This blog is not always motorcycle related.
7-17-17 Ten years has snuck by since we opened the shop and thanks to everyone who made it possible. There have been ups and downs and wins and losses but we did it! Equally amazing is the fact that this is our 11th season doing our trackdays out at Putnam. The true heart of Carrmoto always leads us back to the track.
5-22-17 "THIS OLD BIKE" w/the Service Guys
I was down at Earl's on gasoline alley when I ran into a fellow service guy from a local dealership. I have been doing motorcycle service for 20 years now and I would guess he has been doing it about twice as long. He asked me what I was working on today and I said a 1997 Ducati M750 that had been sitting and the carbs had got gummed up. "20 year old carbureted bike?", he asked. "Yeah", I answered. He then replied, "Why are you working on that? I bet you aren't making any money." You shouldn't quote any job on a bike past 10 years old. I tell our customers it will cost what it takes for our guys to get it done." I said I tried that before and man did half of our old bike customers lose their s#!t. He kind of smiled at me and we both got back to our business with the guys at Earls.
Later that afternoon I was back on the dyno with the M750. Tracy had cleaned the carbs and replaced the fuel filter and several fuel lines. He was busy with a 600 service so I thought I would set up the idle mixture with the Snap-On Exhaust Gas analyzer. Before I could do this I first had to remove a siezed exhaust plug from the vertical cylinder. It took just over an hour to carefully drill out a welded bung in the header and retap it with a 1/8 NPT pipe tap including cleanup time. Once I had set the exhaust mixture correctly I began a series of dyno runs to check the Air/Fuel ratio at different rpm and throttle targets. On the very last dyno run the clutch plates failed because it was their time to go. The clutch did not brake apart or grenade inside the engine, it simply wore down beow minimum thickness . When our service writer called the customer, the customer was not happy and said we quoted a price and now we were way over that. I think of myself as a logical guy so I couldn't figure out the logic. We have a 0% chance of predicting the moment a clutch will fail on a bike. It is not a big deal to be upset about a bill that is bigger than expected, we all do this sometimes as we are all to a certain degree worried about money. What IS a big deal is when blame begins to get shifted to us for our "failure to predict the future". This is not fair. This is what my fellow service writer was talking about. Here are some guidelines inside these FAQs:
Q1: Your Carrmoto Service Writer estimated a price for a job then he called and changed the estimate?
A1: Our estimate was based off of what we could see at the service write up and not what we could not see or have no way to predict. Although our service writer is good he cannot see through your bike and he cannot predict what will be soon be seized, split, ruined, aged, torn, worn, cracked, or otherwise ready for replacement. After our technicians get into your motorcyce they relay back to our service writer what has been found.
Q2: Shouldn't an experienced dealership be expected to know all the things wrong inside a motorcycle without being able to see the issue and without getting inside to take a look at the issues?
A2: We are an experienced dealership and over the years we have helped thousands and thousands of happy customers maintain there street, track, and race motorcycles. But no, we cannot estimate and predict things that we cannot see and have to get inside to look at. Sometimes it is impossible to even estimate how long it will take to get into something to give the next estimate. If your bike is 10 years old expect alot of calls from our service writer as the technician peels back each layer finding more and more problems with your old motorcyle.
Q3: Did you just say if I have a bike older than 10 years I should expect to get a lot of calls from your service writer while my bike is in your shop?
A3: Yes, that is correct. Expect the worst and hope for the best. The service writer is informed on how things are going by the technician and the service writer calls the customer to get approval for the next phase or layer of the old bike onion. In the next phase or layer we cannot predict what we will find so the cycle continues until the bike is finished and well maintained. This cycle is much more prevalent on bikes 10 years and older. That is why one of the oldest shops in the country taught me not to quote or give estimates on old bikes but to get approval for each phase until finished.
Q4: I bought the bike for cheap so if it takes a lot of money and phone calls to get it fixed then I can get frustrated and take my frustration out on your service writer, right?
A4: Please don't do that.
Q5: Listen, my old bike has turned out to be a total money pit so I'm going to need you guys to stop calling and just give me the final price. What is the final price, guys?
A5: I'm sorry, the final price is what it takes to fix your old bike properly and we cannot always estimate it because the age of the bike and we will always keep finding things wrong with old bikes. There is no way to accurately predict when we will stop finding issues with your old bike. It is irrespnsible of us to give you a final price before we are done finding issues with an old bike. What we can do is guarantee our honesty and our workmanship.
