Monday, March 15, 2010

A dilemma

Recently I had occasion to be thankful to an honest workman when my Washer/Dryer broke down and the engineer, who stood to gain a couple of hundred pounds in repair bill, looked at it and gave me the opinion that if it was his he wouldn't bother repairing it but instead would just buy a new one as it was near the end of its (ludicrously short) working life.  So he gained nothing from it, because I took his advice.

Today I met another honest man.

Stevie Brierton is a motorcycle mechanic who has a workshop in the east end of Glasgow, not too far from Celtic Park, where Glasgow Celtic play football (that's soccer to our far flung cousins!) and he was recommended to me by a work colleague as being a good mechanic, and a nice guy.

My bike, my lovely thirteen year old BMW R1100RT with almost 68,000 miles on the clock, is well overdue a service.  In fact to my shame it's been about two years since it was serviced, which is a bad thing.  Recently, after the spell of bad weather over Christmas and New Year when it sat on the roadside gathering dirt, dampness, and God alone knows what, the clutch started sluipping and the revs seemed to stay too high, failing to drop when I closed the throttle, so it was clearly time to get it looked at.

I rang the local BMW dealer for a quote.  Certainly sir, they replied, and proceeded to quote me the thick end of £500 just for the service, before they even looked at the clutch or revs.  Ouch.

So I contacted Stevie.  Certainly sir, he said, for that service it'll be £200 +vat including parts (including vat that's about £235) but he recommended taking it in so he can assess what's wrong with the clutch and therefore how much it'd be likely to cost before he embarked on doing anything else to it.

So that's where I went this evening, feeling much better after having 48 hours of a stomach bug, the symptoms of which I won't horrify you with, and having been forced to leave work at lunchtime after managing to keep down my food for almost a full 15 minutes!

Stevie came outside to look at it, fiddled about underneath, checked the play on the clutch lever, and gave me the bad news.


Yes, that's right, about £1000 to get a replacement clutch, as he in fact had suspected when I described the symptoms to him on the phone.  On top of this there would be the £235 for the service, and he noticed that both tyres will need replacing very soon, so that'd be the thick end of another £200.

Since I don't have £1000 to spare I now have a choice.  Well, two choices.  I can sell the bike, or I can put it away off the road somewhere until such times as I feel I can spare the repair money.

The bike cost me about £3500 three years ago, but that was a private sale from a work colleague and I'm not really sure how much it'd be worth now.  Stevie thinks that since BMW is a popular type of bike I'd have a queue of enthusiasts wanting to buy it if I advertised it, so they could do the work themselves rather than take it to a garage.  He thinks in fact I should get about £2000 for it.

Or I could keep it until I can afford to fix the clutch, and anything else that goes wrong with it while it lies in a garage.


Not sure.

Anyone reading this fancy a lovely 1997 BMW R1100RT, 68,000 miles, ABS, Radio Cassette, Electric Windscreen, Autocom, full BMW Luggage (panniers and topbox), two tyres on the borderline for needing replaced, needs a service, clutch slipping slightly?

What should I do?


  1. Depends how much you love it. I'd keep it off the road until you could afford the repairs. That way you still have it. Just think how gutted you'll feel selling it knowing that someone will fix it and have a fabulous machine. My advice is based on you not being totally dependent on some form of motorised transport.

    P.S. Just think,if you extend your Lenten privations you might save up the money in no time.

  2. You're a bright guy - get yourself a workshop manual and the parts and fix it yourself - I promise you these things are often not as hard as they seem and even if you need to hire a special tool for the weekend it will be worth it. Just take your time and get some advice from some of the excellent owners forums on tinterweb!

  3. What brilliant advice!!!

    Mind you if you're like me I can't change a light bulb without fusing the whole street.

    But enough of me. Keep the beautiful machine

  4. I'd pop over and give you a hand but Ryanair won't let me take my toolbox as hand luggage!!

  5. Gents, I think I've made my decision, and you're all correct, I'm going to keep it. Like you Barry, I don't do DIY, so I'm still going to have to get someone to fix it for me, but I think it's going to stay!

  6. Ping me an email, I had the clutch swapped on my R1100RS a couple of years ago for a lot lot less than the quote you were given.