Saturday, May 9, 2015

NEW SHOES!!! (Made by Metzler, of course)

Our first day in Cartagena began with sorting out Roel’s insurance. We rejoined all of the other overlanders at the port and decided to find a cheaper company through which to get insurance.

Roel took my (insured) bike across town to the another insurance company and left me with his Twin. This arrangement worked out VERY well for me. During this time, it began to pour buckets of rain. I huddled under a makeshift shelter I constructed by stringing our tarp between the Twin and our Joey Chairs with a bunch of bungees. Roel, on the other hand, was slipping and sliding all over the place with my Perelli tire that had plenty of life left on it, but that I have been begging to get rid of because I didn’t trust it one bit. Roel had attributed my excessive sliding and fish-tailing to overly-aggressive braking and had been trying to tell me since Guatemala that I was suddenly doing something wrong.

We were already planning to change my front tire because of the bizarre wear pattern that had developed which was causing a ridiculous amount of vibration, but after riding with that Perelli, the first thing Roel said when he returned was:

“We are getting you a new set of tires today. The Perelli is fuc&ing dangerous. And when it started to rain it got scary.”

le-sigh. Thank you, God.

However, when we arrived back at our hotel a blond guy was standing outside and when he saw our bikes he began laughing and snapping photos. Turns out a Norwegian rider Roel had first ridden with in India and then met up with again in Australia, had changed his travel plans and flown to Cartagena to catch up with Roel while he was waiting for own his bike to arrive in Chile. So rather than find tires, we spent the afternoon and evening with Elvis wandering around Old Town Cartagena and chatting all things moto, travel and life.

We did make finding tires a priority the next day and after some comparison shopping and haggling, we took home a set of Metzler Sahara 3s.

In the past, whenever we’ve had a tire change to do, we’ve had some sort of a time restriction so I’ve always helped however much it has been timely for me to do so, but eventually, I’ve gotten to some stage where I give up (most often do to the need for additional brute force) and let Roel take over. Now that we had no time constraint (we’d decided to let ourselves relax and get caught up on some rest in Cartagena), I was determined to do the front wheel 100% by myself.

It was a breeze. Seriously. Well, 98% of it was a breeze. The guys enjoyed beers (and took copious amounts of photos, as you can see) while I sweated and grunted and fought with the rubber.

The resident parakeet tried to steal my tube nut!!!

That was easy!

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Next time, I'll do this beforehand.

Elvis eventually gave a hand with sanding some corrosion off of the interior of the rim because I think he was feeling a little guilty and useless ;) Everything was looking pretty dandy until it came to getting the wheel re-mounted. I hit a physical wall. I just couldn’t get it right. And then dirt that I had neglected to clean off of the forks came flying all over the place, covering greasy-need-to-be-clean-bits in grime and we were nearly at the point of melt down. Roel practically pushed me out of the way to finish the job himself. After all, it was 8pm - I’d been going at it for 3 hours. I was using a head-torch to see what I was doing. He’d had enough. But I held firm and sent him and Elvis out for a walk.

After a few deep breaths and some creative placement of the old tire to give me more support, I re-mounted the tire and a feeling of utter relief, glee and pride came over me. Sure, it was just a front tire change but it was my first and it was 100% on my own.

When we had the front tire off, we noticed a VERY strange wear pattern on the old tire:

On most of the tire, the tread was pretty intact and looked like there was plenty of treat left.

On about 35% of my tire looks like this... all in one area.

Cupping pattern

If my tire were a clock, between 10 and 2, the tire is completely worn

Does anyone have any idea why this wear pattern would occur?

Changing the front tire was so easy that I decided I would do the rear tire, as well.

So first thing the next morning, while it was still cool, I began my dance with the rear tire. Roel’s coaching and suggestions of different methods to try were key (especially because I'm pretty sure I tried every method my body wright and strength allowed for - but for the kickstand method), but after 5 hours and many liters of sweat, I completed my first solo rear tire change.

Hey, I said nothing about breaking any speed records.

This may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but I think self-sufficiency is key to many things… confidence-building being one of them.

I do have to mention how un-popular Roel and Elvis became throughout this 8 hour period. Apparently it is not looked well upon to let a woman struggle with rubber and tools for hours on end in this part of the world. 


  1. Yay!! Good job. Congratulations.

  2. Still catching up! I ran a Kenda 761 set on my 16 yr old KLR last summer and got the same front wear pattern with much vibes from it. 1st time I ran those tires and for sure will be the last. Went to Avon Gripsters on the present set.