The Flat Tire That Changed My Way Of Thinking About Motorcycle Repair.

I ride motorcycles because I enjoy them and it’s easy to excuse their expensive as coming back in the way of saving gas. They do save gas, but not really enough to cover the repairs, maintenance, and insurance. It’s hard to give you an exact calculation but tires, high labor costs, and insurance eat into those gas savings. With that in mind, they’re not much more than a toy – unless you do the work yourself.

Here is a photo of a tire tube that came out of my motorcycle that changed everything.

Leaking valve stem on a motorcycle tire tube.
Leaking and corroded valve stem on a motorcycle tire tube.

This tire had a nagging leak for a long time. It confounded me because I told the shop to put in a new tube. The slow leak started soon after the new tire was put on, so the shop probably installed the old tube.

I took the bike back and asked them to check it and I was informed that they would not mount and dismount a new tire. Not only had they ripped me off a $10 tube, they wanted another $250 sale for a new tire! Outrageous.

A knee-jerk reaction to this would be to write a scathing review about the motorcycle shop and hope to get them back with a loss of customers. Fact is though, they have a long line of customers waiting every time I go there. It wouldn’t work and even if it did, revenge doesn’t get my money back or right anything. I decided to do myself a favor and avoid them in the future. I decided to fix the tire myself.  It’s led me down a different path of thinking.

The Tire Breakdown

For whatever reason, I had it in my head that a tire change on a motorcycle was probably hard. Maybe it’s something I read that said to “leave it to the professionals”. Maybe it’s the long, long list of services charged for on the receipt when you get the bill for a tire change. Maybe watching the mechanic use a tire changing machine made me think I needed special equipment. I don’t know, but I do know it’s bullshit now. It’s not much harder than changing a bicycle tire.  A 14 year old could do this with a little instruction.

I bought a manual tire changing machine, a hydraulic motorcycle lift, some tire spoons, a wrench for the axle nut(supposed to be in the tool kit, but the dealer didn’t include one with the bike. Said they don’t come with them), and a new tube.  It turned out I didn’t need the manual tire changer, but the lift was a game changer.

It took me a couple of hours to figure it all out, but with the tools, it was easy. Once I seen the problem with the corrorded valve stem, the gears in my mind started churning. What else had they ripped me off on over the years? Did really adjust the valves? Did they really use synthetic oil when I paid for it? All sorts of things come to mind. My trust in them or any other shop was broken because you really have no way of knowing.

Applying This To Everything Else

For me, the Internet tends to cause us to gravitate towards the useless. There’s gossip, impotent political banter, gadget pandering, and all sorts of distractions that takes us away from what the Internet was intended for, useful communication.  I bring this up because I found answers to all of my motorcycle repair questions on forums and YouTube. Expertise that I would have no access to was a click away.

Not only was the information there, but access to every part I needed at a lower price than what retailers sell them for was there. I don’t even have to run and pick them up as they’ll come right to my door. All-in-all, changing a tire is actually less of a hassle to do myself than it is to run the bike to dealer and wait, then wait some more, for it to actually be repaired.

I’ll be looking up everything that needs repaired from now on, especially on vehicles.