The Shock, the Bike and a Reunion.
It was somewhat a distressing observation. Once I started riding in Australia my rear tire appeared to be wearing out one side more than the other. Initially, I thought, it could be due to one pannier being heavier than the other which would make me lean to one side as I rode those long straight roads. But the reality proved to be something else. My rear suspension had become weak and as a result it made the tire rub the underside of the mudguard thus making the tire to wear out prematurely. The only remedy according to BMW was to replace the suspension completely. As the BMW parts usually come with gold plating, it was going to be expensive. As far as I remember, a new suspension was sold at around 1000 US dollars.
In order to keep the costs down, I was determined to solve the problem my way. When I removed the old suspension to find a cure for the disease, I noticed that there was a warning sticker. “Do Not Dismantle” it read. So I took the whole suspension apart using crude, homemade tools, and preloaded it by using a spacer which I cut out of a thick gauge metal tube. It worked wonders. And I was happy riding around Australia and then from Canada to Alaska with the original suspension that the bike had since its birth.
However, after having done more than 215,000km, 90% of that in fully loaded condition, I began to worry about worse case scenarios. I looked for possibilities of buying a second hand suspension on ebay and various other venues, but was not quite lucky enough to obtain one. On a couple of occasions, I replaced the suspension with a secondhand one, only to find out my old one was much better. On my last day in the USA, I was given a gift by one of the independent BMW motorcycle repair shops in Phoenix. I was so thrilled just to hold that shiny piece of art in my hands. I knew that a good suspension would take a big worry out of my head. That evening I worked till late, replacing the suspension and packing my bike for Mexico.
The next day I started early. When I reached the border area I realized that the new old part happens to be a bad old part. Every bump on the road was becoming a nightmare. Talking about nightmares, Mexico proved to be the country I have encountered most topes on roads. Every village you rode through had at least ten topes and a small town was armed with a hundred. Ride through a city and you’ll go insane! My suspension problem was becoming a real issue. I just left the land of plenty and couldn’t organize a reasonable solution. Now I’m in deep shit, I told myself.
In Metapec, I met some incredibly friendly people. Some of them were motorcycle enthusiasts and we had a lot in common and enough interests to share with one another. These bikers understood the needs of fellow rider. One of them who happened to be a friend of the BMW dealer in Metapec asked me if I needed to do any work on my motorcycle or needed any parts. Of course! I need to replace my suspension. But I wasn’t overly keen on going to BMW dealers to ask for favors. But my friends insisted that I accompany them and they were so confident that I will find a solution to my suspension problem there. “After all, you are an ambassador for BMW as you ride around the world” they said. Next day, as I stood in the car park, the BMW chief stood five meters away from me and shook his head without a handshake. Buy a new suspension!
However, my luck was rising to the occasion. A friend of mine from San Francisco was riding her motorcycle to Mexico over the Christmas and the New Year. I contacted her and asked if she would be kind enough to make a small detour to my friends in Phoenix and bring my old suspension to Mexico. Molly understood the saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. A few days later Bruce was reunited with the old shocks and he’s running without the limp. For how long? I don’t know! Bruce! Don’t worry. You and I are going to pull it through and make it around the world together!