Preparation Update: T-minus 5 days – Final Equipment Check
Updated: Jul 21, 2018
Surprises at the mechanic shop are better than surprises in the middle of nowhere.
There are a lot of factors to consider when you're planning an extended motorcycle travel, making sure your motorcycle is issue-free is absolutely the most important part. Reviewing my travel plans, and considering mileage and other factors, showed me that there were a few things that would need to be taken care of before I left town. The following is a review of the issues I wanted to address, and a few that cropped up while I was at the shop getting things taken care of.
I bought my Triumph Speed Triple from a friend of a friend a few years ago. Dude is a gearhead, knows his stuff, and loved this bike. As a result, they came with a set of Pirelli Angel GT sport touring tires. I was unaware of their quality at the time, but I found out soon enough just how nice those tires really were. Rain or dry, cold or scorching, they have always been solid.
Fast forward to the start of this riding season, and an off-handed question from a mechanic friend of mine about tire mileage. My tires look good, so it hadn't occurred to me to consider them ahead of the trip. In the time since I bought the Speed Triple, I had put more than 8,000 miles on them. Considering they were not brand new when I purchased the bike, they had likely seen over 10,000 miles. The tread was still decent on them, but a tire with that much wear doesn't instill much confidence ahead of a 5,000+ mile trip.
Time for a new set.
As it happens, I was able to work out a sponsorship deal a couple of months ago with Scooterville, a local Vespa dealership that is also the local Moto Guzzi dealership. In exchange for visibility on my upcoming trip, they were willing to provide me with a new set of tires. With a plan in place to get my tires, I rode on my old Pirellis up until this week. Today I visited Scooterville and they swapped in the new set of Pirellis. I'll spend the next few days scrubbing in the new tires, and they should be ready to go when I set off this Saturday.
I have been and remain concerned about weather conditions as I head west this weekend. I've been watching the nightly national news and they've had meteorologists on constantly, excitedly showing the latest flooding, tornadoes, and hailstorms sweeping off the eastern slope of the Rockies and battering the Great Plains and Midwest.
I am happier now more than ever that I ordered heated grips for this trip (detailed here in my rundown of sport touring modifications). It took a bit longer than I had anticipated (soldering? taking the tank cover off? really?), but my shop took care of installation right after they balanced and installed the new tires.
It put a big 'ol smile on my face...
...until I saw the mechanic grab a flashlight and start looking at my brake pads. Sure enough, a weird noise that I had just started to hear was the sound of my front brake pads departing for the Pearly Gates. With no replacements in stock, the parts manager was still able to track down a set. Thank goodness they'll arrive within the next day or two.
Last but not least, my mechanic also noticed a burned-out brake light bulb while he was checking through the electrical system in preparation for installing the heated grips. Thankfully, it was easily replaced. Bonus! It was replaced gratis.
The guys reminded me to change my oil before departure, lube and adjust the chain every 1,500 - 2,000 miles (I'll do that in San Francisco and Seattle), and keep the shiny side up.
Will do, guys. Thanks for the work. :)