4-24-17 Tuning a closed course racing motorcycle can be a time consuming process. Just like so many other tasks being organized is very important to save as much time and money as possible. I thought I'd go through some of our checklist items here to help out the understanding of the process of tuning a racebike.
1. The exhaust needs to have O2 sensors compatible with the tuning system. Wide band sensors are typically 18mmx1.50 and this is what we typically use as that is what our Dynojet 250i is set up for. Rapid bike uses the newer stock 14mm O2 sensors that come on many of the bikes. I would still suggest that you have the 18mm on there also so you can check. There are also adapter but some of them can be space restrictive due to their bulk and odd angles. Before we tune will need to get O2 sensors sceduled for being welded and the cost of parts and services needs to be estimated. This can push a deadline back a few days if not carefully considered. This is often overlooked by less experienced guys and by experienced guys who just plain forget the complexity of tuning.
2. Autotuning systems can be used if requested but we still need to check the tune with our calibrated sensors and this needs to be estimated. If we can't check then there is no guarantee the tune has been set correctly by the autotuning device. Some systems can give false readings and make the fuel mixture dangerously lean which can lead to preignition and detonation. Unfortunately if your autotuning system fails it is not warrantied by us but that will have to be taken up by the manufacturer.
3. All engine builds will need the tune checked after breakin on the dyno whether it is a refresh or we installed pistons, big valves, cams, etc. It is highly probable that the tune will need adjusted because our engine building program almost always optmizes the pumping effeciency of the engine even if when we don't use trick parts. The cost of tuning after engine builds should be estimated and the Tuning System and 02 sensors ready to rock.
4. If your bike already had a bunch of issues before we are tuning, then those are most likely going to take time and money to get corrected. Believe it or not, if your bike has an idle issue or a rough running issue it is often unrelated to the Tuner but actually a sensor or connector or any number of other issues. That is why someone from our service team takes it for a ride and evaluates it before we tune it. If it has idle issues or rough running not related to the Tuner then we will give you an estimate to correct these issues and keep you in the loop.
5. Also, if things that we did not put on start falling off the bike then we have to shut the dyno down and fix the bike. We reserve the right to charge UP TO one hour to fix without calling to get authorization. This cripples the flow of the tech and he just needs to fix it and get back to the run. We will not charge one hour of it takes only 15 minutes. If your bike springs a leak due to poor workmanship by another shop or person we reserve the right to charge UP TO 2 hours to disassemble and clean the dyno.
6. Our prices for dyno tuning on the website are with bodywork off. We need the bodywork off to get the cooling fans into place and to get to the tach pickup as well as other electronics and wiring of the motorcycle and Tuner. We will give you an estimate to remove bodywork based on Year, Make, and Model.
4-23-17 We do not set the prices on 99.9% the goods that we sell at the shop. The manufacturers set the retail prices. A retail price for a high quality chain may be $175 at our store. Somewhere else the chain is discounted to $155. This is no secret to anyone that there can always be a cheaper price somewhere at some time. We also discount items but we will always qualify the reason why. For example, a 3 year old exhaust is discounted and a brand new exhaust is not.
So why would our customers pay the extra $20 for the chain? Some of them want to support the local shop with retail prices set by the manufacturers because they want and need that shop around. Some of them don't really think about it and some of them do think about it and see the value in that $20. Wait, what? Value of spending an extra $20 at the brick and mortar? Yep, that's right. If customers want to call us and ask us questions about that chain they just purchased from us or are going to purchase from us then we are all ears. On the flipside, if a customer calls and asks advice on a gearing kit that he bought elsewhere or knows he is going to buy elsewhere then we don't have time for that. The customer buying the product here deserves my time and if I give it away for free then it has no worth. Obviously customers are free to buy from anywhere they want at anytime they want but they are not free to steal our time and value from the good relationships we have with the customers purchasing from us.
I am not talking about a chain from 15 years ago either, but things that are recent and relevant. Maybe you just moved to the area and had all your parts already, we get that and it isnt the same situation as price shopping us and then using us for support. There are alot of situations but we reserve the right to our policy of "Buy Here Support Here and Buy There Support There".
Some customers bring their bikes in for service with parts bought elsewhere. Our standard labor rate is based off parts being purchased from us. The overhead of the shop is actually quite staggering, so without parts and labor we are often losing money. Therefore, the labor rate is increased to $140/hr. and the value of our expertise is built back in.
