Twice in a short duration, on two different bikes, dealing with road side mechanics a good 500+km’s apart has made me rethink about the importance of DIY and how I will have to carry all the required tools with me, all the time, irrespective of If I’m going on a small 300km’s ride or a 3,000km’s road trip.
It was in Jan’2012, when I was returning back from MMSC, I noticed the drive chain on the R15 has gone a bit too loose. As I wasn’t carrying any tools (normally I does, but this being a straight run on NH’s to and back, I decided to travel light), I decided to enter into the next town, Dharwad. Failed to spot any Yamaha service center, I gathered courage and pulled over at a clean looking road side auto garage.
To me, R15 has one of the most idiot-proof methods of setting the drive chain tension. The adjuster on both sides has nicely made sockets, which require one to select the correct one on both sides depending on the required tension in drive chain (that can be checked by hand).
After the “chotu ustad” was done setting the chain. I had a look at the adjustment and found them not to be matching. After I pointed out the same to “chotu ustad”, I was given a gyan on how he has verified and found that this is the correct setting. I request him to please set the same setting on both side but he assured me that this is the correct setting and I’ll be fine (Looks like here we have someone who knows better than the engineer’s working at Yamaha). With no option, I had to carry on. The end result was, by the time I reached home the chain was making very nicely uncomfortable noise, one that got fixed after visiting the YFS.
Karizma was involved in the next instance. After I was returning back from Mumbai, I noticed that the drive chain has become too tight, even though it was adjusted to correct setting in Mumbai. Again, with no tools at my disposal, I had to try my luck with another road side mechanic (Note to self, I’m very bad at gambling and should never try it :)) and I found one in Lonavala. With Karizma having a bit more conventional (though a bit less intuitive) way of setting the drive chain setting, I was a bit less worried.
After getting the chain setting done, in a couple of km’s I realized I have again got it messed up. By the time I limped back to home the chain was making even worse noise than what R15’s chain was making.
Twice bitten I’m going to be worried, very worried, next time I visit some unknown road side hack.
Now, the story doesn’t end here. It’s not that visiting an authorized service center will be a guarantee of getting the work done correctly. A couple of years back, a friend got his ZMA rebuild at a Hero Honda authorized service center. In a few minutes, after he picked his bike, I got a call from him asking for some reliable mechanic, as his chain is tightened to such an extent that it could break any moment.
Having tried and found a road side mechanic, near my home, we went to him and got the work done.
So, what’s the conclusion? I’m a back gambler and I’m not going to trust any random mechanic, road side or someone hired by authorized service center.
So, what’s the solution? DIY. Carry all the tools, all the time, needed to fix trivial things like adjusting drive chain tension and other stuff. If you are one of those who tour/travel a lot, it won’t be too long before you could be in a similar position.