INDIA BIKE SERVICE: Kaulson's greed blows it.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Life-Threatening Brakes Fraud Bulletin: This unfortunate section was written in October 2009 – three months after the defect was discovered, but I had to get to the bottom of it factually. Research on the brake pads was done in USA and took some time.

See Laos blog for our brake pad incident. The resulting delays and replacements cost some $500. Plus I have a slightly scored front brake disk from metal-to-metal contact, albeit not crucial.

One delaminated brake pad on front.
Others were thin, after just 5,000 km, should last 25,000 km.
It could well have caused serious human/bike damage.
Research revealed, this product had not been manufactured for 15 years.
With 5 years shelf life. Brake pads, of all things to cheat on!

Once the defective pads were discovered, from the Laos hotel room I immediately searched Vesrah's web site, could not find anything like this part number. Googled it. Nothing even close. That took all of fifteen minutes.

So I contacted Vesrah to ask about the mystery product. Vesrah is one of the world's best brake pad manufacturers. Traxxion (my great front suspension manufacturer) even distributes Vesrah in USA – a big brand endorsement for both.

Vesrah USA's President very kindly, helpfully, did his own research after I sent him photos. He learned the India-installed model of brake pad had not been manufactured in 15 years, and it has a 5-7-year shelf life!

Plus, they were the wrong material for a Goldwing, not made of 'sintered metal.'

Even worse, I had already complained to Vijay at Kaulsons about the brake pads after our Rajasthan trip. The brakes faded very quickly, made hissing noises and I had almost rear-ended a truck in one close call – as in a centimetre close call! The brakes worked maybe 50% effectively in hard stops. Scary.

Kaulsons admitted they had mistakenly installed the wrong pads, oops, and now were installing the correct ones (with sections versus solid one-piece pads.) Vijay assured me they were putting in new, and the correct model, of Vesrahs.

Except they didn't. They replaced the front ones with sectioned pads, but not the rear ones. And they were not Vesrahs, at least not applicable ones, with a 50% chance they were fakes.

They either installed defunct way-beyond-its-life product; or utter fakes; and for certain were made of the wrong materials.

I was cheated on brake pads, twice, by Kaulson Racing in Delhi where I spent close to $2,500.

They knew of course that we had 50,000 km and a year to go, much of it in Third World countries, thus good brakes mattered more than usual.

And they took advantage of the fact that thousands are following us on this web site – Vijay even advertised himself on this web site shamelessly, weeks before we appeared in his shop (see 'comments' at bottom of the 'This Blog' home page.)

Then they chose to make an extra profit by installing either dead-old stock which they had bought dirt cheap. Or, they knowingly installed utter forgeries. (Short of sending them to a specialized lab, there is no way of knowing which form of fraud it was. But I still have the old pads if any experts read this.)

This was done with full advance knowledge; Vijay the shop boss lives in front of his computer and searched other obscure part numbers online while I was sitting there. He's very on top of the parts business; knows brake pads 101!

Now, with a couple hours' education, so do I; it ain't complex.

Selling fake brake pads is beyond peddling knock-off Levis or D&G. Fake jeans do not kill you.

WHY??? Greed, period. Risking our lives for an extra little profit, when money was never at issue; I paid whatever he asked, in cash. The final price of his work went up by a couple hundred bucks from the quote, I just paid, didn't quibble. Once we were in Thailand, Vijay asked for an extra $300 in freight charges (on a 10-days delayed shipment of Black Bike to Vietnam, that did not accept bikes) – nonetheless I promptly paid him with no paper work to back up his demand. Just trusted him.

Parts shortage? It's not that; indeed we air-couriered in a Honda air filter from Singapore, adding brake pads to the box would have cost nearly nothing. I'll bet I can find the right brake pads in Delhi within a few hours as a total stranger – it's a big city. Found them in Bangkok with one phone call, no prob.

Vijay just had cheap fake/old stock he wanted to unload on the foreign sucker.

Unforgivable, horrible, non-accidental thing to do.

