Main dealer servicing vs independent: your motorcycle warranty

Motorcycle Main Dealer Servicing Warranty_01

If you have an independent mechanic you trust, this article explains whether you can use them while still maintaining your new bike’s warranty


When having a car serviced, the UK government believes that “It is important that independent repairers continue to exert vital competitive pressure on authorised repairers and ensure that consumers can enjoy choice in provision and prices.” So, the 1998 Competition Act and Motor Vehicle Agreements Block Exemption means that independent garages can offer servicing of cars without voiding the manufacturers’ warranty; you don’t have to take it to a franchised dealer.

But this regulation does not apply to motorcycles.


Why does the Block Exemption not apply to motorcycles?

According to the The Competition Act 1998 (Motor Vehicle Agreements Block Exemption) (No. 2) Order 2023, the regulation applies to ‘motor vehicles’, but these are defined as ‘a self-propelled vehicle intended for use on public roads and having three or more road wheels.’ So it applies to the likes of the Yamaha Niken and Peugeot Metropolis, but not a motorcycle in the traditional two-wheeled sense.

That means manufacturers of Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs) are not obliged to honour their warranties if you do not have the motorcycle or scooter serviced and maintained at one of their authorised, franchised dealers. But that doesn’t mean they won’t, as we’ll see…


Motorcycle Main Dealer Servicing Warranty_02

Main dealer servicing could see your new bike retain a higher resale value


Do you need to use a franchised dealer to maintain your motorcycle’s warranty?

You can read below why two-wheeled motorcycle manufacturers are not forced to let you have your bike serviced at an independent dealer or mechanic if you wish, but the question of whether you have to in order to keep your bike’s warranty isn’t as simply answered as you might expect.

New motorcycles typically come with a three-year warranty, and many riders buying new will likely have any servicing and repair work carried out by a franchised main dealer anyway. Buyers of ‘Approved Used’ bikes from main dealers might also do the same, and the fact is that in many cases it’s rarely as expensive as you might think, plus the idea of looking after your dealer so they look after you certainly rings true for a large proportion of riders. Franchised dealers also have access to the latest tools and diagnostic kit that can be valuable in maintaining your bike to the highest – and safest – levels.

However, some buyers might not live anywhere near a franchised dealer, they might be using the bike in remote or overseas locations, or they might simply prefer to use their own trusted mechanic, so this is the stance of the leading brands regarding independent servicing…

Please note that these quotes are correct at the time of writing, and that it’s recommended that if you do intend to use an independent workshop when servicing your motorcycle, you should check with the manufacturer regarding your warranty.


Aprilia: Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing.


Ducati: Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing.


BMW Motorrad: “Servicing must be completed in line with the manufacturer's guidelines – although not necessarily BMW Motorrad parts, but parts and fluids that meet the manufacturer's specification of the BMW Motorrad parts.

“The servicing intervals must have been adhered to and items checked/replaced as per the manufacturer's guidance and expectations. If this is undertaken at an alternative dealership then responsibility sits with the customer to prove that this has taken place to meet the warranty terms if requested.” Received 7 Feb 2024


Harley-Davidson: Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing.


Honda Motorcycles: “It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that all required maintenance is performed at Honda specified intervals and all consumables used meet Honda’s engineering specifications. Failure to do so could invalidate warranty coverage on the parts affected. Evidence may therefore be required of correct servicing and parts used when a warranty claim is processed. If an issue is deemed to be due to lack of maintenance or poor servicing we reserve the right to reject any warranty claim on the part concerned.” Received 31 Jan 2024


Kawasaki: “We can confirm authorised dealers have access to the very latest manufacturer product training, workshop manuals, technical information, diagnostic systems, and specialised tools which are all necessary in maintaining Kawasaki products. Naturally, for an owner of our products to receive the highest level of service available from Kawasaki, we strongly recommend the use of an authorised dealer.

