S1000aRRgh: The Saga Continues…

Originally Aired: October 30th, 2010

Bringing My Baby Home

Previously on S1000aRRgh…

After I pretty much lost it on the phone I laid into Mr. Slow. All of my frustrations, all of my anger, all of my stress jettisoned at once in a whirlwind of a profane verbal shit-storm of epic proportions. I call it venting; psychologists would probably label it transference. Needless to say – and I don’t blame him one iota – Mr. Slow left the building; in a hurry, I might add, to save his sanity, no doubt. I had to apologize profusely to him later on for being such a jackass. I was treating him poorly and I wasn’t even mad at him. Apparently BMW North America doesn’t care. We were told they would “call us right back”, after calling the dealer and “getting to the bottom of this”, but they didn’t. It was painfully obvious that he dealer couldn’t give a two-bit shit less as they’re still clinging to their contrived story. I felt helpless in all this. I hate feeling helpless! There aren’t but a few things in this world that are worse for me than the feeling of being unable to do anything. I suppose there’s nothing left to do but wait for the phone call that will inform me that my bike is ready to be picked up. Waiting isn’t one of my strong suits either; especially the kind of wait that doesn’t come with a definite expiration date.

Making peace with the situation, but nevertheless tirelessly working to get the bike and myself ready for running the You-Know-What at You-Know-Where and then celebrating the occasion with You-Know-Who kept me from committing random acts of homicide; it gave me something to do and something to look forward to, a luxury carrying a hefty price tag of approximately $700.

BMW NA does finally call. We are informed that they have looked into the matter, that it was deemed unreasonable for the repair of my motorcycle to take this long, that they are so very sorry that this issue led me to miss almost a month of prime riding season, that this is completely unacceptable and that she is going to forward our case to Marketing to see if there is any way we can be compensated for being inconvenienced like we have.

A few days later Blue Moon Cycle calls. It is Daniel wanting to keep us updated on the status of our repairs:

“The part has cleared customs. It should be here tomorrow.”

Still no tracking number, I see. I suppose Customs doesn’t issue those after all, eh? Ah, I’m just such a ray of sunshine. I get ticked off all over again. Did I or did I not tell you people to not bother me until my bike is ready to be picked up? Overnight shipping, I have learned as a German who gets packages from the homeland on a fairly regular basis, apparently takes two weeks now. The audacity! My aunt once overnighted a book to me, t’was the day before Christmas and… and I still received it the next day, which was Christmas Eve, no less. DHL to the rescue! That little luxury cost her an arm, a leg, and 27% of her eternal soul. My point is… ah, who cares! I know what the point is. They never ordered the part when they said they did, lied to us to cover up their mistake… and blamed it on customs… ah, here I go again. Enough! It’s making my blood pressure rise just writing this. I detest a damn liar more than anything. Line Feed. Carriage Return.

Two days later, a Friday, my bike was ready to be picked up. Joe and I decided to go Saturday morning after we both got off work and had occasion to squeeze a little nap in. We leave around noonish. I wind up with dash rash on my spine and a bloody elbow on the way and am told at one point to stay in the truck when we get there.

“What? … Why?”

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. That’s why. I don’t wanna go to jail today.”

Pregnant pause, then: “Cake? I want cake.”

Dash rash?!? WTF? What in the Sam Hell are you people doing in your truck? Well, I’m getting my gear sorted because hubby wants me ready to jump on the rocket and leave.

“You stay in the truck. You hear me? If somebody comes over tries to talk to you, ignore them. Don’t even look at them.”

“Ok, ok. Gotchya. Stay in the truck. Keep trap shut. Pretend people are invisible. [pause] C’mon I swear I won’t say anything.”

“No. I don’t trust you. Stay in the truck.”

“Whhhhyyy-yyy?” [takes on a playfully whiny tone]

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. I know you!”

“Hmmm… cake.”

