A Flat Out Good Time Going Nowhere in the Bush.

A few lessons learned thanks to a drywall screw and our EO-7.

Taking on a morning ride between the busyness of regular, or often irregular family life, find the time when you can.  This Sunday was a short forrest meander with “The Navigator” (Brendan),  “The Leader” (Mr. Kennith) and myself in the usual role as,  “The Photographer”… which also became “The Mechanic”. 

Never a dull moment on the Tiger. With the twisty roads and screaming triple, just getting to the trails is a blast. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer to take the 800 everywhere.  The orange blockades always making for an interesting penetration to the damp playground, the “go around” trail is often stressful to look at.  The gnarly entrances will get your heart pumping but usually leave you smiling once your through.

Guided by our navigator, we simply were exploring the unknown veins on a map. In the hills of Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island the tight forrest trails and misty open trails are a great place to be on any morning. Sending the front tire through the obstacles, balancing and feeding the power, you can make it through almost anything on these heavier bikes. Almost anything… a bit of a ground clearance issue today, relying on my stock Triumph skid plate I discovered its limitations. The soft metal is ok for bouncing boulders off the bike but not good for bouncing the bike off of boulders. Ate the ferns that time. 

Navigating the way with a phone, your favourite Nav app and a trusty RAM mount is often all you need to get you lost when you want, and find the right route out when you need to.

Watching our leader choose the tougher more rugged trails I wonder whether he is ever snickering in his helmet thinking “Lets see how that Tiger handles this one…” Admittedly, it’s the rider that it challenges the most. While I may have to shake a nugget out the bottom of my pant leg before taking on some sections, most of the time they’re the fun spots that make the day interesting. Slower and more technical these are satisfying trails to ride. Popping out on the road there was one more trail we wanted to investigate before calling it. And, thats the way it often happens. Never regret, problems will happen anywhere. 

The Flat

A tough entrance to a trail, we had seen a group of Trials bikes entering this area earlier in the day and had to check it out.

Squeezing the bikes past the steep narrow entrance we were taking the rough rocky, somewhat of a road up the side of the mountain when I heard an unfamiliar “beep, beep, beep” coming from my dash. With the red light flashing I noticed the CYCLOPS tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) was having some sort of panic session. Glancing at the pressures I could see the rear tire was three pounds less than this morning… and then four and then I figured it out. Realizing I was in the middle of a flat I was lucky enough to find this out early. I had time to signal the guys and back track to a level area in the trail I saw a little ways back. Watching the pressures drop I could comfortably know that I can keep going until at least 10 psi. Making it to the spot I contemplated changing the tube there, on good advice from the guys I put enough air in it to reach the main road and do it there.  

Like many riders, I carry everything I need for a flat, and almost anything else. Front and rear tube hidden under the rear luggage rack, Pump under the seat and tools in the DrySpec tool tube. They never leave the bike. I learned today of a couple other small things that will be added to the kit from the experience. 

Removing the rear tire and strapping the centre stand forward to the crash bars ensures the stand won’t fold accidentally. Tilting the bike and using the side stand and weight of the bike you can put pressure to break the tire bead usually pretty easy. Using Motion Pro rim protectors you can save your rim when prying the tire off but are not useful when putting it on. Out with the old tube, air up the new one a little and put it in, we then struggled with a simple issue. Trying to feed the new valve stem in the rim hole was a pain in the ass. Mitas EO-7 Dakars have a extra strong side wall and that makes it even harder to get your hands in there. I admitted defeat and Brendan helped me out. Prying the tube on and you can hear the paint jumping off the rim as you slide the bars in to pry. I don’t mind scratches from a ride but really dislike scratches from tools, there has to be a way to solve this.  Airing up the tire the pressure wouldn’t hold and we had to do it all over again. Causing a leak from pinching the tube with the pry bars is super common, I have since learned that removing the tire valve and releasing the air you added when inserting the tube will allow it to move out of the way while prying lessoning the chance of a pinch. Borrowing a second tube we carefully completed the repair and headed out.   Riding back down the highway I notice the TPMS was freaking out again. Looked like another slow leak “Damn it, and I was so careful!”. Watching the pressure numbers drop I had plenty of time to make it back. 

Back at the Shop

I later enlisted my young riding buddy for some help swapping out the tube again.

This time I used a handy valve remover/puller I found and feed the stem through the rim easy, (now added to the bike kit).

I also deflated the tire while prying, easy not to pinch now. Before I pried the tire back on I tried something new to save the rim. I always carry a small roll of Gorilla Tape in the bike tool tube and quickly lined the edge of the rim with it. The tough tape allowed me to slide the bars in and protect the paint. I’ll be doing that from now on and maybe even on the other side when changing on the trail to stop the rocks from chewing paint while breaking the bead and prying.

As it turns out the TPMS has easy to instal sensors that screw on to the valve ends, however,  don’t get in a habit of over tightening them and destroy the “O” ring. That was the leak. Keeping spares in the tool pack from now on as well.

Thanks for the help Aaron. 

Safe riding out there, and don’t forget to keep the ride going and be prepared. I have a BCAA card in the tool wrap as well, but thats one thing I hope to never have to use.