by Ed Quayle
Plans for our European trip this year started with working out where we all wanted to go, what hotels to use, what sights to see, what roads to ride, etc. and after a few changes of direction all seemed to fall into place nicely.
One of the things I did not even worry about was the tyres on our GoldWing. We had new-style Avon Cobras fitted last year just before we all went to Scotland, and I worked out that we had only done about 3,000 miles on them since then – thanks to the bitter winter! In fact, my Wing had been taken off the road for winter and so sat unused for about 4 months. When I came to put it back on the road in the Spring I noticed the tyres had lost pressure – as I would have expected them to do, being sat there for so long.
Once the pressures were restored there were no issues with the bike, but I had noticed a very slight trace of Ultraseal leaking out from the rims. I know my rims need powder coating soon so I thought: get the European holiday out of the way and come next winter I’ll have new tyres, powder coat the rims, etc.
I thought it might be a good idea to remove the wheels before we went abroad in order to have the rims cleaned up inside and the tyres refitted – so I knew there would be no leakage issues. I therefore removed the wheels and gave the tyres a really good looking over before taking them to be done. The front tyre still looked like new and the rear also seemed fine – it was not squared off in any way, so looked great for the trip.
So, tyres newly mounted, Ann and I set off for our holiday along with Nigel & Jo (who coincidentally also had the same new-style Avon Cobras fitted on the rear at the same time as we did last year), plus Dave & Jan and Ian & Val.
About 500 miles into the holiday, I started to notice a slight wobble in the handlebars on starting off from rest. It went away at about 40mph, and I initially thought it was because we were two up, with luggage, etc.
As the holiday progressed, it got a lot worse and at one point I thought my front wheel was loose – it was that bad! It soon got much worse and the other riders with us could actually see the rear of our bike moving about an inch side to side! The tyre also started to get really noisy and at 70 mph the mirrors were shaking!
Close examination showed the problem to be caused by severe cupping of the rear tyre. Dave Turvey had this happen to him last year after he got back from the Scotland trip, and he had set off with a new Avon as well.
I would describe my knowledge of motorbikes as above average and I am a qualified mechanic, but I have never seen a motorbike tyre deteriorate this quickly or give such a bad riding experience.
As our tyre had got progressively worse, Nigel’s rear tyre started to show symptoms like mine had done a few hundred miles before (he described it as “a wicked handlebar wobble, worst going uphill at 30mph”) – so we knew it was only a matter of time before he, like me, would be forced to buy a new tyre.
By this time we had arrived in Austria for a few days stay, so we thought it wise to start a search for replacement tyres (preferably not Cobras!). After several unsuccessful attempts to locate someone who could supply and fit before we moved on to Germany, we tracked down a GoldWing specialist by the name of Ernst Schick on the outskirts of Innsbruck (http://www.goldwing.at/), but his shop was always closed on Mondays….. and guess what day it was!
As we were only half an hour away, we decided to ride there anyway – just in case! Sure enough, the place was closed, but as we were looking through the showroom window a car pulled up alongside the workshop. I went to speak to the lady driver and asked if she knew if they still specialised in GoldWings here. “Oh yes”, was the reply – “it is my husband’s business, I will go and speak to him”.
After a few minutes, Ernst Schick himself came out, shook our hands and patiently listened to our tale of woe. He then took us into the shop to confirm that he had 2 Bridegstones in stock and to check his bookings for the following day. He confirmed that, if we could be there for 8am, he could fit two new tyres.
After picking Nigel up off the floor at the mention of 8am (he likes his beauty sleep!), we told Ernst that this might be a bit hard to do as our hotel was over an hour away – but I offered instead to buy the tyres there and then and take them with us (I figured the women could carry them on their laps!). I told him I would remove the wheels myself and take them to a car garage to see if they would let me use the tyre machine – and I could then fit the tyres and put the wheels back on.
He looked at me very puzzled (I don’t suppose your typical biker knows how to use tyre machines, but I had used them many times in my career as a car mechanic), and then picked up his phone and after a very quick chat I thought he was arranging a garage for us to go to…. but no. It was just after midday by now and he said, “Come back at 1.30 and my son Armin will be here – he will fit the tyres for you. Now go down that road and you will find a couple of good restaurants where you can have lunch while you wait”!
Wow! We were very impressed, so off we went for lunch – which turned out really nice, sat outside in the sunshine eating Hawaian toast – and we then returned to the shop. They had already removed the bikes from the workshop and were ready for us, so Armin jumped on Nigel’s bike, full of confidence, and rode into the workshop. He kindly allowed us in so we took lots of pictures of his wonderful, spotless workshop – one to be proud of.
A short time later and a new Bridgestone tyre fitted and Armin pushes the bike out of the workshop, jumps on and starts it up ready for a quick test ride. However, before setting off he says, “Xenons?”. Nigel replied, “HIDs – but how do you know just from sitting on the bike?”. “Oh, I can hear them start up”, he says!! And yes, you can (we tried later on). Anyway, after a quick road test he puts the bike onto the centre stand like it is a Honda 50!
My bike next, and again a short time later another new tyre. After the road test, I see him bouncing the front suspension. I thought he had worked out that I have progressive springs, but no – he asked, “did I know the anti-dive was not working?” I told him I did know, as I have blanked it off (like many GL1800 owners do).
Into the shop to pay and we were even given a discount on the bill – and it was more than a fair price for what they had done.
There are a few reasons for writing this article, but the main one is to again thank father and son Ernst and Armin Schick for going above and beyond in providing customer service. Opening on their day off, fitting the tyres so professionally (I saw how careful Armin was), not using the opportunity to overcharge us……. Outstanding!!
If you are ever in this part of Austria, go and give them a visit. They have lots of chrome goodies in stock, plus clothing and new bikes – and they certainly know their GoldWings.
You can tell from the photographs of the tyres below just how bad they had become. I have never seen this before and I will never use this make of tyre again on my GoldWing.
This is now 3 out of 4 Goldwings which have had this tyre seriously deteriorate after all being fitted at the same time – which is shame because the Avons fitted before this were superb and I got over 10,000 miles from my rear one (and it was not illegal when it was removed).
Our bikes were fully loaded but not overloaded, so I don’t think the problem can be blamed on how we were using the tyres. I wonder if anyone else has experienced anything similar? If so, please send in a comment below .