After I returned to Aron with an improvised filter and tubing for my motorcycle, I thought our problems would be solved. I was far from right. Four days later, though, and we finally have a solution. The long saga will be posted in 4 posts (one for each day).
Day 1 (continued from the last post) – side of the road in Belgium (on the border with France):
We installed the improvised filter, filled the bike with coolant, and started it up. The book told us to wait a bit to make sure everything was ok. It’s a good thing we waited, because the improvised filter couldn’t handle the heat of the warm coolant and it melted, too. So, the next step was to drive to another motorcycle shop and try to find the proper filter, or a bit of tubing that we could use instead of a filter.
I hopped on Aron’s motorcycle, Melton Constable, to drive to the next closest motorcycle shop. The shop that the Suzuki dealer told me about was called Hobby Moto, and it was about 15 mins away on the highway (only one exit away, but it was a long exit). So I left Aron sitting on the side of the road and headed off. It wasn’t until I was on the highway that I realized I had forgotten my wallet. However, I was very nearly at the Hobby Moto area, so I decided to get off the highway and find the shop, just in case they could help me quickly or tell me I needed to go elsewhere. Plus, I had only gone one long exit on the highway and I didn’t have much of a choice. Turning around would required getting off at the same exit. The time was 3:30pm on a Friday.
I got off the highway and tried to find Hobby Moto. I pulled into a Honda dealership, and a very friendly guy who spoke perfect English (rare for this part of the country) gave me excellent directions. He also told me they didn’t have the part I needed. So I hopped back on my bike and drove to Hobby Moto, which turned out to just be the name of the shop in a Yamaha dealership.
When I entered the building, I saw about 5 people waiting at the counter. Two were being helped. Three were waiting like me. I waited for 5 minutes. One person finished up and left. Then the person behind the counter disappeared. I waited another 5 minutes. No progress on either front. I waited another 5 mins, and still nothing had changed – the first person was helping one customer, and the second person disappeared. The time was about 4pm, and I was worried that I would get to the front of the line, find the part, and then not be able to pay. So I left, intending to drive quickly back to Aron to get my wallet and then return. I went to get on the highway to go the one exit back to Aron, but due to all the construction in the area, the highway entrance ramp was closed. The next closest exist was several miles in the wrong direction, and I ended up very lost. After what was an incredibly frustrating time (in which I spent most of it cursing the poor, unmarked road detours in French-speaking Belgium), I finally got back to Aron, retrieved my wallet, and returned to Hobby Moto. It was 4:45pm
And then I waited again. I was 3rd in line at the counter. I finally spoke to an employee, who looked at my broken filter, told me they didn’t have it (which I expected) and then spent another 1 hour and 15mins look at my bike, looking for the filter in the bike, calling nearby Kawasaki dealerships, telling me it wasn’t possible to find the part I needed, and finally selling me a very thin walled rubber tube to use as a replacement (without the filter). They were very friendly and were trying to be helpful, but there weren’t going to be able to help me and it dragged on and on. By this point, there were 15-20 people behind me. It was quite possibly the slowest customer service I’ve ever experienced.
I left frustrated and angry. It was 5:45pm, I had no useable parts, and shops closed for the weekend at 6pm. So I returned to the Honda dealership again, and spoke to someone there. Luckily, the first guy I spoke to understood the problem, knew he couldn’t get the filter, and suggested using a strong tubing as a temp fix (which is what Aron suggested). He brought out his mechanic who looked at my bike and found me exactly the type of double-walled tube that I needed. The barb fittings on my bike that the tube needed to connect to were not the same size, and the mechanic knew this so he gave me zip ties to make the tubing fit both barbs. And he gave me all of this for free. It was exactly what I needed, and I probably could have solved all of this without going back for my wallet. Alas.
I finally returned to Aron, we installed the good tubing, and hit the road to Paris, 6 hours later than expected. We made it to Paris safely. I did notice, however, that my right leg got very hot on the long ride.
To be continued…