Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hydraulic Clutches, Father-In-Laws, and FJ40's... Oh My!

Ineptitude is like
a Jar of Brake Fluid...
There are times in a person's life where they have to decide whether they are going to continue living by their own self-imposed ignorance or whether they are going to grab the bull by the horns and flip the system the bird! I found myself clutch-less recently after what was an otherwise lovely day of cycling along the St. Lawrence River with my buddy Steve. Fortunately I was merely a few blocks from home when this happened so pushing Serenity back, albeit embarrassing, was also not too taxing. Thinking the cable had snapped altogether (as was the case once upon a time with my Moto Guzzi Neveada - aka The Widow Maker!) I admittedly feel sheepish in saying that I completely forgot that the bike itself has a hydraulic clutch! A novelty for me really as I have never had one on a bike before. Had I known then what I now know I could have just solved my problem in less than ten minutes and ride her back home. Alas, live and learn is today's little lesson. Inevitably, Steve had a good laugh at my expense and in the end, I'll be sure to return the favor someday soon! ;-)

My realization about the hydraulic clutch only came to mind after I got the bike home. It was the day before I was due to collect Jennifer's parents up from the airport. So I didn't give the bike much more thought. I knew that if anybody would be able to teach me how to bleed my own hydraulic clutch it would be my father-in-law, Christopher. He is one of those men who come from a generation whereby he can create fire with nothing more than a tooth-pick and some sunlight. Seriously. He makes men of our generation look like really masculine and hairy girls in comparison. Think MacGyver mixed with Bob Vila! So it wasn't without a certain sense of shame that I broached the topic with him that I would require his help to get the clutch working again. Don't get me wrong, he certainly didn't make me feel like any less than a man by my asking. Rather, quite the contrary. He was all too happy (I think anyways) to lend a hand and impart his vast knowledge with me in some way or another. Like the Encyclopedias collecting dust on your shelves begging to be opened and read, I think he probably found it refreshing to be asked instead of my using Wikipedia.

"Watch Carefully Mario-Sun...."
I did actually buy a Haynes Manual for my bike, in case you were wondering. It arrived the day after my father-in-law had arrived. I did read the instructions as well and it does list this particular job as skill level three - recommended for experienced tinkerers in general. In fact, to listen to your average mechanic, you would expect this particular job to be rather dangerous even. I can see why, if done wrong you will end up brake-less and in the case of those motorcycles with Hydraulic clutches, clutch-less! However, somebody who has a sense of self-preservation and wants to live to ride another day will be able to do this easily. The steps are straightforward and easy to do and I can't say it any better than what is written in the Haynes Manual. Nevertheless, having someone as experienced as Chris there to lend a hand helped build my confidence immensely. 

Before I continue, keep in mind that I brought my motorcycle into Moto-Sport Newman on the South Shore for a FULL service this Spring and specifically asked for ALL Fluids to be changed. Back in April I had to bring my bike back to them because of a poor job done the first time around. I wrote about that via WTF? When Motorcycles Go Wrong! Again, I have found myself the victim of their ineptitude. Proof? A Picture is worth a thousand words!

This is suppose to be clear!!
This black liquid was thick, grimy and clogged. Not to mention that it was below the recommended limit. Whilst doing this I checked my brake fluid as well and though the back brake was fine, the front brake was not as bad per se, but clearly it also had not been changed for quite some time! So let's recap: Moto Sport Newman charged me $$$$'s despite the fact that
  1. They clearly didn't do everything I asked them to do despite charging me for everything! 
  2. They screwed up my carbs and did not do them properly the first time or the second time! Seafoam has been used extensively to help do what they couldn't!
  3. They put the WRONG brakes on the first time and when asked to replace them for the correct one's they charged me for them AGAIN! 
  4. They stated that the add on parts I brought to them (i.e. Wild One Chubby Bars, Jardine Backrest Extension, etc...) would never fit and tried to get me to buy from their own whole-sellers instead!
  5. Despite all the running lights working when I brought them the bike, they screwed them up and to this day I still can't get the running light & the left hand side blinker to work together! 
  6. Despite doing the owner of the shop a favor and working for him for three days at the Montreal Motorcycle Show I now know that he never kept his word and took $300.00 off of my bill. Instead, he padded the final bill and only pretended to remove the money. I know this because I have the original invoice. 
  7. Customer Service: The mechanics are nice enough as is the owner of the south shore shop but once the owner gets a hold of your bike and your money in typical salesman like persona he loses interest in serving you and I have literally found myself waiting like an idiot for a half hour just to be told in the end "oh, come back tomorrow to collect your bike".... 
  8. Despite going into the shop with two trinkets left on the bike by the previous owner these trinkets have surprisingly disappeared! (Both items are worthless but its the principle of the matter!!)
  9. etc...
Suffice it to say I highly recommend that you DO NOT bring your bike for any repairs and or servicing to Moto Sport Newman on the South Shore! We're talking about a place that, on both occasions when I went to pick up my bike it was still in pieces. The first time they drained the battery because the gasoline inside leaked out overnight (an oversight on their part which left me stranded on Decarie until I temporarily fixed the problem and rode the bike to their shop!) and the second time your guess is as good as mine?!? I DIGRESS.... (Note To Self- Take a Motorcycle Mechanics Course.... or better yet, move Jennifer's parents to Canada! sigh)

