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Friday, May 24, 2013

Sometimes she gets tyre'd...

New tire (or, "tyre" for you Brits) courtesy of the UPS guy...
I think over the years, Pillion has come to expect all sorts of irrational behavior from me regarding anything to do with motorcycles (or a great many things for that matter)...

But sometimes she just gets tired of the low level shenanigans I can get myself into - especially regarding last minute needs leading up to any kind of "big" ride. The days leading up to a ride of any import can be a flurry of online orders of some new farkles, or deciding I need an oil change or new brake pads, or now would be the perfect time to play around with new suspension settings, or for pulling apart the engine's top end for a valve adjustment - all the night before we are to leave.
I've had the FJR for a little under a year, and a bit over 7,000 miles now, and the rear tire was showing signs it needed replacing. But, we were soon to be on our way out to the mountains of NC for my son's university graduation, and 4 days of mountain riding bliss. So, instead of my usual pre-trip drama of last minute bike work, I simply ordered a new rear from my old standby Bike Bandit, knowing it would be delivered by the time we returned. In the meantime, I intended to ride out the rest of the tread on the old tire, as I guessed there seemed to be at least 1k miles left on it, and the trip would only be 500-600 miles round trip or so, then I'd just shoe the new tire on once I got back.
Well, you probably guessed it - I guessed wrong.

The slab out to western NC was uneventful, me on the bike, and pillion relegated to car duty transporting our three hounds and sundry gear out to a cabin we rented for the 4 day weekend. The next day started out crisp clear and beautiful - perfect conditions for riding, even if the start was a little chilly. After an early morning start, and a nice long two-up ride on the FJR along the southern stretch of the parkway out to Pisgah Inn, and down around the 215/276 loop south of Waynesville NC, we headed into Waynesville proper for a late lunch at Frog's Leap Public House (ah - yummmm).

Coming back out to the bike after a really great meal, the next two things I did were game-changers:
1. I immediately noticed the rear tire had now worn clear down to the under-carcass, and
2. I made the mistake of actually pointing it out to Pillion, who was immediately the most "not happy" I've seen her in a long time.

The condition of the tire after a daylong ride in the Mtns. That center band you see is where not only
all the tread is gone, but much of the outer rubber as well, showing the support carcass underneath.
Next up would be the metal radial bands, a mere fraction of a millimeter beneath. The more embarrassing
part is that since most of my miles are straight-up commuting, the edges are hardly worn in at all. So sad.
After stopping by the few motorcycle shops we found in the area, and finding no available tire (well, except for the $350 whitewall Harley branded tire that was kindly offered as a possibility), we resolved to head back to the cabin we were staying at and weigh our options. So much for another drama free trip.
I did eventually find a tire in Asheville, thanks to the wifi access in our cabin (yay for technology), and on top of that, that dealership was also open on Monday, a rarity in the motorcycle world. As we were planning on heading back east on Monday, this was perfect as I'd be going right past this particular dealership (MR Honda) anyway. The only drawback? I'd be spending another $250 for a tire by the time it was mounted and balanced, when I had one waiting for me back home. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?
With my son's graduation the next day, and the day after that being a Sunday, all I could do was wait and hope the carcass would make it the easy 50 or so miles back into Asheville on Monday for a tire.
The next phase of this story: My parents were also out with us for their grandson's graduation, and over dinner, my Dad mentioned that he was wondering what a U-Haul trailer might cost. Could it be significantly cheaper than a new tire? Hmmmm - time to hop back on the WiFi.
Bingo - we locate a Uhaul vendor within a few miles of my son's campus, and the 2 day rate was a mere $60. A LOT better than $250. After verifying that they indeed had this trailer available, we had a new plan: we'd trailer the FJR home (in shame, I might add) behind my Dad's truck, and save almost $200 in the process.
Now, let me interject a few things here:
1. I've only ever trailered a bike not in need of repair ONCE in my entire 20 years of riding (started in 1993, BTW), so technically this is still true. However, its extremely embarrassing to me anyway to trailer a bike.
2. Its bad enough to need bailing out for bad planning. But to still be getting bailed out by your Dad when you're closing in on 50 really puts a sting on it. Oh well, again, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?
3. All of this is only bolstering Pillion's opinion of my abilities....

Uh, no trailer queens please. But in this case, we'll make an exception, right?
So, after a great time celebrating the kid's graduation, and an even better weekend sharing a great cabin in the Mtns, along a roaring creek, with friends and family, Monday dawns and we put the plan into motion. As my folks were to visit my sister who lived even further west, and wouldn't be coming back thru our neck of the woods till well after lunchtime, it bought Pillion and I a half-day more in the cabin on our own, a good bonus for my misdeeds. The rest of the day went without incident: Pillion headed back in her own wagon with all of our gear and our three dogs, while I rode with my folks, towing the FJR behind us. Oh, and there was one, last, small humiliation:
At a stop for gas, another FJR1300, same year and same color as mine, and NOT on a trailer, pulls up behind my trailered rig at the pump. The pilot starts talking to my Dad, assuming the FJR is his, when my Dad explains that, no, the machine is mine, and there's nothing wrong with it save for a toasted tire that I failed to change out in time. My shame only deepens.
Safely back home, its time to shoe on the new tire that is dutifully waiting for me, in this case a Bridgestone Battleaxe BT-023 GT spec, and maybe tend to a few other maintenance bits while I'm back there.

The FJR with the rear wheel assembly and driveshaft removed
I love how the twin exhaust cans remind me of the nacelles on Star Trek's Enterprise

While in the past I've mounted and balanced my own tires, the new low profile radials are getting harder for me to spoon on without a lot of sweat and swearing, so for the FJR I've decided to let the good folks down at Combustion Cycles mount and balance the new tire for me. But I still wanted to remove the wheel myself, as that would let me inspect the drive splines. Also, taking just the wheel in for service (known as a "wheel off" tire change) rather than the whole bike ("wheel on") saves you a little in labor costs. I also wanted to pull and inspect the driveshaft, as FJR's are known for some having been assembled at the factory sans lube in this area.

Here is the Driveshaft and final drive removed from the bike

While there appears to have been lube at some point at the drive shaft, its now mostly dry and in need of Moly

While removing the main drive components of a motorcycle might sound daunting, its pretty simple.
These are the majority of the fasteners involved...
...and these are the only tools I needed, other than the torque wrench not shown.

Here is the wheel removed. The grey cog is for the ABS system. A similar looking gear on the other side
is the actual drive spline that matches up with the differential to actually propel the bike.
Like the driveshaft, this was pretty dry as well, and all such surfaces received a nice film of
Honda Moly 60 paste - great stuff.

Here's the previously dry end of the driveshaft, now sporting Honda Moly 60 paste

After taking the new tire, and the old wheel, into Combustion Cycles, the back of the bike is properly round again.
The "nacelles" look even more prominent from this angle - Warp 6 Mr. Sulu!

Reassembly was the opposite of disassembly. Just remember to double check all of the connections and torque values. Don't do what I did, and ride into work with the shaft drive nuts all still loose!

Check out the upper acorn nut, later fixed with a bit of workplace parking lot wrenching

Okay, so NOW we're all ready for a sporting bit of Memorial Day riding this weekend, provided I don't feel some need to play with the throttle lock, or adjust the rear brake pedal. Maybe the helmet locks need relocating? Maybe for once, I'll just get on and ride.

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