Cycle World of Athens

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Disturbing Experience
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
ATHENS, GEORGIA -- I had an oil seal in my transmission replaced by this company, 3/18/2010, at a cost of $85.47 for the oil seal and installation of my original transmission sprocket. Less than 2 weeks after the installation of these components, the sprocket spun all the splines while I was riding the bike, leaving me stranded alongside the road about 20 miles from my home.

I went back to this Harley dealer and told them I felt it was an error on the mechanics part, installing this sprocket improperly. A service representative told me that the splines on the sprocket are softer than the splines on the transmission shaft it was on so it could strip those splines instead of causing internal damage to the transmission. That explained why the sprocket was made of that particular material, but it did not explain the reason the sprocket malfunctioned. The representative said there was no way he could determine if it was the mechanics fault or not, so I ended up purchasing a new sprocket and having it installed costing me $221.66.

Thinking the problem was resolved, less than a year and a half later while riding my bike 90 miles away from home, I experienced the same problem. I disassembled the primary chain case and removed the transmission sprocket again that had spun the splines off of it. I took both damaged sprockets to the service manager at Cycle World and explained the situation. He told me to bring in my bike and I asked if he wanted the parts that I had removed also and he said yes, to bring those as well and he was going to see what he could do.

I brought my bike in with the parts thinking the service manager was going to replace the damaged parts and put my bike back together because he had told me to bring the parts with me. A service representative wrote out the work order and I got the work order from him and wrote on it "any parts or labor is to be done at no cost to the customer". I already paid for a new sprocket that I shouldn't have paid for. The service manager came to me and asked why I had written that and I explained to him that I can't keep bringing my bike to them to keep changing out parts if it is going to cost me because I would take it to someone who was going to do it right. Well he seemed to be upset about that comment so he said the only thing he was going to do was replace the sprocket.

I was expecting him to replace the sprocket and re-install the components I had removed. Because he refused to re-install those components, I asked what he would charge me to put the bike back together. He called me into his office and brought in the shop foreman and the shop foreman told him it would be 3 hours labor@ $65 ($195). I told them I thought that was too high, that I could do it quicker than that. The service manager told me that the mechanics write down the actual time on the back of the work order and he would just charge me that amount. I agreed to these terms because the only other thing I could have done at this point was to haul every thing back home and put my bike back together again myself.

Thinking I was going to pay $195 or less, I got my bike back and a bill for $256.55. I didn't like this outcome at all because the service manager should have taken care of the whole situation at no cost to me. He claimed I knew of their 30 day warranty on labor and their 90 day warranty on parts, so he says he was fair and generous by giving me a sprocket (the 3rd one to be installed on my bike) for free. I was not aware of the warranty time frame nor was I even concerned whether it had a warranty or not. I made a complaint to one of the business owners and he had the service manager respond to that complaint. The complaint stated everything I mentioned here and I felt I should have been reimbursed partially or in full for what I had to pay to get my transmission sprocket installed properly.

Even tho the 3rd sprocket was out of warranty according to them, the first sprocket at the time it malfunctioned was not. This company refuses to do absolutely nothing about this issue except to tell me they are sorry I feel the way I do and wish me safe riding. I have filed a complaint with the BBB against them and they responded to the BBB that I had an engine problem that I refused to pay to have fixed. I have never had an engine problem and still don't. Cycle World of Athens should be ashamed to treat customers the way I have been treated on this issue. It's obvious they will never do anything to resolve the problem so I am hoping that other people that may patronize their business are very careful of what they get in to.

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trmn8r on 03/24/2012:
One of the main problems I see here is that as this escalated, in your mind they still owed you for previous work/parts. Each event stands on its own, pretty much. It isn't up to you to define the terms in this situation, and write a statement like that on the service order.

I agree that it is suspicious that the first sprocket failed. But if 1-1/2 years passed after replacement, then I don't see an obligation for covering replacement or the part.

This is a really ugly experience. If I were you, I'd fear that the part will fail again.

