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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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  • 1 Post By Sun Chaser

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Old 22 May 2023
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Location: Yellowtail, Montana USA
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A pit stop in Denver, on a run to Mexico from Montana in late April, 2023, found me spending some smart money at Woody’s Wheel Works www.woodyswheelworks.com

I’d had a set of Avon TrailRider tyres shipped in to Denver ahead of me and planned to skin off the old ones and install the new ones on the cheap, doing it myself as a shade tree mechanic. After a frustrating half hour trying to get the bead of the cold, high mileage, hardened tire over the rim of the rear wheel, some smarts bubbled up – I took both wheels and tires to Woody’s Wheel Works.

I had known Woody Witte since our motorcycle road racing days in the middle 1970s, banging elbows with him on a small, tight Aspen, Colorado race track (aka Woody Creek Raceway). He was the founding father of the Mountain Roadracing Association (MRA) and we met again in the 80’s when I foolishly returned to motorcycle road racing.

In the mid 1980s Woody came to my assistance when I needed a replacement front wheel after waffling one on the 1981 BMW R80G/S. He opened his shop to this passing through traveler on a Sunday and came up with a fix that got me back home to Montana 550 miles away.

As an offshoot of his racing, I believe he started the business working on motorcycle wheels to help others and it had blossomed globally over the years, beyond just motorcycle wheels.

Woody’s charges $35 per wheel (in 2023) to unmount an old tire and dispose of it, and then mount and balance a new tire, carried in or purchased through Woody’s. Under a “shade tree” I can usually do the same (unmount and mount), but am left with the quandary of where to legally dispose of a used tire and lazily seldom balance a new one.

Chris at Woody’s called me after the wheels had been in the shop for three or four hours. He said both wheels were out-of-round, the rear being seriously tweaked and twisted. I had never bothered checking them for the last 86,000 miles, and traveling solo meant no one was behind me to knowingly tell me of a out-of-round wheel.

Motorheads and wheel techs would opine of some catastrophic results of riding a motorcycle with an out-of-round rear wheel: the bearings seizing to the axle and spinning in the hub, early wear on the chain, sprockets and brake pads, and uneven tire wear. I was into the first segment (550 miles of 3,500 miles) of my USA 2023 adventure www.greataroundtheworldmotorcycleadventurerally.co m and needed none to their proffered potential mechanical adventures.

Faced with doing nothing (mount the tires with new heavy duty inner tubes and being charged $70.00 plus the new tube costs), and possibly finding myself on the side of the road in the cold snow the next day blowing across the flats north of Las Vegas, New Mexico or in the 95 F heat on the side of the road on Saturday afternoon south of Las Vegas, Nevada, I opted for a suggested Plan B: Straighten and balance the front wheel, use new spokes (mine being seriously rusted, potentially breaking off when wrenched) to straighten and balance the rear wheel, both tires with new heavy duty inner tubes inside.

“Ouch!” I thought when frugally thinking of my travel budget.

Chris offered a variation to my Plan B: Instead of installing new, heavy duty aftermarket spokes (pricey) they could use some take-offs they had in stock from a similar KLR650, slightly used. For the final 16,000 miles I planned for the 2009 KLR650, it was an easy choice – the old spokes lasted 14 years and I saw no more rock-hopping off pavement in the future like had hammered the wheels in events like the Big Dog Adventure Ride www.horizonsunlimited.com/bigdog

I’d dropped the wheels and tires off at 10:00 AM, and collected them at 4:30 PM. Tip: Don’t plan on waiting around, for the $35.00 per wheel the workers don’t schedule them, they do the work during their spare time. One year I dropped a wheel off and it was finished the next day.

I was off to tag Mexico, inspect part of the new Wall separating the USA from Mexico, to see if it was working any better than The Great Wall of China.

At my next pit stop (Salt Lake City, Utah) on a Sunday, I happily inspected the new tires and wheels, and reflected on what “could-have-been” a few days of bad economic adventures had I not opted for spend the small money compared to the big money of a catastrophic wheel failure before, during and after reaching the pit stop.

Smart money – spent at Woody’s Wheel Works…and nice people. Tip the workers if inclined – a pizza and a drink at the end of their day for them using their spare time to professionally treat a traveler well. Maybe sticker or pen your name of the wall outside Woody’s service entrance with those of other travelers passing through, and wish a thumbs up to a motorcycle traveler’s wheel and tire oasis in Denver.
Attached Thumbnails
SMART MONEY - WOODY'S WHEEL WORKS, Denver, USA-leaving-cold-montana-towards-mexico  

SMART MONEY - WOODY'S WHEEL WORKS, Denver, USA-pit-stop-woodys-426-x  

SMART MONEY - WOODY'S WHEEL WORKS, Denver, USA-border-wall-mexico-april-2023  

Sun Chaser, or 'Dr.G', Professor of Motorcycle Adventure at SOUND RIDER magazine. Professional Motorcycle Adventurer/Indian Motorcycle Racer/journalist/author/global economist/World's # 1 Motorcycle Adventure Sleeper & Wastrel
Soul Sensual Survivor: www.greataroundtheworldmotorcycleadventurerally.co m
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Old 23 May 2023
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Woody's folks do AWESOME work - Woody himself straightened out my 1200GSA rims - which he said really should have been replaced - and they're nigh on perfect, and several years later still the same, so excellent job. Worth every penny you spend to get it done right.
Note I've personally built hundreds of wheels, but won't touch a BMW GS tubeless rim, it's a real art, and best left to the pros like Woody and co.
Grant Johnson
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