Why Tigit Does Not Test Drive or Fix Your Motorbike


Why Tigit Does Not Test Drive or Fix Your Motorbike

Not all Motorbikes in Vietnam are death traps

In spite of the common blogs and news stories on the internet written by foreigners stating that no motorbikes in Vietnam have a working speedometer, fuel gaug, and other accessories, the motorbikes in Vietnam do in fact work!

Adverts on Facebook and Craigslist often promote the sale of a motorbike with “working lights” as if this was something of amazement.

We have a list of motorbikes in Vietnam with a general price guideline, it can be seen that foreigners tend to be buying at the very low end of this list.

The motorbikes foreigners are buying are the ones that a local would not touch with a 10-foot pole.

It is not possible to rent a genuine motorbike from reputable companies and backpackers finally becoming a bit more clued up to the Chinese motorbike scandals.
Within the expat scene, the amazing Honda Airblade is understood, but until recently the Honda Airblade has not been an affordable motorbike rental. Tigit Motorbikes is now offering the Honda Airblade as a choice for expat motorbike rentals.

The misguidance of expert bloggers with no experience and desperate backpackers attempting to recoup dollars before flying home is creating this concerning deception among new arrivals that motorbikes are not supposed to work properly.

This has led to an overly simplified purchasing expectation for both expats and backpackers in Vietnam looking for a motorbike.
A simple assumption that a $300 motorbike is going to work, and that this is what the average Vietnamese person is using. However, this assumption could not be further from the truth.

A cheap motorbike is likely to cost significantly more than buying a proper motorbike and Vietnamese people are not driving around on scrapped and cheap vehicles!

A $300 car is going to cost more to run over time than buying and selling a $1500 car.  This is no different in Vietnam!

Online bloggers will rarely write about horror stories. They gain audiences through the notion of freedom, happy travels and perfect holidays without issues. No one wants to be the blogger that got ripped off in a foreign country.


The confusion of mechanical services in Vietnam

Vietnam has two defined mechanic services.

1. The official Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or SYM service centres.
In official service centres mechanics are properly trained and certified. Prices tend to be set and the service treated in a professional manner.
These shops all use genuine parts and operate on a mass scale of fixing standardised models that are officially supported. These mechanics are fixing the same model of motorbike all day, every day.

2. Backstreet Chinese mechanic shops.
These are random locals who have developed skills with motorbikes or have been trained on the street to fix motorbikes. They are not officially trained and hold no certifications.
These shops also struggle to find official parts and usually only stock Chinese parts unless linked to an import system for high-end motorbikes.
The variation of quality and service can be massive. These unofficial mechanic shops are not necessarily bad,  they tend to specialise in certain areas of maintenance.
As a foreigner driving by, the area of expertise of a particular mechanic shop may not be clear.

Where to buy genuine parts

It is impossible to buy genuine parts outside of the Honda, Yamaha, SYM and Suzuki service centres. This means that in general the backstreet mechanics can only use Chinese parts.
The business model exists to do quick roadside assistance for breakdowns and flat tires. They are not often used for serious jobs.

They can also be used for motorbikes or scooters that are no longer supported by the official stores.
As motorbikes become older, the official service centres stop supporting the model or supplying parts. For example, a Honda 67 is no longer supported by Honda, with this model of motorbike it is only possible to fix it in backstreet mechanic shops.

As a rough guide, once a motorbike model is around 10 years old, the official service centre will stop supporting it. At this point, it is likely that any replacement parts will be Chinese.
For a “reliable” motorbike, stay away from models that are approaching this 10 year bracket.

Chinese replacement parts really are that bad!