Where was I? Oh, the dash rash. I drop something. I don’t even remember what it was now, but I undo my seat belt and stick my head under the seat to go hunting for whatever it is that I’ve lost. Picture this: Head resting on the floor mat, one hand braced to keep from falling over, the other groping around in the semi-darkness between old (but fresh looking) French fries, dust bunnies, lost change and whatever else makes its home under there. Two feet wedged between the seat cushion and the lumbar support, balancing precariously on toes, ass hiked way up in the air. Screech! The noise of the sudden loss of forward momentum is accompanied by an incredulous proclamation of “Holy shit!” Meanwhile, in the Land Down Under, my head rolls onto its spine, my posterior is catapulted forward until my back impacts the dash. My feet are now stuck to the windshield with my ass resting on the dash and it takes me a minute to undo the pretzel I find myself in. Damn the physics of an object in motion… I hear an apologetic “Sorry, Foxy” from the driver’s seat. Then, as I slowly emerge from the Underworld, he proceeds to tell me the rest of the story in an excited I-can’t-believe-THIS-shit staccato:

“I almost hit a deer. A freakin’ deer. In freakin’ Atlanta! The guy in front of me swerved, I missed it by inches … and it kept on going. I think it jumped over the wall.” He looks around: “I don’t see it anywhere. I think it jumped over the divider and kept right on going! A freaking deer! Over the wall. Jumped over the freakin’ wall!”

I scan the Interstate behind us. Six lanes of traffic and nothing going on. Just the flowing, uninterrupted organized sheet metal chaos as always. Wow.

“Damn, that takes skill,” I muse, “hooves on asphalt, definitely a low traction situation. Like a dog on linoleum.” I giggle at the thought.

Power Shot

Be afraid, be very afraid: You don't want to piss this woman off. She eats Aktiengesellschaften for breakfast before her second cup of Kaffee (and after she throws up in her mouth a little).

A little later we pull into the joint and park. Mr. Slow gives me a stern look:

 

“Stay here! I’ll be right back.”

With that he gets out and heads into the direction of the service department. I look around. There are two dudes chatting it up over a vintage bike in the back of a pickup truck. The parking lot is pretty full. I get out of the truck. Nobody else around. Good. My heart is starting to pick up the pace a little. I recognize it for what it is: the beginnings of my system going into “Flight or Fight” mode. It is a somewhat awkward moment. I’m half hoping somebody is going to give me the opportunity to chew their ass, but I’m really wishing for a quick, unobserved, unmolested departure. Never mind the unobserved part, it’s too late for that; but the guys are still engrossed in what they are doing and pay me no mind. While I’m putting on my riding gear standing next to the truck Steven walks out the front door with the cell phone glued to his ear. I knew he saw me, because he was looking right in my direction and he promptly turned around and went back inside. Sadly, my quarrel isn’t with him. He sold me the bike, always been straight up with us, no bull, just straight with a chaser of the best places to eat.

This hurts a little. Maybe he didn’t see me after all? No, he had to have seen me. Yeah, this hurts. Before all this went down, he was the one who came practically running across the parking lot when I pulled in, basically telling me that he put the coffee on or would I rather have a Diet Coke this fine morning? Sad, no, it’s depressing. He was the one who offered me a slot in Keith Code’s California Superbike School for half-price, the same week I was scheduled to attend the Kevin Schwantz School at Barber Motorsports Park. Had to turn it down though, because there was no way I could get out of work. Apparently word got around and my email was probably circulated as Exhibit A for the prosecution and of course, I’m the bad guy here. The guilty party. Look at this disgruntled unhappy, ne’er can please her, rude customer who — when not getting her way — runs crying to Corporate to stir the shit pot and all we ever did was bend over backwards for her. Oh, how you can misjudge people… Wrong! Oh well, he’s on their team. He’s got a job to keep after all.

I’ll miss Jean-Marie, too. The man you see for your gear and apparel needs. He always greeted me with “Hello, Speedy Morrigan.”, which made me giggle. Or “How is the only woman riding an S1000RR doing today?” His wife is a fast woman, too. She rides a Blackbird. Oh, the stories he told. His wife and I would have gotten along splendidly to the chagrin of our husbands, I’m sure. ☺ He always answered my questions, texted me updates on my orders and had me look at bike part porn, telling me my Double-R would benefit from this and that… yeah, he had me pegged as one of those high performance junkies right from the start. He showed me stuff on his bike, made suggestions, we had rapport. I know it’s business, and as such he was an excellent sales person. But that’s how it’s supposed to be, or used to be, or should be. I liked it.

