Saturday, October 04, 2008

A New Rear Tire for Maria

Today I spent almost five hours changing out my first and possibly last tire on Maria, my 2004 R1150RT. Long story short: The larger tire she use in the rear are apparently much harder to work with in terms of removal from the wheel and definitely for emplacement of the new tire onto the wheel! It seems, in retrospect, that it was much easier when I did my first ever tire swap on Brigitta's front tire: LINK.

I'd been noticing the thread level of the rear tire on Maria approaching the TWI (Tire Wear Indicator) mark along the center portion of the tire. This is where it spends most of its time in contact with the pavement since I've been doing a lot of highway riding and apparently not enough curves since the sides of the tire still had plenty of thread left!

You can see the middle TWI is almost flush with the top surface of the thread.

Mike O, my wrenching guru, had taught me the valuable lesson of not waiting to see actual wear bars or try and get a few more hundred miles out of a worn tire. There's just too much riding on it! I really don't need to be hydroplaning on a 612lb motorcycle while in the rain!

So today, I went to the dealer and came home with a new rear tire for Maria. The dealer was apparently very busy or booked up in their service dept since I'd not even gotten a reply email from this past Monday when I asked when they could schedule me in for a tire change. Oh well. In fact, I had a short conversation with a LT rider who'd had to wait three weeks for an oil change!

Bringing home the new tire

No problem I said to myself, I can do it, I'd done it before for the first time ever while replacing Brigitta's, my 1987 R80, front tire. No sweat. Hah.

I placed Maria on her centerstand and secured her front wheel to the centerstand so it would not collapse forward accidentally as I worked on her. It's worth it, here's how I know: LINK

I made sure to only use the tools I normally carry with the motorcycle I am riding so that I know I'll have all the necessary tools with me in case of a breakdown on the road.

I would take the tire spoons on long trips

I took off the four lug nuts with no problems using the above lug nut wrench. I'd added a T45 Torx wrench to my toolkit and used it plus a metal tube that I believe goes with the spark plug socket to add leverage to the small Torx wrench while removing the mounting bolts for the rear brake caliper:

Note that there's plenty of brake pad left

Once I had the rear brake caliper assembly off, the rear wheel came off easily enough with a bit of wiggling back and forth. I let all the air out of the tire by removing the valve stem and pulled it out between the final drive and the exhaust pipe. (It's a tight fit, removing the air helps)

So here's the old tire, the outer edges of the tire seem almost new don't they. I really must get in more twisty road time with the new tire!

I got 13,039 miles out of this one, not too bad

So I mentioned it took me five hours at the beginning didn't I? The above actions took less than 30 minutes. The next four and a half hours were a titanic struggle on my part, with much help from my loving wife, to A. remove the old tire from the wheel (what a booger it was) and B. Put the new tire onto the wheel, fail after several attempts to get both sides under the rim, take the wheel back out (painful), try it with brake rotor rim being the "in place" side this time, still much pain, struggling and swearing involved.

Finally, figured out the trick which I thought I'd been doing all along. You have to really and truly collapse the opposite end of the tire from where you're working the edges inwards. Its not enough to push on it a little, you really have to push it down to take the pressure off the opposite side. I finally spooned the edges into the wheel. Success!

Another 30 minutes to seat the bead (it took 47 lbs of pressure and two loud pops). I'd already put in the 2 ounces of dynabeads and replaced the valve stem. I let all the air out and put the tire back onto Maria's final drive assembly, torqued down the lug nuts to 77 ft/lbs. The rear brake caliper went on next, and its own bolts got torqued down to 29 ft/lbs. I used the torque values from my Clymer Repair manual. I filled the tire back up to 40 lbs PSI.

I'd been riding Maria with 40 PSI in the front tire and 42 in the rear tire. These values having been given to me by the Beemer dealer I bought her from back in Sturgis. I am going to try 38 in the front and 40 in the rear as I'd see the wear patterns on the front and rear tires seeming to indicate too high a pressure. We'll see.

Got geared up, took her out for a few miles spin and everything seems to be fine. Got no new vibrations coming from the rear. The tire didn't fall off at high speed. I took her up to max normal cruising speeds and a bit beyond and the tire did just fine.

Given the time involved, I am not sure I'll personally change tires on Maria again unless there's no other choice. Its a lot harder than on Brigitta's thinner tires. Still, I can't forecast the future, I may be stuck with time on my hands, an unsafe tire on the motorcycle, new tire on hand, and the dealer too busy again.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Airheads and Heated Grips

Yesterday I found out the hard way that using one's heated grips on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer, on a short ride is probably not such a good idea.

The temperatures were in the high 40s to low 50s during my 11 mile commute to work and I turned on the heated grips on low. They really felt nice and warm and my medium gloves were all I needed. I made sure to turn off the heat of course once I parked Brigitta in the work parking lot.

The work day over, I go out to her, gear up, get on and tried to crank the engine. I could hear it turning sluggishly. Damn, I I tried half choke, almost caught but then just a weak turning over of the engine. Full choke, same thing. I checked the throttle and choke cables and they seemed OK.

I placed her on her sidestand, checked for fuel in both carburetor bowls and they were full so probably not a fuel issue. Another rider had come out while I was doing this and asked if my battery was dead. I told him I did not think so as I put Brigitta up on her centerstand and made another quick check of all the connections to the coil and spark plugs.

I went to crank her one more time while still on the centerstand and this time she cranked over and caught! I quickly gave it some throttle to keep the revs up and breathed a sigh of relief.

I am thinking I just drained the battery enough so that it would not crank the engine when I first tried. Either that or I flooded the engine with the multiple attempts. Could be either. Must be more careful about both. These Airheads are known for having pretty weak charging systems after all. I think my alternator puts out just 280 Watts when new, as opposed to Maria my R1150RT which I believe has an alternator with a 700 Watts output.

I took Brigitta over to the local auto parts shop and had them put a battery tester on her. The tester declared the battery good, with a 12.89 Volt Charge and 165 Cold Cranking Amps. So I know for sure the battery is good.

I do recall that I'd not put the battery on the trickle charger the last couple of days before yesterday so that perhaps did not help things. I usually rotate the trickle charger between both my motorcycles to keep their batteries topped off.

So, moral of the story? Break out the heavier gloves for the early morning rides and avoid using the heated grips unless on long rides where the alternator has a chance to recharge the battery!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Winter Mileage Contest for BMWMOA Riders

I saw this announcement on the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association (BMWMOA) site last night, sounds interesting and I plan to register both my Beemers of course. Registration opens on 13OCT08, the start of the contest period and ends on 10APR2009. Here's the announcement: LINK

It's called the Bavarian Black Ice Run (BBIR) and its open to members in good standing of the BMWMOA.

There's four classes of competition: Sport Rider, Classic Rider, Daily Rider and Touring Rider. I plan to compete in the Daily Rider Class. It's all a friendly competition with not much bureaucracy that I can discern. Should be fun.

Here's Maria, December of 2006

Ride Safe and stay warm, see you on the road!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Beemer History on YouTube

Saw a posting on with links to where one could view the following three short movies online about BMW Motorcycle history.

Talks about the rebirth of BMW Motorcycle production post-WWII

Last section of the above video shows nice footage of the beautiful R90S

Someday, I'll own a GS, whether an airhead or oilhead version, remains to be seen

Click on each photo-link above to view the full video on youtube. Lots of nice looking beemers and you learn something perhaps.....