In conclusion, thanks to all the amazing and valuable customers we have. We are almost to the 10 year Anniversary of IndyDucati and we have all of you to thank!!!!!
3-21-17 If a crankshaft needs repair or balancing for new pistons and/or rods then it gets shipped to one of our two crank guys. We will do our best to get it back on time and we will discuss the timeframe and our communications with our crank guy directly to you. Cranks are the only item that gets sent out of Indy and back again. Everything else is done here. If other new parts are ordered we will keep on top of those also and communicate quickly with our customer.
2-16-17 I brought Dad's 1993 Monster944 over to the shop on Sunday so we could run some gas through it and kind of check in on it. The bike is an absolute torque monster, handles like a dream, and in my opinion is one of the best looking bikes ever. Dad doesn't ride it very much anymore but I twisted his arm and he took it out after work on Tuesday. He came back smiling. The end.
2-10-17: Ducati Indianapolis uses approximately $5000 worth of gasoline a year. Roughly 2,222.22 gallons per year. Regular fuel for the red truck, diesel for the white truck, and premium for the all motorcycles. The generator and pressure washer use premium because that is the gas we keep available. Service uses roughly 20% of the fuel, trackdays and racing 15% and sales uses roughly 65% for new bikes and missions. I'm sure the parts department has used some fuel at some point but not a significant enough amount to mention.
2-9-17: On a forum a few months ago I mentioned an extremely rude customer experience. It was just a few of us dyno operators talking about customer experiences on this forum. I did not mention the customer's name or state when it happened, just that he had been exceptionally rude to us several months ago by yelling at us and hanging up on us when we were politley pricing him a job. He had done this multiple times but I had given him the benefit of the doubt because everybody has a bad day. So I am on a forum thread for guys with dynos and we are ALL sharing stories about rude customers. All the sudden he pops up and starts insulting me and telling me how unprofessional I am for talking about him even when I didn't mention his name. Nobody had any idea of who I was talking about and would not have had he not bullied his way back into my life. It is actually a pretty complex issue and I'm sorry if you disagree, but we will not take being yelled at by a hostile customer. It only happens a couple times per year but we will not do business with a person who is hostile unless they make some sort of apology. Why would I even mention this? Because it upsets my employess and stresses them out really bad and then they don't perform as well with the other 99% of our customers. To put this into perspective, in the busy season we may talk to 200 a cusotmers a day and that means about 2 times a day my employees are being treated poorly by a potential customer. My point is be nice, respect people across the counter. It is not unprofessional to ask for that and that is why it was mentioned on the forum by myself and many other well respected shop owners as well. We are not lesser individuals because we are wearing our workshirts.
2-8-17: We have had about 8,000 street customers, 350 trackday customers and 50 race customers over the years. Don't let the numbers fool as our shop has a passion for all three.
2-4-17: We have a small staff and when one person is out they all have to work extra hard to meet the requests of our customers. Currently we are all very active humans working at the shop so we get sick, someone in our family gets sick, we fall down on our motorcycles, we break bones, we travel with our families and friends, we go racing, we go to training in far away places, and we do all sorts of other things that have us away from the shop. When this happens the rest of the shop has more work to do to keep up with customer demand. We try to plan for when we know we will have a guy out and we try to act quickly when we haven't planned for it. It would seem to me that most industry guys like to run by the seat of their pants so they don't plan and they don't act when they are understaffed due to LIFE. Please relax and give them a break.
2-2-17: Last night Tracy and I stayed late and built Hofman's 749R crank assemby. As far as crank assemblies go, the 749R's is a beauty. We have been keeping up Ray's 749R for about 5 years now and he is a very talented rider who has accomplished some amazing things on a bike. His ASRA Thunderbike Championship awards sit proudly in our shop. He has won quite a few races at Daytona and after a year off he is headed back next month and I envy him for continuing to ride the high banks of Daytona. I raced there twice and it was truly amazing and literally eye opening. Ray and I have become friends over the years and one of my favorite memories of him is his American Flag ice racing jacket that he wore on the ice in 2014. Im my opinion, Ray has been a big help to Young Gun Jodi Barry who won the 2016 AMA Horizon Award. If you want to know about that Award, google it because some big names have won it in the past. Here as some pics from last night's 749R session.
