Saturday, November 9, 2013

New Bearings -- Again -- New Brake Pads -- Again -- and a Four Letter S-Word

I installed a set of All-Balls wheel bearings this spring, just before the snow melted. Happy to have replaced the "sealed on one side" OEM bearings with higher quality, fully sealed bearings, I fully expected not to need to dig into the rear wheel bearings for another 50 - 75,000 miles.

Silly me.

On Friday, the week before Halloween, I walked out to my bike at lunch, and found this: rust all over my wheel hub, axle, axle spacer and swingarm. Are you <expletive deleted> kidding me?!?! Yeah, I rode to Seattle this summer, but I've still put less than 10,000 miles on the bike since I installed the bearings, and this was the driest, warmest summer I remember since I moved to Anchorage in 1989. Fortunately, I haven't yet installed the All-Balls bearings I purchased for the front wheel, and it's safe to say I won't be installing them now, either.

Running wisdom at Stromtroopers is that you can get higher-quality bearings from the local bearing shop than either the OEM Suzuki bearings or in the All-Balls kit, so I ran to Alaska Bearing and purchased all new bearings for the bike (plus a couple of bearings for the XS750 project). The total bill: $60, which considering that the All-Balls front and rear wheel bearing kits for the DL650 alone are $30 each, is a pretty good deal.

The bearing installation itself was no big deal, but when reinstalling the wheel back on the bike, I had a bit of a problem getting all the parts to line up while the brake caliper was installed on the bracket that fits between the wheel and swingarm. It's always kind of a pain, and I usually end up dropping the axle spacer a half-dozen times or so -- which means it picks up a lot of dirt and grit, since my garage floor gets pretty nasty while I'm working on the bike, and therefore, I end up cleaning and re-greasing the axle spacer over and over and over and... -- so I decided to try something new this time. Rather than fight with calipers and spacers and the wheel and the axle, I decided to simply remove the caliper while I reinstalled the wheel. Sure enough, that made installation a lot easier...until I tried to reinstall the caliper. It was late, I was tired, and I should have called it a night, but instead, I tried to get the caliper installed first. Bad call, that. There are two bolts that affix the caliper to the mounting bracket, and I managed to torque one too much, snapping it in half >:( and cross-threading the other one. Yeah, that was easier, grrr!!!

Well, I needed a new set of brake pads (again), so I visited my local go-to guys to order a new set of brake pads, and see if they could get replacements for the two bolts I had munged up the night before. Go-Pro was no-go on the bolts, but they said they could order new pads for me. I asked them to go ahead and order the pads, then I ran by my local Suzuki dealer for the bolts -- yep, special order, too. Meanwhile, my bike is sitting on jack stands in my garage during an unseasonably warm, completely unexpected extended riding season. While I can sometimes keep riding through Halloween, I don't believe I have never been able to ride in November, and now that the weather is finally nice enough to ride in November, the Strom is down with maintenance issues while I'm waiting on parts :roll_eyes:

After a week, I paid another visit to Go-Pro, and was told the pads hadn't arrived yet, but that they should be in "later today or tomorrow." Okay, no problem. I ended up getting sick over the following weekend, and therefore, I didn't get a chance to drop by either Go-Pro or the Suzuki dealer until yesterday, a full second week since ordering both the pads and bolts. Sure enough, the Suzuki dealer had my bolts, but GoPro...sigh..."We just placed the order on the 5th (of November -- yesterday was the 8th). They won't be here until at least next week." WT*?!?! I placed the <expletive deleted> order two weeks ago and you just ordered the parts from your vendor three days ago? And my bike has been up on jack stands in the garage for two weeks during cool, but ridable, weather while you guys have been sitting on your thumbs?!?!

I was NOT a happy camper.

Fortunately, I had gone to Go-Pro before going to the Suzuki dealer, and the Suzuki dealer had the exact pads I wanted in stock. Pads in hand, last night, I went back out to the garage to replace the two bolts and the brake pads, with the intention of taking the Strom out one more time (at least) this morning, for what might be the latest-in-the-year ride I've ever made.

Isn't there an aphorism about "best laid plans..." or something to that effect?

I woke up this morning, got dressed, made some coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, and as I was eating, my daughter called my attention to the weather outside:

What the hail? You're kidding me, right? We've had two weeks of unseasonably good riding weather while my bike has been up on jack stands, and less than twelve hours after I get the bearings and brake pad repairs wrapped up, it's SNOWING outside? Okay, fine; it's hail, not snow, but the effect on my plans is exactly the same. I'd be insane to try to go for a ride in that, especially since the rear tire is getting seriously worn after the Al-Can trip this summer.

Ah, screw it. I went for a ride anyway -- to the end of the gravel road I live on -- and the Strom did fine :) It wasn't as long a ride as I had planned, and it sure wasn't as fast a ride as I had planned, but whatever: I got to ride!

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