Have you contacted HD to see if they have any comment about this gear failing so often?
BigAl on 03/24/2012:
Just because your sprocket failed 2 weeks after you had an oil seal replaced does not mean the mechanic did anything wrong. You can pop your clutch or downshift with a brand new motorcycle and spin your sprocket.You must remember your motorcycle is well over 10 years old. The spline on your transmission is also probably worn after 10 plus years.. That would explain why your first replaced sprocket lasted 18 months. Harley Davidson considers this sprocket as a maintenance item which should be replaced at certain intervals. I cannot see anything this MC repair shop did that is wrong. In fact you would have been thrown out of many shops. You have not had 3 sprockets installed on your MC. This last one would be your second.
Anonymous on 03/24/2012:
Sadly, it's getting to the point where (dare I say) Yamaha's, Suzuki's, and even Honda's are putting out a better product than Harley. They definitely ain't the Harley's my dad used to ride. That ol' panhead ran like a champ.
BigAl on 03/25/2012:
J4ALL, I am assuming that you are just guessing that Yamaha, Suzuki,and Honda make better products. They certainly do not. In fact it is not even close. Your Japaneese motorcycles are basically like toasters, when they break you throw them away. At least a HD can be repaired.
rhoughton5 on 03/26/2012:
I think it's obvious that BigAl doesn't have any idea what had happened to my bike because I was actually just riding along and even going down hill when the sprocket sheared the splines. I also asked the shop foreman if he had seen any other indication of wear that would cause this problem and he said no. I also contacted Harely Davidson headquartes and they could not give me a reason for this happening so many times in such a short time. I accepted the response I received from the service department when they improperly installed my original sprocket, but when the second one failed, it was obvious what was going wrong. I do fear that this will occur again but not as much because the mechanic that installed the 2 damaged sprockets is no longer with Cycle World of Athens and hopefully they got a good mechanic to install it properly. I have the maintenanc manual for this bike and it shows no where in it where the transmission sprocket is to be replaced at certain intervals. The original sprocket was on the bike for 12 years until Cycle World of Athens removed and reinstalled it. Do the math because these sprockets do not do this that frequently. The other thing is 1 reinstalled original sprocket and 2 new sprockets equals 3 installed sprockets the last time I calculated.
trmn8r on 03/26/2012:
Interesting update, by both BigAl and the OP. BigAl suggests this is a wear item, and the OP reports that HD has no idea why this could happen so often (!). That second one is a bit scary, but often companies don't want to reveal things or maybe the right person was simply not on the phone. Or, maybe the mechanic is at fault.

I'm curious as to what improper procedure on the part of the mechanic could lead to this spline failure.