They were almost like family. My newfound BMW family and at first I thought I had died and went to heaven. After the level of service I got used to with my poor, neglected Hayabusa, this was like a dream come true (fleeting as one, also). But what can you do? I have talked to several people, all the shops around the Augusta area suck. Even the place in Aiken isn’t worth going to anymore. There are several decent enough places that will work on your bike, but if you own a new bike, need to keep up with scheduled services and have recalls and warranty to worry about, you’re screwed. You would think with the economy the way it is and with motorcycle sales declining these people would kiss your feet and wipe your ass while you wait for your 3K service to be completed. They have to be there anyway to earn their paycheck, so why the shitty customer service? They all act like they don’t really care whether or not you come in with your bike and open up your wallet. The “we’ve made the sale so we don’t care jack anymore” attitude doesn’t really make sense to me. Yeah, you got me on that first one. But I damn sure aren’t going to be back to buy the next one from you! And if history repeats itself (let’s hope not), I’ll be strolling onto your sales floor about once a year to get a replacement for the one I just wadded up. My Suzuki dealer lost my sales business anyway, since I was treated like I was out of my mind when I told the sales manager that I was wanting to trade my Harley-Davidson Sporty 1200L in for something a little more “my style”. When he asked what I was looking at, I threw a confident thumb behind my right shoulder:

“This white Hayabusa.”

He looked down his nose at me, cocked an eyebrow after sizing me up and sarcastically uttered one word:

“Really?”

Dripping, drawn out, with just the hint of a high pitched man-whine on the last rubberized syllable. I looked him dead in the eye and repeated:

“Really!”

Then turned around, grabbed Mr. Slow by the arm and dragged him outside stating flatly:

“I am not buying a bike from them even if it were the last white Hayabusa on the planet.”

The deal they offered us was shit anyway. Good riddance. I ended up keeping the Sporty and buying my dream bike from a dealer in Hayesville, NC. Good peeps up there. They made me feel at ease and welcome. They’ve made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The deal was pretty much handled by phone and email and when we got there it was but a formality with the paperwork. No hard selling, no macho BS, and 10% off the gear we bought and a really good deal on my Shoei Flutter RF-1000 lid. I wonder if they have good service, too.

Meanwhile, back in the service department….

Joe walks in and informs them that he is there to pick up his wife’s S1000RR. Daniel apparently hadn’t gotten the memo that explained that the game was up and promptly laid another lie on Mr. Slow:

“Hey, Joe! I’ve called Corporate and I’m working out a good deal for you.”

Mr. Slow takes a breather, a moment of strategic silence, and replies calmly, but firmly:

“I called Corporate. They then called you. I think we are done here.”

With that he pays for the extra service I had requested when I was still swallowing their spoon-fed lies in the name of “benefit of the doubt”, grabbed the Pirate’s keys, did an abrupt about-face and walked out.

He met me at the truck, handed me the keys and told me to look the bike over VERY carefully before I took off on it. I did. I was being watched by the two dudes who were still hanging out in the parking lot. I felt awkward. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. I wanted this to be over with. I got on my knees, checked out the bike, took note of the clean work they’ve done on the requested drilling of safety wire holes on selected bolts and nuts; they had even wired them up for me. I started the engine. The S1000RR came to life and sounded smooth as always, looked great, she was clean and seemed to be in good shape. Their work, as always, seemed to be of superior quality. I never had a problem with their workmanship. I sighed heavily as I pulled my helmet over my head, put on my gloves and prepared to leave. As I put the bike in gear and slowly eased out the clutch I noticed how tense I was. My hands on the controls were jittery and I felt a little nauseous. The four holes the dudes in the parking lot had burned into my back with their uncomfortable stares were ablaze. I was starting to perspire. I took a deep breath and tried not to think about it. What I need now is to stall the bike or fall over trying to make a turn or have an incident in the form of any of a number of “This Girl Can’t Ride” adventures.

