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RIDE REPORT–If something feels wrong it is (or how I almost died yesterday)

March 14, 2016

Last week I decided to do a little maintenance on the Caponord.  The last time I had the front wheel off, I noticed the front wheel bearing was a little “crunchy” on one side.  I’ve replaced the wheel bearings twice on my Caponord and once on my brothers Mark II Caponord.  As we start the new riding season, I wanted to take care of all the maintenance ahead of time. 

I took off the front fender, axle nut and axle.  I used my Rawbolt to punch out the bearings and just as I expected, one bearing was perfect and the other was a little crunchy. When I say “crunchy” when you feel anything less than the bearing rotating smoothly – it’s time for new bearings. 

Prior to taking off the front wheel, I put the new bearings in the freezer to help assist the installation process.  I also took one of the old wheel bearings and cut it apart with a Dremel.  What I wanted was the outer bearing race.  While I have a bearing driver kit, I’ve always worried that it might put a bit of stress on the inner bearing race while driving the bearing into the wheel hub (and maybe that’s why the Capo seems to go through bearings).  I used the outer bearing race (after I cut a slot in it to help with removal) as my bearing driver.  That was I knew with complete certainty that only the outer race was being pressured into the hub.

I grabbed the bearings from the freezer and with a few taps they were driven home to the wheel hub.  I re-assembled everything and gave the front brake level a quick squeeze.  The brake lever had a lot of travel in it.  It’s not surprising to feel that after pulling off a caliper so I pumped it a few times and it eventually returned to “normal”

Wrong.

The next day I went for a ride with “Frankie Boots” for almost an hour of the ride, I complained to Frank that the “my front brake feels weird’.  I pulled over to check the axle pinch bolts and could find not problem.  When I applied the brake and neared stopping I could feel a grinding, bouncing feeling.  I kept riding.

Wrong.

I kept riding.  Stupid.  If something feels not right – it ain’t right.  Finally I told Frank that we needed to stop so I could check things out again.  Up until that point we had been cruising with traffic anywhere from 65 to 85 MPH. 

Wrong.

We pulled into a gas station parking lot, and dismounted.  I put the Caponord on the  the center stand and went inside for a couple of bottles of water.  Back at the bike I handed Frank his water and took a few sips.  That’s when Frank said “Uhhh, Eric, your brake pad is hanging out”  I looked at the front wheel and sure enough, the pad had come out of the caliper and was hanging out.  There was a real possibility of hitting a bump and having the pad jamming itself into the wheel and perhaps locking up the front end of the motorcycle.  65 to 85 miles an hour, with a brake pad hanging out……. that’s just stupid.

I got out the tool kit and quickly re-mounted the pads in the caliper.  The change in braking was instant and substantial.  How I could ever think the brakes were fine before that was amazing. 

If something feels wrong – it is. Lesson learned.  If you think something’s wrong with your motorcycle STOP and figure it out.  Go back over any recent procedures and take a good look at the bike.  Who knows, it just might save your life.

Keep riding!

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