Great picture, by the way. And a nasty problem.
rhoughton5 on 03/26/2012:
I agree with Justice-4-All that if I weren't as old as I am and were going to get a new bike, it would definitely not be a Harley Davidson. I have heard some really good things about Honda's, one guy telling me his bike has over 300,000 miles on it and he has had very little issues with it.
Anonymous on 03/26/2012:
BigAl> Back when Harley's were American made, indeed they were far superior. Unfortunately, they began using more and more foreign made parts, and only "assembling" them in the USA. So their claim that a Harley is American made, is only partially true. The majority of the bike is just as foreign as Yamaha, Suzuki, and others. They just assemble it here in the states. Again, I stand by my statement that they just aren't what they used to be. Nowadays, when it comes to Harley, you're just paying for the name brand.
Slimjim on 03/26/2012:
I always thought the knock on Harleys were that they always had a reputation for being unreliable compared to the Japanese imports. Loud and underpowered too comparatively. Their American heritage, image, and styling is why they were/are so popular.
rhoughton5 on 03/26/2012:
trmn8r>There are a number of ways the mechanic may have installed this sprocket improperly. The first thing is he may not have had the proper special tools required to perform this task. The nut on the sprocket is to be torqued at 50 ft lbs. A line is supposed to be scribed over the nut and on to the sprocket. The sprocket is supposed to be held still with a special tool. Then the nut has to be tightened an additional 30 to 40 degrees, then a lockplate over the nut where 2 screws attach the lockplate holes line up. If the screw holes for the lockplate do not line up, the nut can be tightened up to a maximum 45 degree angle. Then the nut is not allowed to be rotated counter clockwise for any reason. Those 2 screws holding the lockplate to the sprocket are to have thread locking compound on them when installed. So there are a number of steps that may have been omitted or just not done. I don't know what the mechanics used to scribe that line they are talking about to get the 30 to 40 degrees,but I seen no indication on either of the 2 damaged sprockets having a scribe mark of any kind. Maybe it's laser !!! The torque wrench the mechanic may have used may not have been calibrated, so there are a number of things that could have happened. I hope this answers your question. The only reason I didn't do this task myself is because I don't have the special sprocket holding tool or the special socket for the nut.
BigAl on 03/26/2012:
In 1969 HD was bought by AMF(American Machine Foundry) In 1981 It was bought by senior executives of HD. Due to the acquisition of HD in 1969 their product was substandard due to cost saving shortcuts implemented by the new ownership. After 1981 a much better product was reintroduced to the public. HD originally and once again make a fine product. Let me answer a few of the questions that have arisen. It does take a special tool to install said sprocket. I have it in my toolbox. The scribe mark is put on with a yellowish looking crayon made especially for marking machined parts. There is a minimum and maximum torque to be used when installing sprocket. 50 ft. lbs is minimum.Maximum torque will not be reached using hand tools. The 30 to 40 degrees that the nut is turned is so that the lockplate and holding screws can be installed. Calibration of the torque wrench would have to be so far off to cause a problem that any mechanic worth his salt would know. Any mechanic can tell if his torque wrench is off. Most mechanics can can come within 1 or 2 lbs of accuracy without a torque wrench. Of course this is only done on roadside emergency repairs. Locktite is used on the threads. If the screws would have backed out it would have been evident. Sprockets are a definite wear item. Now let me clue everyone in on something of value here. This particular motorcycle is belt driven. Belts are also a wear item. You can change a belt without changing the sprocket but you should never change a sprocket without changing the belt. This is the only thing that I found with the information given that this repair shop might have done wrong. If the repair shop advised a belt change and the customer declined then it is not the shops fault. If the shop did not suggest a belt change they were lax in their duties. I am a highly trained Master Motorcycle Mechanic who is now retired. I have worked on HDs, Suzukis, Hondas, Yamahas, Victories and a whole array of other brands. To answer one last question someone posted--yes HDs are not completely American made. Actually it's not even close. The only true American made motorcycle is the Victory.
rhoughton5 on 03/27/2012:
BigAl> Well I am glad you are on here, so if we have any questions we can ask you to help us out. I was never askde to change the belt on my bike because of this incident. Like I said, the shop foreman told me he inspected all the components associated with this sprocket and found nothing wrong. He said they even checked the alignment of the rear wheel. Why did the belt not come apart before the metal sprocket? I am retired from the military after working on helicopters and running the quality control shop for almost 20 years. I am not a professional motorcycle mechanic, but I can read and interpret manuals and perform the procedures outlined in the manual for just about any of the tasks. I don't know if I agree with the torque wrench thing. As long as I have been a mechanic, I cannot tell if I have 30 ft pounds or 50 ft pounds of torque without a torque wrench. Maybe I just don't have that touch. But again BigAl, I am glad to hear your comments and I will be sure to get on here if I have any questions.
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Why should I pay for Cycle Worlds of Athens, GA Mistake?
Posted by on
ATHENS, GEORGIA -- In July 2006, I took my 2005 Honda CBR 1000 RR Motorcycle to Cycle World of Athens, GA in order to have the front brakes checked and the tires replaced. After diagnosing the problem, they concluded that the bikes' front fork seals needed to be replaced, and they needed to order a tire. They fixed the back tire and released the bike to me while ordering the other parts.

After they fixed the bike from ordering the parts, I picked it up and rode to my office (approx 4 miles) then home (approx 3 miles). The bike started making a knocking sound, and I called the dealer the next day to pick it up. They asked me to drive the bike, and I told them it would not be a good idea. They sent someone to pick it up. After they got the bike to the shop, they told me it would take approx 1 week to diagnose the problem and that they would need to take my engine apart (costing me approx $200 to diagnose).

They finally got back with me and said that I had blown the engine from lack of oil. I was seriously confused, and they decided to check the history on my maintenance. They concluded that the bike had not been in since it had the service at approx 4k miles. The bike actually had a clutch replaced along with the oil changed approx 3 months prior to the engine situation (almost exactly half way between Cycle World's 1st service and the service that blew the engine).

Robert, a former employee of Cycle World, actually replaced the clutch on my bike. Ray, a current Honda Service tech that works at Cycle World, helped him with the clutch as well. Willie, another Cycle World employee, even sold the oil filter and oil to Robert at a discounted price since they used to work together.

I can not understand how my bike can leave the dealer and not have oil in it? I can not figure out how it lost over 2 quarts of oil with NO record of leakage according to the dealer. The service manager told me that we could try and contact Honda to see if we could have it covered under warranty. After Honda came out, they said that this was not a Warranty item that they would cover.

