Finding the Parts – Barranquilla, Colombia


Route Cartagena, Colombia – Barranquilla, Colombia (90A)
Distance 123Km
Travel Time 2 hours
Road Conditions Great tarmac
Weather Hot, windy
Terrain Hilly, dry coastline
Food and Petrol Frequent
Accommodation Friends in Barranquilla

We take the bike to Cartagena for the weekend. It’s 244Km return. I check oil regularly to maintain the level within the dipstick lines, but it’s clear oil is burning up even faster than before. The clutch is still slipping, which it shouldn’t be by now.

On Monday we return to the Honda shop to check that out, as well as to chase up on the spare parts.

Andres the manager is not there as expected, so we get on with the clutch check – it should be working fine now now, after a good run-in of about 250Km.

The mechanic opens it up, he points out the oil level is very low. He checks the clutch and diagnoses the clutch springs to be out of serviceable measure. They are 44mm long and the minimum length is 44.7mm – I ask him to show me and I see he is right. I can accept this diagnosis as I know the clutch is old and I’ve had these springs stretched in Bolivia. The problem is they don’t have replacement springs here in Barranquilla, so they suggest installing small 2mm metal washers underneath them to virtually extend them and increase the pressure in the clutch centre. It costs me 10000.00COP.

Barranquilla police showing each other affection ;)…

This does not solve the problem either, so he opens it up again. His new diagnosis is that the friction disks – the new disks I bought here and had them install 244Km ago – are no good because their surfaces have crystallized due to heat exposure…. because of riding with a lack of oil. The suggested solution of course is that I buy a new set of friction disks!!!

BULLSHIT! For a start, I asked the mechanic to check everything according to service manual last time and he said there was no problem, I even questioned specifically about the state of the springs. The old friction disks I had had been exposed to low oil levels several times – the most notable being our stint between Presidente Figuereido and Boa Vista, where I ran for some time below the minimum oil level indicator; and those disks lasted about 30000Km. There’s no way these new ones are damaged due to that. And secondly, before our ride to Cartagena, the mechanic, just having changed the oil on the machine, recommended (in writing) I check the oil level every 500Km. I rode 244Km, checking the oil level every 100Km or less, seeing that there was sufficient oil. I even took photographs! The last time I added 200ml oil at 122Km in Cartagena before my return, seeing the level was low, but still within the dipstick lines. If I had followed his advice to the letter it would have resulted supposedly in a greater disaster!

(This is the problem with not being allowed to be present when and where the mechanic is working on your bike. Of course they’ll tell you what you want to hear, but you cannot see whether they’ve taken any measurements at all nor checked the service manual or anything. You just have to take their word.)


Horacio, the workshop manager, is a greasy character and does everything possible to avoid talking to me. Eventually I have to lose my temper with him so that he will stand still and give me five minutes of his time. I tell him I don’t accept the answers they have given me for the reasons above, and the disks more likely were faulty. They have a responsibility to replace them under warranty. As luck has it, the manager Andres walks in at this time. After Horacio checks with him, he confirms that they will get the disks replaced for me from the factory – but of course there is a delivery time. This leaves us with more spares problems.


Andres seems to be the man we have to talk to if want to get anything moving along around here. We find that, this week Andres is a bit difficult to pin down, but by mid-week we manage to grab him for an hour and talk about our case. We highlight some of the problems we’ve had (1. Poor communications from their side; 2. Spares availability and reliability; 3. Mechanic’s quality of work) and, understanding that our case is unusual for them, we would like his help to ensure we get what we need as soon as possible.


He promises us he will get in touch with his contacts to try and find us the parts and use emergency dispatch to get them delivered.

This leaves us with not much more to do than wait. But of course, having a bit of experience with the “Latino Way”, we make sure we chase up on a daily basis to ensure our faces and our requests are not forgotten. This turns out to be problematic in itself because the store manager is hardly ever there when he says he will be, and we do a lot of waiting and running around for nothing. – But at least this keeps Ebru ‘occupied’ in some way.


The waiting is agonizing, but we try to pass the time as best we can, finding some forms of enjoyment along the way. And what better form of enjoyment can there be than food and drink? We cook meals with Garret’s and Brenda, go out to the local corner tiendas for cold beers at night, and have a couple of good BBQs. Since we have the time and facilities on our hands, we make a big batch of the all-important travellers chilli sauce.

Garrett shedding a tear over the hot stuff…

Finally Andres confirms he has tracked us down all the parts we need they should all be at his branch in Barranquilla in a few days as they are on emergency dispatch! GREAT NEWS!!! Thanks Andres!