Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Quick 2 minute job

took over an hour and a half in the dark with a flashlight.

I don't have to tell you that it gets dark fast this time of year. I rushed home after work so I could work in the daylight to install a RAM mount U-bolt ball mount for my VideoCam

Last week I ordered some RAM mounts for Nu2me and I had them shipped to my work address


Tonight, the plan was to mount them onto my handlebars. I had an hour window of light so I quickly gathered my tools and moved my bikes out of their resting place and got down to business. Before I actually attach them to my handlebars I do mockups of where the best location would be. I held the U-bolt with my left hand, and my videocam in my right hand moving the mounts around to get the best aiming position. I want the camera to be in the wind and not behind the windshield. The U-bolt was hanging by friction on the handlebar when I put the camera down on the bench and then I heard a "clink" sound BUT I did not hear the corresponding "clank" sound of the U-bolt falling to the cement floor

The U-bolt was nowhere to be seen. I looked everywhere. I mean where could it have fallen. I grabbed my flashlight and started peering under the steering head, and then I saw the threaded end of the stainless U-bolt. It had fallen inside the bike, under the gas tank behind the wiring harness and there was no way to get my fingers in there to retreive it. I thought that if I removed some body panels I would have a better chance of grabbing it.

So to secure the bike, I decided to put it on the centre stand to make it more stable. That's when I heard another "clinking" sound. I stopped and grabbed my flashlight again trying to find it. I was shining it everywhere under the tank and it was nowhere to be seen. It had originally fallen onto a wiring harness, but it had fallen again from there to somewhere lower down.

The R1200R uses a telelever suspension and there is a shock/spring combo under the triple tree and I was afraid that this U-bolt may have jammed itself in there, or it may have jammbed if I rode the bike and tried to make a turn, which would not be a good situation. I thought that the best course of action would be to retrieve it. So with my toolkit out and an assortment of Torx bits I started removing plastic panels.

I was working in failing light and soon I had to work with my flashlight as time was ticking away. Sorry for lack of photos but I was more concerned with retrieving this small bit of metal, rather than documenting this unfortunate circumstance which has turned a quick job into a time consuming recovery


The U-bolt had fallen on top of the engine between some fins and I had to use a coat hanger to fish it out. Eventually I worked it out and installed the panels and got back to what I started an hour earlier, before this diversion


This is not the best angle to show you but I used two RAM arms connected with a double RAM ball, and a tripod plate so I could angle my GoProHD to the left of my windshield. My idea is to record video so no part of my bike is visible with the camera floating in space.


On Nu2me the windshield and headlight turns with the handlebars, so aiming the camera is easier as once in position nothing moves. On my Vstrom the windshield and headlights are fixed so when you mount a camera on the handlebars, it moves and you have to be careful that it doesn't hit anything when you turn.


Since there is not much handlebar space I had to put my RAM mount on the wrong side of the clutch reservoir so I bought the short RAM arm so that the longer RAM arm can aim to the left of the windscreen. I think the recording angle is going to be just right

So this is how a quick job turns into a labour intensive hour and a half

Facsimilie of the offending lost U-bolt


  1. I hate it when things drop and get stuck in the bike somewhere to wreak havoc of unknown measure somewhere down the road. You had quite an adventure retrieving the u-bolt and getting everything back together. I don't know if I could be so patient.

    1. Kari:

      I don't swear (ever), even though I think bad thoughts. I couldn't believe that this simple job of attaching two nuts turned into disassembling my panels to try and find it. Luckily I have a set of Torx bits but I couldn't see where it went, even with my flashlight poking around in there. I was afraid that it would interfere with steering or the shock springs under the triple tree so I had to dig it out, no matter what. I wasn't that patient but it was getting dark

  2. Bob, it sounds like your simple projects go about as smoothly as mine do.

    1. Doug:

      I remember one time I was going to cut the grass. It was the first cut of the season so the lawnmower hadn't been started since the previous year. Try as I might, I never got that engine running. Hours later I was still trying to pull the cord and my arms were aching. The simple chore of cutting the grass turned into a half day of frustration trying to start the engine. I eventually had to bring it to a repair place and the grass had to wait.

      I'm glad your simple projects go smoothly . . .

  3. Bob, just remember, on any project, if nothing goes wrong you're not doing it right.

    1. Canajun:

      Is it alright to chuckle NOW ? about your ladder experience. talk about being out of commission for a few weeks. I hope you are feeling better and back to normal.

