Thailand Motorbike Break-In Period Not Necessary?

We bought a new motorbike, a Yamaha Mio 125. Right before the mechanic that pre-flighted the bike let us drive off I asked him…

How many kilometers do we need to go slow for?

My wife then asked him in better Thai – about how slow we need to go and for how many kilometers.

The Yamaha mechanic replied that we needn’t go slow at all – just drive as fast as you want. No break-in period required.

Really?

Did we finally reach that point in technology where there is no break-in period needed for a new motorbike? Is Yamaha doing something different than other motorbike manufacturers, or, is this the norm all over now? Or, is our Yamaha mechanic wrong?

When we bought our first Mio back in 2005 we were told to drive under a certain speed for some number of kilometers – can’t remember what the rules were.

Is that out the window now? Anybody know?

We’ve gone under 70kph for the first 200km. Can I max it out now, or ?

Yamaha Mio – A Very Reliable Motorbike in Thailand

We bought a Yamaha Mio MX or ZX or something, in 2005. We drove that thing into the ground – usually 2 of us on it, and we did many 150km trips on it – 50? More?

When I had open road I was going 115kph, all the time. It was maxed out at that. With two of us on it – we could hit 120 down a hill. We were maxed out every time we rode long distance.

It was at about 80,000 km that the engine died. I think it got low on oil – and it started to seize. I drove slowly and got it to the Yamaha place. For 4,000 THB they redid everything important in the engine – and we drove it another 12,000 km and then gave it to my wife’s older aunt. It runs better than it did new with the engine parts. Not sure what they did, but the power from that little 114cc engine was awesome.

That factored into our decision to buy the latest 2011 (I think, maybe 2010 – but, these colors are nowhere to be seen on the streets yet) Yamaha Mio MX or RR or something. I don’t pay attention to the model since they are all the same engine – just the plastic has changed.

We got a 125cc Mio that is liquid cooled, and not fuel injected – like the hondas. Yamaha tweaked the carb and kept it traditional carb to pass emissions.

The thing is quite powerful. On par with the 135cc Nouvo’s – we’ve rented them. The speeds must be very similar up to 100 kph, but maybe even faster as the Mio is lighter – much lighter.

The seat is lower than the Nouvo – which helps for my vertically challenged wife. Otherwise, I wanted the Nouvo… but, whatever, they are probably just the same engines with more cubic displacement.

If you want a reliable motorbike – get a new Yammy 125cc. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Thailand Suzuki Raider 150r is FAST

I’m talking about within Thailand of course – the Suzuki Raider 150 / 15or is quite fast…

The 150r does not have the neck-snapping acceleration the Honda Nova 125 did, but, it has a good strong pull from 3rd gear on, and peaks well above what the Nova 125 used to do for me.

Today I went back to the dealer and gave them the cash for the Raider 150r so I could test drive it. This dealer, unlike almost any other in the country that I’ve asked to test drive motorbikes – lets you.

I test drove the Suzuki Raider 150 with a mechanic from the dealer as a passenger. The bike was STILL fast. The brakes STILL worked well – dual disks, front and rear.

Well today I wanted to ride the Raider 150 by myself and so I had to give them the cash upfront with the caveat that I’d get it returned if I chose not to buy the motorcycle after the drive.

I headed out on the highway and let her rip… damn, it was nice. The most impressive thing was going up a moderate slope and sized hill and accelerating up it – to 130kph. I wasn’t sure I believed it. I did it again, and again. From 90 to 130 the Raider flies… actually, from 3rd gear through 6th it FLIES.

Maximum speed for Suzuki Raider 150r?

I don’t know. I never got there. I chickened out at 130kph because the rear low profile tire says maximum speed 120kph I noticed before I left. It needs some Dunlops.

So – I did some 0-130kph runs and I really enjoyed the speed. The exhaust looks stock and I wonder what a great exhaust would do for it… an open carb…

When I brought it back to the Suzuki dealer I wasn’t sure what I’d say. It took me 10 minutes of considering all the other options to tell them I’d be back possibly. I got the money back, but gave them 1,000 THB to hold it for me for 3 days – and call me if someone else wanted to buy it – I wanted right to buy it first.

So – that was today…

Oh, and the Yamaha MIO I’ve had for 4 years died yet again after fixing at the Yamaha dealer. They ‘fixed’ it for 1,054 THB. I drove away in search of a Honda dealer to find a new CBR 150r. I never made it – the bike died good. I turned around and pushed it back to Yamaha. They said – oh – have to take apart engine… this plastic piece is broken.

