Motorcycle Repair - Am I Being Ripped Off?


#1

I am a new motorcycle owner. I’ve had my motorcycle license for under 4 months. I have had my driver’s license for 25 years and learned on a stick. I recently bought a Honda Rebel (2009, 3500 mi). I took it into a shop to have them do an estimate on some cosmetic damage that was caused when someone knocked my parked bike over.

The shop called me to tell me the estimate was complete but that they test drove the bike and found that the clutch was shot. They said it needed to be completely repaired (to the tune of $700+, the bike only cost $2,500). My question is, am I being had? I have had my clutch go out in a Nissa Maxima and I know what that feels like. The car is very difficult to drive. When I rode my bike in for its estimate, I had no trouble at all. Neverttheless, being new to motorcycles, I accept that I might be missing something.

Is there any way that the clutch could have completely gone out without my having known and with my having been able to ride the bike just fine to the shop or am I being taken to the cleaners?


#2

If the bike rides/shifts fine, I wouldn’t worry about it. When the clutch goes, you’ll know it.


#3

Yeah, 3500 miles isn’t a lot unless the clutch was abused. Do the standard 60 mph, top gear, full-throttle test. If the clutch doesn’t slip, you’re good to go.

Edit: Make that 50 mph. I see it’s a 250 cc.


#4

Yes, it sounds like they’re trying to rip you off, and they might sabotage your clutch to make their point. Pay for the repair and don’t go back.

IMHO motorcycle repairs and maintenance are almost always a ripoff due to the fact that motorcycle mechanics often get paid less than car mechanics, but a motorcycle shop will charge you a higher rate for labor. A good motorcycle shop is so hard to find that I’ve learned how to fix and maintain my own motorcycles.


#5

Thanks, everyone. Texases, that’s what I figured. I’m new to bikes but I’m not an idiot and like i said, my clutch in my Maxima went bad and I knew it right away.

thanks, insightful. I’m not sure I know what ‘clutch slipping’ is but the point is, the bike rode fine as far as I could tell. In fact, the repair guy asked if I was having trouble getting into gear and I told him, no, that I rode it to the shop just fine.

Whitey, that’s what I planned to do. It sucks, I’m an attorney and I know that there’s nothing I can do about it. I have absolutely no concrete proof that they didn’t cause the problem, assuming there ever was one.

Just so people know, it’s Yamaha/Honda in Long Island City, New York. Don’t go there.


#6

“I’m not sure I know what ‘clutch slipping’ is…”

It’s real simple, if you wack the throttle open and feel and hear the engine rev up, but you don’t accelerate, that’s your clutch slipping.


#7

Ok. Got it. Thanks. That actually might have happened a few times. Would that mean the whole thing needs to be replaced?


#8

If your clutch has been slipping, then it either needs adjusting or replacement. I would think the owners manual would have a section on clutch adjustment. Here’s a youtube showing how the clutch is removed. It’s not major surgery, but I’d want to either know how to do it, or have somebody do it that does know.


#9

I expect when you pick up you motorcycle the clutch will be in the same condition as when you dropped it off. You have a right to a second opinion and time to give it some thought.

You’ve been advised that your clutch is in poor condition, you should give them the opportunity to demonstrate this before posting “Do not go there”.

I move to dismiss this case based on lack of evidence.


#10

Thanks, Nevada. I was not advised that the clutch was in poor condition. I was advised that it was in need of total replacement. I’m not really here to go into a back and forth. Just to get some info.

At any rate, maybe I shouldn’t have posted ‘don’t go there’. Maybe not. In addition to this business about the clutch needing to be completely replaced, there are other reasons that I certainly will not go back and why I would advise anyone not to.


#11

Well, if the clutch is slipping because it’s in poor condition, then the only solution is to replace it. The friction plates all need to be replaced in that case. So if it’s worn, what they told you is correct.


#12

It’s possible the clutch has problems which you have not noticed seeing as how you state that you’re new to the motorcycle world.

Without bike in hand I can’t say one way or the other if there’s any issues.
Also, the cost of a clutch repair cannot be compared to the cost of the bike. Bike repairs can get pricy.

Back in the late 70s I bought a new BMW and had a few incidents with it. I cringed a bit over the price of a new front rim, new front fender, and (1970s dollars here) those 40 dollars apiece spark plug wires which were damaged when the bike went down.
That BMW ended up getting VW plug wires instead…


#13

We’re talking about a motorcycle with a 234 cc engine and 3,500 miles on the odometer. What are the chances that the clutch failed with such low mileage and an engine with such low torque and HP? I think the chances are pretty remote.


#14

Thanks, everyone.


#15

In theory small displacement and low miles should not mean any clutch problems but that’s all dependent upon the person who owned it originally.

Some may remember the poster here some years ago who bought a brand new VW New Beetle and the clutch went out the day after purchase.
The lady had been teaching her daughter how to drive a manual transmission on the new car and the clutch was taken completely out that quick.


#16

The Rebel is a beginner bike, so a beginner previous owner could have fried the clutch in short order.


#17

You can’t pull a wheelie on a bike like that unless you dump the clutch.


#18

The only way that bike would need a clutch at 3500 miles would be if someone had severely abused it…These multi-disc wet clutches usually last forever…If the clutch is out of adjustment, that could cause it to slip. The first step is to make sure the clutch is properly adjusted…The next step would be to check with a Honda Motorcycle dealer or online as to the cost of a complete clutch rebuild kit…I’m guessing it’s a 2 hour job to change it…A skilled mechanic who has done it several times can probably do it in an hour…


#19

A young man I know (died at a young age due to stupidity not related to motorcycles) went through 3 small displacement bikes with the largest being 350 CCs.

He only knew 2 positions on the twist grip throttle; closed and WFO.

His dad was the manager of a motorcycle shop and evenings at home often led to cycle repairs in his garage.


#20

For all those who think 3500 miles is too soon to need clutch replacement, consider that the Honda Rebel was one of the top bikes at MSF training classes.


IF that was how the bike was used prior to OP acquiring it, it would’ve been driven at parking-lot speed by complete beginners, probably slipping the clutch for 50% of those miles (beginners can tend to use the clutch as a “throttle” for when idle speed seems too fast or scary).