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Author Topic: An alarming knocking  (Read 2284 times)

WillW

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An alarming knocking
« on: August 20, 2011, 11:20:54 AM »
I collected my bike this morning from the local bike mechanic's workshop. It's been there for a week, having been booked in two weeks earlier. It hasn't been touched, and I was told it wouldn't be done next week either. So I took it home. That wanker wont be seeing me again.
Back to square one!
But when I rode it over there last week, and again today, I noticed a new noise, more sinister than the racket from the valve train. It's a knocking and it occurs under load, ie when the throttle is opened from low speed. I'm hoping it's not the first sign of a bearing on the way out, but I'm suspecting it might be!
At the local bike night last week I met a bloke with a nice old Bullet 500, and asked him if I could have a listen to it. It ran as sweet as a nut - and no taps clicks or rattles. It turned out he's been in business as a motorcycle mechanic for 40 years, specialises in Enfields, and is based just 15 miles away, so that's where I'm taking the bike next week.

My feelings about this bike have now swung round past 180 degrees, from full love, to ambivalence & forgiveness, and now to dissapointment and dismay. Like all of us, I love the ride. But unlike many of us, I can no longer sustain the level of denial required to keep on insisting these bikes are ok if you just tend them a bit. Whether or not you have a Royal Enfield which is "OK" depends solely on the luck of the draw. I seem to have got the friday bike, assembled by the pissed off apprentice!

If I hadn't bought the W650 at Easter, I'd have had virtually no motorbiking since March.  Watsonian had the bike for weeks, and it came back just the same as it went in, apart from yet another new sprag! Since then, they have ignored every email I've written them.
If I hadn't spent £4000 on this machine less than 18 months ago, it would be at the local breakers yard. As it is, I shall have to pay whatever it costs to fix it, minus parts I suppose, after which I will sell it for whatever I can get and cut my losses.
I apologise here publicly to anyone I may have helped persuade to buy one of these bikes, but I spoke in good faith. I was wrong. Royal Enfield are nowhere near competent to produce motorbikes of consistent quality. And as more and more of these bikes begin to fail after a few thousand miles, the facts will be harder and harder to cover up. I for one will bullshit no more when asked about these bikes. And I often am asked.
2010 Royal Enfield Electra (G5) DL

2004 Kawasaki W650
~ the best british bike they never made ~

BRADEY

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 11:52:15 AM »
Extreemly disappointed to read your reviews, but i hope this helps perspetive buyers to take an informed decision, and not one that people often take by listening to their heart.

Maturin

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 12:46:31 PM »
Very sorry to hear from your misfortune, Will. I hope the Bullet will not become even more money and time swallowing.
I had similar experiences with the German importer, too. It´s dissapointing to be left out in the rain if there is trouble. Vehicles do go kaputt, as anybody knows, and must be repaired then. If the importer acts deaf in such cases it´s a major bummer. Hard enough to get a surprising bill, you also keep on struggeling to get a diagnosis anyway.
To me it was clear from the beginning that an RE may cause trouble. But it´s anoying to see that there seems to be very little support.
Good luck with the Kawa! At least this one works fine!
2010 G5
A Garage without a Bullet is a empty, barren hole.

When acellerating the tears of emotion must flow off horizontally to the ears.
Walter Röhrl

Paul_N

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 06:07:25 PM »

Thanks for the update, Will.

I absolutely love the looks of the C5 Military & B5, but I really question the amount of upkeep and overall quality.  I *really* want to pickup a military at a local shop, but am very very hesitant.  I keep reading about part upgrades and what not and it seems like the longer you wait the less problems that you'll have.  I can buy now and hope that the problems present themselves within the first 2 years so that the parts can be replaced/upgraded under warrantee.  It doesn't seem logical though - let me drop $7k on a _new_ bike and hope that it has problems so that I can get the better parts.

Or I spend $3k on a W650 that just went up for sale and I learn to ride on that...  It seems appealing. It isn't as "vintage" as the RE, nor does it have the looks of the Military, but I won't walk into it thinking that I have dropped $7k on a "problem".

I *really* want RE to succeed and I hope that RE/USA can get the factories to improve the quality.  If the bike was priced like it is in India, I'd be able to overlook the issues.  $7k is a lot to gamble, especially because we don't have RE mechanics in every city like they do in India.  Based on some threads on ADVrider, it seems like an entire industry popped up to support REs and it is OK that they are problematic as they are cheap and help is always around the corner.   In the US they are not cheap and knowledgeable help is potentially hundreds of miles away.

I really want one though... But I feel like I'll be kicking myself in a month or two. 

