How much do bike repairs cost abroad? If you’re one of those wonderfully talented, mechanically-minded people, you’ll do your own repairs on the road, and your only worry will be sourcing parts. But if you’re severely mechanically dyslexic, like me, you’re going to have to rely on motorcycle mechanics while traveling. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: local bike shops usually have some amazing people who will not only fix your bike but also recommend some cool off-road tracks in the area. It is, however, more expensive than doing your own work. But how much more expensive?
After heavy rally abuse this summer, I recently had to have a bunch of things done on my DR650. An oil change, new front sprocket and chain, new front sprocket seal, new front turn signals, fixed gear shift lever, air filter and oil filter clean, a valve adjustment, a carb clean, and new spark plugs in Sarajevo, Bosnia, cost me 250 euros (about $277) – that’s including everything, parts, and labor. In Peru, that’s roughly how much I paid for a general check-up, new clutch plates, oil change and filter clean, and shock adjustment.
I’m sure the bills would be much higher within the EU or the US; even then, though, bike repairs can be manageable if:
- You take local advice. Befriend local riders and ask them to recommend or show you their favorite garages. Chances are, as a traveler, you may get a bit of a discount.
- Buy your own parts. That way, there’s no workshop or dealership mark-up and you only pay for the labor.
- Do your research. Get to know your bike a little; even if you don’t know how to fix it, you should at least have a general feeling of what’s wrong with it, so you only pay for the repair of the problem rather than a generic once-over.
- Choose local garages instead of dealerships. I’ll never forget going to the official BMW dealership in Lima, Peru, with a friend who needed some repairs on his GS1200. The place was shiny, we got free lattes, and it felt like hanging out in a business class airport lounge. However, unless you’ve got a brand new bike full of electronics that require a computer to detect or fix problems, and unless it’s a warranty thing, you don’t always have to go to official dealerships, especially if it’s something simple like an air filter change. Any knowledgeable mechanic will be able to help, and usually, for a much smaller price. Unless you want those free lattes, of course.