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January 18th, 2012 | Argentina

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap…!!

As mentioned in my previous post, having anything repaired in Ushuaia, will cost you an arm and a leg…!!

Rip-off artists abound…!!

We had to remove the back wheel on the side walk to make the repair as cheap as possible...!! The Big Fella complained about having "his backside exposed in full view of the general public"...!!

When I rode into town on my first day here, to find somebody to repair the leaking hole in my back tyre, I was accompanied by my Argentine friends… Had they not been with me, I would have paid at least 100 pesos (R200.00) for the five minute repair…

Ezequiel told me to wait outside while he went into the “vulcaniser” to negotiate a price… He returned with a smile on his face saying,

“He wants 40 pesos, which is double we would pay in Buenos Aires, but for here it is OK…!!”

The workshop was fairly busy, and the owner suggested that we park the bike on the sidewalk nearby, and remove the tyre ourselves, otherwise it would cost more, if they took the bike into their workshop and did the job for me…!!

He was kind enough to allow me to use their tools rather than my own, which made the job a little easier…

With Pablo keeping and eye on my gear that was scattered about on the sidewalk, I got the rear wheel off, and took it inside the workshop, where in a matter of minutes, they had removed the tyre from the rim; melted the rubber in the area where the few small holes were; applied a large patch; and then got the tyre back onto the rim…

I wanted to be sure that the “fix” was in good order, and asked that the tyre be pumped to a full 3 Bar, and then dipped in a water tank nearby to see if there were any other leaks that I was previously unaware of…

The process took about ten minutes, and barely half an hour after our arrival there, we were ready to roll again…

Good to go again...!! Pavement repairs at their best...!!

After saying my goodbyes to Los Machos at the airport the following day, I went back to my hostel and prepared to change the rear shock on the Big Fella myself… I was not about to pay somebody else a high price for so simple a job…!!

I first asked Corina the owner if she minded me taking the bike apart in the entrance to their front door, and where our bikes had been parked… She happily agreed to this, and even provided me with a cloth to clean my hands with… She had been really kind and helpful to all of us, and although I barely understood a word of what she said to me, we somehow understood what the other wanted or needed…!!

The back end of the bike was quickly removed, so that I could get at the pesky shock...

The Ohlins shock which has not been my best friend on this trip...!!

The broken and the buggered...!! At least the BMW shock was not leaking oil...!!

Roberto and Carl were still dead to the world, nursing their hangovers, so there would be no help from that quarter…!!

But that was no problem, I had done this all before, once in Tanzania, and again in Laos…

I got the rear wheel off, and then the exhaust, and after removing the seat, I was able to get to the two bolts that hold the shock absorber to the frame… All very simple…!!

This was the third time since leaving South Africa, that this very same shock absorber had given me grief…!!

Despite the ragging I have received from many of my friends and other bikers I have met, I am very glad that I chose to carry my old spare BMW shock absorber with me around the world…!!

Had I not done so, I would have had to spend in excess of $2500 just to replace them by now…!! Never mind the cost of waiting for a new one to arrive while I cooled my heels in Dodoma (Tanzania, April 2010) or Vientiane (Laos, March 2011)…!!

Old faithful was back in position...!! Even though it was little more than a spring...!!

In hindsight, I was also delighted that I did not throw the old, and much traveled, BMW shock away in Laos, when I switched over to the repaired Ohlins shock that I had carried since Turkey…

Even though this shock was in a bad way, it would give me more piece of mind than the badly leaking Ohlins…!!

Once I had the bike “together” again, I pushed gently on the Top-box, and was more than a little alarmed at how the rear end bucked and sagged… I realised that all I would be riding on, was the spring itself… No shock absorption whatsoever…!!

When I sat in the saddle, the windscreen was a lot higher than I was used to, so much was the back end sagging…!! And that was without much of the gear that was stashed in our room… I estimated another 40 kgs or so would still have to be loaded onto the Big Fella…

The ride to Buenos Aires was going to be interesting…!! With no rear shock to speak of, cornering at high speeds would be a touch more dangerous, and the bike much more difficult to handle… But I had no choice in the matter. I would have to ride as carefully as I could until I got used to the handling…

Despite my misgivings, I was able to ferry Carl around town over the next few days, because his KLR 650 had given up the ghost…

We had to take the many speed bumps in town at a walking pace, this after a loud cry from Carl, when I had gone too fast over the first one we encountered…!!

“Holy crap…!!” he had exclaimed, “This thing has no shock at all…!! But it is still more comfortable than my KLR…!!”

I too could feel that things were a little “off” with the Big Fella… Even the smallest stone we rode over, felt like one of the fist-sized rocks on the ripio of Ruta 40…!!

Back in one piece again...!! But how long would the damaged BMW shock last...??

Then there was another area of concern for me…

Carl had earlier asked if I had had any problems with my rear wheel bearing… I had answered that not as far as I knew… There had not been any complaints from the Big Fella thus far, nor had I heard any unusual noises coming from the drive shaft…

“We met a guy in Peru on the same bike as yours, and his rear wheel bearing had shattered a few days before… He was stuck in the middle of nowhere and had to have his bike trucked to the nearest town where he waited a long time for a replacement bearing to arrive…!!”

I sent and urgent email to my friend Mannie Koutsoudoukis, (the best BMW mechanic I know…) back in South Africa, and asked about rear wheel bearings…

His reply was tinged with amazement that I was still on the original wheel bearings after 135 000 km…!! It read in part:

“Wow!  The Big Fella is really doing you proud ! 135000 kms !
Awesome ! Sure the rider is having something to do with that ! Well ridden !
Yes, we have had some final drive failures, and certainly at much lower kilometres…
My recommendation would be to have all the bearings in the final drive replaced at your earliest convenience. Rather a planned stop than a crisis!
The work should be done at a BMW Motorrad shop as ideally some special tools are required to complete the work…”

I smiled to myself as I read his mail… Not only did I have the wind and adverse weather conditions to worry about on the ride north, but I also had a busted shock and wheel bearings to concern myself with now…!! Nice…!!

I shrugged off these concerns by reminding myself that I had never missed a service on the Big Fella, although I had been “late” a time or two…!! I was sure that this attention to maintenance would stand me in good stead, and get me to Buenos Aires and beyond without a hitch…

I was riding the best damn bike on the planet, after all…!!

©GBWT 2012


1 comment to Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap…!!

  • Mark Behr

    Amazing how this knowledge comes out when there is very little you can do about it. Oh Well – because of the nature of your “reverse Blog” at the moment, we know all went well.

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