“We understand some owners may wish to use an independent dealer or carry out certain work themselves. However, in the unlikely event an issue arises with a machine, Kawasaki cannot accept responsibility or cover a repair under warranty if incorrect or incomplete maintenance work is found to be the cause, or a contributory factor towards a failure. We would however cover any failure that is a clear manufacturing defect and is unrelated to any service or maintenance work undertaken.

“Therefore, the use of an independent dealer will not invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty providing all maintenance on the machine is completed in accordance with Kawasaki's service guidelines and only Genuine Kawasaki replacement parts are used.” Received 1 Feb 2024


KTM: “All of the Pierer Mobility brands (KTM, Husqvarna Motorcycles, GASGAS, MV Agusta and CFMOTO) offer clear guidance as to our warranty policy. Information is available on our website, in owner’s manuals and, of course, at Authorised Dealers. As an example, on the KTM website it is stated that “Professional servicing and inspections by Authorised KTM dealers must be carried out to maintain the right to claim under warranty.”

“We invest considerable resource in Authorised Dealer technical training, so when a customer has their motorcycle serviced at the specified interval at an Authorised dealer they are getting factory trained technicians working on their machine according to the defined service schedule using genuine parts, specified fluids, the correct tools, our diagnostic software, official settings, to set job times and in an environment that is immersed in each brand to ensure that the service is performed correctly – all at competitive rates. The service is logged on our systems meaning that any future owner can see all the work performed on the machine if they take it to an Authorised dealer. As a manufacturer we measure and report on all service and repair work in our dealer networks to ensure the highest levels of service to the customer. Once a service is performed, the owner can be reassured not only in the quality of the work undertaken but this then activates 12 months of European breakdown cover through our SARA scheme (Service Activated Recovery Assistance), so long as the motorcycle meets certain requirements (is not older than 8 years or has completed more than 37,500/50,000 miles single/two cylinder).

“To clarify, this refers to warranty work, but if any motorcycle is subject to a safety recall, then the remedying work and parts supply will be completed, free of charge, by an Authorised dealer regardless of the motorcycle’s service history.

“This investment and confidence in the Authorised Dealer network means that if any warranty work needs to be completed on a bike with full service history then we know the level to which it has been serviced, who has worked on it, the correct use of genuine parts, the use of correct torque settings (for example), that it is up to date with software, and the dealer may have advised on an area of the bike that required further work or replacement. All of these parameters, and more, contribute to a motorcycle’s health and in these circumstances we want to complete any warranty work as quickly as possible so that the owner can continue riding and enjoying their motorcycle.” Received 5 Feb 2024


Royal Enfield: Continuous improvements related to the motorcycle & servicing are being done in Royal Enfield to deliver the best value to customers. We state that our network of Authorized Dealers is equipped with advanced technicians with the latest training, specialized tools, and top-notch diagnostic systems to provide the finest quality level of service. Also, customers can get an update on their motorcycles if there are any continuous recall/campaign/software updates. Therefore, it is advised to have the servicing of your motorcycle in Royal Enfield Authorized Dealers. Received 6 Mar 2024


Suzuki: “If serviced using the Suzuki schedule and Suzuki equivalent quality parts, then warranty isn’t affected. If not, warranty is affected in relation to service parts. For example, if incorrect quality oil is used during a service and the engine fails, the warranty is affected. But, if incorrect quality oil is used during a service and a TFT combination meter fails [for example], it will still be rectified under warranty.

“If a customer has used the correct oil and Suzuki genuine parts, then we would consider [the motorcycle to be] under warranty. However, in this instance the customer would need to provide evidence of a service invoice to show genuine parts and oil were used.” Received 6 Feb 2024


Triumph: Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing, however according to Triumph’s Conditions and Exclusions on the warranty section of its website, “The machine must have been serviced by an authorised Triumph dealer, at the intervals specified in the Triumph Owner’s Handbook and the service log completed accordingly.” Recorded 4 Mar 2024


Yamaha: “An owner is perfectly entitled to have their machine serviced by an independent (or by themselves even – since most owners’ manuals describe maintenance procedures and the recommended schedule), so long as it is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations and genuine parts are used. In the event of a claim, we would of course request evidence that the maintenance has been carried out according to the recommendations, since this is the responsibility of the owner in honouring the warranty T&Cs. In this case, a simple ‘stamp in a book’ is not really sufficient, which is why we always advise customers to make sure that they receive an itemised invoice and supporting documentation for any work carried out, whether that be for routine servicing or repair work, authorised dealer or independent – it’s peace of mind for them in respect of what they are paying for (since it generally goes into and comes back out of the workshop looking the same), but also in the event that they need to rely on the warranty.

