Fortunately and unfortunately (though in my opinion, mostly the former), Việt Nam is a cash economy. Credit cards are virtually non-existent and if you (usually a foreigner) use one at a hotel or travel service—pretty much the only places you can use one—you will pay a 3-5% premium to cover the credit card company's fees. Most Vietnamese I know are challenged to come up with enough cash every month to pay for the basic necessities like shelter and food, so motorbike maintenance is low on the priority list. Add that to the fact that virtually no one tells them that the bikes need to be maintained beyond filling up the gas tank, so how would they know?
One Saturday last December, I did my every week or so check of tire pressures on my three bikes and found that two of six tires were low. Before putting away the TP gauge and compressor, I messaged my landlord, who lives nearby, and offered to check the tire pressure on her motorbike. She brought the bike over and we found that, in tires with a recommended pressure of 33 psi, she had 30 psi in the front and less than 10 in the rear (the gauge starts at 10 and didn't register at all). As I wrote before, low tire pressure can be very dangerous, so as I topped them off, I asked her to come by every week for me to check hers, too. She agreed and pointed out a small piece of metal in the rear tire, the cross-section of which was so small, I may have missed it while inspecting the tires for tread wear/depth, cuts, abrasions, etc. I suggested that she get the tire patched the next day and recommended where to go to get it patched from the inside. She agreed, thanked me, and left.
As a trainer for almost 20 years, I know the importance of following-up. Two days later I sent her a message asking how it went with the tire repair. The reply was that she was very busy and had not. One of the things I know from a full year of living here is that that most likely meant she might get to it on Sunday, her only day off... and this was Monday. Next thing I knew, I volunteered to trade scooters with her for a day so that I could get the tire repaired. She happily agreed.
The next morning I took the bike in for a tire patch...
|They patch the tire from the inside without taking the tire off the rim|
|ALWAYS patch a tubeless tire from the inside. |
It is a much better and safer repair than the quick-and-easy plug.
Instead of heading home after the tire repair, I rode to the repair shop that's recently done quite a bit of work on my Honda Steed.
When I returned the bike to my landlord that evening, I asked her, other than buying gas, what has she done to the motorbike since buying it a number of years ago...
- Plugged flat tires
- Changed the oil, though unsure when or how often
1. Damaged and Dead battery — Replaced
|A bulging battery casing... NOT good|
3. Front and rear sprockets worn down — Replaced, along with the chain
|Rear sprocket before (note sharp teeth)|
|Rear sprocket after|
|Front sprocket before. Note the caked dirt below the chain.|
|Clean front sprocket area|
|New front sprocket and chain|
|Yes, I actually weighed the final pile of dirt|
|Drain first, then put in new oil. Otherwise it's topping-off.|
|No detail too small...|
Think about your vehicle(s)... when was the last time you did the basic maintenance? Recently? Great! If you can't remember, consider having someone take a look at it this week—and following their recommendations.