Why Does it Cost So Much at the Dealer?

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February 8, 2013 | By: Ryan Schwahl

mechanicThere are three main criteria used in pricing motorcycle repairs. The first is labor, or what the shop charges for the time and expertise that goes into repairing your vehicle. The second is parts, and whatever other shop support materials are used in the repair process. The third is fixed costs or overhead costs the repair shop has to cover, but that’s not reflected on your bill.

To diagnose a computer problem on today’s modern motorcycles, certified technicians must go through very extensive (and expensive) training. In addition, the equipment used by the technician to get accurate readings is costly.

Certain costs are not passed onto the consumer. Those include the costs of running a shop, which in this modern age, can be pricey. Regardless of size, a shop has expenses that have to be paid by the work generated. There are the obvious ones, like the rent, electricity, heat and other utilities.

But there are also substantial costs for equipment and technology. In order to work on today’s motorcycles a shop must have state-of-the-art scanners and diagnostic software for accurate vehicle repair. Without such info, techs cannot deliver accurate repairs. Other equipment such as vehicle lifts, dynamometers and lubrication equipment are necessary to operate a shop efficiently and effectively.

Good, trained service personnel costs money – period. Usually techs are classified as “A,” “B,” or “C” techs. The more high-grade techs there are in a shop, the more it costs to pay them. In order to attract a high-grade technician these days, shops have to pay a good hourly rate or weekly salary, in addition to health insurance and other benefits.

These technicians have to go to school on a regular basis to keep up with new motorcycle technology. Without this training, techs cannot repair vehicles in the “book time” allotted for a particular service (not to mention the occasional “headache” job that comes along).A repair shop usually pays for this training.

Many shops carry their own parts inventory. Given the number of different years, makes, and models of vehicles on the road, this inventory must be broad. Sitting on this inventory is not cheap.  The cost of OEM parts is typically higher due to the fact that they are made right at the factory where your bike is made.  Aftermarket parts are not as expensive because manufacturers can outsource these products to places like China, Japan, etc… It does not make them a weaker part they are just mass produced and at a cheaper labor rate.

So when the question gets brought up as to why parts and labor are so expensive, now you know. You, as a consumer, can be better informed and have more knowledge when dealing with your repair facility. Hopefully this blog posting will answer a lot of the questions for the general consumer.

Comments: 10 Comments | Categorized Under: J&P Cycles, Motorcycle Accessories, Uncategorized

Comments (10)

I get a kick out of people that :
1. Dont know jack shit about working on anything (including but not limited to bikes) complain about labor rates when service time comes up.
2. Think they are the only ones entitled to have a good job with good benefits….

-Im not a certified bike mechanic, and never will be. But I do most of my own work, and have been for the last 25 years, computer diagnostics withstanding.
If you cant stand the idea of paying $80/hr for work being done to your machine, learn to do it yourself. BUY some tire irons, torque wrenches, heck just buy a roll-a-way full of tools….plus the shop manual for your bike. A lift, good measuring equipment, multi-meter, etc. Finally, clear out your garage for the space to take on the jobs required for maintenance or upgrades . Then prepare to sweat, and fix busted knuckles, go through a ton of shop rags, and stay up late scratching your head. That’s what I do….
–Most people will look at that labor to change a tire quite differently after they yank their wheel off, get the tire busted off the rims, inspect wheel bearings, replace if needed (get your slide hammer out), then remount your new tire….Oh balancing, forgot about that. See where Im going?
Not saying I dont give my local dealer crap about outrageous prices on Chinese crap they sell once in a while, but as a general rule I am an old school biker, that does things on his own.

Not sure about other parts but I know OE fairings and bodywork are ridiculously priced.

When you pay the shop rate at a HD shop – you would expect that the owner should not have to follow up on the technicians errors -

Yes, factory tour can provide better knowledge for bike users.

OEM Harley parts are not made at the factory where the motorcycle is assembled. They are made all over the world to include China. Along with all the overpriced clothing.

You are in need of a Harley-Davidson factory tour.

BS. I have been working on bikes for over 40 years and I started at HD in Milwaukee the cost to actual price ratio is about a 800% mark up. Your answer is nothing more than a bunch of BS. People do not believe this. If you look hard enough you can find a place where they will treat and charge you like a human being!

I always keep my old motorcycle parts

The real truth! :)

I think that you are full of it. You are just another mechanic wanting to charge insane prices and try to justify it. How many people have you explained this to afetr charging $100 to change a tire?

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