Aug 19, 2006

harley wobble...

well, it's been a while since i posted, but that doesn't mean i haven't been riding... most of my riding lately, though, has been short trips around town - nothing big, no all day or overnight trips... just been too busy recently to take a longer trip...

over the last several weeks, i've noticed my bike is tending to wobble as i ride it. although i first noticed it many weeks ago, i wasn't too concerned as it wasn't that bad. however, as i've ridden, the wobble is getting worse and worse - to the point i'm becoming concerned for my safety. while i won't rule anything out, i don't think this is related to the famed harley wobble, which can be read more about here too. i will say, however, that as i was experiencing the wobble, the thought/fear of the harley wobble as at the forefront of my thoughts.

the first time i experienced the wobble, i was in a turn not far from my house. i felt it wobble, which was unusual and got my attention. it wasn't a bad wobble, but enough to get my attention. the road was newly paved, which i didn't think would/could be a factor as it was smoother that before. but you never know...

over the weeks, as i'm riding, i notice it more often and getting worse. worse in the sense that the wobble is lasting longer and longer and getting more noticeable. violent is the word that comes to mind, although that seems a bit dramatic. the other day it got to the point where i'm questioning my safety on the bike. i do realize that i'm not the most experienced on a bike, but i do consider myself a fairly competent rider. i believe the skills i've developed over the past several years have made me a very safe rider. i ride like i'm invisible and everyone is out to hit me. so when i begin to feel unsafe on a bike, something serious is going on.

last week i gave the bike a quick once over - checking the tire pressure, the steering neck, the air pressure in the rear shocks, etc. everything seemed to check out. not feeling confident i didn't over look anything, i called the service department at the local dealership. i explained what was going on and what i had checked. service department dood said outside of tire pressure he couldn't think of anything that would cause the wobble. and, he said, it sounded like i had the appropriate pressure in the tires... curses...

today i finally took the time to get the bike up on the lift. and i had my father-in-law (fil) here to help. we started with the front tire, everything seemed to be okay. my fil like to check things out from front to back, so he starts with the front tire and checks all the components as he moves towards the back of the bike. i like to check groups of components on a bike, tires, shocks, etc. so after checking the front tire, he starts moving to the middle of the bike and i move to the back tire. i grab the rear tire and move it from side to side. uh oh, i think i found the problem. i call fil over and tell him to take a look. facing the rear of the bike, i move the tire left and right about half an inch. uhhhh, houston, we have a problem - it shouldn't be doing that. as i move the tire, i watch the rim and the spokes. the spokes are definitely loose. not much to do now but call the dealership to make an appointment to get this fixed.

i call the dealership to schedule an appointment. i explain what's going on and that i'm a preferred customer. basically a preferred customer means i paid a lot of money to have someone else do something for me that i could probably do on my own for much less money if i would just learn how. but there are some perks, like a free loaner bike when i have to leave it at the shop. or priority seating when the service department is slammed. priority seating pays off this time. the first open slot they have is august 30. but, being a preferred customer, i can bring it in any time, drop it off and they'll get it fixed within three days - assuming they don't have to order out for parts. the dood tells me to bring it in at my convenience and they'll get to it. of course they'll need it for a couple days... no problem, i said, we just have to be sure a rental is available. oops, problem... seems the rental is only good for service, not warrantee or repair work. the work is covered because i'm a preferred customer, but not the rental. i explain it was my understanding the rental was good any time i had to bring my bike in for work. service dood says he wishes he knew who was telling people that because a lot of people are under that impression and he has to be the dood that breaks the bad news to people... and i don't blame him there - he is put in a bad spot. i inform service dood that i can tell him exactly who told me i get a rental whenever i bring my bike in. the false-advertising dood was the sales manager when i bought my bike and was promoted to general manager. one thing about false-advertising dood is he personifies a used car salesman. close your eyes and imagine a used car salesman. now you're picturing this dood. and, believe it or not, he really was a used car salesman in a former life.

i'm more than happy to spill the beans and offer false-advertising dood's name up. and when i do, service dood makes a deal. since that's what he told me, and he's the general manager, he's going to get me the rental!!! service department dood says that if i can work out a convenient time to pick up a rental, they'll be more than happy to get my bike in... excellent. i get my bike in and i get the rental i'm not supposed to have.

i'm mixed about what i discovered today. i'm extremely happy that i found the problem while the bike was still sitting in my garage instead of while i was tooling down the road. i'm happy that i'll get the bike in this coming week and that i get a rental while they're working on my bike. i'm disappointed because i'll miss riding until i can get the bike in and get the rental. and tomorrow i'll be observing a basic rider course and i was looking forward to riding the bike. but when i weigh the pros and the cons, it's a no-brainer that not riding an unsafe bike for a few days will be well worth the comfort and confidence of riding a safe bike. (did that make sense??)

one other thought - this probably all started when i had my tire replaced in may.

peace and ride safe...