Have you ever wondered what goes on in the workshop of a motorcycle main dealer? It can be a fascinating world of technical diagnostics and fault finding but, like every job, there is also a repetitive aspect where you end up doing the same sort of work every day. However, when you are working on a motorbike even the most basic tasks are a joy to do! Mitch, the diagnostic technician at Honda Of Bournemouth tells us about a typical day in a professional workshop.
My day at work usually starts about 8am. The showroom and service departments don’t open until 8.30am but we need to push all of the new and used bikes outside on display, turn on the compressor and computers, boil the kettle and have a look at the workshop diary for the day. Any parts and accessories that we need for the day are ordered in when the customer makes the booking so everything is ready for us when the first customer arrives at 8.30am. My first job today is an MOT on a Honda CBR600F. The customer uses his bike every day to commute to work so he’s bought it in first thing so he can wait while we do the MOT then ride to work. It takes about 45 minutes to complete an MOT. We have a special roller brake tester and a machine to check the headlight aim but most of the MOT is done by physically checking the bike myself. It takes two of us to do some aspects of the MOT so our apprentice lends a hand. It’s a good way for him to become familiar with all makes and models of bike.
After I have printed out the pass certificate for the CBR600F I have a 4000 mile service on a CBF1000 to do. All of the technicians at Honda Of Bournemouth have a lifting bench to put the bikes on and our tool boxes are within easy reach at the end of the bench. The engine oil is fed from a main oil tank through hoses fitted on the walls by the work ramps so we never have to carry containers of oil through the workshop. The first thing I do before I start any service is a visual health check. I have a form to fill in which lists different areas of the bike for me to check. Next to each section on the form is a coloured circle in red, amber and green. I simply tick the box next to each item to let the customer know that item is in good order (green), is slightly worn or getting to a stage where it may need replacing soon (amber), or is in urgent need of repair (red). The most common items to be flagged up on this check are tyre pressures, tyre tread depth, drive chain and brake pads. When the visual health check is complete I start working on the service. It can take up to 2 hours to complete the service including the road test and washing the bike to remove any fingerprints. We do lots of this kind of service work every week but each bike has its own unique personality which makes each service different! The best bikes to work on are those which have been serviced regularly where everything has been greased properly so the nuts and bolts come undone and nothing is rusted or broken.
Honda Diagnostic Equipment
My next job is slightly more complicated. A Fireblade has been recovered in to us because it won’t start. The bike cranks over and the fuel pump primes but it just won’t fire. The first thing I do is plug in the diagnostic test equipment which shows a fault with the cam position sensor. To check the sensor I disconnect it at the plug and connect the multi meter with the peak voltage adaptor and check the peak voltage of the cam position sensor. This is OK so I know that the sensor is working. The next step is to trace the signal wires back to the ECM (the brains of the bike). I check for continuity along the wire and find none which means that there must be a split in the wire. When I’ve found the split I solder it back together and check everything now works. After a quick test ride the bike is fixed and ready to be returned to its owner. The diagnostic equipment is brilliant at telling us approximately where a fault is on the bike but there is still a lot of hands on work to do to actually find the cause of the problem.
Analysing data on the laptop
After lunch I have a GL1800 Goldwing that needs a new set of tyres. The first time you work on one of these bikes it’s quite daunting because of the sheer physical size of the bike and many of them have loads of extra lights and accessories fitted which can make taking them apart a bit tricky. The Goldwing that is booked in today is in pristine condition which makes working on it so much easier. The axle bolts come out smoothly and the tyres are changed and balanced within an hour. When the wheel is removed we have a special machine which helps us take off the old tyre and fit the new one in place. The same machine will also balance the wheel. Although the tyre changing machine makes the process easier there is still a lot of physical work involved in getting the tyre off and on the rim. After a short test ride the bike is ready and waiting to be collected later in the day.
The last job of the day involves a pre delivery inspection (PDI) of a brand new bike and then fitting some Genuine Honda accessories to it. A customer has bought a new CB500X and wants a top box and heated grips fitted to it before he collects the bike at the weekend. I put the battery on charge first to ensure that it gets fully charged before being fitted back on the bike. Then I fit the top box. Fitting the Genuine Honda accessories is usually quite simple as they are designed by Honda to fit perfectly. They also come with full instructions which are useful when I need to fit accessories to a new model that we’ve never fitted anything to before. The heated grips take a little longer as there is quite a bit of wiring involved but I finish the job with 10 minutes to spare before it’s time to go home.
The last few minutes of the day are spent bringing all of the bikes inside for the night, sweeping up the workshop floor and cleaning and tidying away my tools. It’s been a busy day but I’ve had the opportunity to work on some of my favourite Honda bikes especially the Goldwing! Today I have just worked on Honda motorcycles which you would expect as we are a Honda main dealer. However, we see all makes and models of bikes in our workshops for service work and repairs so having completed my apprenticeship with Suzuki and previously worked in a multi franchise dealership I have the knowledge to work on most bikes. It’s a great job - I get to spend all day working with motorbikes, I’ve had the opportunity to ride nearly every make and model of bike and I meet some interesting people. It does have its down side like having to test ride in the rain, it can sometimes be dirty and physically demanding but I wouldn’t want to spend my days doing anything else!