“If self-maintaining, an owner has to be even more diligent with how they keep their records, since they typically won’t have DMS systems to produce the evidence or anybody to fall back on if something goes wrong.

“Lastly, it’s a common misconception that authorised dealers are always more expensive. Of course there are always going to be exceptions to the rule (based on quality and location), but owners, especially outside of the warranty period, need to consider just how ‘comprehensive’ the servicing is for the perceived value (or to put it another way, ‘cheaper’ price) they are getting. Whilst [we] can’t speak for other brands, our network of dealers are independent businesses operating the Yamaha franchise, so they set their own labour rates based on their business – they’re not dictated by Yamaha – so the assumption is not always true and it’s always worth owners actually doing a like for like comparison (in respect of cost and what they get for the outlay), since they may find the difference is not as big as they thought.” Received 1 Feb 2024


So, it turns out that some manufacturers are more flexible than others.

Main dealer servicing does carry plenty of advantages, will almost certainly better maintain the resale value of your bike, and can in many cases be surprisingly competitively priced.

Please note that the above quotes are correct at the time of writing, and that it’s recommended that if you do intend to use an independent workshop when servicing your motorcycle, you should check with the manufacturer regarding your warranty.

You should also keep a detailed record of any work carried out, with all the receipts/invoices.


Can you service your motorcycle yourself and still maintain the warranty?

As above, this will depend very much on the manufacturer, but as we’ve seen, some will consider the warranty valid as long as you can prove the correct work was carried out with the correct parts. Again though, check with the manufacturer and keep a detailed record with all the receipts/invoices.


Motorcycle Main Dealer Servicing Warranty_03

While some enjoy servicing older bikes themselves, few people tend to do it with new machines. Still, some brands are okay with you doing it, as long as you can prove the work was done correctly


What are your legal rights when buying a motorcycle?

By law you have legal rights when buying any item. Warranties and guarantees only ADD to these, and in general are for if things go wrong after the first six month of ownership.

As long as an item you bought wasn’t damaged by wear and tear, an accident or misuse, and you didn’t know about the fault before you bought it, your legal rights mean you could be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, goods should be of a satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. That means that, typically, a faulty item bought in England from a business – be that a bricks and mortar shop, online, via mail order, phone or on a market – can be returned for a refund within 31 days of purchase, or for a repair or replacement within six months. This isn’t the limit of your statutory rights, but the rights can vary slightly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information on your legal rights when buying any item, visit Citizens Advice.

Your rights when buying a used vehicle are slightly different, but buying used from a Trader in England means you’re legally entitled to your money back or a repair if the vehicle is faulty within 31 days of purchase. Between that and six months, the law states that the fault must have been present when you bought it, though it’s the trader’s responsibility to prove the fault wasn’t there when they sold you it. The advice is the same for Scotland and Wales, with more information available from Citizens Advice here.


Could the extension to the Block Exemption include motorcycles?

The Block Exemption was due to expire on 31 May 2023, so on 4 October 2022 the UK’s Competition and Markets authority (CMA) submitted to extend the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) with several recommendations, including that it be in place in the UK until 31 May 2029.

One of the CMA’s recommendations was that ‘the current material scope of the retained MVBER should be maintained, ie with the notion of ‘motor vehicle’ being limited to three and four wheeled vehicles’.

Meaning the CMA still considers motorcycles to fall out of the scope of the regulation.

During the CMA’s consultation process, there were calls from the Independent Garage Association, Thatcham Research, UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (AFCAR) and two unnamed respondents to expand the regulation to include motorcycles.

