Vietnam and South America alike are awash with motorcycle repair shops who can fix pretty much anything for the price of a Starbucks coffee (MochaFrappaLatte, Grande) and with such an abundance of them it’s not really necessary to know a great deal about fixing your machine yourself. That said, it’s always nice to know what bits and pieces do what and how the thing actually works. I will never claim to be clued up on the subject but nevertheless here is my understanding of how my Suzuki works…

The Battery

Electrical wizardry happens inside here. In case you push the start button and the bike doesn’t make a peep, its usually this little box of tricks that is the culprit. Rolling start down a hill or adapting some speaker wire as makeshift jump leads has worked for me in the past. Also on the reverse side is the Air Filter, stops all the dust having a party in your Carburetor and requires a quick clean after every couple of days in a desert.

The Carburetor  

Kind of like the bouncer to the engine block, it sorts out who’s on the list and manages the correct mixture of fuel and air. If the bike is coughing and spluttering its usually this slacking off. Only thing to do is take him off and check that all his little doors are swinging nicely (after checking that your choke is not just open).

Fuel Tank

Fuel lives in here and the normal problem is, well you guessed it, that there is no fuel left. That one’s a no brainer.



Oil Filler Cap

Oil goes in here.




Oil Sump

Oil lives in here and is ohhh so important. If the oil runs dry, that party going on inside the engine block will heat up really fast and it will become very crampt in there as the metal within expands and before you can say “Elephants in a volkswagen” your back wheel will lock up and you’ll be fish tailing down the road leaving all kinds of skid marks.

Oil drain plug

Oil leaves here.




Engine block

Mind boggling firey magic happens inside here.




Spark Plug

Does the sparking and is often the reason that the bike wont start. In case its turning over and wont go vrooom, unscrew this bad boy, give him a clean then while he’s still loose place the sparky end against something metal, press the start button and look for a spark. I went through about a Gazillion of these in Vietnam so it’s always good to carry spares. That tiny distance between the nipple looking part and the L-shaped part can also effect how the bike runs so it’s good to make sure you have the right gauge.

Well thats just about all the “useful” information that’s rattling around inside my head. There is also of course things like Brake and Clutch cables which love to snap at the most inconvenient of times such as when you’re hurtling down the road at 90 or at traffic lights in front of hot chicks but these are easy fixes once you’ve figured out how to stop or overcome the embarrassment. I hope this was of some help and wish you all a happy incident free ride.