Reliability - More Important than Price?

A piece of equipment is of no value if it's in the shop getting fixed. It's a triple screw, the lost opportunity to use the equipment, the cost of the repair and the time spent getting it fixed, and the sense that you made a stupid purchase of an unreliable machine. Reliability is perhaps my most important consideration when purchasing a piece of equipment. After a few decades of purchasing a number of foreign and domestic vehicles, we currently own a 2005 Toyota Sienna and a 2008 Honda Civic, both purchased new. They have been a pleasure to own and drive. This has not been the case with many of the other vehicles.

Back to Herbie, my 2016 CF Moto ZForce 500 HO side-by-side. Purchased late in April 2016, it seems that as of July 2017 the early bugs have been worked out and now there are new ones - battery and mirror failures. Right now I'm not confident that I can head out on a trail and get back again. The tire issue, the electrical outlet issue and now battery failure all would of stranded me. Who do you call when you are 30 km off the grid? Scroll to the bottom of this page and work your way up if you want a list of the events presented chronologically.


July 29, 2017 - It gets worse. I have the bike parked at home and my wife pushes the passenger side mirror in towards the bike so she can squeeze by. It falls off. The plastic connector has failed. No, the mirror has not been dinged or banged - I have it for anyone who wants to inspect it. Was the part a manufacturing defect? Was it overtightened when it was installed? I let the dealer know about the failure and he says he only sees that problem if the mirror has been damaged by being hit. He tells me he can order a new mirror but they are expensive. I tell him not to bother, I can buy a left and a right side mirror on Amazon for $59 plus tax. I figure the driver side one will probably fall off as well. And Amazon delivers to my door, I don't have to drive the 25 km to the dealer to pick it up. I quickly check Amazon for ATV replacement batteries and they cost about $50. I am not happy. Not. At. All.

July 27, 2017 - Oh, boy! Things have not been good. Following a couple of weeks of not riding Herbie I went out and stuck in the key to start him. Nothing, dead asa doornail. I called the dealer and asked if I could boost it with a regular 12V battery, the answer was yes. So I pulled off the battery cover, dragged over a 12V battery with cables and tried to jump start it. Nothing - dead. I then went and pulled up a car and tried to jump from a running battery. Nothing - dead. The next day I went and brought over my battery charger and let it trickle charge. Again, it won't start. Call the dealer and he says to trailer it in. I track down a neighbour with a trailer and it just fits. Do you know how hard it is to push a vehicle this size up a ramp onto a trailer? Fortunately my wife recruits three people walking by.

The bike is finally delivererd to the dealer and I get a call four days later that it is running properly. The problem? A dead battery that needs to be replaced. The cost? About $250 with labour and taxes. And by the way, there was no remainnig warranty on the original battery, and the new battery seems to come with only a six month warranty. So, after 15 months, about 530 km (350 miles) I have a dead battery. I send a note to the dealer and CFMOTO. I get a call from both of them. The CFMOTO service person empathizes with my situation. I suggest that they probably have a serious parts problem that needs to be investigated after the dealer let's me know that it has only been a problem with about 5 bikes of the 100 or more that he has sold, and I estimate a 5% early failure rate. Not good, not good at all.

June 13, 2017 - Herbie was put to bed last October. This involved putting additive in the gas tank and putting it in unheated covered storage. Nothing else was done. Earlier in May I went and stuck the key in the ignition and Herbie started up without a problem. Since then I have only had a chance to put about 50km on Herbie, mostly on roads and flat trails. No issues, the tires stay inflated, but it's time for the 500km oil change and I need to get it down to Rosseau Road Powersports in the next couple of weeks. It looks as though the one year warranty has expired, I'm hoping there are no problems. 

August 19, 2016 - after a few weeks of occasional easy rides along a flat trail with a kayak I had a chance to push Herbie on a 100 km (~60 mile) solo ride along the Park to Park Trail. Ran about 30-55 kph (20-35 mph) through a rough, but mostly flat, trail and some water that was over the floorboards. The bike ran nicely and gave me no issues at all. Handled well. Needed a rinse on returning. Total now 420 km (~260 miles). Used the winch to pull a couple of branches that had fallen on the trail, it worked as expected.

July 13, 2016 - I'm up to about 270 km and there have been no issues since the tire and the DC outlet have been fixed.

July 2, 2016 - I head down to Rousseau Road Powersports to pick up Herbie. They have also installed a box in the back of the bike that I ordered (notes under Accessories). I look at Herbie and I realize that the back left wheel has a mismatched rim. It's one of the new style rims, not like the other three on the bike. I ask that it be changed, and they swap it out for the wheel of another new bike in stock. They admit that they gouged the original rim while working on it and replaced it with the new style rim. I appreciate the gesture but wonder why they thought I wouldn't notice. A brand new bike with mismatched wheel styles! I check the auxiliary outlet and it works. Okay, I'm ready to roll. I head back over trails and along the road and arrive home with no problems. So far the problems have been extremely annoying but nothing impacting the engine or the bike's integrity. Even the top rated cars have minor initial defects as assessed by the J.D. Power surveys. My Honda Civic had a small issue concerning the emission system that popped up in the first week. I'm hoping that this is the end of the 'manufacturing defects'. Stay tuned. It's summer and time to go have some fun and put some hours on the bike. At this stage I'm at about 170 km.

July 1, 2016 - the parts arrive and it's Canada Day. I get a call, do I want the bike that day? No, tomorrow would be fine.

June, 2016, Week 4 - Herbie is in the shop and it's revealed that the DC outlet is defective and a new one is ordered, again under warranty. At this point I have about 150 km on the bike. 

June 2016, Week 3 - I have spoken to Rousseau Road Powersports and they suggest I take off the back left wheel and bring it to them to inspect. Arghh - delegating the work to the client. I jack up Herbie and take off the wheel and bring it to the dealer. Bill pops off the tire and the problem is revealed, it's a crease in the bead. The decision is to order a new one under warranty, no charge for the tire or service. But there isn't a tire in stock, and it's a holiday in Quebec (CF Moto's office). In the meantime the tire is put back on the rim, inflated and checked for a leak. There is none at this point. I'm then asked to take the wheel back, install it on the bike and ride the bike down to the shop, about 20 km. I head home, put the wheel back on and drive Herbie back to the dealer with no problem. They give me a ride back home.

June 2016, Week 2 - I have time to look into the tire problems. It starts with a trip to Canadian Tire for Slime and a 12V air compressor. Both tires get the slime treatment. But the 12V air compressor won't run off the auxiliary plug on Herbie (with the ignition running). I pull up the Honda Civic and use its cigarette lighter. I come back a day later and find the front right tire is holding pressure and the back left tire is flat.

June 2016, Week 1 - work has kept me busy and I haven't had a chance to get out and try to fix the problem. I finally get out and find that the rear left tire is flat. I jack up Herbie and try to inflate the back left tire with a small compressor. It won't inflate. I pull out the hose for an industrial grade compressor and the back tire inflates. The front right tire is soft once again. Arghh!

Early June 2016 - tire troubles. At this stage I have about 80 km on Herbie and the front right tire has a flat. I have been running on the road and along a trail that I have regularly ridden my bike on for more than 4 years without a flat. What's this about? I pump up the tire and it's flat when I return a couple of days later.

Late May 2016 - the bike was delivered to Parry Sound and I get a quick overview of how to operate it and the key maintenance issues to keep an eye on.