2-1-17: I've been out sick for quite a few days but I'm back at it this week. The project1146 XDiavel frame is back from Indy Powdercoating and it looks great. The bike has been apart longer than I had wanted which can cause memory issues when it is going back together. No matter how many notes and pictures were taken, too much time can cause problems. We also had alot of other parts on the XDiavel coated including the triple trees and ceramic coated exhaust. You guessed it, those look sick also! It seems like the more shades of black that we throw at it the better it gets. With that said, it is so much black that sometimes when I am deep inside the frame I just kind of 'blackout' and I have to get a flashlight to get my bearings. Its almost like we have our own Black Hole back here in service. If this sounds odd, stop by sometime and I'll show you as the interior of that bike just robs the light.
1-21-17: Last night I drove to the town in Illinois where I grew up for a wake. It was nice to see the people who came together to celebrate my friend's mom's life. On the way out of town I pictured, as I had when I drove in, the crazy things we did here as kids and young men. Quite a few of us had street motorcycles and we drove around town way too fast and sometimes with reckless abondon. We were all lucky to have survived. Of all those things we did, none of them were worth it and I would have had more fun on a dirt bike or at the track. Period.
1-19-17: Our Ducati Sales Rep Jon stopped in for a visit yesterday and after the shop closed we went out for dinner. We used to work together outside Chicago at a dealer called MCC. So Bill and Don were with us and we got into the story of how my bicycle got stolen one day during work. I was working in the basement when I got a page from the parts guy upstairs who said, "Hey Matt, some guy just took off on your bicycle, I'm serious so get up here quick." I darted up the stairs and outside but I didn't see a guy on my bike in either direction down the street. I asked everybody which way he went and they motioned west. Jon was working upstairs and I saw his car parked pretty close to the building. Before I could ask him he was already going for his keys and we were out the door and into his car. We were pretty excited at this point and we new it was a long shot, but we headed west. About a mile down the road we looked in to a park, and low and behold, there was the guy on my bike! Somehow we got the car down and around the block and we were heading right for him as he was exiting the park towards the sidewalk Now remember, he has no idea who we are so I got out and started walking towards him and he just kept riding right at me. The second he got next to me I ejected him off my bike so fast that the bike never even hit the ground and I had it in my hands at the headstock and seat post. Obviously this guy was now surprised and full of adreneline so he charged me and I proceeded to pop him in the face with my bike. It was about this same time that I told him it was my bike and I was going to kick his ass. When he took off running I took off after him on foot for about 1.5miles before I lost him. I should have just rode my bike after him but for some reason I left it with Jon. A couple minutes later I was handcuffed and in the back of a squad car. Apparently a local homeowner was concerned for the wellfare of said bike theif. Once I explained the story they took me back to work and apologized. Of course, I understand how it must have looked. Now, when Jon and I look back, we chuckle as it was the day I punched a guy in the face with my bike.
1-18-17: I was driving in to work today and the flow of traffic was at about 65-70mph and there was a car in the middle lane going 50mph which was the same lane I was in. I wish I had caught it sooner but I was only mad for about 1.5 seconds. I'm trying to get that down to 0 seconds but 1.5 seconds is pretty good. I gave up road rage in my 30's so there was non of that. I didn't even look to see what was going on in that car as it could have been somebody having a really bad day. I am happy that I didn't make it worse. I find this experience analogous to life and to business.
1-17-17: I am getting pretty stoked about the XDaivel project we started a few weeks ago which we are calling Project1146. The bike looks like a mess now but it looks like we are going to have it ready for the Motorcycle Expo at the Indiana Fairgrounds on Feb 17-19th. We have done mostly cosmetic changes to the bike as well as some very trick and very affordable wheels from Ducati Performance. I was shocked to see the wheels priced at about $2000 when for the past 15 years wheels from DP have been in the $3000-$4000 range. Maybe its just a price mistake so if you are interested in these wheels just let us know soon. :)
On the topic of letting us know, I just thought I would bring up how important customer feedback is to our shop. If you have some feedback for us, good or bad, please let us know. The good feedback reinforces what we are doing right and the bad feedback lets us know what we need to change. Again, it is really important to get the feedback so please keep it coming!
1-16-17: We were working on the website today getting some things updated and coming up with ideas and we decided a blog would be a good addition. You know, mix it up a bit. 2017 has started off really well for the shop. I can't put it all into words but the vibe around the shop is very positive. As much as I appreciate everyone who has worked here and helped us in the past, this new crew has opened the door to new horizons. Not only do I feel this way but the crew feels this way too. Hopefully all of our customers can feel this good vibe as well. It sure looked like it on Saturday during the Cajun Cookoff! 2016 was a tough year but thanks to everyone for your support. With that said, here is to a great 2017!