Bad Mechanic Experience 1 – Barranquilla, Colombia

My primary destination is the moto district around Carrera 40 / Calle 45, where there are a number of mechanics, parts and accessories stores. After the nail-biting Venezuela experience of riding with problems*L and knowing there was no Honda representation in the country, I have a considerable list of things to sort out in Colombia.

– 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

I go to MotoSpeed (Carrera 40, Nr. 42-41; Tel:3721205, Cel:314-5829941 / 312-6154539;,, which my friend Garret has used before with satisfactory results. Also (which is very important to me) they will let you stand by and watch the work being done. I speak to Luis, the manager, about my problems and verify his inventory of parts to see what he can accommodate. He seems ok. I have the NX4 parts and service manuals on my laptop so I can verify exactly what parts I need, but he can check Honda’s national parts database to verify suitable alternatives for the standard NX4 parts he cannot provide.


We put together a parts and price list and agree on the cost of work, and to begin the next morning at 8AM.

The prices he quotes me are:
Clutch Friction Disks A – 30000.00 x 6
Clutch Friction Disk B – 34000.00
Oil Filter (Tornado250 Alt.) – 15000.00
Maintenance Work Labour – 140000.00

The rear tyre I get up the road, as well as the oil:
Pirelli MT90 120/90/17 – 180000.00
Motul 5100 SemiSynth Oil I buy two at 22000.00 per liter. (MotoSpeed wanted 30000 per litre)
Oil Filter and CAM Chain Tensioner I get at Honda directly (119200.00).

(We don’t discuss the smoke emission problem as yet.)

The next morning at 08:00 I rock up at the shop. Two mechanics there working on other bikes and the bored-looking lady behind the counter. I wait until 08:30. The boss (Luis) is not there but should arrive soon. So I go out to get some of the things we will need later today (the tyre and the oil). On my return he still isn’t there and by 09:30 I start asking questions to the lady behind the counter. She clearly doesn’t care about my problem. The mechanics are working on other bikes – including one that just rocked up in the morning while I was there and the amigo on it asked them to check something out. And the fact that I had an agreement with them and am about to spend 200 Dollars is insignificant. She refuses to call the boss saying he isn’t contactable.

I start getting stroppy with her because I’ve been waiting for two hours and nothing is happening – and moreover, she is being a lazy b***h! She addresses me with words to the effect of, “We are in Colombia, and in Colombia we all wait in line for our turn…”. — You have got to be kidding!!! (Aside from the obvious reasons that she is wrong, I know from experience that Colombians, most Latin Americans in fact, DO NOT wait in line for their turn on anything. If you wait in line you get overtaken and go home empty handed. LOL!)

I put on the pressure and complain vocally at her for her mistreatment, un-professionalism and lack of competence. (I have learnt that as a gringo in Latin America, if you don’t turn the heat at the perpetrators directly, you walk away and get torment for hours after by the fact that you’ve been screwed once again and you’ve just taken it up the arse, with no complaints.) I tell her they owe me 30 Dollars in food and lodging costs for wasting my time and I take my bike, my kit and ride off with a tyre around my waist like a hula hoop, looking for another mechanic.