The hardest part of operating a motorbike business in Vietnam is the attempt at an explanation of just how useless Chinese parts are. There are no words that describe the abomination of crap that is a Chinese motorbike. On a Honda Win Chinese motorbike.
An entire brand new motorbike costs around $500 (the same price as a bicycle back home).
An engine around $80
A set of wheels around $20
Suspension around $15
A dashboard around $5
Brake shoes around $2
A key ignition system around $2

I believe the honesty in this guys post! But it is not possible to put a Suzuki engine on a Honda Win. Where did he get this information from? The last backpacker, or the random Vietnamese street dealer standing on the corner? Fiction = Facts in this market!

In the west, we have no comparison to this Chinese motorbike market, these products would never pass health and safety tests on any level. Just look at the spray paint job!  Yet, backpackers and teachers travel across the world and buy one and then wonder why nothing works!

Mechanics in Vietnam are not that bad!

Among locals, the purchase of Chinese motorbikes is understood. A useless vehicle that is so cheap that it never depreciates. A gentle life of non-aggressive driving coupled with regular maintenance (at the right price) can lead to an economical and sound purchase!
However, a foreigner will naturally drive aggressively, live life at city speeds and overload the motorbike with luggage or passengers that go above and beyond what the motorbike was designed for.
Communication gaps with maintenance and the issue of a second tier pricing system for foreigners and it will come as no surprise that these cheap purchases end in disaster!

Presenting Toan – The Tigit  mechanic!


Foreigners sit and wonder:

  • Why the Vietnamese mechanic can’t be bothered to tighten the brakes.
  • Why the Vietnamese mechanic shrugs his shoulders with a “who cares look” when you are pointing at the engine making a weird noise.
  • Why the Vietnamese mechanic couldn’t care less about the indicators working or doing a tidy job on re-working the electrics.
  • Why the Vietnamese mechanic can’t be bothered to test drive the motorbike when you are complaining it has no power.”The motorbike is moving he says,  What more do you want?”

The official service centres
Take a genuine motorbike to an official service centre and they will do exactly as asked.

If the motorbike is under warranty they come with free checks. If the motorbike has a problem they will test drive it.
If the motorbike has problems affecting safety then they will likely identify and point this out to you.
Prices are set (no foreigner tier pricing system)
If the motorbike was broken, it will come out the other end working!

Just blame the mechanic!

Now I have established just how useless Chinese parts are, I can finally explain why Tigit Motorbikes (and any other reputable shop) will not test drive or fix motorbikes for foreigners!

If a foreigner shows up with a Chinese motorbike, or an outdated scooter that is no longer officially supported then it is impossible to buy genuine parts. This means that it is impossible to make the motorbike “reliable”. The motorbike is now doomed to a life of regular ongoing maintenance no matter how much time, effort and money is spent on it for a “proper service”.

Fix the motorbike for $10 profit and the customer will come straight back again in a weeks time saying “but you fixed it last week, why did you not know it was going to break this week”.
This creates a circle of confusion and upset customers with motorbikes that can never be properly fixed no matter how good the mechanic is!

Foreigners driving good and authentic motorbikes should use the official service centres as these places stock genuine parts. There is no benefit other than a test drive and translation in using the services of a backstreet mechanic shop or the Tigit Mechanic shop.

What motorbike to buy!

Test drive the motorbike and consider these questions for buying a motorbike in Vietnam

Buy a motorbike that is not Chinese and is still supported by the official service centres. The best way to know if the motorbike is supported is to go on the relevant website and check models.
“Honda Vietnam”, “Yamaha Vietnam”, “Suzuki Vietnam”.
Remember, just because it says “Honda” or “Yamaha”, does not mean it is supported. The Yamaha Nouvo 3 from 2008 is no longer supported by Yamaha and this is a common scooter for expat confusion.

Make sure the motorbike is not imported and is less than 10 years old and the chances of buying a good motorbike become high!

Stay away from motorbikes below $500, this is below the bracket of officially supported motorbikes. They have dropped to this price because Vietnamese don’t want them. If the Vietnamese don’t want them, then there must be something wrong.

The basic price of an officially supported motorbike is $500, it is difficult to find a “reliable” motorbike below this price.

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