I rarely take my bike to a shop for repairs, it’s like letting someone else watch my kids, no one is going to give a shit more than I do. But I ran into some electrical issues and I didn’t have confidence in my ability to accurately troubleshoot the problem.
The issue was that the battery wasn’t charging. I’d charge the battery, run the bike for a bit and then the battery would be dead. I ran diagnostics on the stator and the regulator/rectified and the stator failed one test. What was confusing to me was that I felt like the stator was generating electricity, because the battery was definitely getting electricity – it was overflowing out that little hose. So my theory was that AC was getting to the battery because the regulator/rectifier was shot, but I really didn’t know.
So I took the bike into Obsession Motorsports in Rockville to have them look at it. I don’t know if they did any diagnostics on it, but they recommended I replace both the stator and the reg/rec. Their theory was that if one is bad, the other is probably jacked up as well. Replacing one, they said, could throw me into a vicious cycle of burning out new parts until I figure out which is bad. I had hoped they could actually figure out what the problem was, but I was fine with replacing them both. Unfortunately, a stator for 1978 Honda CB400 can’t be purchased, so they sent it off to Rick’s to have it rebuilt. That took more than 2 weeks, but it did get rebuilt and they replaced the regulator/rectifier.
Unfortunately the battery was also shot, but they didn’t pick up on that part. So I got home with my newly fixed bike, only to be in the same situation as I was before, a bike that wouldn’t start. I pulled the battery and charged it up. It didn’t work. I pulled the battery again and charged it some more. This time I hooked up my multimeter to read the voltage on the battery, as I was reading it, the voltage was dropping. The battery was toast. I bought a new battery, charged it up and now everything is working great.
My feelings on Obsession Motorsports are mixed. On one hand, they didn’t do any real diagnostics, or else they would have seen that my battery was cooked. They also lost a few parts, some of which I had, some of which I had to order. They installed the shifter in the most ridiculous fashion, but easily fixed. In the end, I’m going to be relying on my own shop skills, but I wouldn’t rule out bringing my bike back again. They seem like cool guys and they turned the bike around as quickly as possible. And they didn’t hose me on the cost of the parts – they basically just charged me for their labor. My only critique would be that they lost parts, which means they’re sloppy in their shop, but it wasn’t anything big, so it’s not a huge deal.
So if you live in the DC area, Obsession Motorsports seems like an OK place to bring your bike for repairs you don’t feel like doing yourself. But if you’re like me, there’s no one better to work on your bike than you. Owning a vintage Honda only makes financial sense if you’re doing a lot of the work yourself. If you’re paying a mechanic all the time, you should just buy a new Honda and reduce your cost of ownership. Fortunately, I find working on bikes almost as enjoyable as riding them.