So now I am without a bike and to get it back Cycle world is telling me that it is going to cost approx $3k to replace the engine - WOW! Why should I pay for their mistake? The bike had oil when it got there - so where did it go? The service manager has tried to be nice and said we could try to find an engine on eBay - but why should I even have to pay for a used engine? I know the bike had oil when it got there, but when it left it only had approx 1 quart according to the dealer. I have done every service that the bike has required, and the dealer's initial reaction was that it was neglect on my part for not checking the oil - I did. Their mechanic worked on it after hours helping with a clutch - the dealer sold the oil filter and oil, and the initial service was done in their shop. I have had the oil changed 3 times in the time I have had the bike so I can not figure out why I am paying for a mistake that I did not make.

In my opinion, this is neglect on the part of Cycle World. As a consumer, I am dissatisfied with this entire situation.
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rickoo on 11/06/2006:
Oh yeah, I know EXACTLY what you're talking about.

In fact, "Cycle World of Athens" was the VERY FIRST business that I searched for on this website, and sure enough, I find a fellow victim. I'm not surprised, either; my experience with their service department was so bad that it just beggars the imagination.

Let me tell you something; There will be GLACIERS IN HELL before I EVER let those guys touch a bike of mine again...EVER...

Silver lining: There are at least two good indie shops in town to fill the void: BoxerWorks in Watkinsville & ORC Powersports on Jefferson Rd, Athens. Both of these shops are good, and I predict that both will stay busy so long as "Cycle World of Athens" stays in business.

I'm pretty sure that we are not the only ones in town who have been burned by these folks...

235556will on 08/19/2008:
Your story doesn't add up - You had some people work on your bike after hours, using discounted parts, sold from one employee to another. Why is this a service department issue, were these friends of yours doing service? Why would a former employee pay for your parts (oil and filter)? And most importantly, why did you fry a motor? New fork seals at one year.....HMMMMMMM.. YOU HAVEN'T BEEN DOING WHEELIES, HAVE YOU? Sounds like you skirted paying regular shop rates by having some friends of yours do after hour service, then get pissed because you screwed your motor up by starving it of oil during extended wheelies. I don't take your complaint too seriously, you probably have a reputaion for being an jerk wherever you go. In addition, I call bull on your 1 quart oil story. If you rode a bike with one quart of oil in it, a BRIGHT RED light would come on, which you would clearly see. You rode a bike for several weeks with one quart of oil ane never saw a light come on? Give me a break guy. Stay away from my dealerhip - I don't want to change a tire on your next bike and then be accused of blowing your motor up. Thanks
CBRChick on 08/19/2008:
I agree with 235556will. I sounds like you were just not taking care of your bike, and now you're just looking for someone to blame. In the future, don't let your friends work on your bike and don't buy discounted parts.
BS Detector on 03/19/2009:
I agree, smells like BS to me. Key word being "former employee". that's what happens when try to cut corners and let a "former employee" who was never was a motorcycle tech but a parts counter worker work on your bike and buying discounted parts. Some folks complain to try to get things free all the time. Cycle World of Athens has been in business for 35 years and stand behind their work... if they screw up they make it right. If you screw up and try to steal a free repair and don't get it, you want to smear their reputation. Well it doesn't work here because your story is pegging the BS detector.
GemC on 09/15/2009:
Sadly my bike was dropped off at Cycle World before I found this poor complaint. I took my bike in after it wouldn't start. I wanted them to check starter, plugs, carbs to see what it could be. It was 3 days before they looked at the bike (pretty good compared to most stories I hear about them). They call me once and say my kick starter pedal is loose and my starter is clicking. I told them the starter wouldn't turn over because the battery was new and not fully charged. They did not give me an estimate. I do some research and call them back 2 hours later. The story changes: Now My upper and lower crank cases are trashed, there is a grinding noise in the engine and I need a full engine overhaul involving between $1500-$2000 worth of parts alone. They say it is running and put together. I say I'm coming to get it and I get put on hold for 5 minutes. They come back and say I can't pick it up because they pulled the casing off again and it needs new gaskets and oil. Oh, and it will be at least another day of service and $150-$200 in parts and labor. So they take my bike apart and put it back together how many times without my request? And what did they break in the process to make it grind? And now I'm looking at paying more than I paid for the bike in repairs? Thumbs down Cycle World.

I told them there was no grinding when I took it in.
rhoughton5 on 03/24/2012:
Well I had the same kind of disturbing experience with Cycle World also and they refuse to do absolutely nothing about it. I have also filed a complaint on here. I don't expect them to do their business any different than they have for the past 37 years, so I think people should be very concerned and cautious when using their service department. Can you imagine how many people out there have had these same problems but never said anything to anyone except their friends ??? Lots of horror stories out there about Cycle World of Athens.
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