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Saturday, March 31, 2012

For the want of a bolt

A few days ago I took the bike to have the rear wheel replaced.  Some young guys did it and I have had maintenance done by this shop before.  What could go wrong?
Answer:  Something simple, something that could have been overlooked but should not of been.  When riding a motorcycle of any sort a simple mistake can quickly become a disaster.

To make matters worse, when I was riding away from the shop something just didn't fee right.  I gripped the left hand brake lever to give it a squeeze and it just felt off, if felt "soft".  I shook my head, thinking it was just the new tire, a figment of my imagination.  On the way home the ride was beautiful, wonderful, joyful.  The new tire seemed to be working wonders on the twisty roads I followed home, so I put the brake issue behind me.  Thinking it was just me breaking in a new tire.

Then another day goes by, it feels right as I commute on the mostly straight roads home.  Then today I worked early meaning I would have to ride in rush hour traffic.  I didn't bother with the T-clock inspection.  I wish I had.  I may have caught the problem, or it may have been overlooked.  I don't know.   I knew I had good oil and tire pressure.  My light worked, my kickstand was solid.
So I left, feeling good and entered traffic for my thirty plus mile ride to work.  When I had gone about twenty miles I reached for the was not there.  Nothing.   I had no rear brake at all.

I was within ten miles of work, I could make it with just the front brake.  I rode on running through possible problems in my head.  Did I have enough brake fluid?  Did something happen that caused the brake fluid to leak or bleed?  Were the brake pads that worn?
With five miles I heard the sound of metal rubbing on metal when I applied the rear break for a test.  I made it to work, looked and then looked again.  A bolt was missing on the rear brake caliper.  This in turn lowered the caliper OFF the rotor.  By pushing the brake the piston pushes the brake pads out and since the rotor was not stopping the pad, it pushed the piston all the way out.  Since the pads did not push back the handle did not have pressure.  Since the caliper if off the rotor, it was rubbing on the rotor making the grinding noise I heard.

In other words...for want of a bolt I could have really fucked up my bike and myself.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

What happened next was a series of phone call, to the shop that did the original work.  They told me they couldn't send anyone out to pick it up or even fix it for me as it sat in the parking lot of work.  It was my only ride home at the time, and I was not going to risk riding home without 1/2 of my I feared what would happen if something came loose and got caught up in the back wheel.  A high side fall would not be good.
Towing was covered by my insurance company so I had the bike flat-bedded to the shop.  At this time I don't even know if the shop has a bot to fix the problem although I think they do.

Funny thing is that even though I feel it's the shop's fault, they should have caught something so simple...they should have done the job right the first time.  I'm madder at myself.  I learned a few things.  One thing is that I'm confident enough in my ability as a rider to handle what could have been a very bad situation and that confidence is not always a good thing.  I also learned that T-CLOCK is there for a reason and needs to be done every time.  No exceptions.


Dar said...

Thank goodness you made it to work safely! Ths could have been disastrous. Don't be hard on yourself, even by using t-clock you may not have caught the missing bolt. There is one thing for certain the motorcycle shop failed you and they should ave done the job right the first time. Makes me downright furious that you are paying top dollar for the job to be done and still it gets messed up.

David Masse said...

Wow! Glad that didn't turn out much, much worse.