As I completed my right turn out of their facility I started to feel relieved and the anxiety quickly left my body. I spent the next few miles testing the bike and putting it through the paces. She felt great, shifted smoothly (she always does after an oil change), sounded as she should, handled as she should (well, handled as she must considering the miserable shape my Interstate-abused front tire was in.) and the brakes also performed as they always have. I felt alive again. I hadn’t ridden in almost five weeks and it had gotten on my nerves something awful. And now I have about 150 miles to make up for lost time with my baby: A Pirate Named Trouble.

Miss Busa is baaaaaaaaack!


S1000aRRgh: I have a riddle for you…

Another update, this one given to me second hand by Mr. Slow. Apparently, after the new master cylinder locked up the brakes and the diagnostic logs didn’t show anything wrong whatsoever, the BMW rep spent three hours going over my S1000RR personally like a CSI goes over the crime scene of a murder-suicide in a retirement home. It all basically ended with everybody scratching their heads, letting out a long collective “Uhhhh….”

I’m getting nervous now. My first official LSR race is in 16 days, and here we are with the experts saying that this all doesn’t make sense, they’ve never seen such a thing before and this is the first time this ever happened. So, back to looking at the ABS pump. That’s a $2500 part right there. I think I’ll trade this sucker in when the warranty runs out and get a new one. I would be so AOL if it wasn’t for BMW’s 3-year/36000-mile warranty with roadside assistance. Screwed. Hard. No lubrication.

A few conversations with the service department later, the scoop is this: The main computer checks out fine. No faults. Every electronically linked part essential to the operation of the ABS and DTC system has a chip integrated that communicates the status of its host to the brain. In essence, if the ABS pump was defective and slowly getting worse (which it was, see “Rear Brake Roulette“) until total failure happened and by coincidence its signal chip was a dud from the factory also, the main processing unit would have no way of knowing that the part failed. In essence, this basically translates into never having had a working ABS system to begin with. Of course, that could be a distinct possibility since it has never come on for me as far as I am aware of. I have been making it a point to ride like I always have: I pretend I don’t have any of this geeky awesomeness and continue to develop my skill set as I should be doing in the first place. I have a problem with relying on tech to save my ass. Now I know for sure that I was not wrong by taking this approach to my riding. Case in point.

This of course is not what I have been told verbatim. This is my conjecture using the information that I have been given. Of course, in the back of my head the thought is nibbling on my riding confidence and trust in machine: What if this had happened to the front brakes? But that is part of the inherent risk, isn’t it? Every time we get on the bike, in the car, on an airplane or a ship… there is, to varying degrees, the risk of injury or death. We have relied on tech a lot longer that we care to admit. Redundancy. That is what it all comes down to. ABS has redundancy built in: If the system fails, for whatever reason, it is supposed to revert to hydraulic brakes, which is the underlying base technology anyway. “Revert”, by definition, isn’t the right term then; it’s more akin to losing Windows and just doing crap in DOS. Everything still works, but damn it ain’t pretty. And if you’ve never had a GUI you don’t know what you’re missing out on when playing “root” on the command line. (Now I’ve made two geeky-ass half-funny, or is that half-assed funny geek, jokes… one Microsoft, one *nix. I’m not leaving you Mac peeps out, since MacOS is based on BSD, so there. ;))

Where was I? Oh, yeah: They are overnighting the part from Germany. Obviously it’s the weekend over there already, the shop is closed on Monday, so in their best estimation (customs able and hopefully willing) they’ll know whether the new pump does the trick or not about two hours after the package has been delivered. My dealership has assured me that my bike is their top priority. It better damn well be, I paid almost $19K OTD for the thing with all the options and extras I had put in. Now, while you are holding my baby hostage on the behest of BMW Motorrad Deutschland, would you be so kind and give her an oil change and drill me some safety wire holes, because I’m lazy and am running short on time!

