Is purchasing a comparatively inexpensive non genuine part, always the ‘cheapest’ option in the long run?
“Buy cheap, buy twice! Or should that be buy cheap, spend 15hrs trying to fit, only to give up after bouncing spanner’s around your garage!
When purchasing parts or components for your motorcycle unlike when I was a child, we are now spoilt for choice.
Sometimes having too much choice can mean there are too many options & if you are on a budget, purchasing comparably inexpensive option, may not always be the best option in the long term.
This week we are going to take a look at the ways in which buying parts & components for your motorcycle can be a bit of minefield & give some advice on how to avoid ‘buying cheap, buying twice!’
One of the swaps we are asked to undertake quite regularly, is switching from traditional light bulbs to LED. Here are some reasons why this may not work for your motorcycle & why long term, it may not be a financial gain.
Do some research
If your motorcycle has bulbs (not LED) in the indicators, if you swap to LED you will end up with the indicators flashing too fast or even not flashing at all. The latest trend is the “Audi” style or flow indicators. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a set work correctly (unless on our eCUB or a motogadet install, as they run a processor that detects load causing them to flash correctly).
So why do they flash fast?
When a manufacturer fits a bike with bulb type indicators, the flasher relay works by detecting a load. On an older model motorcycle, the relays are normally two pin type. A bimetallic metal strip heats when current flows through it. This springs the contact open & as it cools it closes.
If the bulb blows or an LED is fitted, the bimetallic strip won’t heat due to the lack of load so the relay will flash quicker or not at all.
Can this be corrected?
Yes, if the motorcycle dealer did an option for LEDs there may be a relay swap available. Triumph offered this on their motorcycle range. You can purchase an LED relay, but to be honest I’ve never had much luck. The other thing you can do is fit a resistor, so the flash relay thinks the bulb is still in line slowing the flash rate down. The only issue is they tend to be bulky messy things to fit & hide.
Sometimes trying to save money on purchasing components or parts, may not always be the best or most financially sound choice, especially when it comes to adding on fitting costs.
Earlier this year we were asked by a customer to wire a speedo onto his motorcycle which he had purchased off eBay.
The speedo looked quite impressive but it was an inexpensive Chinese manufactured item, a copy of a more expensive item. Task in hand was to get it wired & working.
Looking through the badly translated wiring diagram, I followed the instructions & made up a plug in case the customer needed to remove the clocks at a later date.
Then I plugged it onto the motorcycle &… nothing.
I therefore checked through the wires & it was then I noted that nothing was where it should be. By this point nearly 2 hours had already passed.
Therefore, I removed the speedo again. I remembered someone had given me another speedo exactly the same a while back. Pulling it out of the box, it looked the same, same plug, same instructions. But then I looked a little closer. The wiring colours were wrong on this one too! To add to the confusion the wiring colours didn’t tally on either speedo.
Exactly the same product, all of the wires on each were completely different colours & nothing tallied to the wiring diagram. In the end I had to power each wire with a power probe & mark each one in turn & when I then re-fitted the speedo, it didn’t work.
So why am I telling you all this?
We all want to make our motorcycles a little bit individual & rightfully so. However, sometimes what you see in a YouTube video or in an online forum, simply will not work on your motorcycle or what you see online is not the entire story.
Therefore, if you are thinking about changing something on your motorcycle or wanting that individual stamp on it, consider the following.
If you purchase indicators at £5.99 from Ebay & then decide you cannot fit them yourself, consider that labour (including installing resistors), trying to solder poorly made Chinese wire (which is inherently very very thin), repairing & replacing the plugs, messing about with relays etc could equate to 2-3hrs at £96-£144 + VAT to fit your £5.99 indicators. The alternative would have been genuine LED ones from the dealer for half the complete price & they would be plug & play.
The Speedo mentioned above. Cumulatively, we spent nearly 7 hours trying to re-wire, refit, take off, repair, refit over & over again & still couldn’t get it to work.
Speedo = £40.00 & labour £415.20 total = £455.20. That’s the price of the top of the range motogadget dash or £400 would enable you to purchase a decent GPS speedo & include the fitting.
When considering upgrades for your motorcycle the best advice I give, it to make sure you do your homework. Don’t be caught out by the inexpensive option, as it is not always the economical option in the long term. If you want a component or part to behave as it should, purchasing pattern parts is not always the way to go either.
An example of this is pattern stators. Yes, they may be a fraction of the cost of a genuine part, but in my experience, I have seen too many of them fail to be convinced they are a robust alternative.
One example was a customer we welcomed a couple of years ago with a Triumph Street Triple who had a charging fault. By the time the motorcycle joined us, they had already replaced the stator with a pattern part. Following an assessment, we found that the stator in the Triumph had burnt out. The customer advised that the stator was still under warranty & we therefore agreed to return it to the manufacturer on his behalf, as we already had the Triumph with us. Once returned, they agreed to send a replacement.
During this process we did some homework. We found that the original Street Triple in this year had had a recall on the regulator rectifier & should have been replaced with a genuine part. However, the Street Triple we had in the workshop had had a non genuine reg rec fitted, as part of the current owners original attempts to cure the charging fault.
Under instruction from the customer, we re-fitted another pattern stator (manufacturers replacement) & advised at the time that we were not convinced it would be robust enough, based on the previous one they had had fitted. Once fitted the customer was on his way.
Two months later, we had a call from the customer to say that the Street Triple had stopped charging again. Under investigation we found the stator had failed again & he had only ridden approximately 1000 miles! Two non genuine stators, both failed in exactly the same way.
Despite the fact that the customer in this case had managed a warranty claim on one stator, you cannot claim warranty on warranty. Therefore, in this case the customer had purchased a pattern stator which was replaced under warranty, we charged for our time & the customer was inconvenienced by his motorcycle being off the road & then the second non genuine stator burnt out, in exactly the same way as the first. When we have fitted genuine regulator rectifiers & genuine stators; the outcomes have always been positive.
Therefore, where does this leave us?
How can you ensure you are ultimately not going to be out of pocket when making component choices & have the inconvenience of having to re-purchase in the future? Not all ‘non genuine’ parts are problematic, but when it comes to certain motorcycle makes & models, the options are limited for very good reason. A prime example of this is anything with a CanBUS system. If you try & add in non genuine parts or components, the CanBUS will throw up fault codes & in some cases, we have seen motorcycles shut down all together, due to interference from non genuine parts being fitted.
The best advise would be to ask a professional. Online forums can be a great source of information & support, but can also bamboozle with so many different opinions. Consider if the modification you are seeking to make is going to add value to your motorcycle or is it for vanity purposes. Do your homework & consider your options. We always offer our customers the option of genuine & non genuine part prices & although we can guide & advise, it is ultimately their choice at the end of the day”
Daniel Morris – Owner & Proprietor, mono motorcycles