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And so it finally happens

Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2003

Dave!They say that there are two kinds of motorcyclists... those that have dropped their bikes, and those that will. Well, as of yesterday, I've not only dropped my beautiful new ride, but also had one of the most terrifying experiences of my life... and I've been skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, traveled around the world, and was once held up at knife-point.

But, before I get down to it... I'm okay. More importantly, my motorcycle is perfectly okay.

Anyway, it all started this past weekend when I decided to take one last ride before heading over to Seattle. I ran up the canyon and played around in the dirt a bit, and ended up tapping my left handlebar into a tree as I skidded around a corner. It roughed up the edge of my grip a bit, and my clutch level seemed a little loose up-and-down, but it in no way appeared bent or damaged.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I get back from Seattle completely bored from the drive... all I want to do is get my motorcycle and hit the road. So I take a quick trip to Wenatchee. On the way back, it happens. I am coming off the highway to a stop in the left-turn lane, downshifting and braking front and back. Just as I'm stopped and have put my left foot down, the clutch lever snaps off! Now, I still have both brakes on full, so the bike doesn't go anywhere but, with clutch released, it lurches forward so violently that I am thrown to the ground on my left side. Fortunately, I break the fall of my Beemer, so no damage occurs (my pride not included!).

In no time, I manage to get myself upright and on the road again with half a clutch lever (tricky to ride that way!) and limp to a local cycle shop that's (luckily) just down the road from my apartment so I can get a new clutch lever. And that's where it's pointed out to me that oil is leaking from under my faux "tank." On the verge of freaking out over what could have ruptured in my engine, I order the part, then run home and start a take-apart to find out what's gone wrong. Ends up, BMW forgot to put an O-ring on my oil cap! So much for BMW attention to quality and detail.

So today Cashmere Cycle gets me set up with a new clutch lever, and my ride is good as new... not even a scratch. But the experience of having an out-of-control motorcycle throw me flat on the highway is something that I won't soon forget. I guess I should feel lucky that I was still braking full when it happened so that my ride didn't get away and scatter across the road. But there is a part of me that's still pretty upset that BMW would use such a brittle metal for their levers. I mean, if it were to have snapped outright, I would probably be okay with it. But the fact that it could fracture (with no apparent damage) and then snap completely at such an un-opportune moment as stopping on the highway... well, that doesn't seem like a safe material to be using for such a critical part. I can't imagine the horror of something like that happening with my brakes on the highway!

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