I arranged to work from home a week ago Wednesday so I could get yet another ride from Elana to go pick up my bike from the shop over lunch. I got there. The bike was ready. I paid a reasonable price for the work they did. I hopped on, and since I had to get back to work I made my way to Route 2 to superslab it home. But once I got up to highway speed, I heard a new sound from the back – a rubbing that increased with speed. I pulled over as soon as I could, and the center of the tread was starting to come off in chunks. They had installed a size 150/90/15 tire, when my stock size is 140/80/15. In other words, the tire they gave me was too tall. I could see where it has barely a millimeter or two of clearance with a flange on part of the exhaust system. The centrifugal force of higher speeds must have stretched the tire just enough to rub on this flange, causing the chunking.
The good news was that I had caught the problem quickly, and I could still ride safely at lower speeds – straight back to the shop. I called Elana to have her turn around and pick me up, took the next exit I could, and started making my way back to the shop. I hadn’t reinstalled my GPS (I was just going straight home, after all), and I didn’t really know the roads I was on, but my sense of direction got me back to Route 2A, the road Central Mass Powersports is on.
I made it there without further incident. Naturally the service guy was surprised to see me back so soon. I explained the problem, and showed him the tire. I popped the trunk and showed him the sticker that listed the stock rear tire size. He apologized profusely, and explained that since they had already had my bike for such a long time he was just trying to get me back on the road as quickly as possible with a tire they already had in stock. Without hesitation he said he’d order up a tire in the correct size. I told him that the Metzler ME880 I’d rolled in with comes in the correct size, to save him the trouble of looking it up. Then I hopped in Elana’s Jeep and went home on four wheels rather than two. Again.
I was crushed. This time I didn’t even get home from the shop before it had to go back in. It was feeling like I’d never get to ride a reliable motorcycle again. This goes completely against reality. CMP did an excellent job repairing my previous mechanical issues. Installing the wrong tire size is not the end of the world, and easily repaired. And this all cascaded from the previous shop not installing the valve stem correctly, which was already fixed.
This past Wednesday, I got the call that the bike was done. Yesterday I got a ride to pick it up. They took me right to it, apologized for putting on the wrong size tire once again, showed me the correct size Metzler ME880 they had installed, and sent me on my way. No paperwork. No money. Nothing. I would have been perfectly happy to pay any price difference between the Metzler and the Dunlop they pulled off the shelf, since the Metzler was likely more expensive. That would be reasonable. But it wasn’t even an issue. And there was never any question of paying for the wrecked Dunlop, or an extra mounting and balancing. I can’t hold anything against CMP here. Their only mistake was in rushing to get me back on the road, and when it didn’t work out they did the right thing.
I took Route 2 part of the way home yesterday, just to try some superslab speeds. There was no rubbing – as expected, since the tire is the correct size. I took a few curvy roads, too, at conservative speeds since I was still breaking in the new tire. Much to my surprise, I arrived home without incident. In the afternoon, I pushed my luck and took an even longer ride – out through Bolton, down one of my favorite twisty sections in the area, around the Wachusett Reservoir (my favorite quick ride or test session when I lived in Berlin), and back home. Once again, the bike worked flawlessly.
I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a good bike, and as of now (I hope!) the series of unfortunate events cascading down from previous work that was done incorrectly has been resolved. But my confidence is gone. It’s a completely illogical, irrational reaction, entirely emotional. Part of the reason I chose the route I did was because a tow back home or to CMP would have been entirely within my roadside assistance coverage. But it wasn’t necessary. Now I just need to put down some miles and rebuild my faith in the bike – have some good experiences with it instead of bad. I plan to start doing what I had planned to do all along – commute on the bike anytime weather permits. It’s been well over a month since I have. It’s only 13 miles each way on mostly back roads that I know quite well. That should definitely help.
I won’t have time for any trips until late August at the latest, with other non-motorcycle commitments throughout the next month or so. But I can at least try another day trip – maybe take Elana to finish our last ride at some point. Yes, I think I’d like to do that. I hate unfinished business.