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R80ST Handlebar Story

I recently went on a group motorcycle ride in the western part of the San Francisco peninsula (e.g., Pescadero, San Gregorio). As the name (Scooters & Small Bikes 2nd Saturday Very Mellow Back Roads Ride) indicates, these rides wander around a lot of narrow, twisty roads at a gentle pace. It's a nice group of people and a well organized ride; I strongly recommend trying it, if you like this sort of expedition...

Getting back on the bike after a nosh at Pie Ranch, I noticed that my handlebars seemed a bit loose. However, I was able to tighten them back up by pushing them forward, so I didn't bother to inspect the situation and decided to "baby them" for the remainder of the ride. In retrospect, this was the first in a series of atrocious decisions, but I "didn't want to hold up the ride", etc. Sigh.

Just north of Pie Ranch, we turned off Highway 1 onto Stage Road. This is a narrow, windy road that wanders up into the hills for several miles before coming back down to the coast. Along the way, my handlebars got looser and looser. Pushing them forward still "worked", but they were getting loose more and more often. Clearly, I should have pulled over and asked for help, but I (foolishly) persisted.

At San Gregorio, I left the group ride and got on Highway 1 to head north. This is a much straighter road than the group would be taking, so I thought I was making a choice in the direction of caution. However, assuming that things were just a little loose, I still hadn't made any real inspection, let alone asked for help.

After about an hour of uneventful (but stressful) riding, I arrived back at my driveway and got out some tools. Inspecting the lefthand clamp, I could tell that the nuts were loose. So, I adjusted the handlebar position and tightened up the nuts. I then went over to the other side of the bike to tighten up that clamp. Problem is, there wasn't a righthand clamp. None, zilch, nada...

Even if righthand clamp's retaining nuts had loosened and fallen off, I can't imagine any way that the upper components of the clamp could fallen off. For one thing, the instrument cluster sits right above the clamps, so it would have held these components in place. Also, I'm pretty sure that I would have noticed things rattling around.

I also find it hard to believe that the clamp has been missing for 30+ years. I don't think that BMW is in the habit of leaving out important parts and the issue should have been noticed on an inspection. I also find it hard to believe that the clamp was stolen or maliciously removed. So, I'm forced to conclude that the clamp was removed during some (paid!) servicing, then forgotten and tossed away (gosh; wonder where this came from?).

Assuming that the righthand clamp was left off at the last inspection, I had ridden about 2500 miles of windy roads, having only a single clamp. Alternatively, the clamp may have been missing since an earlier service, without anyone raising a red flag. In any case, I had just ridden for more than an hour (on twisty roads!) with handlebars that were only held on by a single, loose clamp. (whimper)

Obviously, I was extremely lucky, despite a series of bad decisions. I plan to be far more proactive (and make fewer assumptions) in the future...

Topic revision: r4 - 10 Oct 2016, RichMorin

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