

#1 rule: Trust but verify

I am a member of a Jeep KJ forum that has many knowledgeable member's that are happy to help educate others. And I find that the more specific the forum, the better and more specific the information, generally.
The answers must come from a person that has earned trust and respect.
Basically, it comes down to getting to know the people that actually know what they purport to know, and that takes a bit of time.
 

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Member Map
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23,909 Posts
The internet is a great source of information, but also a great source of misinformation. Sorting it all out takes a good measure of common sense.

Giving repair advice can be tricky, not knowing all of the factors involved. I'd hate to recommend tearing a wiring harness apart when the only problem is a loose battery connection. The best advice is to double-check the easy and cheap stuff first and not to assume the problem is a complex one from the start.
 
C

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Guest
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I am unable to vote in this poll because for me it depends what the problem is if I do it myself or take it to a shop. Like one member posted, I do Google searches and get some info on what the problem may be, how I can fix it, or if I should try to fix it myself. I usually don't ask for repair advice on MC forums mainly because I get a bunch of different replies and not sure who's advice I should go with. However, sometimes I do ask for advice in MC forums and sort out all the replies and use my best judgment where I should go from there.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Another major use of the Internet in MC repairs

Finding and downloading wiring diagrams, and factory manuals for bikes is another major way I use the Internet to facilitate motorcycle repairs.

btw, here was what I found researching the Vespa rear bearing. I was just looking for the bearing size/# but found this great stuff.


Modern Vespa : GTS 250 Swingarm doesn't come off
modernvespa.com/forum/topic70029
Aug 4, 2010 - 32 posts - ‎15 authors
Mine certainly didn't. The wheel turns, and I can see the clear circle around the axle turn with it, but it just seems stuck to the center of the wheel.
GTS swing arm stuck 10 posts Mar 8, 2014
Removing rear wheel, suspension arm stuck. Help please. 8 posts Apr 30, 2011
Swingarm bolt removal 28 posts Sep 14, 2009
More results from modernvespa.com
 

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Registered
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753 Posts
I have rarely taken my bike or anything else to a shop. When I get stumped, I have turned to this forum and Shovelhead USA, for the answers I need.

Has it worked? Oh hell yes. But....I also have quite a bit of 'shade tree' experience. To me, that is the key. Experience learned over the years to avoid the pitfalls of bad advice.

Let's take an example. You want to knockout a bearing race. Being a newby you want to try it yourself. So you ask, how do I do it? The answers start to come in. Use a chisel. Use a steel drift. Use an old king pin. Then the proper answers start with a big NO!!!! Use a brass drift. Brass is softer and won't hurt the housing for the race.

The wrong answers were well intentioned, but wrong. Experience will tell you the proper course of action. So, the internet and forums have value. But you have to have a little bit of knowledge before you start.

Personally, I have only seen one or two examples of advice that I wouldn't use. But that's me. 99% of the time the members here are spot on with how to solve a problem.

And for that, I thank each and every one of you.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I think the inability to purchase QUALITY service, that is, fixed right the first time is a major problem for both auto AND motorcycle owners. And leads to a LOT more people working on their own bikes, or attempting to do so, with the "help" of the Internet.

Doubly so for those of us who REGULARLY purchase used vehicles, OUT of warranty.

I simply do not know how anyone can "survive" incompetent and/or unscrupulous mechanics, aka "techs" without either SOME knowledge of motorcycle repair OR a knowledgeable friend able to advise them WHEN a shop is clueless, has screwed up, is recommending expensive, unnecessary repairs, etc.

I've certainly had more than my share of simply BAD LUCK in dealing with shops. Maybe some of you have run into one after another fair, competent, hard working shops who get it right the first time, and charge REASONABLE prices.

Far too often the customer ends up paying for a shop's incompetence, hanging of unnecessary parts, etc. CAUSED by not having adequately trained, supervised employees. Guys doing electrical repair who haven't a clue how to voltage drop a misbehaving circuit, for instance. Guys who use impact wrenches when they should be using a torque wrench. The guys the author of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle maintenance talked about, who carelessly bust fins using a hammer instead of the RIGHT tool.

