Finding Another Mechanic – Barranquilla, Colombia


After the MotoSpeed misfire, that afternoon I’m buzzing around town to find someone else to help me.

– Replace CAM Chain Tensioner (The Honda KCY/KPF alternatives fail reliably at 5000Km)
– Replace Clutch Friction Disks (Since after BR319 it’s been slipping a bit on pull-off and a couple of times during overtaking. It’s got about 28000Km so it’s about time now)
– Change oil and oil filter
– Check primary oil filter debris and condition of CAM chain is ok
– Check and change spark plug – Replace rear tyre
– Clean fuel filter and carburator – Clean oil cistern and tubes
– Clean air filter

– White smoke emitting from exhaust during engine-brake deceleration
– Excessively high oil consumption for the last 5000Km

Honda SupertMoto Atlantico (Carrera 43/Calle 68) they quote me 160000.00COP but they don’t want me in the mechanic’s work room to watch. There’s a viewing room for customers but you cannot see anything clearly from here. The smoke/oil consumption is said to be probably valve seals or piston rings, but that would have to be established by opening the engine (additional 150000.00COP)

There’s a guy named Ney from Cycle World (Carrera 44/Calle 59) who is mentioned on and recommended by a friend of Emilse, the lady who lives at the house we’re staying at. He wants 250000.00COP (300000.00COP before negotiation), stating that his quality of work and tools are far superior to the rest and all the work can be observed.

While there I explain all my symptoms and he diagnoses the white smoke problem to be either piston rings and valve seals or, additionally, cylinder problems. He first quotes 400000.00COP to include that work, but comes down to 350000.00COP. However it’s up to me to get all the spare parts I need, which firstly we have not established with certainty and secondly, we don’t know whether are available in Barranquilla or Colombia. I tell Ney that his price is pretty steep, but he shrugs his shoulders and tells me that all other mechanics around here are cheap and accordingly crap, with crap tools to match, so I’m free to make my choice.

The following morning I’m out looking again. I have a mind to get Honda to do the work but I return to CycleWorld to see if they can help with getting a spare piston kit, which I cannot find available in Honda Colombia’s network and would take them at least 30 to 45 days to order in. They say to return in the afternoon so they can make some calls.

In the afternoon they don’t have an answer for me yet (i.e. they haven’t even made the call) and ask me to wait (while he goes around and jokes around with his colleagues). This is a strange phenomenon in South America and I don’t know whether it only happens to gringos, but people will tell you to wait and then go about other business, not at all related to what you are waiting for, and generally continue with nothing productive at all. As if I’ve got all the time in the world to wait for this fool to think about taking a promised action. It makes me really irate.

While I wait I go over to Rivera Motor’s which I notice across the road from Cycle World and I speak to a mechanic called Leonardo. He seems to be competent from what he says and he quotes me 250000.00 for all the work including the piston/cylinder diagnosis. He can’t help me with the spare parts though.

Soon enough Ney from Cycle World calls me over. It seems to be pretty disgusted that I’m speaking to the shop across the road and starts to bad-mouth them. Also, miraculously, now their contact in Cali has confirmed they have the exact piston kit in stock, but only a single one, and they can have it here in 2 days. Interesting that earlier he didn’t give a shit whether I worked with him or not and now he’s seems to care. I tell them I decided to work with Rivera Motor’s across the road, but I’ll buy the piston kit through them. Ney reminds me with a gesture that these mechanics and their tools are crap and walks off, shaking his head.

After much deliberation the other guy from Cycle World eventually gives me a contact number of the business in Cali whom he said had the piston kit I need. When I call though, the company tells me that they do not have this part. I try around at some other parts distributors in Cali and Medellin. There is one guy who says he has an original Honda XR400 piston kit for me. He quotes me 445000.00COP which is nearly double what the original NX4 kit costs. It transpires then, after further questioning, that he only has the original piston, but other alternative parts to make up the kit.

Getting these spares looks like it’s going to be a big mission! For the time being it looks like I need to get the diagnosis on the problem for a start, i.e. open up the engine and check, and then determine what spares I need and where I can get them. It’s a pain in the ass as I have to pay the labour twice, if I don’t want to have my bike lying around dismantled in a workshop for an indefinite period.

Ebru’s gonna love this!