Day 10 – Fairbanks – Off the Bike Day

When I picked my accomodation I wanted to be as close as possible to the motorcycle dealer so I can zip over and find out about a tire change. As luck would have it the motel and dealer are on the same block – how fortuitous! Harley Davidson Farthest North Outpost has Harleys, Hondas, BMW and KTM. Perfect – they’ll likely have dual sport tires that will work for my bike.

I got to sleep in a bit today and ventured over on the bike for their 9:00 am opening. A couple other people hanging out waiting, too. I was third in line so I figured it would be a cinch to get in and get the tires done. I have all day so it’s not a rush as long as they are ready for me to ship out tomorrow.

Talked to the service manager. Sorry, we don’t do work on Kawasaki’s – “we don’t have time.” Tire changes? Is it different to change tires on a Harley, Honda or Kawasaki? I bit my tongue. “Why are you even here?” He asked. “You should go to the Kawasaki dealer.” Wow, that’s customer service. I bit my tongue again.

“We only service what we sell. We don’t have time for anything else.” Huh? There are only 3 customers and you’re already working on two of their bikes. That busy? I bit my tongue again.

“I have tools, I’ll take the wheels off for you, should only take about 15-20 minutes to change the tires,” I said. Still met with reservation.

Then he showed me where I could work on my bike. He didn’t want me on the pavement because it would “interfere with the real customers.” Yep, that’s what he said. He pointed to a gravel area that would be, “out of his way.” Haha. You just got laugh at times like these. “Yes, sir, no problem. I’ll have the wheels off in a second for you.” Haha.

Then he asked me to take the wheels from the bike to the back. So I did, only to get yelled at by the shop techie for being “behind the line.” “Did I see THE SIGN?” – read “Idiot. I hate my job and yelling at you makes me feel better”. Nope, I said. My apologies. The service manager said I was getting in their way by dropping them off and if I wasn’t careful they wouldn’t do them at all. Another ultimatum.

Finally I got things sorted out with the parts staff – they have tires that will fit. Then he reluctantly agreed to do them but didn’t even come to talk to me again until the tires were mounted. He put the tires at the counter and handed me the bill -“Go pay at the cashier.” When people are jerks like this I like to add fuel to the fire – “Wow! Thanks so much. Really appreciate the hard work. You’re doing me a big solid here. Thanks again.” All as polite as punch. When really I’m thinking how many way I could tell him to shove the tires into various orifices. But, I didn’t. I got the tire done and off I went. Normally I’m the first one to sing the praises of businesses that go the extra mile – this guy did, unfortunately he was stuck in reverse. Not a pleasant experience and I’d recommend that if you need anything done – seek service elsewhere from one of the other couple dealers or shops in town here in Fairbanks. While he did ultimately get the work done for me he charge me $100 for mounting two tires that he didn’t even take off the bike. Karma is a bitch my friend – prepare to have done to you as you have to others.

The new tires are a bit more ‘streety’ than the ones on the bike previously – that’s really all they had that would fit. The tires are Pirelli Scorpion Trail – about 80 road / 20 gravel and off-road. I think they’ll do the trick. They’ll certainly last a lot longer on the chip-sealed pavement and highways on the way home than my 50/50 tires did. In retrospect I should have brought another set of the Heidenau K60 Scout tires with me, or at least, another rear just so that I didn’t have the hassle of finding someone to replace it. Live and learn I guess.

I met a really nice couple from Ohio and spent the hour or two chatting it up with them. They were riding tandem all over the north on a big GSA BMW. Really nice bike. He even helped with me putting the wheels back on the bike.

Also got a hand from a nice feller from Wisconsin. Riding a Harley getting a service done while he’s up here on vacation. He offered to help steady the bike while I popped it up on the stand and a side case to take the wheels off.

We all had some good chats about our trips, our lives back at home and of course, bikes.

I’m hanging around the motel for some lunch, some updates and to rest and relax. Tomorrow I head off to Dawson City, YK. It’s a bit of a long day followed by the last two days to get up to Inuvik.