Motorcycle Maintenance and some ZEN

I have been very fortunate with my Honda Varadero, the only repairs that I have had to do to the bike that were not a result of normal wear (i.e. brakes, chain etc) or accidents (rim and mirror) was my front shock seal that went after 77,000km while riding in Terra Del Fuego and back in May my rear taillight bulb burnt out.

Now that I am back in Canada, working and have some cash again I thought it was time to give the bike some much needed attention, starting with a long overdue oil change. Since I had recently moved to Sudbury, I took the Varadero into Northstar Recreation, the local Honda dealer, for an oil change and inspection.  I was embarrassed at the state of my oil, never had I let my bike go this long between oil changes, my only excuse was “too busy”.  The inspection done at Northstar revealed that my chain was in bad shape, again “too busy” to be oiling and tightening it properly. Being “too busy” was costing me some money now.

The people at Northstar Recreation in Sudbury were a great bunch. I got the usual excitement about my trip when I first arrived at their shop, especially from the sales guy Perry. Perry is a big Varadero fan and adventure rider, I think he now holds the record for the person who took the most photos of the stickers on my bike. The service guys were great as well, and my bike was secure in the shop without any wait. Repairs were done, on time and at the price I was quoted and everyone friendly and fun to talk to, a refreshing change to the usual customer service we get here in Canada. Then came the comments about my front rim.

I knew the front rim was in bad shape; after all it had been welded 3 times, that pothole in Colombia had done a real number on it.    I really did not want to change it, I felt it gave the bike special character, I was attached to it, but I also knew it was becoming unsafe. The mechanic at Northstar was not pushy about it, but he gave me his professional opinion which given his experience was hard to ignore. I don’t have issue with taking risks when it is just me riding, but recently a few people have wanted to go for rides with me and I would not risk the safety of others, so a new rim, brakes and rotors were ordered.

The day I went to pick my bike up was the day I was going on my Roadside Attraction Ride. Never a dull moment. I knew there was a problem when the owner of the shop came over to talk to me, this was supposed to be a regular service issue so there was no need to the owner to get involved. The owner, Dave, informed me that in the process of fixing my front rim that they cracked my oil pan, and that in 35 years of fixing motorcycles he had never had this happen! Why did I have to be the special one, I was packed and ready to do a 1,600km ride and now I had an oil leak?  Dave seemed genuinely concerned, wanted to make it right and seemed surprised when I did not get upset. Somehow I was going on that ride, a solution would need to be found ASAP and JB Weld was the solution, we were going to patch the oil pan and fix it properly after the weekend.  JB Weld held during my trip and the new front rim made the bike feel like new.

Northstar Recreation promised to “make things right” so I left the bike with them for a few days. When I picked it up today I discovered my bike had a new oil pan. Talk about making things right!!!  I spent a fair bit of time at Northstar the past couple of months and watched how they treat customers, they treat everyone special and with great respect.  I wish others in the service industry could spend some time at Northstar, things would be a lot less frustrating. I am leaving Sudbury this weekend and moving back to Toronto, but I just may make a 400km drive for my next oil change so that I can be treated like a customer.

After leaving Northstar I headed toward work and watched as my odometer turned 90,000km. Stopping to take a picture I had a good look at my bike, new front shocks, new rim and rotors, new front brakes, new chain and sprockets, new tires, tail light is bright, and now a new oil pan. The bike starts like it did on the day I bought it. I think I will keep it for another 90,000km.


Northstar Recreation  – Need service and want to be treated like a customer, go to NORTHSTAR.

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