A deflated tale

Hi to you all, sorry it’s been some time since I updated my maintenance page. I have had a serious amount of work commitments lately. However I can’t grumble too much – most of them have involved me working on a bike.

I’ve completed several rider assessments with bikers willing to improve their machine control and road riding. I have worked a whole week patrolling Royal Ascot on a bike with twelve other police riders and I am due to patrol the last evening of Henley Regatta. You may think that “Old Steptoe” has an easy job swanning around on a police bike? Well the answer is yes and no. Yes its fantastic being able to mix my job with my passion in life, but…patrolling the roads of Ascot for fourteen hours each day in sweltering temperatures, having to constantly avoid drunken race goers who decide to cross the road in front of you without warning, deal with idiot road users who decide to contravene the temporary one way system around the race course and keep a watchful eye out for very pretty ladies in stunning dresses is not easy I can tell you.

Anyway on to this instalment of my maintenance update: a couple of weeks ago I had a worrying phone call for help from a good friend and work colleague based at Slough Police Station. Jim, an experienced rider and owner of an immaculate Honda SP1, was travelling east along the M40 motorway towards London. Although it was late in the afternoon, the traffic was light and Jim was making progress when, for no apparent reason, his rear tyre gave way at speed. Luckily Jim just managed to get himself to the hard shoulder before the tyre became detached from the rim. I went to Jim’s aide but before I got there the AA had arrived and recovered him and his bike to safety. Upon closer inspection, the reason for the rear tyre giving way was discovered. The rubber tyre valve on the rear wheel had perished around one side of the stem base where it fits through the wheel itself and released all the air from the tyre. Believing this was just a one off, the tyre valve was replaced and Jim and I thought that was the end of the “pant filling” scary incident.

However, not one week later, I received another call from Jim; yep you guessed it the front tyre stem had perished also. This second defect was discovered whilst Jim conducted his weekly check on his machine. The cause of the tyre valves perishing in such a way is unknown. It could have been down to some sort of cleaning product being used on the wheel rims that caused the rubber to perish but both valves failing at the same time suggests to me that when Jim had new tyres fitted, the tyre fitter didn’t replace the valves and they failed due to age.

To stop this potentially fatal defect occurring on your bike, firstly inspect the valves when you do your weekly safety checks and then seriously consider having alloy tyre valves fitted when you replace your next set of hoops. The images show the quality of some alloy valves on the market compared to a standard rubber valve. They cost only a couple of quid more that rubber valves and I think you will agree, they look better and more importantly, they will never need replacing.

After speaking with Del and the rest of the safer rider team recently, it has been decided that we want to involve you guys more in my regular maintenance updates. If you have any subjects that you would like me to focus on whether it be fault diagnosis, mechanical procedural advice or general service explanations please email me on the address at the end of this update. I will then pick the best/worth while subject to focus on, do my research and then present it to you in the easiest form possible. Also with the help of Craig from the Safer Roads Partnership, Del and I will hopefully receive bike related items periodically to test and grade so you will be able to receive an unbiased opinion on popular products so watch this space!

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