On the way back from New York a couple of weeks ago – a spirited ride along the Hudson with the OCC crew – I noticed a rather loud clunking noise that seemed to come from the front end of the Wide Glide. It only happened on the worst of the road irregularities and didn’t interfere with handling, so I made a mental note and pressed on.
Over the next few days I made an effort to find the source of the noise. It sounded like metal-on-metal and it seemed to be getting worse. Neck bearings, fall-away, pinch bolts, motor mounts, swing bearings, everything in the Critical Fasteners list, and a whole lot more, all came under scrutiny. Sometimes, but not often, one thing or another would take a little torque. And several times I was convinced I had found the problem only to find that, no, that wasn’t it after all.
I’ve been convincing myself that major disaster was lurking to strand me, or worse. You know, that whole “death or serous injury” thing that you find on nearly every page of the service manual.
But today I found the problem!
I was riding with Pam. She was the lead bike; I was taking the opportunity to hit every possible hole in the road while placing my hands on everything I could reach. And there it was!
The fuel tank mounting bolts – probably the ONLY thing that had escaped my torque wrenches – had grown quite loose. The front was worse than the rear. Both are easy to reach.
There are plenty of good potholes just down the street from my garage. I guess I’m lucky that way. (Sarcasm cranked to 11. So happens I wrote checks for my property taxes today and I’m disgusted with the road maintenance – or lack of same – in my town. Shovel-ready my ass. But I digress.) A quick road test confirmed the clunk was gone!
Lesson learned: Sometimes noises come from places other than where they sound like they’re coming from. Check the easy stuff first and don’t skip a thing.