The car tire I ordered for my Valkyrie came in Last Friday. Other projects kept me from being able to put it on until Sunday evening. A friend with more experience, tools, and confidence offered to help me put it on so I hauled everything to his house Sunday night.
I was looking forward to riding it to work Monday morning and starting to get used to having a car tire on my motorcycle. I figure it’ll take two to three hours.
I’ve been reading about the procedure for changing the back tire. I’m glad I have my friend’s help because I had planned to remove a bunch of stuff we don’t need to, and hadn’t planned to remove some stuff we do.
I’ve taken tires off motorcycles before, but they were either belt or chain drive. This one is a shaft drive machine and requires a little finessing. I thought we’d be finished in the time it takes us to get the tire off. Now we find we can’t break the bead with our little Harbor Freight Bead breaker. My friend says he can get to a tire machine Monday, so we call it quits for the night.
I show up at my friends house and find the car tire mounted on the rim. It looks great. I’m sure I’ll be riding it home this evening.
There is a procedure called the “Nut cage mod” that the guys on the bike forum all say you have to do when mounting a car tire. I’ve convinced myself I can get by without it, but now with the tire actually on the rim, I see that it will be necessary. Fortunately, my friend’s well-appointed shop includes enough spare nuts, bolts and screws that we can find what I need. At least I won’t have to wait until the next day for a trip to the hardware store to finish. We climb under the bike as it sits precariously on the motorcycle lift and take the grinder to both nut cages. This turns out to be a little more time consuming than I’d expected. What a surprise. Eventually however, we finish the mod and there is room for the wider tire.
Now we start wrestling the tire back onto the bike. That extra 35 millimeters of width may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in getting the tire back on. We call the wives out to help steady the motorcycle on the lift while we wrestle with the tire. That too takes longer than expected, but we finally get it in place, but now we’re stuck. We had to remove the pipes all the way to the headers. Reinstalling the pipes will require new crush washers, which will only be available at the dealership Tuesday morning.
We call it a night.
My wife asks if she needs to go tonight. She’s tired and wants to get in bed early. I assure her we’re almost done and it won’t take long. She’ll need to drive the truck back home because I’ll be on the bike.
We decide to clean the pipes before putting them back on. It will be easier to get at them while they’re off the bike. We clean them up and start mounting them back. They are aftermarket six into six pipes and were probably difficult to fit when new. Now, after years of exhaust heat, they’ve bowed some and the holes don’t line up with the mounting brackets. We eventually give up and drill one of the holes out. After hours of grunting, sweating, pounding and drilling, we’ve got all six of the nuts on both sides of the headers, both of the mounting bolts on one side and one on the other side. It’s getting late, but I can see the finish line. I just need to tighten up the headers, evenly, to pull the pipes into place and let the crush washers seal the joint. Even tightening is the key here. First, snug one nut, then another, then another until they are all snug, then go back and hit each one again, making sure the pipes are going in evenly. Repeat this several times until all nuts are sufficiently tight.
I can’t reach some of the nuts. I need a deep socket 10 mm socket. All I have is a shallow socket. I bang knuckles for a while, but eventually realize I’ll just have to wait until I can get the right socket. I call it a night.
As I sit here writing this, I have, at best, a vain hope of finishing tonight. All I have to do is tighten up 12 nuts and 4 bolts, already in place. How many days will it take I wonder.
Keep an eye on this space. I’ll post a notice in the happy day I ride victoriously out of my friend’s garage.
－ Guy Wheatley