“Yeah, no joke!” – that’s what I told them the first time and that was the whole reason for seeing them the first time.  WTF?

So they get in there and look… they call me over to the MIO and say – who did the maintenance last time. I said  – “you.”

They said, no, there are some fake parts in there – we don’t do that. Then I remembered – oh yes, my friend did that when the entire Mio died on me and seized the engine a few months back.

They said the guy put parts in backward, put the wrong timing chain in the bike, etc, etc.

Aw man…

So, they kept it overnight – gave me a junk green one from circa 1974 and told me to come back in 24 hours and pay 3,000THB and it will be fixed the right way this time.

We’ll see tomorrow I guess.

Gotta decide which other motorbike to get quickly here…

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Thailand Tips #5: Ko Samui on a Motorbike? No.

There’s no place more dangerous on a motorbike than Ko Samui or Phuket. I’ve seen more foreigners getting in accidents on Samui than I’ve seen anywhere else.

I saw two girls destroy themselves at the top of the mountain up by the zip line attraction and the waterfalls. The hills are steep and sometimes dirt. Tourists for some reason use the front brake on the motorbike (right side) really hard – and tend to flip themselves or themselves and the bike end over end.

I’ve seen others crash into each other.

I’ve seen cars routinely cut the curve and come into my lane head on – and if I didn’t swerve out of my own lane and onto the side of the road I’d be dead.

I’ve seen the aftermath of head ons with tourists and cars and trucks.

Ko Samui is a wicked dangerous spot to rent a motorbike. If you don’t own a motorbike in your home country – don’t rent one on Samui or Phuket. Those are two really dangerous spots. Phuket I think has the highest accident rate in the country.

Thais have a unique style of driving, it’s called “madness”. Once you learn the madness you can drive on the roads just like them – being aware of the incredibly stupid stuff they’re bound to do. If you’re just here on vacation rent a tuk-tuk or something!

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Motorcycle (Motor-Scooter) Safety Tips for Thailand Visitor

High Season in Thailand? Yep.

I’ve seen a couple hundred fold increase in the number of foreigners on motorbikes here in the south and I expect that it will be just days before I see my first motorbike accident for this tourist season. Man there are some really bloody scenes. I’ve seen heads cracked open and so much blood that I thought I’d be sick and I’m not usually weak-stomached.

I’ve ridden a motorbike here for 3 years and I’ve had one minor accident where the car in front applied a LOT of brakes just as I glanced to the side and rear of me to see if there was anyone in that lane so I could get into it. I hit the back of the car and caused 2000 baht of damage to the woman’s new car. It was my fault. Anytime you hit something – it’s your fault. She hit her brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of her. I lost as I wasn’t paying attention for a second.

There are foreigners that ride straight into the back of trucks here. There are those that are taken out on blind curves. Those that misjudge the speed they should be doing and can’t stop in time. Those that use their front brake hard – and lose all control of the motorbike. There is a LOT to learn about driving in Thailand – and it’s a shame to see people that wouldn’t be comfortable on a bicycle riding a motorbike because they’re on vacation and think it’s fun.

Here are some tips about driving a motorbike in Thailand that I hope you understand and follow:

