What to do if I have a breakdown

A combination of extreme weather conditions and a motorcycle of doubtful quality can sometimes lead to a breakdown. As scary as it sounds, if I could pick one country where to have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere I would pick Vietnam.

In Vietnam, everyone can repair motorcycles and you will find a repair shop even in some of the smallest towns. People in Vietnam understand how important it is to know how to repair machines and with their strong inborn skill, they will always surprise you how fast will they get you back on the road. I admire Vietnamese people for being so handy.

The Importance of Motorcycle Maintenance

First thing you can do for yourself in order to save you some trouble in the future is to take good care of your motorcycle. Of course you cannot undo what previous owners did to your motorcycle and how they treated it, on the other hand, you can always have it checked before you hit the road and you probably should. And whenever you get suspicious that something is wrong about your motorcycle, head to the closest shop. That ten minute check can save you hours later.

Every 300 kilometers (185 miles) you should have your oil changed (60.000 – 120.000 vnd) and at the same time you should have your chain tighten and oiled (20.000 vnd). You should also start your engine and let the mechanic tune it, if necessary. My both Honda Wins required to have the carburetor tuned regularly. If I did not have my carburetor tuned, the engine would stop running in the most inconvenient situations.

Unpleasant surprises

Sometimes, the motorcycle only needs some time to rest, especially when the temperature goes up to 40°C (100°F) degrees. Sometimes, you are the reason why it doesn’t work – just like me on my very first day when I stopped by the road to look at the map and then could not ride away. I found out I had the fourth gear in instead of the first gear. And sometimes even the best maintained motorcycle can break down when you least expect it or when you least wish for it. As I said earlier, it is never as bad as it sounds, especially in Vietnam.

If your motorcycle ever breaks down and you are not able to ride anymore, look for “sua xe” or “xe may” signs. On the road, you will quickly learn to recognize these shops. They can be little garages with only one mechanic, large shops with bunch of people willing to help or they can only be a couple of tools on the ground at the corner of a busy street. The important thing is, whatever happens to your motorcycle, Vietnamese people will always get you back on the road.

This mechanic in Phan Thiet not only fixed my motorcycle, he also knew where the small European country I come from is and he named all the players of our Czech national football team. Great guy.