So many shops today fail even at the most basic REPAIR task, which is CONFIRMING the customer complaint, and CONFIRMING repairs made fixed the problem.

It's tiring, especially when you know how to do the work yourself, CORRECTLY, but aren't at home, are injured, don't have access to your tools or can't work on your own bike for whatever reason. And to add insult to injury get overcharged, paying the shop rate for a QUALIFIED tech, but getting one who's never done it before, has to research it, and then does it wrong. Or half-assed.

Certainly independent shops, not "kept afloat" by manufacturers paying for warranty claims at inflated rates, offer one alternative. Indies tend to succeed or fail pretty quickly. Yet even Indies, today, don't take advantage, not many of them at least, of the fantastic parts prices available on the web, BikeBandit.com, RockAuto.com, etc.

A well-equipped, warm garage to work in, along with a good friend who is VERY knowledgeable about motorcycle repairs, to me, seems about as good as it gets. And today, that also includes access to the web and all the resources available there, including Ebay for rare parts for vintage bikes, information, torque specs and wiring diagrams, silver bullets, and advice on forums.

It's a brave new day of Motorcycle Repair. Long live Robert Pirsig.
 

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Driftless Rider
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Wow, posts like that make me very happy to live where I do. I have seldom had a problem with finding competent repair facilities in my town, either for auto or cycle repair. Maybe the fabled "Midwest work ethic" is true after-all?

Granted I do all of my general maintenance items and many repair jobs by myself; but I do have a good, trusted places to take both my Jeep and Victory when it's above my knowledge/skills.

If I do have an issue with a repair, I can usually get it taken care of without further expense. If not, I take my business elsewhere.
 

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Dedication does not warrent internet use for your repair instructions. However to get instructions there are little other few places that a person might find the proper instructions for an aging mechanics ease of mind that tell you how to...

Suppose, you learned how to tune old diesles...

Then you find a watercooled V style motorcycle with everything...

Hey this ain't mcdonalds you know... and motorcycles that are water cooled are space age junk.

I would have to say that in todays world, without the internet, a good mechanic, is like a bad mechanic, and if you just jerked the internet out from under most modern day upstarts, they would fall right on their as**s.

It a long way to the ground if you fall on you ass.
 

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Gone.
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And often the complaint is really that the customer wants superb customer service and excellent technical expertise, but at an INEXPENSIVE price.

I can give you the first two, but not all three.
 

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Greatest Member Ever
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And often the complaint is really that the customer wants superb customer service and excellent technical expertise, but at an INEXPENSIVE price.

I can give you the first two, but not all three.
What Eye said^^^^^^

I use the internet every day to look up parts and wiring diagrams... but there's a side to the internet that some folks don't understand. No one has mentioned YELP. My shop has been "rated" or "reviewed" on Yelp many times. Most are favorable reviews... but there's always that one or two A-holes that come on Yelp and post complete lies cuz they're mad cuz you couldn't fix their crappy chinese moped for under $50. Every one of the negative reviews my shop has received I remember the customer. They wanted what they want, and they wanted it today, and they wanted it for a price that couldn't be done. When we couldn't do it, they took to a website and posted total lies and crap. Once it's out there, it can't be removed. Dodsfall said it well... there's plenty of great info out there, and there's plenty of bad info.

My solution? When I check my reviews on Yelp, I want to bump the bad ones way down... Cuz they are complete and utter lies. How do I do it? I tell a happy customer (who is thrilled that I did what the stealerships couldn't) to find us on Yelp and post a positive review... If they do, I'll give them a discount... call it PR, advertising expense or just damage control... But it works.... Hell, half of em bust out their smart phones and do it right there and then.

Yes... a wise persons learns how to use the internet to their advantage.

Jack
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
post total lies and crap
I'm not gonna refute this. When people are upset they tend to exxggerate, tell things in a purely one-sided fashion. But I will argue there tends to be a GRAIN of truth in what they say/post. Otherwise business owners could and WOULD sue them for libel.

