While rummaging through my files for another purpose, I came across this story. The late Clint Husted was always helpful. He helped me change my tires just before Lew Mumford, Clint and I rode to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That ride would be Clint’s last ride as he died much too young a short time after we returned.
Here is the story of the tire change. It makes me smile overtime I think of it.
Clint Husted and I have devised a method of changing tires we call the Armstrong method. It is cheaper, and much less reliable, than a hydraulic lift.
To demonstrate the method, you need a heavy motorcycle, such as a BMW K1200LT in need
of tire changes. Ordinary mechanics might use a lift but it is much more of a challenge to use the Armstrong method.
First remove the front wheel. Then lower the front of the bike so that the
front fork rests on the ground. This creates a certain amount of instability for the position of the center stand. Now, the center stand foot is not flush with
the garage floor. The weight of the bike is now resting on the front edge of the center stand foot. With just the right amount of forward pressure, intentional or accidental, the center stand will snap back to its resting position ready to ride. Now the front fork will be resting on the ground without the benefit of a front wheel. Returning the center stand to its upright position so the rear wheel may be removed is now impossible. It may be theoretically possible to put the center stand down if you weigh 850 to 1,000 pounds and have well developed leg and arm muscles. However, no member of the Indy BMW Motorcycle Club has come close to the mass required for such leverage. There are a few, given time, who might approach the required mass.
Search the garage for some means of mechanical advantage. You might find a truly industrial strength block and tackle, which uses a heavy log chain in lieu of rope. You also might find a couple of boards laid across the garage door ceiling supports. These boards are conveniently just over the center of the motorcycle. The boards already are supporting the front end of a canoe. The solution is obvious. Place the chain over the boards and under the motorcycle. Remove the slack from the chain. With the mechanical advantage of the pulleys of the block and tackle, lift the bike. Or rather pull the boards down to the bike. Our bike didn’t move a single millimeter but with each pull of the chain, the support boards bent more and more. Clint, having retired from a career as a General Motors engineer, suspected a problem. He reasoned that if we continued to pull on the chain, the weight of the bike might increase by the weight of a canoe. With my long experience as a college professor, and after studying the problem for 30 minutes, I agreed.
With our mechanical advantage solution now abandoned, we returned to people resources.
If you have started this process with only two people, you will find a third person is now required. The search for a third person may take a while if it is at night and normal people have already gone to bed. Clint and I found one of his neighbors still awake. Trouble was, he had only one good leg. The other was an artificial one with the original leg lost in a motorcycle accident. Clint’s neighbor couldn’t lift due to the artificial leg but he could lay on the garage floor ready to slip 2x4s and 4x4s under the front fork as Clint and I attempted to lift the 850-pound bike.
Clint and I grabbed the front of the fairing, hefted upward and grunted mightily. This
is the essence of the Armstrong method. Our one-legged assistant slipped a 2×4
or a 4×4 underneath the front fork depending on the volume of the grunt. Grunt volume is directly proportional to the number of inches of lift. The wood elevates the fork slightly. After a short rest, the cycle is repeated. One must not forget to grunt mightily;
it is an important part of the Armstrong process. After a sufficient number
of grunts, the front fork will be high enough to get enough leverage to put
the center stand down again.
Rear wheel removal may now proceed with the center stand bound to the front fork with secure webbed straps. The process goes somewhat smoother if you remember to do this before you begin the front wheel removal.
Even the sale price of $299 for a hydraulic lift seems exorbitant compared
to the Armstrong method of tire removal. Additionally, this method
compensates for the lack of exercise we get from riding motorcycles rather than bicycles. While not an aerobic exercise, repeated tire changes over time will develop arm and leg muscles.