However, in the document the CMA states that it “has reached the view that the current scope of the block exemption remains appropriate. While the CMA recognises that there may well be certain similarities between two-wheeled vehicles and four-wheeled vehicles, there are important differences in terms of their functionalities, characteristics and the legal regimes to which they are subject, all of which militate in favour of classing those types of vehicles as distinct products.

“Furthermore, in deciding not to recommend a change to the material scope, the CMA has taken into account the following additional considerations: (a) The CMA does not have any concrete evidence or indications that the competition constraints identified in relation to four-wheeled vehicles are also present, at least to the same extent, in two-wheeled aftermarkets… (b) The extension of the scope of the MVBER to two-wheeled vehicles, specifically the imposition of hardcore restrictions, would increase the administrative burden and compliance costs of the parties involved. (c) The provision of spare parts to, and repair/maintenance service of, two wheeled vehicles is already covered by the VABEO. (d) Access to two-wheeled vehicle information is regulated in secondary legislation. Modifying the scope of the MVBER would result in divergence from the EU regime.”

It would be easy to blame Europe for this, but while the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) did report that Executive Vice-President Vestager of the European Commission stated that “the Commission received no concrete evidence of issues in the motorcycle sector such as would justify bringing such vehicles within the sector-specific regime”, this had been in response to Danish Member of the European Parliament Penille Weisse asking the Commission what measures it was taking to safeguard the principle of free competition and prevent a few authorised motorcycle dealers from holding a monopoly, as well as whether it was considering revising the definition of ‘motor vehicle’.

It's a sensible choice for the UK government to work in line with European policy in many situations, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be changed to suit the UK market or for the UK to influence the European policy on which it’s based.


Comment from the National Motorcyclists Council

Craig Carey-Clinch, NMC Executive Director says; “It’s essential that riders have proper choice in the matter of how they get their bikes serviced and several manufacturers, though not all, acknowledge this though the warranty conditions they set in relation to replacement parts and quality and precision of servicing and repairs when a machine is under its warranty period. But if the block exemption exists for cars, then it should also be in place for motorcycles. The CMA’s response in relation to the EU is weak and lacking in imagination, or even acceptance that our relationship with the EU has changed. While retaining convergence with the EU in key areas of technical regulation makes complete sense, it would be better if they took the view that UK divergence from EU regulations in selected and appropriate places can actually create national leadership in those areas where the EU also need to alter its thinking.”


Comment from the Motorcycle Industry Association

Tony Campbell, MCIA CEO says, “It is important that customers maintain and service their bike in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, this is for both safety reasons and to respect the terms and conditions of the warranty. A full-service record is also very important to future values and therefore to shortcut on servicing will negatively impact on the resale value of the bike. As machines become more complex, operating systems and software is regularly updated and therefore the best way to ensure your bikes systems are running the latest software is to use your main dealer. This is not to say there are not very good independent repairers that can provide excellent service.”    


Comment from the British Motorcyclists Federation

Paul Morgan CBE, BMF Government Relations Executive, told us “Congratulations on a well-researched article covering the current state of play, and providing some valuable guidance to someone buying a new bike.

“Since motorcycle ownership became available to the masses following WWII, providing many with a cheap and reliable means of transport, owners have quickly learned how to carry out their own basic servicing and maintenance. That has continued to the present day, with many motorcycle owners seeing the maintenance and servicing aspects as a key part of the enjoyment of owning a motorbike.

“In addition, local motorcycle servicing and repair work supports the businesses of local independent motorcycle dealers and can often provide a more convenient and personal service for motorcycle owners, particularly when main franchised dealers are often situated some distance away.

“Self-servicing and maintenance, if completed in line with specified manufacturer service intervals and instructions, should not affect the warranty that comes with a new bike and most manufacturers accept this.

“As Robert Pirsig says in his famous book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, ‘if you’re going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool.’”


Comment from the Independent Garage Association

Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing.


Comment from the Motorcycle Action Group

Approached for comment, but no response at time of publishing.


If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.