Bike problems

When you travel on a motorcycle the relationship with the bike is like a cowboy and his horse. You take care of it and you expect it to take care of you. When it lets you down it's aggravating and you lose trust in it.

Last year on our Asheville trip I had problems with my Nomad. Even though it was easily diagnosed and fixed it was still an aggravation, and I was haunted that something else would happen. That distrust still followed me on this trip even though I was on a different bike. This year the motorcycle gods frowned on John....

Several weeks before our trip we got together to do a ride. A few miles into the ride John's bike started to make an occasional popping/crunching sound. We went back to his house and piddled with it for awhile without success. He eventually took it to a local bike mechanic who greased the driveshaft splines. All seemed well until a couple weeks before our trip when the noises came back with a vengence. The mechanic found the rear wheel bearings were bad. The parts had to come directly from Yamaha and were backordered. There was a fear the bike might not be done in time for our trip so John started riding the Nomad in case it came to that.

The parts came in and the Yamaha was back together with a few days to spare before our trip. John had new tires put on, too. He brought the bike out to my house and we rewired his horn so it would work, installed a 3-outlet power box, and got his driving lights working (bad connection). His bike was ready to roll. On the way home that night a bolt that connects the shifter to the shift linkage came loose so he and Debby put it back together and slathered it with Locktite.

It was Day 4 and we had just left the New River Gorge bridge headed towards the cabin in Roanoke. I noticed John falling back on a long hill. I pulled in at the next gas station. He said it had lost power on the hill. He said it had briefly did it the day before but never returned. He put in a bottle of carb cleaner to see if it would help. We were about halfway between Beckley and Princeton when he motioned to pull off. The bike was still running like crap and he wanted to find a dealer to look at it. Prior to the trip I had entered all the Honda and Yamaha dealers into my GPS. I had it plot a course to the nearest Yamaha dealer which ended being back in Beckley. I was surprised the GPS took us up US19 instead of I-77 but I enjoyed the drive. Later I remembered the GPS was set to avoid toll roads.

We arrived at Bub's Cycle and John explained the problem. Thankfully, they quickly put his bike on the lift and started troubleshooting. They checked for vacuum leaks, changed spark plugs, tuned and sync'd the carbs, drained some excess oil, checked the fuel filter...anything they could think of short of getting into the motor. The bike ran a little better but they couldn't find the problem. For a 'Plan B' John spoke to the sales manager and got some Venture prices. Two thumbs up to Bub's Cycle for their effort and hospitality. We took off south to see how the wounded bike would do.

We were most of the way to Princeton when John pulled over again. Aggravation shown in his and Debby's faces and he had one request...find the nearest dealer so they could trade the Yamaha for something reliable. He said they were now getting gas fumes which were irritating them (mentally and physically). The closest dealer in the GPS was Hillbilly Cycle Sales, a Honda dealer in Princeton. We arrived there to find a Goldwing sitting inside and the doors locked. The dealership was closed on Mondays. Probably cost them a Goldwing sale.

Next on the list was Freedom Motorsports, the Yamaha dealer across town. When we arrived we noticed they were still open and there was a gray 2008 Royal Star Venture sitting in the showroom. John explained the situation to the sales manager. They made a better deal than any of the previous dealers and within an hour John and Debby were the proud owners of a brand new Venture. Two thumbs up to the good people of Freedom Motorsports.

Bike problems behind them there were now some logistical problems. The new Venture didn't have a trailer hitch. It was decided to order a hitch which would be sent to the dealer and installed on our return trip home. The gear in their trailer was loaded into my recently enlarged trailer (now affectionately known as 'The Dumpster') and we continued on.

Epilogue: The MC Hitch arrived on schedule and was a breeze to install. It simply replaced a crossbrace. Easy is good.

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