3000 miles ago before leaving for CCR, I dutifully changed the oil in both transmissions as I have done many times on our 99KLT. We pulled our Unigo and rode in 100 degree weather enjoying all the curves, attacking some rather aggressively, for those of you who know my riding style. During our CCR miles and since, never a complaint nor drop of redline appeared from the rear end transmission. Yesterday we decided to make a short trip from KC to Cottonwood Falls KS to meet a distant relative even though the weather forecast was promising stiff southerly breezes. As we drove SSW on I-35, we started experiencing the promised south wind with the usual head snapping hold-on-to-your-helmet regularity at speeds within the 70 mph speed limits. Upon arrival at Cottonwood Falls, we disembarked for some liquid refreshment and an attempt to call our relative for directions who lives in the beautiful Flint Hills area on a gravel road and found 1st, we had no cell phone signal connectivity, and 2nd, there was redline transmission fluid all over the rear transmission housing and rear tire. Of course our first thought was that the dreaded bearing failure had just occurred, but we had not experienced any of the flat tire, grinding metal feelings. We called our friend using the pay-phone at the Casey's store where we had stopped and told her of our dilemma.
While waitng for her to arrive, we put the bike on the centerstand and began cleaning the redline transmission fluid off the housing and rear tire. I noticed there was no excessive side-to-side free play nor noise when spinning the rear tire, so out came the trusty allen wrench from the tool kit and as I removed the transmission fill plug, I found the fluid level warm and at near normal level. The external temp of the transmission housing was warm as usual, but not too hot to touch. We were then in a real quandary. Were we actually really experiencing a rear end failure, or had the excessive side winds we experienced caused the transmission to get overly warm enough to expand the fluid which may have been a touch over-full pushing it out the weep hole? As it was nearing 4 pm and the opportunity to rent a truck was quickly diminishing before rental stores closed in nearby Emporia KS which is about 20 miles away, a decision had to be made. What to do! We finally asked our friend to follow us for a few miles as we headed home to see what would happen as she had a different cell phone carrier which worked in the area. She too had given up on ATT/Cellular after they had moved to all digital service and her cell phone no longer worked in this area of the Flint Hills.
Off we went stopping after 15 miles and no indication we had a problem. The transmission housing was still clean. We said thanks to our friend as we traveled this time north on KS177 towards Council Grove were he had planned to enjoy the food at one of our favorite restaurants, the Hayes House. We enjoyed traveling "with the wind" for a change and stopped for fuel before eating, again noticing no red residue on the transmission. After some mouth watering fried chicken the way grandma used to fix, fried in old caste iron skillets, we made a call to some Kansas City friends to tell them of our situation in case we needed an emergency "come get us" call as we neared home. It started getting dark and the deer made our anxiety quickly double as we rode towards Topeka. We stopped in Teopka and again noticed no redline fluid anywhere on the rear end, called our friends to report our situation and started the last leg of our journey home. As we pulled in the garage, the Garmin indicated we had traveled almost 400 miles, and again no redline fluid was evident anywhere on the rear end. We called our friends to let them know we were home safe and sound and started to clean off the rear wheel and transmission housing.
Now the mystery begins. Did this happen because the stiff side winds had caused enough stress to make the transmission hot enough to expel possible excess fluid? Why didn't it happen at CCR while we were aggressively riding the Ozark curves in temps nearing or at 100 degrees? Does this mean we have a rear end failure in our future? The rear bearing was changed "just in case" by our dealership at/around 50k miles. That was 18k miles ago. Everything seems normal but we are in a quandary what, if anything, to do next. I'll contact the dealership next week and get their opinion, but the mystery of the K12 rear end never seems to end.
Any opinions would be welcome. Has this happened to anyone and not been a rear end failure?