We left Vegas on Tuesday to head over to Henderson, NV. There, we met up with a contact and new friend, Tim, from this site - he was kind enough to respond to a random request in the regional forum for tire assistance, and was a huge help! He allowed us to have 2 new tires and tubes sent to his place, as well as offered to give a crash course in tire changing. Mike is a noob to dual sport and dirt bikes - over the past 12 years of riding cruisers, has never changed his own tires. But given the likelihood of having to repair a flat, or at the very least swap out tires again, it seemed
necessary to know how to do this. And for some reason, doing it for the first time in a comfortable, dry, well-lit garage with beer in hand sounded a helluva lot more pleasant than fighting through the first ever tube repair on the side of a deserted road...at night...in the rain...without a working flashlight...with rabid donkeys attacking us...and anything else that Murphy would have thrown at us.
Both tires finally arrived on Wednesday evening, after a hassle in ordering - there's a difference when ordering on line between 'Available' and 'In Stock' which made a difference of nearly a week according to the customer rep (but only got the tire to Henderson a day earlier than what was shown for the 'Available' tires). So to try to save further delay, we're running two different brands of 80/20 (road/dirt) tires. The rear is a Kenda K761, front is a Shinko 705; both get good reviews for dry and wet road performance, and as good of a review in dirt as can be expected. The set came out to ~$110 (+ free shipping!), which is a screaming deal compared to the cost of some tires out there.
Tim started showing Mike the basic procedure. We pulled the rear tire, put in a brand new tube, and then Mike proceeded to absolutely demolish the tube while levering the second tire bead into place. Luckily the old tube was in good shape, so that's what went in next, and seems to be holding air, so Mike's gotten better already! The front tire was swapped next, and we've got a fresh front tube as a spare.
When installing the rear wheel, Tim had a chain alignment tool that showed exactly how bent the swingarm of the Transalp is - a lot. The old Tourance rear tire showed some lopsided wear caused when the alignment markings on each side of the axle were even, and really only noticeable over the last 1000 miles or so. Now we know that the right side has to be almost 3/8" forward of the left in order to keep the chain straight from sprocket to sprocket. I guess that lady who rear ended Mike in August did more damage than he thought. The rear wheel was balanced and trued, but the swingarm and frame must have taken a good hit as well. Makes sense given the condition of her bumper and lack of license plate after the collision... But for now, we'll keep the chain aligned and see how the ride goes.
A grilled steak dinner with spinach salad was the perfect reward for the tire change, but mostly for Tim's patience. Thanks Tim for your help!
With a little repacking, we also got our 2 person hammock to fit into the front engine guard bags, leaving a little more space in the GIVI trunk. Now that we've finally hit desert heat, that trunk space will be valuable for our extra jacket and pant liners. Jill's stoked to be in consistently warmer temps, and can't wait to get to the beach...