Still in the process of running in the new Suzuki GSX-R600, and with the sun beaming this weekend I arranged for a long trip to get some miles down with Parker Snr. It ended with me getting my knee down.
Only trouble was it wasn’t the knee down experience I was expecting. We were maybe 40 minutes out of Brighton, and had been held up by a handful of back markers on our way to Loomies, a popular bike and car enthusiast stop point in the back roads of Hampshire and just about to get into a good session when things took a different turn.
Taking a casual sweeping left somewhere between Horsham and Cornwall I heard a strange sound. It was like a mallard with its neck trapped inside a six-pack plastic ring. Checking the mirrors I briefly admired my elbows (darn those Alpine elbow pads look good), before pinching my body in to make the Gixxer rear viewing devices remotely usable to see clear road trailing behind me.
OK, maybe I missed the turn, but I am sure I didn’t see an indicator on my last rear check. Didn’t I?
Turns out my observations were spot on! Sadly, the inner tube on the front wheel of Mr P Snr’s Triumph Explorer was not as it blew out at I reckon about 40mph.
The great thing about travelling around with a touring rider is that they’re laden up with all kinds of gadgets, gizmos and spares. Ironically, a front inner tube was not one of those, just one for the rear. He masterfully was able to bring it to a half at a junction just a few yards before the bend I’d lost sight of him on and this is where we stayed… for some time.
But all was not lost. We had tools, we had a puncture repair kit and cans of compressed air. It was time for some roadside repairs.
With the front wheel out we begun hunting for nails, thorns, broken glass shards, something to have caused the puncture. Nothing.
And here’s where the knee sliders saw the tarmac. Knelt on the roadside, with tyre irons in hand and some strange blue grippy thingys, we got the tyre out the way to find that the inner tube just didn’t look right. Half was sitting on the wheel rim, the other was lost up in the echelons of the tyre wall.As we pulled it out we discovered it was twisted.
The only explanation to this is that it had been fitted incorrectly by the last person to do anything on the tyre. It was basically a ticking time bomb, it would have happened at some point in time and we’re just lucky it happened at a relatively low speed with no traffic around. Front end blow-outs are the hardest thing to recover from, all your control is completely gone, no idea how he did it but the guy is as skilled as any experienced distance rider.
Where the twist was in the inner tube the seam had split. As anyone with a push bike will know, these can be a real bugger to fix. We glued it up and slapped a patch on it and left it to dry gassing about nothing in the mid-day sun. With some brute force and creative thinking we got the inner tube back in the wheel and popped the tyre back into the rim. I had the idea of using the wheel seal can to give us a bit of double protection. That way if there was any stress with the split, we could cover and seal it from the opposite side of the puncture band aid. Something didn’t look right as we pumped foam into the tyre but it didn’t inflate at the same time. The idea of these cans is that they give you enough LB’s of pressure to be able to ride to the nearest garage at low speed and get some air in.
With the can completely expelled, Parker Snr, connected up one of his canisters of compressed air. These little bullets are so handy I may have to investigate them myself. Only it wasn’t our friend today and with one push on the nozzle the valve in the inner tube went bang with quite a racket.
It was game over.
Almost 3 hours before a recovery truck could get to us, I’m just glad that it wasn’t shitty weather otherwise it would have been a totally different story. Instead, I learnt how to get a front wheel out, how to fix a flat front – although I don’t have tubes, all my bikes to date have been tubeless which makes life far easier, and we got to have a good old natter about sweet FA in sunshine with plenty of bikes blasting past, and a couple were good enough to swing back around and check we were OK.
A trip to Loomies will have to wait a few weeks, next weekend is going to be very interesting indeed. Watch this space.