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    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Vietnamese Motorbikes 2

    So I spent a good part of an hour yesterday getting some pretty decent pictures to describe driving in Vietnam, but then I had a great experience with my motorbike, so I will hold off on describing driving and give you another post on motorbikes.

    Yesterday I went to the Honda shop to get my oil changed and brake pads replaced. Since I had just described the outside of a bike, I thought understanding a little more about the inside would be interesting. Or, maybe it's the surgeon in me. Or, maybe it's that my father's an engineer and my grandfather owned an auto shop. Genetics...either way, at least I'll find this post interesting.

    When you first get to the shop, the garage has five or so lifts that look like this.
    Picture 112
    Two workers worked on my Honda Wave Alpha--this guy replaced my break pads after the other put my bike up on the lift.
    Picture 110
    Here are two pictures of him working on my pads. He took off the whole wheel, then unscrewed the rod that goes through it. Once free, he took off the brake on the side of the wheel, took off the pad, and replaced it with a new one. Then he just screwed everything back together and put it back on my bike.
    Picture 111Picture 115
    Meanwhile, the other worker changed my oil and refilled my battery. I found this incredibly interesting. First, he opened a hole in the bottom of my bike and drained the oil.
    Picture 113
    Then he pulled off a side plate, unscrewed a couple screws, and pulled out the battery. In the pictures you see it facing us lengthwise, but in the bike it goes perpendicular to how it's facing in the picture.
    Picture 114
    He proceeded to pop off all the yellow knobs and grab a container filled with water. He used the water to refill each cell in the battery.

    I asked if it was water or a special fluid and he said, "Water. Water is used for all old batteries. If you had a brand new bike, we'd give you a special fluid, but since it's old, you get water."

    He then proceeded to use general SAE 40 motor oil to replace the stuff he drained.

    "On a new bike," he continued, "the oil should be changed after the first 500 kilometers. From then on, it can be changed every 1500-2000 kilometers."

    Finally, he finished off my bike by adjusting up my idle (which was a little low). Again, the design team of the Wave alpha was smart. All he had to do was take a regular phillips screwdriver and insert it into the aerodynamic hole on the side and turn a screw. Done and done!

    "How many bikes do you see a day?" I asked.

    "Hundreds," he replied. "Sometimes as many as three hundred in one day."

    That's a lot of bikes. But it's no worry for me, because the total bill comes to just 98,000 VND after taxes. About 24,500 VND for the oil change, 37,000 VND for the brake pads, 22,500 VND for labor, and the rest tax (prices are estimates because I can't remember the exact prices right now). Not bad paying $2 USD for new brake pads, $1.50 for an oil change, and $1.40 in labor? I'd take that in the USA any day.

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