So, I told you that at the end of my courthouse ride Saturday July 2nd, I (meaning Honey) discovered I had somehow lost the bearing from Coco’s rear wheel. This, it turns out, is a very bad thing. I have no idea when it came apart. I wish I could say I suddenly realized the bike was riding differently but that never happened. In fact, to be honest, I’m not entirely certain I ever noticed anything at all. I thought my brakes were starting to pull unevenly, but they’re pretty old so I didn’t think much of it. And that may not even have been a symptom.

Regardless of what I did or didn’t notice, losing a bearing is a very serious problem, it turns out. I felt that if I’d ridden possibly hundreds of miles already with it gone, surely I could do another 20 miles to get home. Honey was not so sure so I called Daniel (the Divine Daniel at Harley-Davidson of North Texas – http://www.hdnorthtexas.com/ – who actually answered my call after hours on a Saturday of a holiday weekend). He was adamant that I MUST NOT ride an inch. In fact, he said, I shouldn’t even look at it (apparently he thought I was still dumb enough to try it…which I admit I was).

So the “don’t ride” camp won and we had to find a tow. I called someone first, but it was $200 (a little outside the budget, even though Harley will reimburse me for some of the tow cost). Instead, Honey called someone from Panther Creek HOG chapter (http://www.panthercreekhog.com/) – John Roadblock (now also known as Target). What a great friend! He lives in McKinney and we were broken down in Midlothian. If we’d been in New England, it would have been 2 states away! And did I mention it was a holiday weekend? So he brought a trailer and took the bike home for me.

And thus began an entire weekend without riding. an entire holiday weekend without riding. OK, I got to ride on the back of Honey’s new bike, but riding girlfriend doesn’t even compare with riding your own bike.

Now, just to show how put out I was, I also managed to sprain my ankle really badly Sunday so, even if I’d had the bike, it would have been a big struggle to ride it. I’m still not sure how I’ll work it out when it gets out of the shop tomorrow. I’ll probably just grit my teeth and ride. It’s better than gritting your teeth and walking, which is my other option.

The whole incident really made me think. Remember, this was just a few days after my brand new front tire tube split on me while I was riding on another long trip, after dark. The thing is, it shakes your confidence when you can’t depend on your equipment; but it shook my confidence even more that I didn’t recognize two significant problems while I was riding.

Sure, I could tell the front tire was flat…when I had to turn off the road. Up until then, I just kept telling myself it was grooves in the road pulling me. Now, it was pitch dark and I couldn’t even look at the tire to tell, but there’s a problem when I won’t stop the bike and look at it when things aren’t just right. I’ll put up with a lot while I’m riding and will talk myself into thinking just about anything is OK as long as she’s still moving forward.

With the wheel bearings, the change was much more subtle than the flat front tire, but Honey said he could tell the difference as soon as he got on the bike to move it from the trailer to the garage. Any other guy and I’d say it was posturing, but not Honey. He wouldn’t say he could feel the tire wobbling if he didn’t feel it. I have a confession to make: I still don’t exactly understand what part is exactly missing from my bike. Sure, I looked at the rear wheel and nodded and said “wow, that’s bad” but if I had to point out a picture of a rear wheel bearing, odds are I couldn’t do it (unless all the other pictures were fruit or something).

I mean, I know what a bearing is, but I can’t picture it on my bike. I’ve been looking for diagrams of my bike, but haven’t found it yet. I’ll take a close look when I get it back from the shop, of course, but all I’ll now know is a rear bearing. How many other things about my bike do I not know that could be a problem later?

I have a wonderful guy in my life who also rides a motorcycle and we ride together a lot, but not all the time. I ride to work every day alone and I take trips on my own – to go places when Honey’s busy, to see things he’s not interested in, and just because I can, because I want to. But I want to be safe, too. I’m not saying I’m suddenly afraid of riding alone, but I am worried about how little I actually know about my bike.

So, along with my mission to photograph my bike in front of every courthouse in Texas, I’m also on a quest to learn as much about the mechanics of my bike as I can – not just the motor, but the structure, the frame, everything. I love Coco and I have no plans to ever replace her so everything I learn will be useful forever!

I’ll start with Daniel, my best Harley mechanic. Poor Daniel. All he needs is an enthusiastic chick hanging around the shop with the base mechanical knowledge of about a first grader. School is in session!

Until next time, here’s to keeping the wheels down and my eyes ahead. I feel I’ve been extremely fortunate during a week with a lot of miles in bad weather, with a bad tire (both the old one and the new one that replaced it!), and with parts falling off that are supposed to be more durable than that. Thank you, Lord for letting me continue the journey!

  1. chesshirecat says:

    You’ll find the rear wheel bearing inside the hub of your wheel. (Where the axle runs through.) You can’t see it because it’s sitting inside the hub. May I suggest you buy a parts and repair manual for your bike so you can see diagrams of the parts you are learning about? It will run you about 70 bucks or higher for a new one, but it’s so worth the money. I refer to mine often.

    When you get tires changed out, be sure the bearings are checked and lubed each time. That is how you keep your bearings in tip top shape. Tell the service writer you WANT THE BEARINGS lubed or replaced as needed. Not all shops inspect the bearing each time. It’s up to you to insist the work is done.