Thursday, June 18, 2009

Prepping the bike

Today, I finally found the time to get the bike ready for the trip. With only 3 days until departure and 14,000 miles planned there was some work to be done.

I started by changing the engine, transmission and final drive oils. The spark plugs were worn so a new set went in and the valve adjustments were checked while I had the oil drained. Brake pads were checked and I will probably stop by a BMW dealership along the way just to get a spare set of pads for the rear. I'm a little concerned about the pads wearing quicker once I get on the Haul Road.

Now for the best part of the prep work. I changed both tires without my Harbour Freight tire changer. Breaking the bead was a snap with the Happy Trails Bead Breaker. It only took one squeeze on each rim to break the bead. To make it easier, I did it while the wheels were still on the bike. With both wheels the bead broke on one side and the breaker touched the rim before breaking the other side. Folks worried about nicking their rims might want to carry a piece of rubber to go between the rim and breaker or just wrap the breaker in rubber tubing. My rims already have enough nicks on them that I couldn't find evidence of any nicking from the breaker.

So with the beads broken, I pulled the rear wheel, and pried off the tire. I washed up the rim, inside and out, and lubed up the valley of the rim with No Mar Tire Lube paste. A little lube on the No Mar tire iron and back side of the new tire then it slipped on easily. I hooked up my portable air compressor and let it run. To my surprise the tire started filling with air quickly and I didn't have any trouble setting the bead. I didn't even need the rachet strap I had planned to use. Balancing the tire was simple with my Marc Parnes balancer resting on top of my side cases.

Next it was the front wheel's turn. Getting the tire off was a little more challenging mainly because I have a real concern for damaging the front brake rotors. But the tire did come off and then I washed the rim, inside and out. Once clean and dry it was time for some lube in the rim valley and on the inside lip of the new tire. With a few well placed tire irons, spooning on the new tire was a snap. This one too was easy to inflate and set the bead. I did discover something while airing up the tires. If you roll the wheel back and forth quickly just a few times before trying to air it up it will activate the pressure sensor in the wheel. Then when I start airing up the tire I just watch the display to know when the tire is at the right pressure. That's one of the benefits to the tire pressure monitoring system in installed. Monitoring the pressure while airing the tire showed me the beads usually set with less than 25 pounds of air. I may have to rethink my regular habbit of airing tires to 50 or 60 psi to insure a seated bead.

The last thing to do for the day was to pack up my tools and figure out how to load the extra set of tires for the trip. My plan is still the same, run the Tourances up to northern Canada/Alaska then change over to the more dirt oriented TKC80s and wear them out (3,500 ~ 4,000 miles) and change back to the Tourances before picking up my sweetie in Montanna on the return part of the trip. So I used several zip ties to hold the tires together, covered the passenger seat to avoid any wear marks and then used 3 bungee cords to secure the load. Two down low to keep them in the seat and one on top going back to the top case to keep the tires pulled back. This set up seems to put the weight on the seat rather than on the top case which means it should do fine when I get on bumpier roads. I may change out the bungees for better straps when I stop by Rider Warehouse in Duluth but we'll see. I'm going to pull a steel cable through the tires and grab handle so I shouldn't be maving the tires much during the trip. And in this configuration I have easy access to the top case. I think this is going to work fine.

Tomorrow I'm going to throw my clothes in the right hand case and take a little test ride. I think it's best I not sneak out of town early though, still a few other things in life to do before I leave.

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