After an ambitious winter project of tearing my bike down to the frame to change the frame and wheel colors from gold to black, I’ve had a pretty good summer of riding so far. I had two reasons for undertaking the project: first, the paint on the frame had been damaged by a cheap-o battery that I had bought (and since replaced), and I did not like the damage that was visible and was concerned about what might not be visible. But more importantly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could undertake a project of this kind of magnitude on my own.
Despite having a very mechanical dad, I never caught the wrench bug until after I moved to Indy. I can still remember the fear I felt when I first started wrenching on the bike… I was only changing the front sprocket, and I about had a panic attack that I was going to break something on my precious motorcycle. A year later, there wasn’t a whole lot more that I could have disassembled on my bike (though I didn’t actually get into the engine itself), and found myself extremely successful in my efforts (even if it did take about two months longer than I was hoping for). I had the shop tune and check over the bike to ensure I didn’t screw anything up, and they gave me the thumbs up.
But barely two months after I finished the project, she’s going back into the shop. There’s a truth to machines that you know and love, and that is that they’ll usually let you know they’re hurting before they keel. The trick is that you have to listen and learn, to love your machine enough to put in the effort to know what she tells you on a good day so you know when she’s telling you she’s hurting.
My bike told me she was hurting about two weeks ago. It started as a slight squeal on the front wheel, and it would only happen at a certain point of wheel rotation. With the extreme heat, an air-cooled engine can’t dissipate the heat it generates as efficiently, so I was kind of garaging my bike anyway (plus it’s really hot in full riding gear when it’s 90+ degrees with 80%+ humidity). But on the few times I did take her out, the squeal got worse and worse.
Normally I’d diagnose it myself, but I’ve hit a confluence of lacking the proper time and tools to do it myself. There are three things it could be: the wheel bearings (which were replaced by the shop), the brake assembly (which I worked on), or the speedo assembly (which went untouched outside of removal and reconnection). Unfortunately, I don’t have the right tools to get the front wheel off of the ground to properly troubleshoot it, and have been pretty busy outside of that anyway. So, I’m taking her to the shop. I might get covered under warranty or I might end up with an expensive repair bill, and only time will tell.
What I can say for sure right now, though, is that my bike was telling me that she was hurting, and thanks to the time and effort I’ve put into working on her, I was able to hear what she was saying.