Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Bare Truth Part Deux

One of the things I've really enjoyed about this blog is reading about what other people are doing and the places they have been or are at. It never fails that someone's post brings back memories both good and bad of my motorcycle travels. You people bring these memories back and I want to share them with you from time to time. Most of them will not be bad ones like this one though. Case in point, Dan's (aka Irondad) post over at Musings of an Intrepid Commuter about this tire. Thanks Irondad for the use of your photo. Bad Tire

 I’m 18 and I’ve had my first street bike for all of six weeks. Doing what normal 18 year old males do I am laying rubber ever chance I get. Then one day I decide I’m going to ride to the big city for a concert. I never made it to the show. About 110 miles from home and just 25 miles from the show I crash on the interstate highway at about 60MPH. I swear I’ve never been so scared in my life. Next thing I know my bike fish tails left, then right hard, then back left even harder, sliding out from under neath me then pitching me through the handle bars headed for the ditch. I remember hearing the glass break in my right mirror as I’m flying by it. The next thing I know I’m up chasing my bike which has stopped with the back half still in the right lane. Thankfully the car behind me wasn't tailgating and stops to help. Dragging my bike the rest of the way off the road I finally get to stop and take stock of what just happen.

There I stand still shaking trying figuring it all out. My rear tire is flat and my handle bars are broke along with other bits and pieces. There are feathers all over the road from my goose down coat (hey it was 1979 that was the style, plus I’m a- know-it-all 18 year old remember :)) being ripped to shreds. My leather boots are a mess with the right sole about half ripped off. My leather billfold has holes burned through three or four layers deep and my Levis aren’t much good either. And my helmet has the scares to prove I just went sliding on my head at some point. I don’t even remember what helmet it was at the time but I remember thinking if I hadn’t of had it on I may not be here right now. But with all that damage I didn’t have a scratch on me. Yes I was very lucky. Oh sure I was soar as hell the next day but I wasn’t complaining.

After my Grandma came and got me home, the next morning I went to the garage to have a good look at my bike. You see the statement of "never riding that damn thing that almost killed me" while sitting along the interstate had faded. My love for motorcycles and motorcycling was just too strong.  I start taking the rear tire off so I can put a new one on. It is at that time I realize just how bad my tire was. I distinctly remember looking at it before leaving thinking, oh its got plenty of tread left. But looking at it through the eyes of a rider who had just had the hell scared out him brought a completely new light to its condition. While my tire didn’t have cords showing like that tire does, it was pretty thin. To this day I never let my tires get pass the wear indicators and I ALWAYS replace them in pairs. Lesson learned the hard way.  

So every time I see a tire like that I instantly jump back to that time in my life. Whenever I see a person with a tire like that I re-tell my story hoping that maybe they will learn from my troubles. I pray this person doesn’t have to learn what I did the hard way. But then again maybe it will be a lesson they will never forget.

Needless to say I pay close attention to my tires now. I check my tire pressures bi-weekly. My friend Lori stopped by my shop a few weeks ago on her FJR1300. As soon as she dropped it off the center stand I could see the rear tire was very low on pressure. I rolled it in the shop and checked it and sure enough, it only had about 15PSI in it. Her comment of "so that is why the rear of my bike feels squirrelly" helped her understand now what a low tire feels like. It is said a tire can loose one PSI a week. Correct tire inflation not only adds to your safety but also adds to the life of the tire.

One thing to note about new tires. Be very careful the first hundred or so miles. Manufactures use silicone to help release the tire from the mold. This makes them very slick until it has worn off. This also goes for tire dressing. If you must use it be careful not to get it on the tread. Use a rag and rub it on the sidewalls instead of spraying directly on the tire. This gives you the added protection of not getting it on your brakes, which of course is a bad thing too. 



Allen Madding said...

Yeah, from a hard learned personal lesson. That silicone, is slippery on wet roads on the sidewall under acceleration :)

Mastercheif said...