  1. Your front brake is your RIGHT side lever. Do NOT use it when going around a bend – EVER. Do not use it hard in the rain. Do not use it in any sort of gravel, sand, dirt, oily patch or anything other than dry or wet road without any of the preceding conditions. It’s OK to use the front brake in the rain if you’re going straight and if the road is normal – no oil, gravel and other things – but don’t use the front brake HARD in the rain. The front brake – when it locks up, renders the motorbike totally unsteerable. If the back brake locks up you’re able to steer a little bit.
  2. If you feel the wheels lock up – let off the brakes a bit until the wheels are moving so you can steer again. (must practice – it may not come naturally for you).
  3. Some Thai drivers cut the corners on sharp curves. You may be unpleasantly surprised by a whole car or truck in your lane as you’re coming around a sharp left hand turn. Motorbikes that are racing or otherwise speeding very fast do this a lot too. We’ve ALL had experiences where we thought we’d die in these situations – and some of us did. Stay to the left when making a left hand turn where you can’t see around the bend. Horrible places for these types of near misses are: Koh Samui, Krabi, Patong, and anywhere else where there are hills and very windy roads.
  4. Use your turn signals for everything. Let anyone know what you’re doing before you do it. There are idiots flying up behind me sometimes at 120 kph when the rest of traffic is going 70. If they know what you’re doing by your turn signals then they’ll not hit you.
  5. If you are just moving within the motorcycle lane – or moving left or right at all (not turning) look in your mirrors because moving just 8 or 12 inches left or right can put you in a bad accident if someone is coming up fast – and they do. Hold your line as you drive on the straight and around the bends. If you don’t know what that statement means, look it up it may save your life.
  6. Keep enough air in your tires – but not too much as the more air you have – the quicker you’ll skid and lose control. Better to get a flat tire than die in an accident. I always keep our tires slightly underinflated so I have more traction.
  7. If you have the choice between disc brakes and not – get the motorcycle with disc brakes – they stop quicker and are much easier to judge in the rain – as they don’t change as much as drum brakes which tend to lock up really quick.
  8. Helmets for each person on the motorbike. Not more than 2 people on a motorbike.
  9. Be aware of what is behind you, all the time. BUT, never forget that what is in front of you will kill you more often than what is in back. If you hold your line as you drive the motorcycle you’ll almost always be ok… Often times I’m distracted for a second by something on the side or in back of me… and after I’ve looked and then look back in front of me – something has changed and I need to swerve or hit the brakes. The front is the most important – don’t ever sight-see on the motorcycle.
  10. Check your lights before you leave – headlight, left, right, and brakes.
  11. Adjust your mirrors so you can see to your right and left and behind you a great deal. Forget about directly behind you because that matters least and usually motorbikes don’t follow each other directly behind very close.
  12. Always have 150 baht under your seat to fix a flat tire.
  13. Ride your motorbike on a flat tire – don’t push it or leave it sit – no sense. The tires are VERY strong and won’t rip up – even with two people riding on it for 8 km – as I’ve done. Just go slow and know you’ll need to replace the inner tube, but the outer tire should be fine – just hot as hell for whoever will fix it!
  14. Thais on motorcycles don’t usually look as they pull out into your lane. Thais in cars and trucks usually look, but might pull out in front of you anyway. This is just the NORMAL way they drive. If you don’t compensate by knowing they’re going to jump out in front of you – you may hit them and it may be judged as your fault. Always be ready to compensate for people jumping in front of you in the motorbike lane – you’re expected to move right. DON’T move right until you check your right mirror.
  15. When it rains the oil that drips from cars is more likely to be found at stop lights where cars have sat and dripped for a while. Be VERY careful at intersections when it’s wet because they’ll be the most slippery spots.
  16. Thai people for some damn reason don’t remove debris from the street car or motorcycle lanes. They leave it. Take the time and remove all bricks, rocks, trees, bamboo, and other things you find in the road that could cause someone a really severe accident at night – or even during the day.
  17. Thai construction workers don’t mark the areas very well. My girlfriend’s best friend’s sister died in Ubon Ratchathani on the way from Ubon Ratchathani University back toward Warin Chamrap after 10 pm because there was NO warning the road was out – and she died a horrible death. Only go as fast as you see… and stop within that distance you can see.
  18. Be wary of motorbike riders in back of you. The Thai people are VERY aware when someone is driving close behind them or following them. There’s a reason for this – there are many stories of people on the motorbike being hit with clubs, machetes and fun things like that – and then robbed. It happens everywhere apparently and there is little about it in the papers, but ask ANY Thai person and they’ll tell you that at night time it happens.
  19. Use your horn 9 times more than the locals – because you DON’T know the rules of accepted behavior while driving and if you don’t know what someone is doing – beep. They’ll never verbally say anything about it – and may beep back, but at least you didn’t have an accident.
  20. Fear every vehicle larger than you, because the persistent belief is that “he with the bigger car wins” and usually that’s how they drive. Especially fear the banshee trucks (big dumpster trucks) as they don’t (and can’t) stop very well. Buses too, they don’t stop for anything. I’ve seen many dogs die under the wheels of the bus I was on… and ONE COW broadsided because our bus refused to slow down!
  21. Thai people usually stop at red lights – not always. Don’t even go through a green light without checking the right and left side to see if some punk is flying through the light at 100+kph.
  22. Thai people never stop at stop signs. If you do, you might be rear-ended.
  23. Thai people in cars and trucks WILL cut in front of you, slam on the brakes and make a left turn as you struggle to find the words to call the person. They do it all the time, all kinds of weather. It’s like they think they have the right to or something. This is usually the only time I ever lose it while riding the motorcycle!

Can you think of anymore?

