Always assume some risk when leaving your dirt bike in the hands of a qualified mechanic. People make mistakes and sometimes people don't always have the best intentions.
The best mechanic rests with you. Learn as much about maintenance so the only person you can point fingers at when things go south during a ride is you. But sometimes, certain mechanical issues require hiring someone who works day in and day out on the inside and outside of a dirt bike.
Choose who you hire carefully to reduce and even eliminate problems later that require confrontation and/or knowing you got ripped off with little to no recourse. If you ride long enough and make friends with those in the riding community expect to hear some horror stories about this mechanic or that mechanic who clearly did not have the best intentions and took advantage of an unknowing consumer.
But also know you have an advantage in finding a reliable someone to help with solving a mechanical issue or installing a complicated upgrade.
Just look at any number of motorcycle and dirt bike message boards and you can find long strings of people ratting out, ranting about and looking for advice on how to handle a bad mechanic. In light of this thankfully not too common problem, but unfortunately one that too many riders encounter, we hope to perhaps dispel some myths as well as provide some advice on handling not only a bad maintenance job but a bad mechanic.
Steps to Finding (and Keeping) a Good Dirt Bike Mechanic
1. Find Someone Reputable in Your Area
Well duh. But sometimes, perhaps most of the time, we tend to find the cheapest solution to our dirt bike mechanical problem. Ask other riders and people at the track for recommendations on the local mechanic who has been in business for years and most everyone trusts. Word gets around quick, especially in our close knit community. If a mechanic develops a reputation for either not knowing how to repair problems or performing shoddy work, they don't last too long.
A good mechanic knows how to stay in business and that usually means through positive word of mouth because of their high quality craft and reasonable prices. If it makes you feel more comfortable, try testing the waters. Hire a mechanic to perform some general maintenance as a way to get to know them, their shop, pricing, and workmanship.
2. Misunderstandings Happen
You need a mechanic because you don't know how to fix a problem. If you simply leave your dirt bike at the shop with vague directions without passing on a clear understanding to the problem expect the mechanic to dive in and try to find a solution. That is why you sought the mechanic out in the first place and a reputable one wants to make you happy.
Be clear with the work you want done but don't leave until you fully understand what the mechanic has planned with your blessing.
3. Good Mechanics Make Recommendations
Dropping your dirt bike off for a clutch job may very well warrant a call a few hours later from the mechanic who found something else during the initial inspection. For example, you need a clutch kit because other worn components caused the clutch pack to wear out. The mechanic finds these problems and recommends the fix. Most mechanics don't like taking short cuts because it often comes back to haunt their business.
Recommending additional parts and work generally makes for a reputable mechanic but yes it also can make for a mechanic who likes to run up the bill with needless charges. A reputable mechanic finds problems before they become a problem and details the scope of the work. A shady mechanic who finds ways to tack on costs to the final bill also develops a reputation.
Solve this by returning to our original suggestion - find a reputable mechanic.
4. Don't Blame the Mechanic for Unrelated Problems
Human nature makes us blame others for our problems. If you left your dirt bike at a mechanic last week for a clutch job and experienced a flat tire or worn out brake pads on the next ride day, don't blame the mechanic. One has nothing to do with the other and things happen when you ride a dirt bike.
5. Use High Quality Parts
The fantastic Rekluse clutch you bought from MotoSport has all the parts you need to install on your dirt bike. The questionable kit bought on EBay that arrived from somewhere in Wuhan, China, not so much. Don't give your mechanic inferior products or parts that don't fit the make, model and year of your dirt bike to install. This puts the mechanic in a bind who may pass on the job or follow-up with a phone call explaining the need for additional parts leaving you thinking, "oh, here we go with running up the bill." The mechanic may also not guarantee the work if you insist on using inferior parts or a product not suited for your specific dirt bike.
Just don't get angry and bitter later because your dirt bike stalled halfway through a Moto.
6. Don't Shop by Price
Unfortunately, some mechanics know how to gouge the consumer especially riders who clearly have no idea how to perform most general maintenance and ride as a minor hobby or got into dirt bikes because of friends.
But you also don't want to go the cheapest route.
Price compare between different recommended shops you have researched and always ask other riders the generally accepted price for the work needed. Check internet reviews and see if any of the mechanics have developed a reputation for charging more than necessary.
Finally, a good mechanic hands over your dirt bike in better shape than when you dropped it off. A reputable mechanic incorporates good processes like following torque specs, using Loctite, anti-seize and a parts washer to clean parts removed to service other areas of the dirt bike.
Might we suggest, if you own a dirt bike, learn the basic maintenance functions like oil and filters, exhaust packing and coolant flushing. We see a top end in your future! Performing your own maintenance saves lots of time and money as well as the headache that comes with finding a mechanic and transporting your dirt bike to the shop.
How To Handle a Bad Dirt Bike Mechanic
You just might experience a bad mechanic from shoddy workmanship to an outright rip-off artist. Things happen and in the long run whatever feelings you have will dissipate and a blow up at the shop isn't worth it, therefore:
- Keep a level head
- Keep track of all work performed
- Try and look from the mechanic's perspective
If you indeed discover a mechanic carried out a bad job or you feel ripped off try reasoning with the mechanic and explain your side. But remember, if you insisted on work and rejected the mechanic's recommendations to address other issues you have no leg to stand on. This goes back to being clear with the work you want performed and understanding suggestions by the mechanic.
Otherwise, a good mechanic who wants to prove themselves should accept responsibility and make the necessary fix at a discounted rate or even free of charge depending on the issue. Sometimes, a mechanic simply overlooked a problem that resulted in the bike's poor performance later.
If you get the brush off and a mechanic who does not seem to care about their reputation or making you a long term customer then you have every right to let others know and find out if riders in your community have faced a similar situation.
You may be out a $100 or so but lesson learned and eventually the mechanic will be out a livelihood.