With 44,977km on the clock – 33,677km of which has been chalked up so far on our ride from London – today it’s time for a full service by the BMW guys at Barcelona Motors in Chiang Mai. The last on the bike had been performed in Chandigarh, India by the Triumph mechanics as BMW India had refused to use the genuine BMW spares I’d bought at BMW Innsbruck and BMW Ankara, instead insisting that I order the parts from India and pay in advance. Fuck them basically.
Initially I’d had some difficulty in getting into email contact with Barcelona Motors Chiang Mai, but an email to Germany helped resolve the issue, and from then on I’ve received nothing but great service – both via email and in real life – from them.
Also, with 9,000km wear and two repaired punctures in the rear tyre it was also time to replace our Continental TKC80’s with new tyres. The gt-rider.com website includes a list of bike tyre and service shops in Chiang Mai and the Piston Shop came up with some good reviews, so a few phone calls and emails to Nat there had lined up two new Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres.
After a late breakfast – bike shops in Chiang Mai don’t open early – Karen and I rode the few km out to Barcelona Motors, both feeling a bit naked as last night we’d dropped off our riding gear for washing and so we didn’t have our usual protective gear on. The GPS led us directly to the BMW car showroom, with the Motorrad section tucked away on the end, a small display of new bikes including the R1200GS Adventure, XR1000, Nine-T R, F800GT, and a fully-faired R1200RT.
Once we’d overcome some confusion regarding the service booking and the associated language difficulties, the bike was taken away into the workshop around the back. I followed close behind, keen to watch what was being done to the bike. BMW have switched away from Castrol Power 1 Racing oil to their own branded 5W-40 oil after experiencing some issues with the Castrol oil, I learnt after discussing oils with the mechanic.
New differential oil was required as well – Karen watched the mechanic with interest injecting the new oil into the swing arm using a large syringe. We had new front brake pads installed as the old pads had done 23,000km, but the rear pads were only half worn with about 18,000km on them, so they were reinstalled and I ordered a spare set of rear pads that I can carry with me.
As the service was being wrapped up Karen and I took the opportunity to walk across the road – somewhat indirectly as we were facing a tunnel and needed to walk to a nearby bridge – to a large shopping centre on the other side, the Central Festival. Karen was impressed with the large Christmas Tree outside….it’s the first we have seen and somewhat unusual for a predominantly Buddhist country. We wandered around inside for a while, somewhat amazed at the brand name stores located inside – it was if we had been suddenly relocated to a large shopping mall in the USA. We grabbed some crackers and cheese from a gourmet grocery store and munched on those outside in the shade before crossing back to BMW and collecting the bike, first ordering a set of pillion footpeg rubbers, as both of Karen’s footpeg X have been devoid of rubbers for ages now and it’s difficult for her to maintain her footing, especially on steep descents. This is the second time we’ve had to get new rubbers to replace the originals – so these are a definite weak point in the bike. I should look at getting some serrated metal pegs similar to the rider’s footpegs (NB Karen is not keen on these)
From BMW we followed a GPS route out to Denchai Trading – a large camera and electronics store that had sourced a new Olympus TG-4 for Karen and put it aside awaiting collection. We were pleased when we received the camera as it has some nice improvements over the previous model and should piss all over the Nikon AW-130 we’ve been using for the past two months.
Just around the corner from Denchai is the Piston Shop, so within a minute we were riding the bike up into the cramped service area ready for its tyre change. I was surprised to hear that Aad and Mike were still at the shop working on their bikes as I thought they would have finished hours ago, and we walked out the back into the rear yard to find them just finishing up their services. Both the guys looked hot and they explained that the Piston Shop had no water, so I walked to a local 7-11 store and got them some cold cokes and Pringles, whilst Karen went next door to a printing shop and organised a couple of custom ‘2upadventures’ t-shirts for us.
I returned to the Piston Shop just in time to see our BMW being reversed out of the service bay, new Karoo 3’s fitted and ready to ride. Aad & Mike were very appreciate of the cold drinks as they looked absolutely parched, even though the Piston Shop guys had kindly set up a sun shade for them to work under.
Karen paid for the tyres and we bought two repair kits for tubeless tyres as I had used up all of my worms and glue, but later that afternoon when I opened up one kit I realised that it didn’t include rubber cement, so I’ll probably return the kits to the shop and sort out something else.
In the evening the four of us went for a walk to the Rider’s Corner – I’d seen a sign to this place when riding into Chiang Mai the other day and a few bikes parked out the front including a KTM 990 so I was keen to see what the place was all about, and I was blown away almost when I walked up to watch a guy fitting bark busters to a CRF250 and realised that it was Sheldon of “Ride For Smiles” blog fame. Karen and I had met Sheldon in Germany at the Horizons Unlimited meeting, and had enjoyed his boisterous company and huge smile. Working with Sheldon on the bark-busters was a riding buddy of his – Andrew – who is riding an F800GS from Sweden to Australia.
I went inside to get a scrap of paper to write down our email addresses as Andrew offered to send us some details about flying our bike back to Australia and I bumped into Philip – the English owner of Riders Corner, and also owner of rideasia.net – one of the great online forums dedicated to riding here in SE Asia. Riders Corner is like the Thai version of the Ace Cafe, and it was great to chat with Philip for a while, before we all – Karen & I, Aad & Mike and Sheldon & Andrew – grabbed a table and sat down for dinner, drinks, and a couple of hours bench racing and bullshit about bikes and riding.
Catching up with Sheldon, Andrew and Philip at Rider’s Corner was a great finish to a busy but successful day of getting bike stuff sorted, and now we’re ready to go riding again and explore northern Thailand. Bring it on – I can’t wait !!!!