 -Paul

WillW

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 06:17:55 PM »
I don't know what to tell you Paul. This forum is a good place to get all sides of opinion - although posts such as this one tend to be deleted.....
Beautiful bike. Wonderful ride. No doubt about it. But build quality is variable. Quality control is a joke. Long term reliability   -  it's a gamble I'm afraid.   :-\

(f you can get a good W650 for $3000  --  no wonder you're tempted......)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 06:24:50 PM by WillW »
2010 Royal Enfield Electra (G5) DL

2004 Kawasaki W650
~ the best british bike they never made ~

Maturin

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2011, 07:00:16 PM »
Will´s exitement for RE and their Bullet probably was worth much more than a rebuild of his engine could ever cost Watsonian. At the end it´s only stupid to loose customers that actually are satified with the product, if only it works.
Actually it´s an insolence.

The good news is, that the US-importer seems to be a lot more caring than the ones in Europe. The replacement of Dan´s engine prooves that good service is possible.
2010 G5
A Garage without a Bullet is a empty, barren hole.

When acellerating the tears of emotion must flow off horizontally to the ears.
Walter Röhrl

WillW

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2011, 07:52:58 PM »
Quite so. I don't know what to make of Watsonian. It was good of them to collect my bike -  it was just into the second year of warranty, so they weren't obliged to. On the other hand, having replaced the sprag (again) they failed to investigate the racket from the engine. I didn't feel I had any real leverage, so I thanked them, and asked if they'd be willing to take another look if I got the bike to them and payed all labour costs.
I only asked them because the mechanic at the dealer where I got the bike dismissed the racket as "normal". The same racket which had prompted the dealer, and Watsonian, to say "don't ride it!"
I sent a second email when the first was ignored - both polite, simply enquiring whether they would mend my bike at my expense, but again I got no reply.
So fuck em. I'll deal with it locally and let them know the outcome.
2010 Royal Enfield Electra (G5) DL

2004 Kawasaki W650
~ the best british bike they never made ~

clubman

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2011, 08:55:19 PM »
Thanks for the update, Will.

I absolutely love the looks of the C5 Military & B5, but I really question the amount of upkeep and overall quality. 
 -Paul


Looks only get you so far and don't count for much for you're stuck at the side of the road with, (for example), an electrical failure. That's happened twice to me and on both occasions people passing have said "oh what a lovely bike" to which I could only say "not to me right now." I bought a Guzzi V7 earlier this year in exasperation just wanting something with reliability as well as character and amazingly enough it gets even more attention than the RE, not that that's why I bought it. At that time I decided I would keep the RE as a winter hack purely because I'm an honest person and I wasn't going to tell a pack of lies when prospective purchasers asked if I'd had any issues with it. As it's turned out I'm enjoying riding it again now but I still agree with Will in that, in my experience like his, it is not a reliable bike. Don't get me wrong, I still like riding it, I like the people involved in it, this forum, my dealer and I don't want to piss off Kevin M or get banned from here but I have to agree with Will. My advice to any prospective buyer would be buy only as a second bike and be prepared to potentially lose a lot of money. Don't kid yourself the EFI is a great leap forward in build quality. I bought mine before there was a lot of info to go on. I told myself RE had upped their game and that the two year warranty was security anyway. I wouldn't buy it knowing what I do now. Maybe RE have such a large captive Indian market that they don't care about our opinion but since they have a separate production line for exports - God knows what the domestic product must be like!! - presumably they do care. In which case they need to get the message loud and clear that charging western market prices for the quality they offer is not going to win them many fans abroad. The best way to be taken seriously would be to build decent bikes.

prof_stack

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2011, 09:39:05 PM »
Will, the good news is that once your new mechanic sets it correct, you will likely have a good stead for quite a while.  I hope the saga turns good again.

Clubman, for similar reasons I got a 750 Guzzi as well, the Breva.  I was finding that I didn't trust the C5 part of the time.  However, with one year left in the warranty I am going to ride it and let the chips (and fastenings, heh) fall where they may. 

If I were in the market for a new UCE today, it would be the B5, the only sensibly priced RE in America.
A Royal Enfield owner's cup is always half full.

Arizoni

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2011, 09:53:32 PM »
WillW
As you seem to have made up your mind, anything I say will likely fall on deaf ears but, you say you've found a mechanic who specializes in Royal Enfields.
One who somehow has managed to even get an old RE to purr like a kitten without any "taps clicks or rattles" ! (Not an easy task on an exposed  air cooled engine.  Even the Japanese have never really done this in my opinion.)

Perhaps this new mechanic will know exactly what the source of your bikes engines noises and with a few tweaks it will be totally fixed?  It is possible.

Something there is about human nature that causes our minds to overemphasize the negatives we perceive and to always assume the worst.

Anyway, I feel you owe it to whoever buys your RE to have whatever is wrong with it repaired before selling it.  They will be buying it in good faith.
Who knows?  After it has been repaired you might even get to thinking........
Jim
2011 G5 Deluxe
1999 Miata 10th Anniversary

drbvac

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2011, 11:04:42 PM »
Well now aint this an alarming set of comments. I wish there were some sort of reports  on the long term ownership of these bikes other than form the  forums. Even the porsche forum would scare the shit out of many chevy drivers and I really dont want to be so afraid the c-5 will up and stop and leave me stuck that it takes the fun out of riding.