Glad you survived the wreck! Great story. Thanks.

Lady Ridesalot said...

All too often, we tend to get more excited about the ride than we do our machine. I still look at my rubber, oil and gas situation before I take off on any ride. Even if it's just a Saturday pleasure ride. I don't want any misfortunes that could be avoided by simple diligence. Glad you are here to tell us your story and bring home it's importance.

Introducing Fylix said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm loving riding my bike after so long on a 125cc, and I want to know all there is about looking after it. The advice on getting a manual is a great the moment I just surf the web looking for help when theres something I want to know.

Loved the story, thats the kind of thing that petrifies my parents! I haven't come off (yet) but I'm sure as I get more cocky it will happen one day. I'll keep watching your blog, i've read a few posts and it all seems really helpful!

Kirst xx

FLHX_Dave said...

Crazy, and been there. I never trust a plugged tire either. Some people say it's alright but I will only plug a tire long enough to make it to a tire shop.

I had almost the exact thing described here in Interstate 5 in Southern CA. I caught a nail in the rear a week before and plugged it thinking that would be enough. The mushroom plug worked it way out and I started to fishtail at 50. I was able to ride it out and get it off the roadway, but it bruised the inside of my thighs real good.

A good reminder. The cost of a tire is significantly less than a funeral or a hospital visit! Thanks for the post.

Ann said...

This is a great reminder of proper maintenance, Fasthair...nice post!

I used to work at a crash-testing facility. They did a lot of tests on Ford Explorers with the Firestone tires that used to have that 'tread-separation' issue. Let me tell you, that is a wake up call. Those were terrible crashes.

anarchy said...

thanks for the reminder... good idea to take tires seriously - especially since we only have two of them!!! it takes less than two minutes to check the pressure and tread... i'm surprised more people don't do it...

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Great story. Glad you shared. It's a good reminder how important tire safety is!

RickNiekLikeBikes said...

My dad got his first bike at 16 and took it up a steep hilled and mis-shifted, lost power and fell over. He sold the bike! Then 15 years later he got another bike and was soon after bowled over by a rather hostile German Shepherd. He stopped riding. But he's not giving up and at 60 years old is giving it another go! Bottom line, life on a bike is unpredictable but even so we can't seem to turn our backs on bikes. Like petulant children, no matter what, it's still a good life.

fasthair said...

Allen: The dealer I use to buy all my tires from always warned me as I was leaving to be careful of the tires for this reason. I’ve always remembered it.

MC: Me too. It’s one of those lessons always worth repeating.

Ms. Lady R: Those things are so simple and take less then a minute to complete. Better to catch in the driveway then find out in the middle of nowhere.

Ms. Fylix: I found getting cocky always led me to falling of some how. I’ve since learned to ride like I have a brain and not do that stupid stuff. It’s not a question of if you are going to crash. Instead of question when and how bad!

Mr. FLHX: Years ago I rode with a plugged tire and never had any problems. But as I got older I’ve learned what a bad idea that is. So now it is only when it is only needed to get some where for proper repairs. Glad to hear you did better at keeping your bike upright when it happen to you. Yes tires are cheap when compared.

Ms. Ann: I bet doing that research was quite eye opening. If I remember correctly they found that Ford recommend a tire pressure that was too low and caused the tire to over heat. Once again cause for the importance of proper tire inflation. Thanks for sending me your paper. I found what the doctor said very interesting.

Mr. anarchy: You’re welcome. You are right it only takes a minute to check and be safe. I hope this post prompts people to pay closer attention to their tires.

Mr. M: I can’t stress enough how important it is that your tires are in good shape. Next to your brakes they are the single most important thing on your bike.

Mr. Rick: Glad to hear that dad is ok from all of his misfortunes and getting back on the bike. Once motorcycling is in your blood there is no getting rid of it. Maybe we’ll run in to each other next riding season.