Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Break down Bajaj

Before I purchased a Bajaj Chetak, I spoke with a friend of mine who owned Vespas and did a ton of research. He told me that Bajaj was made with inferior metals according to what he read deep in the forums on ScooterWorks website, I believe. This was over 6 years ago. That may be true, but what I am quickly learning it is more likely the "quality control" that is the issue with Indian-made scooters.

I have been totally happy with my Chetak and I have ridden it hard with little to know problems. Dealers have told me that they have had less problems with Bajaj than the 2-stroke Stellas, which is also Indian (LML).

I have 7,000+ on my Chetak now. While at AmeriVespa 2009 this past weekend I ran into Steve, owner of MotorSports (a very reputable shop) - a Bajaj dealer, and he asked me if I was experiencing any problems with mine or my wife's Chetaks. He went on to explain that recently his shop has replaced a half dozen Bajaj cranks, due to failure. He explained that the bikes had 10,000 plus miles on the odometer. An hour later my ignition switch stopped working. Two hours later it worked. Then it never worked again.

When I got home, I emailed my Bajaj mechanic. Now I should preface this by saying that my mechanic worked as a head mechanic for a Bajaj dealer and he worked as the mechanic for Bajaj USA Corporate. He knows Bajaj! I asked him if he has seen any problems with the crank needing to be replaced.

This is what he said . . . "Yes, all the time, they normally start to fail around after 6000 miles. And I had been rebuilt at least 40 to 50 of those engine due to the crack bearings or output shaft failure. Remember they were made in India."

The reality is whether Bajaj, Stella(LML), or SIL there is a chance that your scooter may never have problems at all or it may have a lot of them. The metals used, though I am not super educated or an expert, are probably not the biggest concern. The biggest concern is the lack of quality control in the Indian factories. I can say for sure that grommets, seals, and bearings from India are not worth saving money on. I have researched the crap out of these when restoring my wife's Vespa SS180 and my Lambretta TV175. So if your engine goes bad, I suggest you replace all of those items with quality made ones if possible to get (some Bajaj parts are strictly Bajaj without repros available and Bajaj is in financial trouble and may not be around for a while and Bajaj USA no longer exists).

If your engine goes bad, price out the parts. It may be worth putting another engine in there for not much more money, like a P200. Be careful with LML and Indian brands. Rebuild those first.

I strongly recommend considering rebuilding the engine yourself to get to know your bike. If it's like a Vespa engine it is not that hard.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

have you been to my site?

retrobaja.informe.com

Daniel said...

i mean

retrobajaj.informe.com

Scooter Couple said...

Yes I have. Thx Daniel.