Rear Flat at 80 MPH!
This is a long one, but hopefully it will provide some valuable information based on my experience...
On my return trip from Destin, FL, over the Labor Day weekend, I encountered an unexpected awakening while traveling on I-475, just past exit 7 in Macon, GA; my rear tire blew out traveling at 80 MPH. Fortunately for me I was able to control the bike and did not lay it down. However, the experience is one not to forget! The rear suddenly dipped down and the entire bike starter swerving, but at the time I did not know if I had hit something or had a flat?
All of this happened so fast, but yet as soon as it started I new right then that this was not normal and there was a problem. I quickly let off the throttle then the bike whipped from side to side once again, at that moment I hit my flashers and applied the front and rear brakes as evenly as possible to control whatever was coming next. Fortunately I was ahead of traffic and was able to switch from the center lane to the shoulder and stop without crashing…this is where ABS is a life saver!
Once I got the bike on the shoulder I noticed not much room on the shoulder and sloped from left to right; that became a problem as I could not lean the bike on the side stand to get off and investigate the problem; I still did not know what tire was flat as it was hard to maneuver and steer at a crawling speed. So, I had to walk the bike in first gear for about 60 yards until the shoulder opened up wide enough for me to turn the bike side ways so that I could put down the kickstand and tilt the bike so that it would fall. Once this was possible I then realized that the rear tire had blown. Lucky for me the tire did not shred, it stayed intact.
Although I now had the bike on the side stand, I was now facing an unexpected challenge that I did not anticipate, getting the bike on the center stand…impossible! Because the rear tire lifts the bike about 4” or so the weight distribution on the center stand allows one to lift and move the bike past the pivot point on the center stand with some effort; we all know that it can be tricky getting the bike on and off the center stand. However, try doing this with no air in the rear tire; it’s impossible on your own. If anyone out there knows the trick or technique for getting an LT on the center stand without air on the rear tire please let me know?
Meanwhile, once I got my thoughts together, I called roadside assistance and started to put a plan into action to get myself and the bike off the interstate, it was now 6:25 PM. An hour and a half later the tow truck showed up, fortunately the driver had experience with towing bikes; I also had the K1200LT towing procedure handy so we were able to load & strap the bike down properly. The driver towed me close to the nearest cycle shop, Capitol Cycle (Honda), luckily there was a Howard Johnson’s about a 1.5 miles away, it was the only hotel on that exit…never was I so happy to see a Ho Jo’s while traveling!
The next morning I pulled the rear wheel off and found what appeared to be a puncture in the center on the tire. During the ordeal the tire also came off the bead and rubbed against the right underside of the hard bag...pics are attached by the way.
There is some good in all of this, first of all I did not crash and burn. Second, Capitol Cycle Cycle was able to order and overnight ship a replacement tire to their shop at no extra cost. The next day I dropped off the wheel and according to the service manager the cause appeared to be a leak on the base of the valve stem which lead to the puncture then flat. I’ve been running the steel 90 degree valve stems for years and replaced them every other tire change. Not no more, I will have the valve stems changed every time a new tire goes on the rim.
Lastly, I contacted Avon Tyres; I’m running the Avon Storm ST’s which have the reinforced sidewalls. This particular tire only had about 3,000 miles, it was purchased in April 09. The folks at Avon contacted Capitol Cycle and decided to cover the costs of the new tire…that made my day! Avon is actually shipping me a new rear tire, so I now have a new rear on and will have a new spare. That’s great customer service from Avon!
I highly recommend that riders check and replace the valve stems regularly.
Be safe and expect the unexpected when ridding because when you least expect it is when it will likely happen.