24 August 2011

Time to hit the road and continue aboard the Family Truckster on my Turkey motorcycle tour.  Hope she is ready to rock and roll as scheduled.  Should be, that’s why I pay the BMW the big bucks they ask for – should be the same in Turkey shouldn’t it?  Fingers crossed …

I’m aprehensive about telling this story. It’s not as though the guys weren’t trying. But it wasn’t one of their better customer service experiences. And I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression about this wonderful country and its people. But it is somewhat amusing reflecting on it now even though it wasn’t at the time. And this did really happen.

It began Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon.

Not having heard about the status of the new front wheel for the Truckster, I made a call about 5pm.

Could I call back in 10 minutes after they find out?

Sure. Not sure why they have an aversion to calling me? It’s not as though they know me well or anything.

After 10 minutes I call again.

Did I take my bike with me on Friday? This is from the guy who called the taxi to take me to the hotel after helping me take my luggage of the bike before I handed him the keys. Don’t tell me they’ve lost my bike!

Clearly the wheel has not been replaced yet.

I remind them I am leaving Istanbul on Wednesday morning. Did the wheel come in? I ask.

Yes, on Monday.

So why haven’t you replaced the wheel and done the safety check then?

I thought you would call me to tell me to do it.

Clearly most of our conversation of Friday last was lost in translation.

And BMW will not replace the wheel under warranty.

I had kind of expected this but was very disappointed all the same. Not much I can do though. I need to replace the wheel.

They will replace the wheel and do the safety check during the late shift tonight.

OK. Thanks. Will be there at 10am Wednesday but I want to discuss this warranty issue further.

I arrive right on 10am courtesy of a perfectly timed transfer organised by the hotel staff. Was actually a pleasant ride and not a white knuckle job. I think a combination of a much better driver and going against the traffic.

My bike is nowhere to be seen. They go and get it for me. Nice, they washed it. Good.

They explain the bill to me, comprised of the cost of the part and labour. I ask about the safety check, was it done. Yes. Did they check the oil. Yes.

It was about 4,000 miles first time around that the oil level got low in the Family Truckster and needed a top up. At almost 4,000 miles since the last service I kind of figured it would be getting low again. I don’t carry oil with me. Maybe I should.

But you have not charged me for any oil on the bill.

Yes, we felt sorry for you.

Thanks. But it is all ok?

Yes we put some in – not much.

And everything else ok?


In the UK BMW usually provide a checklist showing the items checked and results etc. Nothing is given to me. Maybe they just don’t give the customer a copy. Ok.

I spend 25 minutes chatting with the Service Manager, trying to convince him the wheel was defective. He is pleasant but does not give an inch. Just wants to blame Germany. Says his mechanics had a look and is due to hitting potholes but they put the case forward to Germany with photos anyway. With the tyre on or off I ask. He doesn’t know. I tell him its likely with the tyre still on as looking at it now with the tyre off its not good.

Funny how the back wheel has not suffered any damage (well nothing was reported on the safety check) yet would have tracked through the same potholes though?

I pay the bill so I can get on my way. You know how everyone thinks BMW’s are expensive to maintain? Well normally servicing costs are not bad at all – most reasonable in fact. This bill was shocking.

I keep the old wheel as a souvenir.  I’ll drop it off at BMW personally on the way back to London to see what they have to say.

I’m finally on my way heading east out of Istanbul.

It’s not a big mileage day today so I take it easy, even managing a pleasant trip on a ferry across the eastern most part of the Sea of Marmara.

I saw all of the roads that Turkey has to offer in a 100 mile stretch today after I got off the Eskisihar-Topcular ferry. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I took it very easy on the ugly and bad. Don’t want any more souvenirs.

Coming into Iznik I notice a Check Oil warning light on the display. This is just what I need.

I pull over and call the guys at BMW Istanbul just to confirm they checked the oil. I also put the bike up on the centre stand and check the oil level myself on the dipstick. It’s low alright. Can’t see any oil on the dipstick.

Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I do it again. Same result.

Now I am certainly no mechanical genius but I did have some BMW guys in the UK show me how to do this last time it was low and I pulled in to buy some oil to top it up. I was pretty sure I was doing it right.

I let the Service Manager know how reliant I am on BMW to keep my bike running properly and now have some concerns as to whether the safety check was done at all.

He suggest I pop into their service centre in Bursa and they will check it out again – no charge. In the meantime if I feel like the oil needs a top up get 10 W50 grade. Bursa is the next town I pass through so it sounds like a good plan.

I find the nearest petrol station and ask about oil, but they don’t have the right grade. The Check Oil light has not reappeared since my stop so I press on to Bursa keeping a close eye on the display in case it decides to come on again. It doesn’t.

I arrive at the dealer around 4pm and someone takes my bike into the garage to check it over.

Can I watch how he checks the oil to see if I am doing it properly?

No, my manager will not allow it.

Ok, so I’ll wait.

About an hour after I arrived the bike is outside and I ask that we check the oil together. They tell me they put in a small amount.

Up on the centre stand and out with the dipstick. Still no oil coating it.

The mechanic says he checked it several times. Not sure what he was checking. Maybe another bike.

So I ask him where it went then.

He has no answer.

Back into the shop. This time I am allowed out the back.

This time they do a complete oil change. Ok but it probably just needs a top up. No we do oil change.

More than an hour passes. Several people are looking at it. There is a lot of discussion. Probably about how it is late and they want to go home. Can’t they do it in the morning? No, this customer is a big pain.

They come and tell me it is ok now. Out with the dipstick again.

Hooray! Finally there is oil on it.

There’s a good chance they have not seen a bike like mine here before. merCAN told me thinks only 3 have been sold in the whole of Turkey.

But hang on. Checking the oil is hardly rocket science – even I know how to do it.

At just after 7pm I pull out and head into downtown Bursa. It is still over 30 degrees and the traffic is an absolute nightmare. Stop, start for almost 40 minutes. The Family Truckster does not like this one bit. The temp gauge is rising.

Then all of a sudden, jackpot. I hit the top of the gauge and a red warning light starts flashing at me. Normally the warning lights are yellow. Red must mean it is bad. I pull over and let the bike cool down.

It’s been a long, hot day. I hope the hotel has a room available.

Total miles today 174 (280km), cumulative 3,579 (5,760km).