*sends heartfelt prayer to the God of Speed* “I better not miss this friggen race, you basturd!”


S1000aRRgh: If at first you don’t succeed…

Soooo…. yesterday, right before I went to work, I called the service manager to get an update on the Pirate’s surgery. They received the part. They stuck it in. The mechanic took it for a test ride. You know, I really do dislike the fact that they have to do that. The thought of some dude on MY bike, doing god only knows what, just makes me feel somewhat ill. I don’t mind them wrenching on it (at least not at this shop, but that’s for another story), but damn! Git yer ass offa my ride! It’s not even that they put miles on the clock that don’t belong to me, it’s the fact that I don’t exactly know what goes on when they go pleasure cru… I mean, test riding for those 15 minutes. Maybe I should test ride it and let the mech ride bitch. Nah, I would have to put the passenger pegs back on… Where was I? Oh yeah, he took my RR for a test ride and nada. No change. Back to looking at the ABS system. Amy said they were working in conjunction with BMW in Germany and she usually “hears back from them by 7”. Get another part (I’m assuming this time it’s going to be an ABS pump) overnighted, expect it delivered by Saturday. Stick it in, go forth and put some more miles on my ride and see if that solves the problem.

Now I’m back to looking at the scary thought of brake failure due to ABS component failure without the bike’s brain even knowing something’s amiss. And here I thought ABS failure had a ‘revert to hydraulic brakes’ failsafe built in. Ah, what the hell, stopping is overrated anyway. Hope the front brakes have a failsafe. I’ll let you know when they scrape me off the back wall because I couldn’t make my turn at about 133 miles per hour. This geek thinks something doesn’t quite add up. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I thought my country(wo)men were better engineers than that. And the attention to detail that went into the S1000RR, which is quite evident when looking at the bike and even more so after you’ve owned it for a while and have had occasion to look under her skirts, makes the point quite clear.

I am the “lab rat”, as I have been told by my service dude, hence I will exercise my patience; which is not one of my strong virtues, as if you couldn’t tell already. If motorcycle repair is anything like troubleshooting PCs, they are doing it right. Eliminate all variables, in the proper sequence (and if applicable in all variations), one known-good component at a time until you arrive at the source(s) of the problem.

To add to my general malcontent: I’ve checked the schedules for open track days at four of the nearest race tracks and came up empty, for various reasons, most of which involved scheduling conflicts between work and what I’d rather be doing. Meh. If I don’t get any practice in soon… ah hell, I’m already screwed for next season; but I am a quick study and I can catch up if I can keep motivated about the whole affair, that is. If only I was independently wealthy… yeah, I’d have me a track day and a backup bike, a pearl splash white Hayabusa. Make that multiple track days and two backup bikes: I’ll be in need of a Six-Gixx, too, fo sho! I need a SUGADADDY!!!! Now accepting applications, send your resumes to MissBusa@weride… 😉


S1000aRRgh: An Update

I just got a VM from Mr. Slow saying that the final diagnosis on the exact type of scurvy the poor Pirate suffered is failure of the rear brake master cylinder. The part is on order, they should get it tomorrow and I might just be able to have the bike brought back down here by Friday. I will call the service department tomorrow afternoon to see if that still stands. I can definitely live with the master cylinder going bad. That would NOT throw a fault in the bike’s diagnostics. I am relieved and the electronics are off the hook. Is there a track day in my near future? Of course not… something else came up and my hard earned cash must go to that. If it ain’t one thing… I guess if something doesn’t happen soon in the way of knee dragging I probably will have to resort to a little old-fashioned, irresponsible and downright felonious Redneck Road Racing just to keep my sanity.


