Motorcycle Repair Prices

Young man holding tools and sitting on the floor of a repair shop next to a motorcycle

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Getting motorcycles repaired or serviced can be an expensive and sometimes traumatizing experience. For most riders without mechanical expertise, a dealership or a friend with know-how is the only option. But finding a dealer who can, or will, work on a classic can be difficult, and in some cases, they will charge a premium just because they have mechanics with the experience and knowledge to do so. So what is a fair price to pay for mechanical repairs and service?

Dealership Prices

When a new model is released, the manufacturers typically release to their dealer network, information about the average length of time it should take to accomplish basic repairs and service on that model, often referred to as standard times. These times are based on the manufacturer's experience within their fully equipped workshops, with all the necessary tools at hand, and highly experienced mechanics performing the work. Needless to say, the average dealership mechanic will be unable to match these times, at least not until he or she has gained experience doing the same job a number of times.

Most dealerships will employ an experienced service manager whose job it is to ensure a balance between profitability for the dealership and customers satisfaction. Often, this is a delicate balancing act.

Although the standard times for mechanical repairs and service are available for most jobs, these times will be changed if an owner has modified his machine, or if the bike is very rare and therefore valuable. Take, for example, an owner who wants a new rear tire fitted on his Honda Gold Wing. The standard time may be 1.2 hours. Therefore, the dealer will charge one hour and twelve minutes at his standard shop rate (sometimes the shop rate will be set by the importer). However, if the Gold Wing has additional items such as panniers and a tow bar for a trailer which have to be removed before the rear wheel can be taken off the bike, the cost may be considerably more.

Building Up a Relationship

Any classic owner who does not want, or does not have the necessary mechanical experience to perform work on his own machine must form a relationship with a dealer. Other owners of the same make will often recommend a dealer, and this advice should be followed.

It is good practice to visit a dealer or repair shop before work is needed to meet the service manager and discuss your future needs. Remember, however, that service managers tend to be very busy, so picking a quiet time is likely to be a good start in this relationship.

Saving Money on Service and Repair

Occasionally, an owner can save a little on service and repairs if he does some of the basic work first. In the example of the Honda Gold Wing above, if the owner had removed the panniers, etc. himself, the cost of the tire replacement would have been at the standard price. If the owner is an experienced mechanic, he could remove the wheel and take this to the dealer to have the tire only replaced. Most dealers will have a price for the wheel on the bike or off for tire replacement.

Another way to save money on service or repair is for the owner to remove items such as full fairings before taking the bike to a dealer. Obviously, the mechanic performing this part of the work must have the necessary tools and experience, and in some cases, the bike will need to be transported by trailer to the dealer as it is not road worthy without its fairing (no headlight or turn signals, for example).

The owner must check with the dealer before doing part of the work, as some dealers frown on this practice. There is an old saying among dealers, for good reason, that goes something like this: "It will cost you $100 if we do the job, $110 if you watch us doing it, $200 if you help, and your first born if you have already tried and failed."