I have delayed posting for over a week to make sure my perspective is clear… I ordered and had new tires installed on my bike at Extreme Powersports in Fredericksburg, VA. Be careful with service!
BOTTOM LINE: Turns out, the mechanic simply put the front wheel back on WRONG! I can’t believe the shop 1. even did this and 2. let a bike leave the shop in this condition and 3. refused to consider repairs!!
Here’s the story if you’re interested in the play-by-play.
I simply took bike in for new rubber, front and rear. Little higher price than Coleman Powersports but wanted to support a smaller, local company. I am pretty knowledgeable working on cars but never really did maintenance on motorcycles so I wanted to have a shop do the job right. This is my first bike in 15 years and I was excited to get back riding.
New tires were installed in one day which was nice. I was called and told the job was done but they had found one bolt partially stripped to which I asked if it should be replaced. I was excited to get back riding but not at the expense of safety. I was told no, that it was “fine for now”. When I picked the bike up, the front brake felt tight but figured everything was tightened up from re-attaching. Passed state inspection on the way home and parked for a few days due to rain and personal things. When I finally rode to work and was parking, I heard scraping up front and saw grooves in one of the brake rotors. Upon inspection I saw the outside of the right caliper body was pressed directly against the rotor carving it out. I called Extreme describing the problem then took the bike in on lunch break to show them the situation. Here’s when the disappointing stuff starts.
I was told the bike was just “old” and these things wear out and it was definitely because of the stripped bolt and also the calipers should be rebuilt too and it would all be done in a couple days. They even started to create a work order while I was talking to them. Well, it didn’t mesh, I knew it didn’t go in like that (I rode in the neighborhood for weeks prior) and after spending over $400 on 2 new tires and installation by them, I was not about to just leave the bike in their hands without finding out exactly what was going on. I do not think they intentionally did this to get me back in, just inept work and a disconnect between the shop and the sales counter.
My neighbor had recently taken apart 2 bikes to upgrade his current ride from the parts, so he is very familiar with bikes. He came over to look at my bike when I got home. He immediately saw the grooved rotor damage, caliper pressing against the rotor, a washer was missing, some of the axle appeared newly exposed and the right fork obviously out of alignment. I drove my truck back to Extreme and explained what had been found. I was informed THEY had a “certified mechanic” telling me what was wrong and my neighbor wasn’t. I was told that the problem/damage was because of the stripped bolt which they were “trying to save me a couple bucks” by not replacing it, and from worn out calipers and the bike is just old and needed more work. Compromising safety isn’t worth saving a couple bucks which is why I asked about replacement when it came up but was told it wasn’t needed at the time! Turns out, the bolt had nothing to do with the problem and the calipers are fine. They just kept giving me excuse after excuse. Finally I asked straight out if they were interested in fixing the damage. I got an “absolutely not” and the last thing I saw was their back as they abruptly walked away. Conversation was apparently over….
I don’t know how bikes go together and I wasn’t going to tackle something this critical on a whim. Well, the next day I was cleaning the garage and the neighbor came by and offered to take a closer look at the front end. He examined everything already mentioned and said it should be taken apart to see the whole picture and accurately tell if a fix was possible. Nothing going on so I said sure and he started talking ME through removal of the front wheel to inspect the components, patiently explaining how things worked along the way! 30 minutes later, everything is back together the RIGHT way and I’m back on the road and now know how the front end of a motorcycle works, yay!
I will just summarize the findings:
- Angled fork jumped almost exactly in to place once the compression thingy at the bottom was loosened.
- Nut on left holding on axle was spinning loose after cotter pin was removed (I was told this was a serious problem)
- Turns out, the bolt isn’t stripped at all, the caliper housing is!! (I figured this out on my own…without a motorcycle certification…)
- Re-installed wheel, tightened axle bolt hard, re-inserted cotter pin, tightened compression thingy after confirming caliper alignment. ALL IS WELL!!
- Caliper bolt will hold only without lock washer apparently removed at shop. Talking with neighbor about either “tapping” this or putting some kind of “threaded sleeve” in but I will be paying him to do that job!
Well, the wheel and fork are back on straight, caliper is correctly aligned, components are properly tightened and, thankfully, rotor is slowly smoothing over. I am once again enjoying being on 2 wheels! I can smile at the safe, simple outcome of this potentially deadly problem if the caliper had locked on the rotor or something!! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.