Serenity Bobbed Out!
I wasn't going to go as far as this but inevitably why should these little feckers be allowed to take advantage of hard working people who invest so much time and trouble in an otherwise very seasonal activity?! We literally count the seconds until the snow thaws and the bikes can be used again. To have what little motorcycle season lost in lieu of incompetent workmanship and over priced labor is just infuriating. However, I am not without the ability to take the positive away from this experience. As shown throughout the course of the last month or so I have literally transformed my bike on my own into something more me! As for bleeding my brakes and hydraulic clutch, again, Christopher proved to be indispensable. I bought the recommended DOT 4 Brake Fluid required to do the job. You will also need a jar or Tupperware container and a plastic hose with roughly a 4-6mm opening and an 8mm spanner to complete the job. We bled everything in less than thirty minutes and I learned an invaluable skill that will ensure many years of self-servicing... god, that sounded better in my head than on screen - but you know what I mean, hopefully! ;-)

Most importantly, however, I got to spend time with one of the last 'real' men in Western Society! If it wasn't for Moto-Sport Newman I would never have bothered to learn how to do everything that needed to be done myself and I would never have gotten to spend time and learn from my father-in-law who genuinely has so much to teach. Whilst here Chris and I also had the opportunity to go to Alexandria, Ontario. Chris and I had gone up for the day to purchase a new leatherette top for his Classic Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. It gave him and I a chance to just be boys as we drove along happily talking about everything motorcycle and FJ40 related. It also gave him the chance to see parts of Canada he didn't realize existed and an opportunity for me to re-discover my own country through his eyes. There is a silver lining to everything and I suppose if nothing else I should say thank you to Moto-Sport Newman for being so incompetent; but especially a big thank you to Chris for being, well, just the perfect father-in-law! Inevitably the best teachers aren't the guys you're paying but the people who volunteer their time and patience! :-)


  1. Up-Date:

    Having emailed Moto-Sport Newman on the South Shore the same day I posted this the owner called me on Monday morning. He actually apologized and offered me the opportunity to bring the bike back in if it still had difficulties.

    When I passed on this offer in light of having solved all of the difficulties myself, he than offered me the opportunity to bring the bike into his shop in future where he would do whatever was needed for FREE.

    Frank, the owner, was kind enough to recognize the error of his mechanics ways and stated he agreed 100% with everything that I had to say. No partial refund was offered of course, nor did I bother asking for one because it was never the point of all of this.

    I thanked Frank for his offer and we parted ways amicably. In short, at least the recognition was and is appreciated though as I said to Frank, if his mechanics didn't do the job right when they didn't even know me can you imagine what they would do to my bike now that I have pissed them off! lol... ;-)

    Live and Let Live.

  2. Hi Mario , hello everyone :)

    I also had a few bad experiences with Moto Sport Newman (both dealers) the South shore on Taschereau
    ( where I bought my bike) and the one on Pierrefonds Bvl in the West Island ...same owners

    The mechanics didn't do the job right and as a result of that I almost crashed my bike twice on my way home
    I assumed I was safe after they had done some repairs on my bike but was wrong and never been back there since...

    If I may recommend a good place ....I brought my bike in for service there a few times and had some repairs done this past March and the service was excellent...

    Action Motosport/ Agritex
    124 Joseph-Carrier
    Tel: 450-455-7353
    Exit Chemin St- Charles ( hudson ) from hwy 40 ....go straight at the lights ....it will be on the right across from the Volks Dealer

    Ask for Danis Charbonneau ..... ;)

    MC - Dragon Riders