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How I almost didnít get to Buffalo

August 2005


My trip to Buffalo, New York began a couple of months earlier.  Or should I say what almost stopped me from going to Buffalo started a couple of months earlier.  I took a weekend trip to the mountains to ride and enjoy the views (see Summer Mountains 2005).  During this trip, I found the need to hit my brakes really hard to keep from running into someone.  Actually it was twice I had to do this.  I have found that if you pay better attention to what you are doing, you wonít get yourself in this situation.  Both times I had a tire lock up and squeal as the rubber dragged the pavement.  This might not sound like a big deal, except I have ABS brakes (antilock braking system).  This was my first indication that something was wrong with my brakes.


Two weeks before I was to leave for Buffalo, I decided to ride to Inverness, Florida and pick a wheel and tire I had bought on E-Bay.  The guy wanted $50.00 to ship it, so I figured this would make a good day trip, so off I went.


On my return leg I noticed that my ABS light was blinking.  Aha, now they will be able to diagnose my problem and get it fixed before I leave for Buffalo.  I had taken my bike in after the mountain trip, but they could not find any problem with the brakes, so now I just know they have a symptom they can work with.


My dealership is Honda Yamaha Kawasaki of Albany.  A good friend of mine, Wilson Holloway, is the owner, and he tends to take care of me.  My mechanic is John and he also takes good care of my bike.  John found the problem right away, the ribbed plastic ring on the front wheel was broken.  They replaced this, but the light continued to blink.  We are now down to one week before departure.


The bike has an extended warranty on it, so in order for Honda to pay for the repairs, they have to approve what is being done.  The first thing Mother Honda told them is that it was a mismatch between the front and rear tire.  We had just recently put a new Dunlop Elite 3 tire on the rear so Honda told them the problem was that the front tire did not match, so they put a new tire on the front.  I have replaced numerous rear tires without replacing the front, and the same with the front.  I donít believe in 78,000 miles I have ever changed both tires at once.  Wilson tended to agree, but Mother Honda said to do it.


This did not solve the problem.  The next step is a valve, on the front of the bike, that all of the rear brake hoses go to.  We got the valve in on Wednesday and they jump right on putting it on.  I am leaving in a matter of days now, so time is of the essence.  I am at my office when John calls me and says ďI broke your bikeĒ.  I am sitting on the phone listening and waiting for an ďApril FoolĒ, but it did not come.  He said come and look at what happened.  One of the metal hoses that attaches to the valve was broken.  This hose went from the front of the bike up and around the engine, under the gas tank, and all the way to the brake in the rear.


Wow, I am devastated.  I am supposed to leave on Friday morning, and I donít have a bike.  Elaine has airline tickets which canít be changed, as well as vacation time.  I jokingly told Wilson that I wouldnít mind riding that brand new Candy Black Cherry ďrentalĒ bike he had in the front.  I donít think that is going to happen, me put 3000 miles on a new bike for them.


We discussed all of the options, and when we got to the bottom line, they ordered all of the four hoses that went to this valve.  They will be in Thursday and they have cleared Johnís schedule to put them on.  In the mean time, he has stripped the bike in preparation.  When I say stripped, the top shelter is off, the seat is off, the gas tank is out of the bike, and numerous other parts are scatted all around the shop.  There is nothing to do now but wait for the part and hope for the best.


Thursday morning I am back at the Honda shop just as the parts come in.  I have other things to do to be ready, so I leave and come back after lunch.  The hose has been installed and John is in the process of putting the bike back together.  Now my biggest concern is that everything is back in the right place and nothing has been left off.  I have 3000 miles of riding to do, and I do not want to break down.


John gets the bike finished up and Billy cleans the bike, and I am ready to drive it away around 4:30 Thursday afternoon.  I take it for a short ride to be sure everything is working, but I donít have time to really ride more than a few miles.  I will have to trust that John did a good job.


It is time to go home and finish loading the trailer and the bike.  4:00 in the morning is going to come quickly.  I want to leave early to do a little sightseeing along the way.


The ABS light is still flashing, but I can live with that.  If it becomes too bad, I can always put a piece of tape over the light.


I did make my trip to Buffalo.  The bike was flawless except for the ABS light blinking.  The bike is back at the Honda shop, trying to get the flashing light to stop.  The next step is replacing the ABS computer.  We shall see.


Many thanks to Honda Yamaha Kawasaki of Albany, Wilson, and John for getting me back on the road.  They spent a lot of time working on my bike. 


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