Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tires and Tools

Spring is quickly approaching, and neither of my bikes are ready for the new riding season yet. Fortunately, I got a chance to head back out into the garage last weekend and today. Unfortnately, I am not really any closer to riding than I was before going out in the fact, the V-Strom is less rideable now than it was last week :(

After getting back from my trip up Trapper Creek/Petersville Road last summer, I found that my front tire had a slow leak, so last Sunday, I removed the front wheel, filled a bath tub with water, and looked for bubbles. After some searching, I found that the rim and tire sidewall weren't completely sealing on the left-hand side of the wheel -- I'd get a small bubble every ten seconds or so. That was actually good news, since I had been afraid that I might have cracked the wheel on a really hard bump that I hit at about 35 MPH. From what I could tell, there was no actual damage; just the tire wasn't completely sealing with the sidewall. So, I pulled the tire, cleaned up the inside of the rim a bit, cleaned up the tire sidewall a bit, then put it all back together.

The bead wouldn't seat.

I tried using more Windex to lube the tire. Huh-uh. I wrapped the tire with a ratchet strap. Nope. I set the tire between a pair of 500W halogen lamps to heat it up and make it more pliable. Yeah, no.

Having reached the limit of my patience, I did what any self-respecting, back-yard motorcycle mechanic would do: I put the V-Strom tire aside and turned my attention to the XS750's front tire. The old tire came off easily enough, and I soon filled the new tire with baby powder, inserted the new tube inside the brand new Conti Go! tire, and reinstalled the new tire and tube on the rim. However, when I fired up the air compressor, it did not sound good at all. Nevertheless, it made pressure, and so I attempted to seat the bead on the XS750's front tire.

This was not shaping up to be a good day.

The tire would start to inflate, but wouldn't hold air. I noticed I could feel a draft when I pulled the chuck off of the valve stem, so I pulled the valve core out and tried using the old valve core from old tube. No dice. However, I noticed that baby powder was blowing out of the gap between the sidewall and the rim when I would try to inflate the tire. Unfortunately, at this point, my compressor stopped compressing.

Did I mention that this was not shaping up to be a good day?

Okay, I've got a cheap tire inflator; let's give that a try.

Nope. I tried inflating the tire for about an hour, and every time, it would start to inflate, but would go flat again as soon as I disconnected the air pump. This was seventh tire I had ever installed, and apparently, the first tube that I've ever pinched (granted, three of those seven tires were tubeless, but...).

I stayed out of the garage for the rest of the week, frustrated with my inability to seat the bead on my V-Strom and my new-found ability to pinch tubes on the XS750. Not that it would have done much good to go into the garage anyway, since I needed a new tube before I could revisit the XS750 and a new air compressor before I could attempt to seat the bead on the V-Strom again.

However, this afternoon, I found myself at Home Depot, where I found a nice looking, reasonably priced, two-gallon compressor. It followed me home; can I keep it? ;)

Nevertheless, despite another two or three hours sweating over the V-Strom tire, I still can't get the bead set. I looked up advice on ADV Rider and Stromtroopers. I tried some of the advice I found, but I draw the line at igniting ether or propane inside the tire -- that's got "bad idea" written all over it! I even removed and reinstalled the tire and I removed the valve core to let more air in quicker, but I cannot get the bead to seat. I think Tuesday, I'll take the tire to the Suzuki dealer and see if they can get it to seat; I need a new air and oil filter, as well as a couple of quarts of oil, anyway.

On a positive note, I did get a few more parts for the XS750 in the mail recently. My EBC brake pads arrived, as did another pair of turn signals (see my original write up on them in this post here) and exhaust gaskets. Work on the rebuild continues, albeit slowly.

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