Last night I was riding home, minding my own business in the HOV lane, when suddenly this little guy on a huge black Yamaha FJR pulls up next to me and honks his horn. He had one of those crazy painted helmets that you see a lot of 20-somethings wearing. I usually question your judgment as a motorcycler if I see you in a helmet like that.
I’m thinking, “WTF? leave me alone. I’m not interested in racing with you.”
I flip up my visor and look over at him. He yells, “Your back tire looks really low!”
“Hmm, that kinda explains why things feel just a little mushy back there,” I think to myself.
I-405 was incredibly busy at the time. So, I slowed down and rode the rest of the way home very gently. I pulled in my driveway, grabbed my tire pressure gage and checked the pressure in my rear tire. The tire pressure was at 5 lbs. Normal pressure is 40 lbs.
I put the Concours up on its center stand so I could look closely at my rear tire. I touched the tire to begin turning it and was shocked by the heat. The rubber was incredibly hot and sticky. I began carefully and slowly turning the tire so that I could inspect every inch of the tread. The smell of hot, almost melting rubber was overwhelming.
I missed it on the first revolution of the tire. I almost gave up looking any further, but then I decided to look once more, very slowly. Sure enough, I found a nail on the right side of the tire. It’s pushed in deep, and there was a little bit of rubber covering it at first. That’s why I missed it the first time.
I think about how lucky I am that the FJR rider was nice enough to tell me about my tire. I think about all the horror stories I’ve heard over the years of blown motorcycle tires at high speed. I think about all the single points of failure on motorcycles. It really concerns me sometimes. I should be much more diligent about checking everything before each ride. I will resist the desire to simply drop into the saddle and go. And I will no longer question the judgment of riders in crazy-ass helmets. The important thing is that they’re wearing a helmet.