#310 – Stuck in a long, deep rut – Motorcycle trailering

Ever get the feeling that you’re going nowhere fast and what you really need is to be lifted from an unrelenting place?

I met the Warrior on the road one hot day in June. Then we had a dinner date in July. And on the third date, the proverbial U-Haul arrived at my door with little more than a motorcycle inside.
It seemed the owner was having trouble riding and driving her work truck simultaneously, so she decided to move her Road Star Warrior to my house for the summer. Then she could come into town all loaded up with tools, park her truck at the end of the workweek, and ride—with me!
I liked the idea just fine, but wondered how Casper and the Warrior were going to get along, both being so different for city or highway riding. I’d already seen the turning radius on the beautiful Yamaha cruiser. It reminded me of a truck!
Her bike had to be pulled from my driveway, could barely make it around the parked car, and got stuck on the little bump between the gravel driveway and the slightly higher city sidewalk. The owner of this Warrior watched with jaw hanging as Casper, my now vintage BMW enduro, pirouetted in the backyard, spinning on the main stand as if on a turntable. Light and agile, meet heavy and powerful!
The Warrior is rare in these parts. It has a 102 cubic inch (1670cc) engine, a factory-spec top speed of 201 kmh and a wet weight of gulp, 294 kg. Casper pales by comparison, lacking in both weight and speed. But interestingly, the Warrior couldn’t get out of the toy hauler!
It was a Friday afternoon. I think we all know what that feels like—the week is finally over and the weekend about to begin. I arrived home hot, tired, and ready to relax. I really wasn’t in the mood unload the bike just yet, but how hard could it be? And the owner stood smiling at me. She would be even happier with her bike on pavement. So I quickly agreed. I dropped my lunch bag, stripped off my work gear and bounced across the street to where the black and silver trailer was parked. She went ahead of me and the back door/pull down ramp was already open. All that was needed was to untie the bike and roll it out. There was just one small problem—the wheel chock—but it turned a minor task into a potential disaster.
There are a number of companies that make perfectly functional, some exceptionally wonderful wheel chocks. The one into which the Warrior’s front wheel was planted is made by Wheel Chocks Plus; it’s their Lock ‘n’ Load model, BK 100 Deluxe ($175). I’d never used one myself, so I had a learning curve. So did the owner, who must remain nameless or I’m at risk!
The Warrior’s front wheel was stuck in this ride-on, flip-up-over-a-hump chock, and the owner was struggling to back her lovely, big heavy bike out. “Give me a hand,” she asked politely. “Just pull on the back.” And so I did. Nothing. The bike didn’t move. Next I was asked to grab the other handle and pull. When I did that I could tell something was up. The bike wasn’t budging—not at all.
I looked at the front wheel. The front tire was clearly pinched at the top. At first I thought that was the problem. I wondered aloud about letting out some air to make the tire softer and thinner. But then I thought that through. The weight of the bike, even divided by two wheels would squish that tire flat and fat. Then it would be even more stuck.
I looked down at the chock bolted to the floor of the trailer and inquired as to how many times it had been employed. I could see something was wrong. There were three holes in the frame where the cradle that held the wheel could be connected, meaning three pivot points. It was connected in the middle one. And I wondered aloud that there aren’t many bikes heavier. Let this be a warning to anyone with a heavy bike—or a light one! These chocks are designed with ‘your’ bike in mind: small, medium or large. A light bike would pop right out of the chock if the pivot point were in the lower hole. A mid-weight should be in the middle hole, and so on. This, and more, I realized on a hot Friday after work, sweating inside a trailer when I wanted to be lounging in my own backyard.
I had to think, and think fast. The front wheel would have to be lifted up to get it out of the cradle—but how to do that? I went to get scraps of two-by-fours to pry it off, and a pry bar. But that wasn’t enough. The wheel was stuck. We thought a jack might work. I looked at the pivot bolts and thought if we removed them it would drop the wheel, which could then roll out of the chock. The owner agreed. But did I have tools? Yes, I have tools.
Wrenches to remove the nuts helped, but we still couldn’t get the wheel high enough, and then the cradle went out of alignment, letting us know there was a very real possibility of getting our fingers pinched if we weren’t careful. One bolt came loose enough to reveal a carriage bolt that now needed a different size wrench to hold it from turning. The other was still in place. This was getting very frustrating, and the woman whose bike it was dripping with sweat and suppressed anger! I didn’t want to do this job, but at least it wasn’t my fault. In fact, I tried to suppress laughing at her while slogging off to the garage for yet more tools. This time I came back with a 42-inch long pry bar—because everyone has a very long pry bar, right? And I held out a cold beer.
The cold beer did the trick! The long pry bar wedged under the tire, plus two blocks of wood were enough to take sufficient weight off the front wheel to get the pivot bolts out. And then the front wheel obediently dropped to the floor and rolled nicely out of the cradle. No fingers were pinched. Nothing was broken. Nothing but pride hurt. There was a whole lot of cursing of that wheel chock—that worked exactly as it was designed to do—and survived the experience unscathed. In the end we agreed that trailering a bike in summer was clearly the problem, and not operator error!

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