A Total Minefield
If you have bought your own motorbike, sooner or later you will need to get it serviced. You will probably not have much experience with different mechanics in Vietnam and you may not know a good mechanic in Hanoi. Nor may you know the true cost of spare parts labor and repairs. This is a total minefield, which you are tiptoeing blindly through, and you could get hurt. Beware.
Rent A Bike bikes are serviced and repaired for you
When you rent a motorbike from RentABike, you don’t need to find a good mechanic in Hanoi or to worry about servicing. We keep track of the mileage and know what has been done (or not done) to the bike in its recent history. That way we know what the bike needs and when. All we ask is that you keep an eye on the mileage. If you use the bike lot between rental payments, let us know and we can arrange to service it. We find most bikes are good with a bi-monthly service and you only need to listen out for strange noises. In this case, call us and we will fix what needs to be fixed.
Our Mechanic Recommendation
We recommend DC Motorbikes if you are in the Tay Ho area. They are good mechanics in Hanoi, who work on a general motorbike, nothing too fancy. They are honest and reliable, speak some English and have lots of foreign customers so they know what is expected. Below, we have outlined the important tips for when you are at the mechanic.
Dung and Cuong – DC Motorbikes Address: 99B Ngo 374 Au Co Tel: +84 90 491 94 59
Servicing and Repairing
Servicing is quite simple It should not take more than 20-30 minutes even in the busiest of shops. Stay with the bike while they check the fluid levels, maybe change the oil, and check the nuts, bolts, brakes, bearings, steering, tyre pressure and the fuel system. Be on hand so that if they think anything more detailed needs to be done, they can ask you straight away.
Repairs are much more difficult as things really depend on a case by case basis. There is no one correct answer as many factors play a role. So, be flexible and with time and experience, you will learn what seems right or wrong. Here are a few tips to help you out of the gate:
Get a Recommendation
You can’t live in Vietnam without knowing someone with a motorbike. It’s impossible. Therefore, ask a few friends which mechanic they use and why. Everyone will have suggestions of a good mechanic in Hanoi that they trust. If they have the same bike as you, even better. However, even if they don’t have the same type: brand, auto, semi-auto, manual, they can give you good advice.
Ask the Price Before Work Begins
The first thing to say is ALWAYS, ALWAYS try to make sure you know the price quoted BEFORE you agree to the work. This kind of goes without saying when living in a country where price lists or displays are few and far between. You will need to nail down the mechanic to a rough figure BEFORE they start the work. If you can also make it known that you want to hear about any increase in price BEFORE any work is carried out.
Don't Leave the Bike
Sure, if you are going to have your engine rebuilt, you will need to leave the bike. However, for most work, you can stay with the bike and watch what is going on. Once you have built up a good relationship with your mechanic, you can walk away. This isn’t something to do the first time. Simply being around so that the mechanic can ask about things is reason enough. Let’s not get into what a not honest mechanic can/will do if you are not there.
Check the Parts
This is a tough one. You are unlikely to know which parts are good expensive parts and which are cheap. Basically, opt for foreign parts when given a choice. Tyres from a Thai manufacturer or a battery from an Indonesian company. Steer clear of anything Chinese as it is likely to be cheap quality.
Test Drive the Bike
A lot of people either forget to do this or are too lazy to do so. It only needs to take a minute and you only need to shoot up the road. Take the time to go for a spin on the bike and see if the problem is fixed.
Ask a Friend
Ask a friend to help with translation or if you are confused. This can be done over the phone or in person, it doesn’t matter. Also, if you have a friend that recommends a mechanic, ask them to take you there. That way the mechanic knows who you are and that you are friends with their current client base. This increases the chance that they will treat you well.
Be Prepared to Shop Around
Remember, what works for one person, might not work for you so be prepared to find a different mechanic. In a country of some 40 million motorbikes, there is the demand. This does mean that you have little bargaining power but it also means there are plenty of alternatives if you are not happy.
Ultimately, you need to decide which works best for you: renting or buying. However, knowing a little about what to be wary of when dealing with mechanics can serve you well in all your daily dealings. Good Luck.