My friend Marv wrecked his bike.
There is a moderate amount of damage to it. I helped him haul it home from the wreck and, after scrutinizing the damage, we decided we could repair it. The bike is in my garage. I am going to try to chronicle the repairs we do.
Looking the bike over while we were loading it into the back of the truck for the trip from Lexington, OR wrecking yard to home, showed me that the bike was not as bad as it appeared. The first thing I looked for was puddles. Puddles of fluids under the bike would be an easy tell. There was none. There was evidence of a slow drip under the left fork; a quick look showed there was a small dent in the left slider, and fork oil had leaked.
The cowls were all damaged, but that is always something that looks worse than it is. Replacing cowling is just a matter of getting replacements and putting them on. On the trip home, I was thinking about the bike and what I had seen. Marv was miserable and in pain with broken ribs and multiple other aches and pains. He was also on Vicadin, so there wasn’t much point in trying to discuss it with him.
The day after I parked my truck in the garage with the bike in the back, I started the process. The bike needed a close evaluation. All of the cowlings had damage. The bike had low-sided on the right side, but somehow had sustained scrapes on the left side too. Every single piece of cowling had damage, except for the small rock guard under the frame forward of the rear tire. I took all of the cowls off and sat them aside. I cleaned the dirt out using a vacuum and a compressor blower nozzle. I needed to see if there were any structural problems with the bike’s frame, and get an idea of what else was broken.
At the front of the bike, I found two broken brackets. The meter bracket that supports the gauges, and the transverse mirror bracket between the mirror stays and front cowling were broken. The right headlight assembly was broken off, and the wires for it were pulled from their connectors. The left headlight assembly was cracked, and had a hole in it. The right front turn signal lens had a pretty good gouge in it, but wasn’t broken. The right mirror was a complete loss. The front brake lever had been rotated, and pulling the brake lever was ineffective; I was not sure of the extent of damage to it. The right fork had a small mar on it. The front fender was completely broken, and the bracket securing it to the right fork was pretty bent. The left fork slider would be unserviceable.
The good news on the front end was that both turn signals’ wiring was intact. The gauge cluster was fine. The radar detector and screamer seemed undamaged. The built-in Heat-troller for electric clothing was intact. The engine wiring harness, radiator and engine all appeared undamaged. The brake lines and calipers looked good. The wheel and rotors looked fine.
In the middle section of the bike, there was some small dimpling on the right side of the fuel tank, but it was still fully funtional. The right protective “Barrier Bar” no doubt prevented significant damage to the engine and covers. There was a small scrape on the right side of the crank cover. I didn’t even notice that until two weeks later. There seemed to be no damage anywhere else in the middle section of the bike.
The back end looked pretty rough, mostly because there was dirt, rocks, and grass hiding in every nook and cranny. The rear fender had been torn down and was resting on the wheel. A bracket above the tail light was severely crumpled. The license plate took a pretty good hit, and the back of the seat had tears in the cover. The tool kit cover was broken off.
The actual damage in the back end was minimal; it looked a lot worse than it was. The brake light was stuck ON but at least it was ON. I thought that would be associated with the front brake, but later would find out it wasn’t. The left turn signal was intact. There was no damage to the wheel, sprocket, chain, or brake.
I had to figure out how to get the seat off, but I could only get it up a little ways. The lock for the seat was bent over, so I couldn’t use the key to release the latch mechanisms beneath the seat. I fiddled around with it, and got a long scribe into the hole to release the latch. After that I began to strip off the rest of the damaged parts, and remove the dirt and rocks.
I used a piece of twine to secure the rear fender up and off the tire so the bike could be rolled, and put it up on a paddock stand. With all of the cowls off, I wanted to try out the electrical. I wanted to see if the bike started, how it sounded, and if it would go through the gears. I turned the key, and was surprised that everything that was hooked up came to life. The gauges all worked, the lights that were connected came on, and the computer booted without error.
The bike was begging me to start it. It wanted to live, and it wanted to show me that it was capable. I hit the starter button and it jumped to life. I let it run for a few minutes, warming, while I scanned for leaks or any abnormal sounds. I was feeling pretty good about it, so put it in gear, and ran through the transmission sequence. The clutch, and transmission funtioned perfectly. The engine sounded fine, and the tachometer and speedometer functioned correctly. Things were looking up.
I stripped the cowls off the bike and stacked them on the table. If Marv wanted to repair the bike, we would want to have the parts there to canibalize. I went in the house and put together an email to Marv listing what I thought was damaged. I didn’t want to pitch it too hard, but I really wanted to get this bike back on the road. Knowing that Marv was just a few days from a painful wreck, I didn’t want to push him for a decision but, knowing what I did, I was eager to get started on the repairs.
I let the bike sit for a week. Marv became more and more active over the next week, and started corresponding with me about the parts, what the bike would need, and showing some real interest. I talked him into making an in-person evaluation of the bike before he decided what to do. I didn’t want to paint too rosy a picture. Although the repairs weren’t that difficult, they would be time-consuming.
Marv came up to to see the bike on Tuesday morning. He and I went through the pieces, looked the bike over, and started listing what we would need to fix it. We discussed how many of the parts we would repair, and what would need to be replaced. I felt sure the bike could be ready for the road before he would be. He’s a tough guy, but I could tell he was still hurting. In the next couple of days, I started getting emails from Marv about parts that would be arriving at my place. I guess he had made his decision; most-excellent!
During the week, we talked about what needed to be done first. He decided to come up on Saturday to get started on it. We still hadn’t made a determination about the front brake, and there were lots of preliminary repairs that needed to be done before replacement parts arrived. We made more progress than I anticipated. We got the rear fender repaired and reinstalled. We got the headlight wiring repaired. We fixed the front brake and got the system serviced and bled. We began the Bondo and paint repairs that would need to be done to the frame slider and crank cover. We managed to save many of the parts.
With the bike up on the lift, we were able to look it over closely. We found that the cause of the brake light was remaining ON was that the rear brake switch was caked with dried mud. A little cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a tooth brush, and it was good as new.
We found that his switch for his radar detector screamer was going to need to be replaced. We tried to repair it, but it was no use.
I think we were both pleasantly surprised with how well everything was coming together. We were now ready for the parts to arrive.