$24 Motorcycle Update #5: I Didnt Break it, it Was the Wrench

Ok I know for a fact I’m not the only one who’s gone hulk on a stubborn bolt only to make the situation way worse. Well this is the worst case of hulk mode yet. Let me tell you how I got into this situation in the first place.

Vanguard (named after the first NASA mission) had been sitting outside for several years before I bought it and had developed a bad case of dry rot on both tires. I’m not very familiar with tire dry rot but everyone I talked to explained how at any moment the tire would explode hurdling shrapnel towards innocent bystanders and send me over some guardrail and into shark infested waters below. Long story short, people are dramatic and dry rot is dangerous. So I ordered some Dunlop D404s a couple weeks after I got her up and running and planned to swap out the old stuff as soon as the shipment came in. I ordered the rubber from one of my favorite motorcycle parts companies 4int1.

When the new set of tires came in I rode the bike over to the FIZ so I could remove the wheels. Here’s where it gets interesting… To remove the front wheel you need to follow these instructions.

So I followed the instructions. Pulled off the retaining nut, loosened the retaining bolt, and tried to twist out the axle, not luck. Hmmm old bike must just be stuck. Sprayed some liquid wrench on the axle threads, let it sit for a bit, then came back with a bigger ratchet. Push Push Push and snap!

Turns out that the retaining bolt does more than just tightening the fork down onto the axle to make it harder to twist like I thought it did. The retaining bolt actually sets into a void in the axle so that the axle can’t be backed out. Something mentioned nowhere in the manual and something I didn’t find out until I had already cracked the forks… great.

I ended up ordering some VT500 forks because they should be a straight drop in. At the time not a lot was available so I panicked and dropped a heart-stopping $250 on a set I could trust (still hurting from this one). Sadly they weren’t a straight drop-in and all mounting points ended up being in different places. The brakes needed to be spaced off, the center brace needed to be replaced, and the speed sensor made the wheel space between the forks too big so I had to remove that and replace it with a shorter spacer. With a little help from the FIZ waterjet, the scrap bin, sandpaper, and some good ol‘ elbow grease I got everything put back together and rideable. Wahooo the bikes back!

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