Monday, August 3, 2009

How to tow a motorcycle

January 6, 2008 - Sunday

Yesterday was quite the adventure. Hanging out with the biker boys, I heard some crazy stories about towing dead motorcycles. I never thought it would happen to me.
Yesterday, Saturday, Kevin and I were IMing again - like every day - and we naturally agreed to go on another drive. None of his buddies wanted to come, but I figured Löchen and Selim and maybe Alex would come. They did. We were to meet Kev at the same spot at 1330 hours as last time, in Birmensdorf.
Monsieurs Selim and Alex were both more or less asleep when Florian called them - around 1200 hours. I spent almost an hour spit-shining - actually WD-40-shining - my Buell, getting it ready for another week of driving on wet roads in lousy weather.
The guys finally turned up after 1300 hours, and then Florian wanted to take the Husaberg up the hill on a spin really quick, and check something out... I said I would drive ahead and meet them there, and took off.
On the drive up the Albis, I noticed a couple gentle lurches, a split second where the engine wasn't pulling, and a "poof" in the exhaust.
I took it easy and thought the "poofs" might come from fumes of the chemicals I'd been using to clean the bike.
I reached Birmensdorf, found Kevin waiting, and parked. We stood and chatted and waited for about half an hour before the others finally arrived.
After mutual introductions of people and machines, we formed a convoy and took off. Kevin had "forgotten" to put in his DB-limiters, so his exhaust was really loud - and it sounded doggone awesome. Still, he said he'd be the tail end on acocunt of the noise.
Florian took the lead, then Alex on the Husaberg, Selim on his Hyosung, me, and Kevin.
We'd driven barely 2 km, and I knew my Beastie was really not feeling well. It wasn't pulling at all; giving gas made it labor and it didn't speed up. We drove a few uphill curves, and the red warning light lit up. I gave a hand signal and blinked out, coming to a stop under the eaves of a large barn on the side of the main road between Wettswil and Bonstetten.
Kevin rolled to a stop next to me; the others hadn't noticed just yet and kept on, but returned about five minutes later.
And there we stood for the next two hours. The first thing Kevin did was check the oil, and we found it turned to whipping cream, just like it had been that first time when the clutch compartment had to be replaced.
I called my mech and said I had that problem again, and that I wasn't going to drive another meter on the bike. It was already pulling bad before; putting it under obligation now was bound to ruin something.
It turned out the garage couldn't retrieve the bike, because on the weekends they don't have the vehicle for it. But if I could find a place to park it for the weekend, they'd be happy to pick it up on Monday.
Well, then Alex called his mech, who's in the area, but that guy was busy with a bike that needed to be done that evening. Kevin and Löchen drove into Wettswil to check out the garage there; see if anybody could pick up the bike. But nobody was around.
Finally we decided to tow the bike. Kevin lived about a km away, and he said I could leave the bike with him until Monday. Florian and Kevin brought back a jump rope, and we tied one end to the luggage rack on Löchen's KLR, and the other end around the fork of my front wheels, tight enough so it wouldn't get caught between tire and mudflap, and loose enough to allow for curves.


I was pretty nervous about riding something with no power, but we did it very carefully. The road was wet; it had started raining about an hour before.
Kevin took the lead, driving 40 km/h. Then came Florian, who started rolling very carefully. Once the Buell got going, it actually wasn't too bad. I just tried to stay behind Florian, and not to the side. Then came Selim on the Hyosung, the only bike with warning blinker function (all four blinkers on at the same time). And at the end, Alex kept the following cars at a safe distance.
It was pretty heart-warming, actually - all this comeraderie for one buggery bike that's having problems. These are really worthwhile friends.
We reached the turnoff to Kevin's neighborhood. I managed the curve. but then my bike was standing at an angle to Florians, and there was no inertia. Florian pulled, and I nearly laid it down again, but caught it just above the point of breaking my left front foot rest for the third time. Selim hopped off his Hyosung and helped me stand it up. Florian parked his helped me push the Buell up the hill. From there, I could roll it down into Kevin's garage.
We left it standing there, and Florian gave "his" Buell key (actually my spare) to Kevin. Tomorrow my garage will come and pick it up from Kevin's place.
Kevin is putting a lot of effort into helping me with this. We IMed a couple times today. He washed my bike down and got the salt off, and then posed for a couplpe shots on it because "it's still a cool bike, even with problems." For the pick-up, the original idea was to leave the Buell on the parking lot outside and have the key in his mailbox for the mech to pick up. But it's been raining for the last month or so, and Kevin, who's bugged by the idea of leaving a motorcycle in the rain, said if the mech would call him before getting to Birmensdorf, he'd hop home from work really quick tomorrow and take the Buell out of the garage for the mech. That way the bike stays dry.
So, I need to write instructions for the garage to be delivered tomorrow morning; I'll call the garage to reiterate and clarify, and then call Kevin to let him know what they say.
This is extremely annoying, and I'm counting on two weeks without my bike. But as usual, I'm trying to see the sense in this. There must be a reason for it. Plus, it could have been way worse. It could have died on me with much more ruinous damage on the autobahn, to Oftringen on the 1st when I was alone, or on the return way in the dark on icy roads. It could have died on the 2nd, when we were driving with that 7-vehicle convoy, and ruined the evening. It really could have been worse. Now I just pray the mechanics will find and completely fix the problem this time. I wish I could check it out and do it myself, but I just don't know enough. I'm trying to learn; I spent three hours outside with Löchen, watching him take apart his KLR to clean and repair a few things and renew the coolant. I am putting effort into finally learning some mechanics. And Buell is really giving me good reason to.

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