Friday, August 19, 2011

What was that?!?

When you hear a pop like a rock hitting your swingarm or panier, pull over and check it out. It might just be something important, but isn't everything on a motorcycle important?

The Triumph shop in Eugene was hosting a group ride to Steamboat Inn for lunch last Sunday so I rode down to join in. I scheduled to meet a new riding buddy Dave and his Bonneville enroute in Monroe and since we had time, I took him down a few backroads to Eugene instead of the long straight boring way. We met another riding friend and regular Saturday Morning Coffee attendee Andy on his black Tiger 955 at the shop. The three of us met with a couple of other riders that we know from previous events and from the shop. We enjoyed conversation over doughnuts and coffee while we waited for more riders to show up.

As motorcyclists the conversation always ends up on the subject of tires and with four of us Tiger riders it was about dualsport tires and Heidenau in particular. I mentioned Cheryl and Leslie's blog and their trip to Alaska on new Tiger 800XCs and on Heidenau K60 Scouts. I mentioned how much I like my Shinko 705s, I find them to be quite capable, trust them in the corners and I can buy a pair for less than one Continental TKC80. I've have 7000 miles on them now so we strolled outside to take a look. We were inspecting them when Andy asked what was going on with my axle. It looked like a piece of wire had wrapped around an axle spacer, hmmm this can't be good and needed closer inspection and a request for confirmation from one of the shop mechanics.

I hefted her up on the center stand while Andy the forklift mechanic and Quentin the shop mechanic poked, prodded, gestured, spun the wheel, gave it a good shake and finally decided that the bearing was still intact and it was just the bearing seal, we'd just keep an eye on it to make sure it was okay. Fortunately it was not an axle bearing but the sprocket carrier bearing. Sweet, I wouldn't have to bail on the ride.

Eventually there were 10 bikes and 11 riders ready to head out. I kept an ear open for any protest from the bearing and we stopped soon enough that I could check on it. It wasn't hot or smoking so we carried on and enjoyed the ride.

We took some backroads that I had never been on before and the route took us to a forest service road that I definitely need to explore some more.

Rod's Demo Tiger 800

The weather was perfect, the road fantastic and we made it Steamboat Inn for lunch.

Not a lot of vegetarian options but they serve breakfast all day so I ordered the potatoes and vegetables with cheese.

It wasn't long before we were out in the parking lot and on our way.

We finished off the ride meandering over and west of the I-5 to Elkton and Drain, the lowest point in Oregon. Fellow riders started peeling off for home and the group got smaller as we got closer and closer to the shop.
Dave, Andy and I thanked Rod for hosting the ride then headed north toward home. Dave stopped for fuel in Junction City and Andy headed north east toward Lebanon as I continued due north to Corvallis.

It was somewhere along the ride when your mind is truly clear that I remembered hearing that pop earlier in the week and thinking the lid to my panier had opened or a rock had hit the swingarm. The bike never developed a vibration or squealing noise and I was running late so by the time I made it to work I had forgotten all about it. I'll bet that's what it was, my bearing had failed.

So after a quick calculation from the time I heard the pop and week of commuting, attending bike nights and Sunday's ride, I rode 600 miles on a failed bearing. Luckily I made it home safely and inspected the bearing a bit closer.

Oh boy, this doesn't look good.

Hmmm, wonder what this is going to cost me?

It looks worse than it was. I cleaned up all the parts, referred to Bike Bandit's schematic, took inventory and only needed to replace the bearing and I replaced all three to be safe.

The hard part was removing the old bearing races from the sprocket hub and the spacer. I managed to get the inner race from the spacer with an angle grinder but I didn't have any way to get the outer race from the hub as my hammer and screwdriver wasn't going to do it.

Andy told me to bring the hub into work and the next morning he was waiting for me in his service van ready to help. With a threat from the die grinder and a little persuasion with the 32oz. ball-peen he got the outer race to see things his way.

It took four days to source the bearings and oil seals locally but she's back together and happy. Now to replace the front ones too... maybe tomorrow.



  1. Who's a very lucky lad then?? I'm interested from a professional view as tribology (lubrication) was part of my working life. Are those photos "as is" as your bearing components looks awfully dry. I'm presuming that your cage broke up but whether that popped your seal is hard to second guess. Wonder if Triumph ever lubed it properly in the first place? The reason I ask is because my Blackbird headstock bearings had to be replaced at 25000 km and the mechanic said that it looked like they'd been put in with no grease.

    Anyway, thank goodness it didn't cause any damage to you or the bike.

  2. Troubadour:

    glad you got home before it disintegrated. Nice to have friends with persuasive tools

    Riding the Wet Coast

  3. @ Geoff, it was bone dry and may never have been greased but it definitely is now and why I am going to check out the front. I better check the swingarm and steering head as well.
    "Cage", that's the word I was looking for, thanks. It was the cage that tore up the seal, the ball bearings stayed within the race until I pulled the axle.

    @ Bob, it is also nice to have friends who have the same bike as you and knows how it works.

  4. Oh wow! I'm so glad that all was well and nothing happened while riding.

    I'd believe it had never been greased. My shop had to "discuss" a frame bolt out of my bike that the assemblers hadn't installed anti-seize on.

    Happy that you were able to get the Tiger fixed up quickly.

  5. I'll take your word that it looks worse than it is. It looks pretty scary to me! I don't like mysterious sounds or mysterious looking stuff on the bike, not at all! Glad the story ends well!

  6. I've got Shinko's on my Tiger and my buddy has the H's on his 1150GS. He loves them, but I guess they're really hard to find? Shinkos work great in gravel and I feel really comfortable on them (maybe a little slippery in a curve above 60mph)

  7. You seem to lead a charmed life. Perhaps it's the kilts. I would have been stuck in Drain!

  8. Kudos to Andy for noticing the problem. Glad it was not any worse than it was!


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