Triumph vs Harley-Davidson Service Experience

I’d like to share my experience of the exact same problem with my Triumph Tiger 800 XRx and my Harley-Davidson Fat Boy and how they were resolved differently by the dealers of the two companies.

Recently the battery of my Tiger started to hesitate while starting which meant that it was time to replace it. I called up the nearest three dealers but unfortunately they didn’t have batteries in stock. Triumph India intervened and arranged a battery for me through their Mumbai dealer. The service manager sent me the invoice on WhatsApp and I paid it via online bank transfer. He then shipped me a fully charged battery to me so that I could slot it in and start riding immediately. A very nice experience, something you would expect from a premium motorcycle brand.

Contrast this with my experience with Harley-Davidson back in 2016. The battery of my Fat Boy was on its deathbed and the motorcycle wasn’t starting, rendering it immobile. I called the dealer to ask if they had a battery in stock. They replied that they did, but I would need to get the motorcycle to the service center so that they could swap the battery for me. I explained that the motorcycle wouldn’t start and so I would come over to the service center, buy the battery and switch it myself at home. They refused saying that it was against policy to sell spare parts over the counter. They obviously didn’t want to miss out on the service revenue. I tried to reason out with the service center but they stuck to their “policy”. They asked me to call Road Side Assistance (RSA) and schedule an appointment for my motorcycle to be picked up from my house and dropped at the service center which was just five kms away.

Since the issue wasn’t critical the RSA vehicle showed up at my house the next day. I expected to see a RSA vehicle designed for motorcycles, the one with a central channel securing the wheels and ratchet straps securing the motorcycle down to the base. But instead a flat bed pickup designed for four wheelers showed up. I had to literally ride the 350 kg motorcycle up one of the tyre ramps.

The Fat Box doesn’t come with a center stand. So I had to rest the heavy motorcycle on the side stand while it was strapped down to different points on the flat bed. I don’t think there is a need for me to explain why such a heavy motorcycle, or any motorcycle for that matter, must never be transported while resting on its side stand. Thankfully since it was just five kms of travel, there was no visible damage to the side stand.

I followed the RSA vehicle to the Harley-Davidson service center just to make sure that everything was ok. The battery was swapped in a couple of minutes. I paid Rs. 330 for the battery installation and rode my Fat Boy back home.

All this just so that the Harley-Davidson service center could earn Rs 330 ($4.7). Nice experience? I don’t think so.