The curtains of my office are open, and I’m daydreaming about that not too far away fall foliage ride on the parkway. The most significant rites of passage associated with this most welcome reconnection with cooler weather are re-acclimating myself to wearing my leather coat and gloves. This is the time when motorcycles conjure up all of the usual associations for me: the romance of the open road, freedom, coolness, manliness, adventure, and sexiness. But before all of the above can happen, one must ask themselves a few questions. Will my bike run with a bad voltage regulator? Does that slick front tire REALLY need to be changed before I tackle twisting mountain roads? Should I inspect my bike for any other problems?
When I open my garage door, in my mind’s eye I see a black and white checkerboard floor with a slick red bike lift and a six-foot red toolbox next to the wall with a Chrome Babe’s calendar on it. But as I poke out my mind’s eye, a dirty, oil-stained garage floor with leaves on the floor blown in by the wind appears. That fancy motorcycle lift is replaced by a dirty red jiffy lift I bought for $25. The big red toolbox is, in reality, a little black bag I once used for travel toiletries. That voltage regulator I once drug up Columbia Avenue hanging on by the wires is now held on with a bungee cord that will get replaced. The front tire of a drag bike has more tread than my front tire. But I justify the procrastination to have it replaced with my friends by saying the two wavy threads that remain in the middle of the tire have sentimental value. I had a tire like it on my banana seat bike as a child. The compensator. Ahhhhhhh that mysterious part on a motorcycle that can embarrass you more than passing gas in a crowded elevator. Like hearing the song ‘Night Moves’ for the first time at a young age. ‘Working on mysteries without any clues,’ yep that pretty much sums up how I feel about my knowledge of a compensator. Binford tool company would be very disappointed with my wrench collection needed to complete this task.
I can do this! Being a do it yourself guy can’t be that bad, can it? There’s YouTube, Google, and the neighbor akin to ‘Wilson Wilson Jr.’ of the Home Improvement show to help answer any questions I might have. How can I go wrong? So, the first DIY project on my list is the voltage regulator. Feeling lucky and ready to use my Google expertise, I go forth to eBay to find a deal on one. After 15 minutes of browsing the isles of eBay, I’m satisfied that I can replace mine for about $50 bucks. Excited about my good fortune, I share the happy news to some Harley types. They shoot me down like clay plates at a skeet shooting range. So reluctantly I call the Harley dealership and order one for 3 times the price. Next comes my front tire. A little more difficult project, but something I knew that Google, YouTube and I could get done. So, trying again to avoid the Harley-Davidson dealership to purchase a tire, I find one at Cycle Gear for $170 and free installation. I’m doing a happy dance! It’s a good thing the store was empty as not to scare off any potential shoppers. With my laptop in hand, I search YouTube to enhance my knowledge, ok ok I don’t know anything about changing a motorcycle tire, find a close match to my bike and study it like I’m considering to be a physician. But WAIT! All this knowledge and no tools! I call a friend of mine to borrow a breaker bar, extension and 15/16 socket holding back the urge to offer him a beer or two to watch me. Alright, hoping he’d offer to do it. After 3 attempts for the correct tire to arrive, I finally get the right tire and head home to bond with my motorcycle. My old friend Google informs me I will need to remove my brake caliper, and the fender to get the wheel and tire off of the bike. Remember my friend I wanted to come to watch me do this? Well, he’d take me up on the offer if I provided a third beer. What a negotiator! So, he says from his perch next to the bike, just let the air out of the tire to get it off? I did, and the wheel and tire drop right off. Feeling ashamed I didn’t think of that, I put the wheel in the trunk of my car and head to Cycle Gear to have the new tire mounted
Arriving home, my friend had left without saying when he would be back. Alright, I can do this. I took it off, didn’t I? Putting it on would require the arms and hands that had abandoned me. Being the creative dude I am, I found a shovel sitting in the corner. Using the shovel blade as a lift, I hosted the tire into place and shoved the axle through the forks and wheel. Yes, I did use anti-freeze crème on the axle. I’ve been told I’m too cautious. But nightmares of me lying in a hospital bed with broken bones and road rash because the front wheel dropped off inspired me to use blue Loctite on anything with threads.
Feeling good about completing my first DIY project, I looked around for leftover parts as a gauge of how well I had done the job. With only a tiny washer left, I’m confident to say I’m done with this project.
Tim “ The Tool Man” Taylor would be proud.