Folks, I have been put on this earth to warn you that if you own a BMW F800 GS, you need to have your wheel bearings checked. Here is my story and my warning to you:
I was riding from Bear Lake in Utah, through Evanston, Wyoming. As I was approaching the outskirts of Evanston after having passed through Woodruff, Utah, I felt a slight wobble in my rear wheel, almost like some grooves in the pavement, although there didn’t seem to be any. It bothered me enough to pull over. As I was slowing down, my rear wheel wobble was more pronounced, like a rear flat tire. I put the bike on the side stand and visually inspected the tires. First mistake. I should have lifted it up on the center stand and spun the wheel and checked for any side to side play, but I didn’t. I got on the bike and proceeded cautiously into Evanston to get a full tank of fuel. Everything seemed normal. No noise, and the wobble seemed to have disappeared, so in my mind I thought I had just gone through some wavy pavement. After fueling up, I proceeded on Route 150, otherwise known as the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, a motorcyclists favorite around these parts. I kept the speed at a decent clip, 65-70 mph or so. As I approached the climb to Mirror Lake, my ABS warning light came on. While I thought it was odd that it just popped on, there was nothing else giving me any feedback there was something wrong with the bike. Then, I went around an uphill switchback, and mid turn, my rear wheel skipped, as if I had just run over a gummy snake, otherwise known as the road sealant they use to fill cracks in the pavement. Now I was starting to get the creeps. I decided I would stop at the scenic turnout a few hundred yards further. As I clutched in and started to coast into a nice spot, my rear wheel seized up. Good thing I was barely moving. I could not move the bike a centimeter. I shut her down, leaned it on the side stand, and prepared myself mentally for the coming to grips with the concept of WTF. I never could have guessed the horror I would then see. The rear brake rotor was covered in smeared silver metal, it almost looked like metallic grease. But this was no grease. It was molten metal from a disintegrated wheel bearing that had cooled and welded my rear wheel in an unmovable state. The ABS sensor was melted from the obvious heat that was transferred through the rear brake caliper. The forged caliper mount, discolored brown from the heat. As I write this, my bike is sitting on a trailer, waiting to be taken to my local mechanic to have the damage assessed, but for sure, the rear wheel is completely toast, as is the rear brake caliper, caliper mount, ABS sensor, and who knows what else, at this point. How can a small part that costs less than a hundred dollars fail and be responsible for thousands of dollars in repairs? How can BMW put a product out on the market with this lack of quality? I suppose it could have been worse. I could have kept going through the downhill switchbacks, having the rear wheel fail and cause a deadly crash. After doing some research on ADVrider and seeing a few threads with stories such as mine, it seems I have been lucky to walk away from this.
The 2013 edition of the Crusher in the Tushar is just a few days away, and I can’t hold the cards to my chest any longer. It’s a funny game. The first year, the choice was all about mountain bike vs. cyclocross bike. I rode what I had at the time, with very little Crusher-specific modifications, and ended up winning the 40-49 category, and posting the fastest amateur time. Then, the obsession began to improve my weaponry. Disc brakes were needed. Better gearing. Although the bike I rode in year 2 seemed better fit for the race, I didn’t have the legs, and I flatted on the big down hill. No secrets here. Our new team, Squadra Flying Tigers, is sponsored by Jamis Bicyclesfor the 2013-2014 cyclocross season, and the Crusher is our coming out party. You will see me piloting a Jamis Supernova carbon bike, with my own tweaks and twizzles to make the 5 hours go by a little faster. Hopefully a lot faster. It’s a personal goal of mine to finish, and finish under 5 hours. Good luck, all ye Crushers. Let the games begin.
Riding dual sport motorcycles around the Great Salt Lake, the Loop the Lake trip is sort of a “go-to” route when it’s time to get on the bikes and twist the throttle, but you don’t have a long weekend or a week to get away. On this particular trip, Darth and I met at Antelope Island State Park, took backroads to a forbidden causeway, then hopped on the old historic Golden Spike rail bed. After dodging ancient spikes that would ruin your whole day, we made the obligatory stop in Lucin (pronounced Lou-Sin, unbeknownst to us prior). Unfortunately, we saw no evidence of Lucin’s most famous current and only resident, as reported here by KSL. After stretching our legs under an ancient cottonwood tree by the Lucin pond, we watched a working train go by which held none of the nostalgia of the old railroad: something about graffiti stained boxcars doesn’t do much to conjure up images of the old steam engines, but there you have it. Back on the road, and we scanned the horizon for evidence of the Beefmaster Ranch, which was announced by a sign more or less in the middle of nowhere. We debated taking the road all the way to Wendover, or doubling-down on adventure and going to for the salt flats. As we were stopped with helmets off and maps out, two bright stars approached and we knew these were motorbikes riding side by side, rather than a 4-wheeled vehicle. We paused a few minutes longer to say hello to two oncoming dual sport riders who were heading the way we came, and when they asked us if we knew of any good camping spots, we recommended Lucin. One rider was aboard a GS 1200 in the anniversary colors, and the other on a tried-and-true KTM 950. It was here we left the road for the last stretch to Wendover, which had us coasting in on fumes over some dicey salt flats. Dicey because on this occasion they were dry and rideable with just a little bit of tire squirm, but previous adventures on these same flats yielded nothing but woe and misery. Video below is just the causeway segment. Enjoy.
A counter clockwise 2-day dual sport ride around the Great Salt Lake.
Deal O’ The Day
Words I’ve Heard
"I'm not a businessman. I'm a business, man." --Jay-Z
"The only thing keeping us from going is leaving." --Ewan Mcgregor
"Adventures suck, when you're having them." -- Anonymous Rally Car Driver
"It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle."--RULE #4, Velominati.com
"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."--W.C. Fields