Parts Is Parts

I changed my mind. Throwing caution to the wind — and knowing that I have access to a car, a truck, and a Harley — I decided to tackle the KLR’s chain and sprocket replacement now, rather than wait for the van to get back from the shop. I don’t like being without a working vehicle, but thanks to Carolyn, I’m not.

I’ve done every part of this job before, except the chain itself. The front sprocket was easy. I had to pull the back wheel off to change that sprocket, but Reuben’s stand supported the bike to make that easy. The chain tool I got didn’t work so well, and I ended up cutting the old chain off with Carolyn’s Dremel. Oh, the other reason I was waiting on this job is because all of my tools are in the van, which isn’t here. But Carolyn is well equipped, and had everything I needed except the chain tool, which I bought.

I got the back wheel off and swapped the sprocket, but ran into trouble putting it back on. The rear caliper bolts are pretty well stuck in the bracket, and the heads are stripping out, so I didn’t remove the caliper as I usually do. It’s doable, just more difficult this way. And then I simply couldn’t figure out how to Tetris all the parts back together. Maybe I was tired, or hadn’t been drinking enough, but my brain just wouldn’t work.

So I packed it in for the day and came back to it this afternoon. A fresh mind does wonders for working out a problem. I got it back together quickly. Then all I had to do was put the new chain on. My chain tool worked well enough to press the master link into place, but seems to have self-destructed in the process. I could definitely hear and feel when the parts snapped together, though, so I’m good. After adjusting the chain tension and putting tools away, I went for a test ride. The chain didn’t fall off, so I guess I got it right.

I decided to go for a stretch goal: new handlebars. The store where I got the battery for the Harley has the EXACT handlebars in stock that I’ve been wanting, Pro-Taper ATV High. Lots of KLRistas swear by them. They’re taller than stock, better for off-road riding. They’re also not bent, like mine are from a crash in October 2020. What? Better late than never, ok?

On my way back from the bike shop, the auto shop called with an update on the van. (I’ve never been so happy to be able to take a call while I ride, thanks to my Bluetooth helmet headset.) Parts are coming in. They’re reassembling the parts of the engine they took apart, and are vacuum testing it tonight. Parking brake items are also coming together. I might get it back Friday or Saturday.

Well, if I’m here through the weekend anyway, I’ll join the local crew going to IMS Outdoors. Yes, I’ve already been, but this would be for sociability, not professional reasons. I won’t try to test ride all the things. (There won’t be time, since the show closes early due to the early nights now.) I mean, sure, I’ll take pictures and stuff, but this time I just want to hang out and relax. I’ll even be a paying customer to do it, no media pass like last time.

If the van isn’t back until next week, I have to figure out how to navigate the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll need to restock the van with food, but I don’t necessarily want to fight a pre-Thanksgiving rush to do it. I’ll need to figure out travel plans, but the holiday could affect things. I’ll just have to see when I actually get the van back, then figure it out from there. I’d like to head back to Arizona, but timing is a thing.

As I’ve said before, there are worse places I could be stuck. Huge thanks to Carolyn, for everything — putting a roof over my head while the van is in the shop, a place to fix up my KLR, letting me ride her Harley… Once again, you never know when someone from your past is going to come out of nowhere and help you out in a big way.

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