How many miles on the bike Will when all the trouble started and is it a daily driver ??
Dr B

Kevin Mahoney

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2011, 11:42:48 PM »
Actually Will posts like this rarely get deleted. I try to be quite tolerant about these things even though it is my board and under my sponsorship and my full control. I do however remove posts that complain about dealers etc. for the very reasons mentioned in the TOS. Complaining on the board does nothing to resolve your problems nor anyone else's.
We have banned a couple of people from the forum in the past ten years or so (other than spammers) due to TOS violations. I always give at least one polite warning before we ban anyone. The things I tolerate the least are flaming others, being disrespectful of others and complaining about things that cannot be solved by anyone except your dealer or importer. It is really surprising how infrequently this happens. When it does I am alerted by those members who want a respectful place to congregate almost before the electrons dry.

I cannot speak about any other country but I feel strongly that the support offered to customers in the US may be quite different than what is offered in other countries. An example is the fact that our warranty is for two years unlimited mileage parts and labor period.  What happens elsewhere is of no relevance to customers of RE in the US. We sell more of these bikes by a long shot than anyone else in the world beside India (actually more than the rest of the world besides India put together) and the vast majority of our customers are happy with their bikes. Do some have issues?...of course but I think the support here is darn good. Better and more personal than most any major brand. You have had trouble with your bike from day one and more than your fair share it would seem. I would pick up the phone and call Mike or Ben at Watsonian. Speak to them first hand, email is not a good way to contact someone about a problem if you get no reply. None of our customers mind actually talking to the owner of the company nor do they hesitate to call. Trust me I know I take those calls.

With any modicum of accuracy or fairness a blanket statement about RE bikes as a whole cannot be made. Things have been vastly improved since the advent of the UCE bikes. Prior to that the bikes took a heck of a lot more maintenance and setup than they do now. Most (not all) serious problems with those bikes could be traced to a poorly trained dealer or mechanic or the bike being ridden for something it was not.

 I have access to the actual facts and have read every warranty claim ever made in the US since the bike was first imported to the US in 1995.The claims I see now are a small fraction of what we used to see and they are RARELY for anything serious. For example I no longer need anyone to administer the claims and deal with service issues except on a very part time basis.  We do have  issues but interestingly enough the people that sell aftermarket warranties rate us as a normal risk.

I rarely intrude in these conversations but I felt like a word (actually many words) were called for.


Vince

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2011, 12:27:49 AM »
     I have been a dealer since 1999. The first couple of years I had some significant warranty issues, enough that I seriously reconsidered having the product. However,by 2005, tremendous advances in Enfield quality coupled with tremendous advances in my marketing and SERVICING reduced issues to a par with Japanese brands. The advent of the EFI engine reduced issues further.
     I am often left aghast at the issues that crop up on this forum. My guys don't have these problems. To be sure, there are some warranty issues, but they are few and far between. I've had only 2 notable engine issues:  A 2009 model that the head gasket was left out of. The customer commented on some oil seepage. I popped the head and there was NO gasket. It didn't seep much. And a 2011 that knocked. It had a chipped tooth on the clutch housing primary chain sprocket.
     The point of all this is that I do not believe a blanket statement of unreliability or poor quality is warranted. This has not been  my, or my customer's experience. The very few of my customers who  would disagree with me already know that I am an idiot that knows absolutely nothing about motorcycles. These customers make sure to teach me the RIGHT way. Funny that they have issues, but what do I know?
     For what it is worth, I have had EXACTLY the same experiences when I was with Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Honda. Some bikes had real warranty issues, some were minor, some were from customer perception, some were blown out of proportion, some were ignored until they became big problems. Motorcycles are such personal vehicles that we often let emotion color our perceptions and responses. This applies to every one on both sides of the counter. This affects how we inter-react with other riders, dealers, and distributors. I have yet to have a problem that can not be resolved if everyone involved keeps the focus on the problem.
      I am truly sorry to see folks have issues with a product that I love and believe in. My hope is that cooler heads can find a good resolution.
     Will, when you do talk (not email) to the folks at Watsonian, I encourage you to remain calm, but direct. Detailed, but concise. I'm sure that direct and courteous discourse will take you where you need to go. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 12:30:12 AM by Vince »

drbvac

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2011, 12:40:15 AM »
Good responses - good advice - thanks gents @ :)
Dr B

olhogrider

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Re: An alarming knocking
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2011, 02:12:21 AM »
I love this bike. I consider the problems to be minor and handled quickly and to my satisfaction by the company (Kevin) and the dealers. Speaking of which, something came up today so I emailed the dealer (Big Al in Fresno). I feel sorry for Will. He doesn't have the support that we do here.

As I was motoring sedately down a country road this afternoon I was passed by a very fast Triumph Thruxton. For a moment I wondered if I wouldn't have been happier with one of those. Then I realized that I would have been blasting along at high velocity and burning much more gas. I just sat back and smiled. In over 40 years of riding this is the first bike that I actually enjoy riding at a leisurely pace. No, not Harley parade pace, just not fast.