      A few years ago I went on our roof to clean our gutters. I nearly slipped off the roof. Ever since then I decided that it just wasn't worth the risk of injury. I would rather hire someone to do it. That's the problem with aging. You think you are young and can do it, but then reality sets in

  4. Been there, done mounting hardware now tends to fall on the floor, bounce several times in random directions and somehow wind up in another dimension...

    That said, "magnetic pick up tool" will help in the future hopefully. another reason I prefer motorcycles with not a lot of tupperware to remove.


    1. Dom:

      This was supposed to be a stainless steel U-bolt. SS is non magnetic, or very slightly magnetic depending upon the alloy so a magnetic tool may not work. Once I located the U-bolt I fashioned a small hook with a coat hanger and fished it out. In the end I didn't need to remove any panels, but when I started, I didn't know where it had fallen.

      I remember once I had special metric screws/nuts and I dropped one. That's always the way when you are doing something simple. Anyway I heard it drop but I couldn't find it. Of course when they bounce they can end up going any direction. Back then it wasn't easy to find metric threads. My R1200R is a naked, so there are only a couple of small cover pieces which are easy to remove as the Torx bolts are visible with the seat off. Tupperware has interlocking tabs which can break off, the same as for scooters if you don't know exactly where they are, or how they fasten

  5. Well, that was more work than you bargained for. Glad it worked out okay though.

    Do you need one of those long handles with a magnet on the bottom?

    1. Trobairitz:

      isn't that always the way, a simple job gets botched up and it takes hours to recover. I still have to install the 2nd U-bolt for my GPS, but I had enough excitment for that night, so it will be a task for another day.

  6. Dear Bobskoot:

    I am so glad yo have avoided the trap that snares so many BMW neophytes: the siren song of the farkle. The first thing I would invest in if I was you would be a halogen shop light, about $30 at Harbor Freight (China). Any time I ever dropped a part from my bike, it rolled across the floor and disappeared into a sewer grate.

    It's nice to a man who is still thrilled by a BMW "R" Bike.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

    1. Jack:

      I know what you are saying about having good lights, but for now I am using a headband LED and it works great. We don't have any Harbour Freights up here, we have Princess Auto same thing sort of. All the stuff I am installing are NOT farkles, they are essentials to get my bike ready for touring. I don't need much more; just a new helmet, a new bluetooth and perhaps a new GPS which is motorcycle friendly. Other than that just a full service before I leave

  7. Any chance of you taking a ride on that Bavarian shopping cart?

    1. Mr Conchscooter:

      I think that's the idea. I'm getting my "R" ready for the highway. Bikes are meant to be ridden, not displayed . . .

  8. Farkles cost, time, money and skinned knuckles. At the same time when was the last time you saw a serious bike owner that didn't have a farkle or two.

    Jack TR is right, the halogen worklights are invaluable if you actually need to see anything in the work space. I realize the space is temporary, so you can get at least some temporary relief....hahaha

    1. Chris:

      These are necessities, not decorative items. I need RAM camera and GPS mounts, plus I needed the topcase for my helmet and laptop. Everything I install is functional and has a purpose.

      Halogen lights are not eco friendly. I have higher powered LED lights which I use. Once our construction is done I will have more permanent lighting options

  9. Good to see Murphy is alive and well and visiting Vancouver. Keep him over there for awhile, will ya?

    I'm glad you found the part though. At least it wasn't under the tanks...

    1. Lori:

      Yes, Murphy is here. Stupid things go wrong and I spent more time retrieving than actually installing. I am sure Oilburner knows about these things.

      I was more worried that this part was going to jam my steering as I was riding, or it would hit the shock spring and cause an accident. It's not good to have a U-bolt under the tank, it could also cause a short if it was rubbing on something. I just knew I had to dig it out

  10. Welcome to my world Bob :D

    Everything I do to the bike turns into that kind of adventure, but it sounds like you handled it much better than I do, well done :)

  11. Haha I don't know whats more disbeleiving; a) that you don't swear ever or b) that you actually found that part that fell inside the motorcycle. Incredible!

  12. My nightmare of a small task turning bad is a bolt breaking off. This seems to be common on older vehicles where others have worked on them. It is, unfortunately, all too common to not put out the effort to pull out the torque wrench or use the correct anti-sieze or thread lock material. If something critical breaks off like in this everydayriding post. Then the bike isn't even rideable until repaired or major parts replaced...

    BMW seems to like to use these "wave washers" to substitute for a flat washer and a spring lock washer. These very thin, tiny washers are the things that seem to drop on the engine somewhere. Fortunately, it's very easy to pull the tank off and get very good access to the engine.