No excuse; indeed Vijay had no explanation when I asked, twice by email, prior to writing this report. All he said was, he is hurt that I would suspect him. 'Suspect' nothing: Facts speak. If he replies honestly, I'll publish his response here – and/or change this blog.

Let alone (heaven forbid) he should reach into his pocket and offer a small refund. The brakes episode did cost a fair amount of money by the way, as I informed him – perhaps $500 including new rear pads and a few hotel days. To put this in context: The Delhi bike repair bill was around $1,000 (not including the air freight and crating.) So, we add 50% to the bike repair at Kaulsons while he made an extra $50 or whatever.

If Kaulsons were in Canada or USA, they'd have a lawsuit on their desks already – just to make a loud point about life-threatening fraud.

Culture-shmulture. Whether its USA, Congo, India, Chile or Canada; fraud is fraud. In this specific context, it's worse. Shame on Kaulsons. They are well-off, well-educated, do business in Europe, USA, Australia; and they know bike parts – this is not some little corner kiosk.


Incidentally, I also gave Kaulsons a lot of free advertising on this web site on my own time and dime. In return they knowingly risk our lives midst-nowhere. It just reeks.

Plus I introduced Kaulsons to Metzeler Tire's (excellent) top distribution person in Europe, responsible for this part of the world; Metzeler bent over backwards to help us.


A Delhi stop is any bikers' must-do:
If you are riding a bike through this part of the world, stopping in Delhi is necessary.

Look at a map [regional map link] – where else to do a major clean-up of yourself and your ride? Getting the bike serviced and finding parts elsewhere is difficult, if not impossible.

Heading eastwards from Europe, the big-bike service centers that have parts and hands-on experience are in:
. . . .Vienna
. . . .Istanbul
. . . .Tel Aviv.
If you go that way ...
. . . .Dubai has dealers and parts.
After that, there's
. . . .Bangkok or Phuket
. . . .Kuala Lumpur or Penang
. . . .Singapore.
. . . .Australia.
'No' to all other countries en route. Those are your non-choices for a Goldwing, likely also for a big BMW.

Black Bike's 50,000 km maintenance took a few garage days in Delhi, was extremely thorough.

I am proud to report the Honda GL1800 and its systems, the engine, suspension, all machinery and wiring itself – was almost flawless after a fairly serious work-out.

But it was definitely major service time, perfect timing and distance.


Kaulson Racing [link] is one to consider if on two wheels. However, after the above brakes incident I'd shop around some more.

Kaulsons can do your work, just watch carefully. Perhaps there is an authorized BMW shop in town – or a big Honda shop? I didn't find one but didn't dig.

Order your choice of tires so they may arrive by sea.
Order any brand-specific spare parts.

I did all of the above, it semi-worked. The tires did come from Europe – yay!

Even so, even after offering my credit card as a deposit weeks ahead in order to have Vijay order the specific parts I had clearly listed (offered him part numbers too) – my Honda air filter had to be air-couriered from Singapore last minute, while my bike was in the shop and we cooled our heels at a hotel.

In spite of repeated requests and deposit offers, Kaulsons did not order my parts until I was physically there. Couldn't be bothered I suppose; but he did have time to post self-advertisements for his shop in this blog ... see 'comments' at bottom of our blog's home page.

Special-order spares for India normally come from Singapore or Dubai.

Find a shop and order ahead! I am forced, by fraud, to back away from my former Kaulsons recommendation.


Service costs were in the $1,000 ballpark. Work included:
- New tires were installed that I arranged to be sent from Europe, courtesy the superb Metzeler Tire company [home page link.] Metzelers are by far the best long distance big bike tire I know of. See 'Bike Tech' section of this blog for details.

- A new metal box Kaulsons made for the chain & bike cover.
- A chrome weight-spreading washer fell off the trunk rack – they had a new one machined and chromed flawlessly; it is indistinguishable from the originals (photo below.)
- One of my highway pegs' clamp was cracked and I didn't know it, they welded it.
- Thorough 'detail job', complete cleaning with all plastic off – Black Bike was beyond merely filthy beneath by now. They removed some 10-20 kg of mud and gunk, none of it easily accessible. Even removed the mufflers and cleaned them chemically. Every wire was cleaned.
- Every bolt tightened, steering head bearing, kickstand, etc., all out-of sight ones.
- All relays removed and cleaned.

