Monday, May 10, 2010

Zip Ties Save the Day

Sunday was the nicest day in the last week. The temps were in the mid 50Fs and the sky was mostly clear. It has rained for almost a week, and next week isn’t looking good either. So what do you do with a nice day on a weekend after a week of rain? Mow the lawn of course! It was horrible, but it needed it. People don’t seem to like six inch long grass.

After mowing, my wife went out for a long ride to break our new tires in. We rode east on 96 to Stillwater and then south on 95. We crossed over into Wisconsin at Hudson and rode up to Taylors Falls where we crossed back over to MN.

From Taylors Falls, we headed south on 95 again with the plan to follow 95 all the way back to 96 to make a large loop. We had to make a left turn to stay on 95. I made the turn quickly, but my wife wasn’t so brave and waited. I pulled over on the side of the road and waited. I kept watch with my left mirror. I looked up to wave to another motorcycle. When I looked back, I didn’t see her!

I turned around and saw her laying on the ground with her bike. $#!&!!! I made a very fast u-turn and flung the SV forward. The new tires have a lot of grip!

As I approached I saw this:
dropped bike 1

and then this:
dropped bike 2

I helped her pick the bike up and we moved it to the side of the road. The cars just sat there waiting.
dropped bike 3

She was ok. Just a bruised hand and a really bruised ego.

Upon closer inspection of the bike, we found a bent turn signal and this: a broken clutch lever.
GS500F broken clutch after fall

We pulled off the seat to get the stock tool kit, but there doesn’t seem to be one. Luckily, I have a ton of tools and some spares on my bike including a clutch lever.

The cars were flying by and not very friendly about us being stopped on the side of the road. One of them actually clipped my bike and bent my mirror. GRR! Nothing broken, just need to tighten it back up.

Unfortunately, the clutch lever is for a SV650 which does NOT fit on a GS500. With a ziptie, I was able to make it mostly work.
gs500 makeshift clutch with sv650 clutch and ziptie

We started riding the 50 miles home. She killed it a few times because of the funky clutch action, but we made it home.
ride home with broken clutch

Other than the dropped bike, we had a good time. We put in about 175 miles and enjoyed some really nice weather and scenery along the rivers. She was really depressed when we got home. I took her for a ride on the back of the SV, and bought her dinner which helped a lot.

She's not sure exactly what happened. She said she lost balance while initiating the turn which likely caused her to drop it. I've seen her do this before. The last time she fell, she killed it which caused the bike to leap putting her off balance.

She said she's going to spend the rest of this week's nights in a parking lot practicing. We'll get two new clutch levers, a brake lever, and an aftermarket tool kit for the GS500. She really wants to get back on the bike again ASAP.


  1. Crap! Glad she is okay and that the bike was ridable. Zip ties & duct tape are worth their weight in gold and then some.

    Also sorry to hear that some people are so thoughtless as to clip your bike. That's pretty scary to think that a 3,000+ lb. object is whizzing by that closely!

    Glad you were able to make lemonade out of your lemons~

    Take Care-

  2. Chris:

    I'm glad all is okay. Personal safety is foremost. The best thing after a mishap is to hop back on, otherwise fear sets in and you make excuses for not riding again.

    I am also rolling the scenario through my mind. Seems she was not going with enough speed before leaning, or the engine stalled, or too much gas created a low side.

    Here in BC when escorting new riders without a full M/C endorsement, one of the criteria is to be able to keep your "student" under supervision at all times while learning. The supervisor is responsible for mentoring and giving advise as to "bad" habits. You cannot observe or mentor if your student is out of view behind you. We always let the new rider go first, with the supervisor covering the rear. We also put new riders near the front of the group when group riding.

    Perhaps if you were behind, covering her rear it would have eliminated or reduced some stress in trying to catch up. Also new riders "set the pace" for those who follow. You have a greater comfort level in proceeding at your pace which may not be at the level she is comfortable with. If she were to set the pace there is less urgency for her to try and keep up at a pace which is not comfortable for her, if this makes any sense to you. I think all of these factors contribute to the situation.

    If we were to replay the scenario of where she was in front and the plan was for you both to turn left with you behind, and there was a reverse camber on the road, or a slight uphill she may have decided not to turn left but continue another block or so as she should have determined it was beyond her skill level to handle it. But as you were in front, she had no choice to follow you, putting her in danger.

