Noilly Prattle: Persian Odyssey: Part VIII – a dirt bike isn't made for heavy loads

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Persian Odyssey: Part VIII – a dirt bike isn't made for heavy loads

After a brief hiatus I have decided to continue with the reconstruction of my yearlong 1978 residence in Iran and my motorcycle odyssey through the ancient Persian archeological sites. 1978 was the year of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and it's reverberations are still being felt today in the ongoing tug-o-war between Iran and the West, especially with Israel. How this will develop is anybody's guess, but I hope that this bickering will eventually be resolved without resorting to armed conflict, which would solve nothing and only pour gasoline on a Middle East already in flames.

To bring the series up to date, after being caught up in the violence of the revolution in Kermanshah and faced with a choice to continue on my trip or turn back I decided that I would probably have only this one chance to see the ancient sites and decided to go on.

After a brief stop at Taqwasan I made a cursory examination of the bike. Everything seemed to be in order and I headed south for the long descent into the Mesopotamian Valley and the site of Susa, the winter capital of the Achaemenid kings. Kermanshah and Hamadan the summer capital are at high elevations in the Zagros Mountains and cool in summer. However, I stupidly neglected to closely inspect the drive train, the chain and the sprockets, that turn the rear wheel. 

A dirt bike is a little like a temperamental sports car. It's made to be fast, agile and responsive, not, like a Harley touring bike, to carry heavy loads. A cursory look at the picture of my seriously burdened Enduro makes my error in overloading it glaringly obvious. In retrospect it looks ridiculous. I mean, really, camel bags on a dirt bike!

imagine the thickness of the teeth 
(here normal) like the edge of a sharp knife
Anyway, it's a no brainer to keep the correct tension and lubricant on the chain to prevent friction damage to the sprocket. So far I had neglected to check the slack on the chain because I didn't take into consideration the extra weight I was carrying. Some kilometers out of Kermanshah and I began to sense a rattling that shouldn't have been there. I pulled over as soon as I could and inspected the bike. I noticed that the chain was drooping. When I manipulated it, it was too loose. No problem, just tighten it and be on my way, eh? Nay. I got a tight feeling in the gut when I looked at the sprocket. Teeth that should be about 3/16 inch thick, had been worn down to a knife edge sharp enough to cut a finger. Irreparable, the sprocket should have been replaced immediately, but where to find a bike shop in the middle of nowhere? The best I could do for the moment was tighten and lubricate the chain and reduce speed—and hope to find a bike shop with the right sprocket. I continued descending the Zagros range and headed for the town of Dezful, not far from the site of Susa, hoping to find one. 

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Am so glad that you got back to the 'story'. Chain, sprockets…oh dear. I think you would be the perfect person to take on a trip!


Noilly Prattle said...

Back in the 70s, after my life fell apart, I turned anew to the road. I had been trying to lead a straight and narrow existence-good job, trophy wife, etc. Big mistake! I got an old VW bus, converted it to a house on wheels and set off on the American road for a year with a little book entitled "Volkswagen Repair for the Compleat Idiot" and a shitload of tools and spare parts. Self sufficiency. Maybe I should that story some day.

Anonymous said...

yes, I sure am curious, now…

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