If you’ve ever had a minor accident and don’t want to get insurance involved, your eyes have probably bled after seeing how much it costs to replace some pieces of plastic or bent metal on your motorcycle. But apart from going online, there are some creative ways to get replacement OEM parts for your bike at a massive discount – you just need to know where to look.
For those following our Ninja 300 project bike, you’ll be aware that we need to replace three parts – the upper fairing stay, the right fork cover and the front fender brace. Our initial research indicated we’d be paying $574 for all three parts but by the end of our investigation that had been reduced to $162. And yes, that’s for original, brand new parts. So let’s take a look at the various options available to fix your pride and joy.
Before the invention of the internet by Al Gore, one of your only real choices was to head to the local dealership and order the parts you needed there. Despite not being the cheapest source, it can still be a great place to use – especially if you’re not mechanically minded and need somewhere to have the parts installed.
In our research, dealers were generally among the most expensive options. However, never minimize dealing face to face with people. More often than not if you’re buying multiple parts or regularly get your bike serviced at their workshop, they’ll be able to offer discounts – sometimes good ones, too. Parts generally have pretty massive markups so you can negotiate.
We managed to get our order discounted by over 20% in some cases, reducing the cost down to around $450. You also don’t need to pay for postage either. One drawback however is tax – depending on where you live there can be some pretty massive sales tax markups, which may mean it’s cheaper to head online.
Prices (after negotiating):
- Fairing Stay – $108.79
- Front Fender Brace – $30.39
- Right Fork Cover – $242.00
- Total – $453.18
We generally come to expect that online shopping is cheaper than bricks and mortar stores. Not so when it comes to motorcycle parts it would seem. We looked at around half a dozen websites and priced our three items and in general, the total bill would have been within a few dollars of our original dealership quotes every time.
Sure, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your chair which has now nicely formed to shape your buttocks, but when you’re talking about forking over hundreds of dollars, it will generally motivate you to ignore your agoraphobia and talk to actual people if it will save you some cash.
Depending on where you live, you may also be up for postage plus you won’t get any advice on the parts you’re buying. You can still negotiate online but generally you’ll be waiting a little while for the email reply.
Prices (no negotiating):
- Fairing Stay – $225.96
- Front Fender Brace – $40.62
- Right Fork Cover – $307.33
- Total – $573.91
Here’s where some real savings start to materialize if you’re willing to buy used. Again before the Internet became mainstream, you could head down to your local wreckers/salvage yard and see if they had any parts you needed.
Obviously doing this is a real hit and miss affair. Your success rate will depend heavily on the popularity of your bike (sorry, we don’t have any parts for your exotic Italian motorcycle) and the parts you need. Ironically, the most commonly needed items for a particular motorcycle are the ones they won’t have – because they’re the most often damaged in a crash.
Thankfully, the likes of eBay/Craigslist/Gumtree make this a hell of a lot easier. The smart salvage yards tend to have an online presence so you can search from home. And you can get some absolute bargains. While looking for a right fork cover (which costs $307.50 normally), we came across a listing for both front forks, their covers and the triple tree all for $319.
Narrowing it down, we managed to find the following listings for the parts we needed individually:
- Fairing Stay – $119.00
- Front Fender Brace – $20.00
- Right Fork Cover – $130.00
- Total – $269.00
The above doesn’t include delivery, so add another $50 on for that, unless you live near the seller and can pick the parts up in person.
Now, if for some reason you refuse to buy second hand, you can still buy new and original parts for even cheaper…
Did you know that people in developing nations ride motorcycles? Did you know that in some of these developing nations that to pay the prices we do for parts they’d probably have to sell their kidneys? So what happens when they need spare parts?
They pay what they can afford and by that we mean that the manufacturers charge prices that the market will bear. Of course that small piece of plastic for your bike didn’t cost $150 to make – but you’ll potentially pay that won’t you? Plus, western prices are higher because of western wages and other western costs of doing business such as rent, electricity, insurance and so on.
Now buying direct from overseas isn’t easy. You’ve got both language and cultural barriers to overcome. You unfortunately can also get some incredibly poor customer service experiences as well, but if you can get through these issues you can save even more money.
Thankfully, I’ve lived in Thailand where the Ninja 300 is manufactured and while I don’t live there now, I do have a sister-in-law that does. I merely had to give her a printout of the parts I needed (with part numbers and diagrams to help) and direct her to the dealership. The result was as follows:
- Fairing Stay – $54.31
- Front Fender Brace – $10.62
- Right Fork Cover – $97.27
- Total – $162.20
Again, you’ll need to budget for postage but our experience is that postage from anywhere in South East Asia is pretty cheap, especially if you’re not in a hurry.
Obviously, this isn’t an option many would be willing to try but the next best thing is to go online and try and find a company that sells OEM parts direct from the country of manufacture that appear to be run by English speakers. We found a few examples such as Absolute Motorcycle Parts and Tyga Performance. These sites are slightly more expensive than buying direct from a local dealership in the country of origin but still cheaper than every other alternative – including eBay.
So by the end of our research, we were able to save ourselves a massive $411.71 compared to the most expensive prices we could find. In percentage terms, that’s nearly 72% – less a little bit for postage expenses.
OEM v Aftermarket
There are potential savings from choosing aftermarket parts over OEM, but you need to be careful. Personally, we’d steer clear of anything critical to the structural integrity of the bike – that includes bolts. We’ve seen a few examples of people buying bolts from their local mass retail hardware store that have the structural integrity of a house of cards. They’re fine for holding up a piece of fencing, not so much when subjected to the forces on a motorcycle.
Things like levers, bars, pegs and so forth are fine in our books. These tend to bend/break easily and there’s no reason to pay five times more for OEM in those cases. But if you’re buying a throttle cable from a third party Chinese manufacturer because it’s cheap, perhaps reconsider. You hopefully wouldn’t buy a helmet from China because it’s cheap, so why do the same with the critical components on your bike?