On Wednesday the 13th of May, my friend Karl and I were equipped to set off on our 700km trip down the coast of China to Qingdao, Karl with his 400cc Kawasaki Ninja with fake plates and me with my Honda CB400 with no plates at all, and neither of us with a valid Chinese driver’s lisence to speak of.
The trip started out well. Our first 150km went off without a hitch as we wound our way through Beijing traffic and navigated our way out of the city. The driving was very fun as we hit the open road, hitting speeds as high as 150km/h. We took a break for some snacks and to get some gas. The gas station was fun as we had Chinese crowding round our bikes asking us questions and chuckling at our directions we had taped to our gas tanks.
It was at about 50km after the break that things started to get interesting. Karl was leading when all of a sudden he started to slow down to about 100km/h. Then I got the signal to stop, the fist downwards. So we pulled over and he told me that he was hearing a bad grinding noise coming from his gear box and chain. So we started experimenting with it, running it in neutral then in first with the back wheel up and decided that somehow the axel had moved forward our the chain had lengthened so that there was not enough tention between the chain and gears. The sound had been the grinding of the gears trying to catch the chain. So we tried to first open up re gear box, but my harley tool kit tools either didn’t fit or grinded down the extremely soft metal of the bolts. After some fiddling we did manage to loosen the axel on one side, but the other seemed much more willing to have the metal stripped than be loosened.
So as we started to way our options stranded on the side of the road, we noticed what looked like a work camp down a dirt road off the highway. So karl walked down the road to get some tools. He came back with a shifted, which unfortunately still stripped the bolt. So karl went back and came back with a couple chinese guys who helped us to shift one side of the back wheel enough to get some tension in the chain to drive slowly to a town.