Having written service (for Nissan) under a FANTASTIC mentor, I know exaclty how important SETTING EXPECTATIONS is. A lot of repair shops are clueless on setting expectations. YOu know, estimate hours/cost high, deliver ON budget or below. Don't hand them a $400 bill after you estimate $200, ever, NEVER. Only "go back to the well for more hours/$ once, not TWICE. Set expectations up front, or send them packing BEFORE digging into their vehicle. Or face the consequences on YELP.

I look at YELP from two angles. One as a YELP reviewer with nearly 100 reviews (54 marked as USEFUL) I try to be fair. I tell BOTH sides, I do not exaggerate, and I do not tell ANYTHING that is an outright llie or fabrication. Look at my reviews some time; I tend to put businesses in one of two categories, those that I feel deserve more business, and those who, IMHO, should be avoided at all costs. One star or five stars, with a number of 4-stars who tried, ALMOST got it right, etc. (My histogram is 33 5-star reviews, 24 1-star, and a handful 2-4)

Now as a consumer, I recognize EVERY business is going to run into some idiots who have unrealistic demands. Who take a single mistake or shortfall in service and turn it into a scathing review. No matter how great the business is. So I look at and IGNORE a small # of hate-filled reviews (which are usually laden with bad grammar, spelling, punctuation...)

What I look at on YELP is the "spread" or "Histogram" of reviews. If every single review is 5-star, chances are pretty good they're all FAKE reviews posted by friends of the owner, See "Trombinos" restaurant, lol. A lot of fives, a few fours a couple of angry rants, solid, good business. But if it's equal good and horrible reviews, that business has some serious problems.

So let me ask you. When I come in on a tow truck in the middle of the evening, flatted, show up at a shop the next morning, and the first two things the guy sez are "We don't work on scooters, " and "We don't fix (or plug) tires." and I'm 500 miles from home, what sort of review should I post, if the only "service" I get are use of their air hose and faucet? Doesn't the business owner DESERVE to know that's how a broken down traveler gets treated at HIS shop?

(Never mind that it was a bakery, not a motorcycle store ;)

In the end they helped me out, and I posted a very neutral review which will help neither other travelers nor the business owner.

YELP cuts both ways.
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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2,799 Posts
One of the most damaging concepts perpetrated on the American consumer is that "The Customer Is Always Right".

Simply put... "NO, they are NOT."

This belief just furthers the practice of no one accepting responsibility and feeds the entitlement attitude so many have and they DO take advantage of it. A friend of mine working in the returns dept. of a big box store has shared so many unbelievable stories of 'no questions asked returns' to make you sick. For example, buy a pair of shoes, wear them all summer and then bring 'em back expecting a full refund because they didn't fit right.

The stores practicing this philosophy to lure in more customers, do so by passing on the cost to all consumers and while it works in high volume markets, it sure takes a toll on the mom & pop businesses.

This unjustifiable attitude has bled over into the service industry as well, with spoiled customers holding unrealistic expectations.

Are there businesses offering lousy service? Sure.

Are there lousy customers? You bet your sweet bippy!
 

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Premium Member
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Faulty customers

There are faulty customers, especially with bike riders. And modern uneducated youth, may be adding to the count.
There are also some real swell folk about.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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There are faulty customers, especially with bike riders. And modern uneducated youth, may be adding to the count.
There are also some real swell folk about.

Unkle Crusty*
You are correct UC. I must hasten to add, having been self-employed for the better part of my life, that 99+% of my customers are really good people, but my line of work helps eliminate a lot of the less desirable customers. The tiny percent of not-so-good customers I simply choose not to work for.

A side benefit is having a good share of my customers also become friends.
 

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Gone.
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There are faulty customers, especially with bike riders. And modern uneducated youth, may be adding to the count.
There are also some real swell folk about.

Unkle Crusty*
Yeap. I've had to fire a customer or two in the past.

(Maybe that started them along the path to enlightenment. :biggrin:)
 

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American Legion Rider
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Nah, I'm sure they still think you are the worst wrench they've ever seen. Most are that way. It can never be them. EVER!:thumbsup:
 
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