S1000aRRgh: The Pirate’s Scurvy

I just got off the phone with the service department of my Beemer dealership. They have no official diagnosis yet, but it looks as though the ABS pump is trying to decide whether it wants to work or not. The front is working fine. They’ve sent an emergency request to BMW for further analysis and instructions. The word from BMW is that they haven’t heard anything about a problem with the S1000RR’s brakes. There is (as of yet) no pattern of failure, in other words. Scary thought that the pump’s failure wouldn’t trip a fault in the bike’s self-diagnostic routine. Maybe the rear brake doesn’t rate a fault. Who the hell uses that thing for much of anything anyway? Who knows. But this is not very confidence inspiring. What if this had happened to the front brakes? With no indication whatsoever that something was amiss… during a pass on the strip or on the track, in rush-hour traffic… hell, I don’t even want to think about it too much. Amy said that the shop is now “at the mercy of BMW” and her best guess is that I’ll have my ride back by next weekend. We shall see…


S1000aRRgh: Bye Bye Baby

The Pirate and The Tow Truck: Very interesting experience driving the bike up on that and then having to hold her while dude leveled the bed back out.

I had to make use of BMW’s Roadside Assistance for the first time. Which was a rather pleasant experience. They made me feel like I was actually the customer and I was the one calling the shots. Wow! Not “here is how it is going to go down!” but rather “this is what we can do, how would you like to proceed?” The wrecker service was at my house 35 minutes later to take my S1000RR to the dealership in Norcross, GA which is a little over 140 miles from here.

My S1000RR getting prepped for her ride to Norcross, GA

I really want to cry, but no time for tears I've got to get my butt to work.

After going to the drag strip on Saturday my Baby suffered rear brake failure. My guess is that it’s electronic in nature, although she doesn’t throw an error on initialization during the ignition sequence. But there are other little hiccups she has been experiencing, such as the turn signal not cancelling when the button is pushed, or the rear brake pedal just going limp without reason (which I thougt was. by design since running in Race Mode alleviated the problem) or the display yellowing where the LEDs are located. First it was only in one place, now it’s two. I hope the shop finds what ails her. I have a ride planned on Saturday and I hate being without my bike!


Rear Brake Roulette

It’s time for me and the Pirate to have a little heart to heart. What is this world coming to when a girl can’t even drag rear brake anymore when doing slow maneuvers in a parking lot or let’s say pulling up into her driveway. Here’s the thing: I abused rear brake pads to learn how to do the ‘Slow Race’ on the Hayabusa. I could almost be at a standstill with my feet up on the pegs and hold it in perfect balance. I pride myself on pulling up into the local bike night and NOT drag my damn feet while I find myself a hole to park the bike in. With the S1000RR, however, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes you get to do it, and sometimes the bike’s electronic wizardry just tells you: “No! Absolutely NOT!” and the brake lever goes limp. I cannot describe how disconcerting that is. Not really dangerous, the brakes are linked, I could use the front brake to do the same, but damn it!!!! Who’s in control here?!? I know it’s just a matter of adjusting, but I don’t want to get used to relying on electronics to do my job for me. What if I get on another bike and ride it like it had DTC and ABS, but doesn’t. Yeah. I’ll be making payments on somebody else’s shit. I really want to continue learning as if I didn’t have all that wondrous junk hanging off my bike. I look at it as an extra safety margin (in case I screw up, it’ll give me an extra edge to save my bacon), but I don’t want it to control my riding. That’s one of the major reasons I love riding so much. Let me rephrase that: am addicted to riding; a motorcycle junkie, a two-wheeled therapy abuser, a slave to gyroscopic precession. It’s the only time I’m really in control. In control of all aspects of my life; at that precise moment, I’m the master of my destiny. The decider of my fate. When I’m on my bike. I’m the boss woman! And I don’t need that stinking Pirate to interfere with that. No ma’am. Not gonna have it. Since I am under the obligation of a promise I made to hubby that I would not turn off the DTC or ABS unless it is warranted, I need to learn how its brain works. The brake lever going limp is just a small little symptom of what is yet to come. Remember, I haven’t made neither the ABS nor the DTC intervene in any other way, and I’m riding this thing just as hard (maybe even harder) that I did the Hayabusa. That tells me one of two things: Either I’m a pussy or I’m doing something right.

On today’s menu: Experimental riding. I have the OK from hubby to turn the systems off selectively to find out if this newly discovered nuisance is by design or a malfunction. Time to go play.