Here’s another couple articles I wrote about driving the motorbike (motor-scooters) in Thailand:

Safe motorcycle driving in Thailand >

Long Distance Motorbike trips in Thailand >

Thailand Road-Kill… YOU! >

Driving in Thailand… Motorbikes, Cars, Trucks, GOD! >

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How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >

Flat Tire in Thailand: Everyone’s a Motorbike Repairman

A flat tire last night gave me another good experience with a Thai person willing to help

Last night I was flying back to the hotel on the motorbike about 100km per hour, trying hard to beat the sunset which was winning the race. I have a dark visor on the helmet and it's dirty… there were no street lights and I was trying to follow cars since I could use their headlights to illuminate the motorbike path more than my high beam on the motorbike was doing. Low beams are better, since they shine on the road more – but mine was broken and I hadn't seen the need to fix it until that time.

The road wasn't horizontally flat really, it was angled a bit but still the tire in the rear felt a bit wobbly.  If you keep your tires pumped up full all the time you'll be able to notice a soft one quicker and save yourself maybe some skidding across the pavement on your arse or at least from having the nasty swerves that sometimes accompany a flat at high speed. 

Oh – if you do feel the bike starting to swerve at high speed you need to slow down slowly and evenly with both breaks. Hold on tightly to the grips since the bike might start swerving and you've gotta stay in control. I always put my feet down to the pavement too – like an extra brake and it HELPS! Your shoes will lose a 1/4 inch of rubber (or plastic if you bought your running shoes or sandals in Thailand) but you'll be so much better off since putting your feet down helps to steady the bike and cancel out the swerves.  In my experience anyway. 

I was just guessing that one of my tires was a bit soft – it wasn't flat – it's easy to tell if it's flat… so I did something stupid that turned out ok, I swerved on purpose a few times just to feel the tire. Yeah, felt soft.

I stopped and checked it.  I lost a lot of air -but still ok to go a few km depending how fast it was leaking.

I stopped by two guys sitting on their motorbikes and talking near a bus stop.  I pointed at my tire and made a motion like no air now. I STILL don't know the Thai language for flat tire… I should, considering I've had 10 or so in 2+ years.  I'll look it up, better to know it.  I said "aow gaht, mai me" – air, no have.  They understood immediately though I think the context and me pointing to the rear tire as flat had more to do with it than my made-up Thai.

The heavier guy jumps on his motorbike and tells me to follow – mah nee.

I do and we drive about 5 houses down the road.  It's pitch black.  Motorbike shop closed.  He sees a girl walking 2 doors down. He yells her name. They talk. He tells me, mah nee… I bring the motorbike under where she lives (house on stilts) and the guy goes about changing my tire using her families tools, air compressor, etc.  The guy had a hard time as he didn't know where all the tools were. They didn't have a spare tube for the motorbike so he had to patch it. The hole fell on an area on the tube where there were a lot of raised rubber ridges so he needed to sand those down really smooth before gluing and patching.  He was sweating and I was filming video of him working and when I could I was playing with the 3 kittens that were running around my feet.

For 20 minutes the guy did a good job, I made it the 12 km back without a problem. Not sure I have air this morning, but by the way he paid attention to what he was doing – I'm sure I have air. 

It's sucks to get a flat tire anywhere…. but in Thailand – you just point to your tire and they'll take it from there. Even if they don't WANT to help, I think they do something just knowing that you're a foreigner and you don't know anyone, so they help.  That, and the fact that some want to make some extra coin.

The way this guy was working and sweating, what is usually a 30-50 baht operation – a tire patch, I thought was going to be a 100 – 150 baht scam the farang operation.

Video of him changing flat motorbike tire >

When he was finishing up I heard him ask the girl how much to charge. She said 20 baht. I thought I must have heard incorrectly.  Then I thought, he must have asked her how much to use her tools and the patch and glue kit.  I thought he'd add his on top.

I asked how much – Taol rai kup? 

sewenty baht.

I said what?

Yee sip baht.

I said what?

I thought he meant 70 baht – which would have been ok considering the effort and now he needed a shower.

He said yee sip baht.  I said, oh no, here is 100 baht. Thanks so much man…

He was shocked and the girl was all smiles but he didn't really know what to do. He wanted to help, that much was obvious. I'm glad he took the 100 baht as it saved me a lot of effort to find someone else in that area – there was nobody else around.

So, if you have a flat tire on your motorbike, don't be shy about stopping and asking ANYONE that might be out. If they can't do something they'll probably go find someone that can. Or they'll just walk away from you out of embarrassment for not being able to speak English thinking you don't speak Thai. So, try out your Thai.  It's times like this, when I'm forced to speak Thai that I realize I should practice more.

A few days ago  I had a hilarious time attempting to tell some guys my battery was dead – it wouldn't start.  Thais' say battery like "batt a lee" very distinct syllables if you ever are in the same situation.