    I hope this doesn't come off as a lecture, just some ideas to avoid future incidents.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  3. Glad that the only injury is ego. I don't know what the roads are like in your area but I run into a lot of sand and gravel on many roads and there have been many times when I feel the back end slide a bit unexpectedly. And the long winters always have me feeling like a new rider each spring.

  4. Give you wife my regards. Been there, done that, try not to beat yourself up about it. Smart guy to take her on a ride and comfort her afterwards. It's just gets you so mad at yourself. Glad nothing major (no injuries happened).

    When I started I did that a few times. In my case, on the SV, I thought I'd downshifted to 1st gear and would be in 2nd or something and then when I'd pull off I'd stall the bike and lose it as it tipped.

    One of the first things I get on my 'cycles is framesliders. I broke two clutch levers--and one shifter on the SV over the years I had it. The frame sliders for the BMW were far more expensive than on the SV but they have paid for themselves. A tiny scratch on the BMW from a nick was $500!! Insane! My shop knew a man who could fixed it for half the BMW cost and then I spent another $200+ for frame sliders. I'd dropped the ST a few times since and those sliders have saved the frame and clutch levers. Don't know if they have them for the GS but they are a good investment.

  5. BTW, I couldn't follow 95 south on the map? It looked east-west?? Is it the 95 that is also 12, I-94 and 35 in places? Or am I way off?

  6. fuzzygalore: Thank you for the well wishes. We got a new lever today, so all is now well. We also found out the GS500 uses the same brake lever as the SV650, so now she has a better lever.

    Bob: Thanks for your concern. Everything is better now that we have the new lever installed.

    She rides in front of me 99% of the time. We've been doing that for a few thousands miles. It works well. She does, occasionally, motion me to the front to pick a direction however (as in this case).

    She's dropped the bike like this in front of me and behind me. My position does not seem to make a difference. This road, like the rest, were flat. All the times she's dropped it have been turning from a stop. She does practice this frequently in parking lots, but it is still a weak spot. I'm hoping a different (shorter) lever will give her better clutch control.

    Richard: Thanks for stopping by. The roads are clear of sand (finally!). They were pretty bad two months ago, but we've had a ton of rain which has washed it all away. The fun country roads will get gravel on them later as more tractors and trailers hit the corners dragging it onto the road. Taking a dirtbike class last year helped me get over being terrified of sand/gravel on the road.

  7. Sharon: She's better today, but was pretty hard on herself yesterday. I made her read your comment. She smiled.

    I haven't been able to find frame sliders yet for the GS. I'm not done searching yet. I'm glad the previous owner took the plastic fairing off. It would be totaled right now! It's amazing how much that plastic costs!!

    Hwy 95 aka St. Croix Trail is the one in the middle of this map:,+mn&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=45.063105,67.148438&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Taylors+Falls,+Chisago,+Minnesota&ll=45.371805,-92.700405&spn=0.078506,0.131149&t=h&z=13

    Where it splits off from MN-8 is where she dropped it. We were going west on 95/8 and then turning south to stay on 95. 95 eventually turns into I-94 and then splits off again. It's not worth riding south of 94 though.

  8. It's great to hear what a good sport she is about this little incident. Last thing you want is for a spook like this to keep her off the bike, a lot of riding is riding with confidence so I hope she's right back at it after her practice sessions!

    We ride for the enjoyment... take care!

  9. Chris, glad everything turned out OK and that your wife was not hurt badly.

    Good McGuyver action on your part with the zip ties!

    About the cagers who just sat there not helping, or drove too close to you both while you effected repairs....may they find themselves broken down by the side of the road, with no one stopping to help and large trucks whizzing by at high speed.

    Sure sounds like perhaps she'd been having trouble effecting good clutch control, hope the new lever works better for her.

  10. Bash3r: She's a trooper that's for sure. I agree, riding is based on confidence. I was pretty intimidated after I had a stupid lowside last year, but a riding school like the one we're going to Saturday got me through it.

    Charlie6: Thanks Dom. I picked up the ziptie trick in one the moto adventure novels. I don't remember which one at this point. I'm just glad it worked. I didn't want to try to make a lever with the vice grips.

  11. Dear Chris:

    I am sorry that your wife dropped her bike, but glad that she sustained little in the way of injury and damage to the bike. Things could have been a lot worse.

    I have added zip ties to the emergency stuff. I had a pivot pin come out of a clutch lever, and the zip ties would have been great.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  12. Dear Jack, Thanks for reading. I'm glad I could inspire you to add zipties. :) They are quite handy.