I recently read Touching The World, that book by the blind woman who went round the world perched on an ancient BMW touring bike that kept breaking down. Thing is, Bernard, the ‘companion’ (whatever that means?) appeared to have the whole of BMW Motorrad’s restaurierungswerkstatt toolkit attached to the bike. Maybe it was Cathy’s lack of the main sense that made her describe the massive armoury of tools and, maybe, Bernard just had one rusty Leatherman and some zip ties? He didn’t. The man had mad tool crazyness and I don’t think it did him much good.

parts-in-desertPicture the main problem with this kind of trip; You’re surrounded by only scrub, dust and the odd curious fauna with an airless tyre and that puzzled “oh, crap!” look on your face. It dawns on you that you have a 250kg bike shod with knobby gnar that you’ve seen geezers apply with a machine that looks and sounds like it escaped from Victorian England. It’s not like you can stick your tongue out, grab the bike and flip it upside down whilst sitting on the kerb then shout Daaaaad!! for the problem to vanish shortly after some spoons appear. At this juncture Mr. “Escaped From the Wife” can pull out a simple tool and jam it into the tyre and ride off to have it properly looked at 50 miles down the road. Not an option for the idiot who thought it would be a good idea to be in the middle of nowhere with a puncture being eyed up by some gophers as a source of iron. Yes I’m kind of weary of animals, despite being African. I was taught by my fingerless bushman Great Grandfather that all wild animals are dangerous and keep your distance.

The first problem is getting those tractor wheels off. That’s after you have figured out how to wedge the thing on something to levitate the delinquent wheel because you’re too tight to pay for the $500 centre stand that Honda forgot to include on the standard parts sheet. Now back to the boring weight thing. The nuts are huge, way bigger than car wheel nuts, and the conventional tools to remove them are about quadruple that weight. Then there is getting the tyre off. TYRE people; Why do americans call wheels RIMS? There is a difference between tyre (the rubbery black bit), rim (the outer bit the tyre sits on) and wheel (the assembly of all those and other bits). Rant over, tyre levers are more weight for what is effectively the crow bar you’ve seen in 50s movies used to club people over the head and break into houses. That’s after you’ve used the other heavy tool you need to squeeze the tyre bead off the rim. A bead beaker, which on our farm was a metal chisel about four feet long with a scaffold pipe slid over it. Of course, some clever geek has come up with a way to do that job without 50kg of agricultural equipment but it’s still another lump of garbage you need to carry in your ever expanding panniers.

Such a thing is the invention of a man who has obviously spent way, way too much time in his shed. I’m sure he had the same dilemma as me and laid out all the tools needed then came up with an ingenious way to remove the tyre without the previously mentioned Victorian/Mad Max machine. The problem, see is the exact opposite of when I was trying to get some Fat Bike tyres on the rim… using EXPLOSIONS! So dude lays the tyre levers out and figures that, with a few pins and bits of metal, he can convert the thing into a lever system (nattily called the BeadBreakr) to pop the bead off. Not only that, but you can make a large spanner (wrench to you empire deserters) out of a tyre lever and another bit of folded steel. What a shed genius.

Other than a chain tool, master link, some wire, duct tape, some JB weld, a bit of hose, zip ties, a ratchet strap and a leatherman, I don’t really intend to carry much more. If anything more major happens I’ll just do what the 6 year old me did – sob, and push the thing 300 miles to help.


Thanks for the photo Al.

Wild Meanderings on Wheels