- Aluminum after-market bottom plate was removed and repaired; it was badly bashed and probably saved the bike's oil pan. A damaged oil pan en route would have been 'a problem!' Get a stainless steel bottom plate!
- The usual maintenance, air filter, oil/filter, spark plugs, brake fluid, head lights, clutch fluid etc.

Classic Scooter and Royal Enfields: Kaulsons have a large inventory of old classic Vespas and Lambrettas that they restore and sell internationally. To see their classic scooters:
..........- Australia [link]
..........- USA: [link]:
..........- India: Contact Kaulsons

I cannot speak to quality of these restored and newly-manufactured machines. They look good anyhow. Cutting corners to shave extra profit is a real life concern however, after the brake pads discovery – tip of iceberg, I say.

Warranty: Well, I didn't get one on brakes did I? Maybe the foreign distributors ...

They make and re-manufacture Royal Enfields.
A diesel (!) Royal Enfield style under their own brand.


Men at work in shop.


Shipping by air from India: Kaulsons built a very strong steel shipping crate and arranged air freight to Vietnam for us.

They have often shipped their scooters, have bike-shipping experience, offered to do it even in Vijay's 'comments' posting on this web site. It was them versus going to an all-purpose shipping agent.

This a big separate topic – shipping out of India was anything but fast and easy. Toronto –> London was a cakewalk, but not this one.

You simply cannot drive through Myanmar/Burma these days. You have to go around it. Period.

Vietnam seemed like the right answer for us at the time; however we ended up killing ten days in Hanoi waiting, due to 'unforeseen delays' in shipping from India. Then Black Bike was refused entry by Vietnam
do not try go to Vietnam with your own bike or car, period.
Not, not, not. See Vietnam #1 blog.

Should Kaulsons or their shipping agent have known this? How about Thailand Airways? Dunno. No one warned us in the slightest of what lay ahead. It's their part of the world – and they sure accepted our money! Lots of it.

In any event, you should choose another air destination – Bangkok Thailand, is the best one we know of – see our listings and reports on biker contacts to help you in Bangkok (in 2 Thailand blogs.) Airport clearance in Bangkok is an easy do-it-yourself, explained in the 'Thailand North' blog.

Alternatively, you may wish to ride to Bangladesh, or to Calcutta (Kolkata) India [map link] and try find a freighter for your bike from there to Thailand. While you fly. There are no ferries; you will be faced with crating and boat-finding, but it is most likely do-able.

Or, you may wish to ride India –> Nepal –> Tibet/China, if the season and your bike are right. But that takes some 3 months' advance contracting with a non-refundable deposit, using an official Chinese tour-arranging firm. You get specific entry and exit dates with the Chinese Government and guide, with little or no flexibility.

The China option must be thought through and planned very carefully. We were in discussions with Tracy at NAVO in China [link] who struck me as competent, likely the biggest of the tour companies there, but not the only one. Again trust matters a lot, you are completely in their hands, 24/7 once in China; they gave me confidence. It's not cheap, hence it is best to share the guide costs between a few vehicles in convoy.

Crating/shipping by air involves a costly 'dangerous goods' designation by the airline from India and some other countries. Plus for height/width requirements, windshield and mirrors come off.

The crate adds approximately 150 kg at roughly $1.20/kg in air freight. With crating and all other costs, air freight for bike to Bangkok would be in the ballpark of $1,300. Plus people travel.

We made it to Bangkok by air ultimately. Wish we'd gone directly there instead of via Vietnam ... but live 'n learn.

Crate is solidly bolted and clamped to the frame of bike.
This is no cheap wooden box, really protects the bike.
The outside is clad in thin plywood.
Unpacking in Bangkok, not Hanoi ...

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