We just got new Kenda K761 130/80-17 rear tires for our KLRs ... the only in-stock rubber we could find on the Yucatán Peninsula from our online searching. Things down here; services, products, specialists, are more-so word-of-mouth than word-of-web. But the Kenda’s had good reviews for our dual-sport tope-hopping journey, so we went ahead and headed toward the MotoMundo shop we found them through in Mérida. We “thought” we were doing the right thing by replacing our rubber before our wear-markers were completely worn away and before venturing beyond the bigger cities, as we head south. Obviously, “thought” is the key word here.

Initially, after our Shinko 705s were replaced with the Kendas I noticed two nuts stacked on the valve stem of Malcolm’s bike. Of course, one is supposed to be inside the rim and one on the outside to prevent tube travel. Although, after the trials and tribulations of finding tires in-stock and paying the $1,413 pesos = $117.75 for each tire and mounting, we failed to question these curious nuts.

The next dilemma was a bit delayed and didn’t surface for about 100-kilometers when I noticed that the wobble I was feeling wasn’t the bumpy pavement, but a slow leak in my tube. We stopped at a Y in the road as we debated between taking the cuota or libre highway toward Chichen Itza, when (dun-dun-dun) my rear tire sank to the ground. 

I lightened my 100-pound luggage load, popped my rear off and found a big-damn pinch flat (the anger lingers). I had an extra 21” front tube that was to be used on the 17” rear “for emergencies only,” as advised my more experienced two-wheel-traveler buddy before I set off on the Trans-American Trail last July. So, I tried to patch the rear in hopes of finding another 130/80-17, which I've since discovered are nearly impossible to find outside of the biggest cities.

I used the two biggest patches in the Genuine Innovations tube repair kit (about 1”x1/2”) that were still too small for the three-holes-in-a-row. My patch job lasted about 300-meters, which was fortunately just enough to get us onto the toll-road where there is free auto-service; the only fantabulous thing about the overpriced, scenic-less and expensive direct routes.

After about 30-minutes a service truck stopped as I was in the process of remounting my rubber after a second patch attempt and took me to a llantera or tire service center. However, it was Sunday and it was closed, so we ended up at a bicycle repair hut.

The tire guy was, however, able to easily remove my tube, check it in a water bath, patch it correctly and remount it. I thought I had a great temporary fix until I found a new tube. But I was mistaken. Rewind the above story, push repeat, watch a different tire guy remount my tire with a flat-head screwdriver and the sun set. It’s now dark. Malcolm has been waiting for well over four hours for these Sunday, small-town tire endeavors and we’re finally on our way to a run-down hotel in Piste (a Chichen Itza backpacker’s hub). At least we could now relax a bit, cook up some sustenance and take a cold shower.

As I sipped a cup-o-vino on the hallway table, watching the cucarachas trot by, I was chatting with a fellow guest from France about my terrible tube trials when he mentioned the difference between my tire and Malcolm’s. Mine, he noticed, was mounted backwards. “Argh." A serious failure of my self-purported keen observation skills. "Argh," again.

Although going back is never the ideal option, I thought that the hour-and-a-half trip back to the MotoMundo dealership in Mérida would be the smartest bet, since it took us longer than that just to find a shop that dealt with such “huge” tires … in comparison to the scooter-sized local rides.

We squeezed onto Malcolm’s bike, so as not to chance the trice-patched tube and took off retracing our tracks.

MotoMundo replaced my tube for free since it was a pinch flat and mounted backwards, remounted my tire, and added an internal rim nut on the valve stem that they had also forgotten. They also checked to see if Malcolm had an internal rim nut, which he apparently did, despite the two exterior nuts.

We puzzle-pieced ourselves back on the bike with my tire and headed back as the sun set on another full day of tire yah-yah.

The next morning we continued our journey to the Mayan ruins at Cobá, skipping Chichen Itza, despite it “wonder of the world” acclaim, due to cost, tourist-chaos and reviews. After a 4-kilometer hike around the sites of Cobá, watching the surprisingly widespread fear-of-heights in-action as the majority of people ass-scooted themselves down the main pyramid stairs, which were really not much steeper than a staircase, we continued to the beach-front city of Tulum to scuba dive the cenotes.

About a kilometer from the hostel, my reserve kicked in, so we swung into a PeMex gas station. We filled up, but as Malcolm went to remount his motor, it too sank to the ground. Another post-new tire flat. Seriously.

Where did I lose my karma? Whose lost wallet do I need to find and return to get it back? Could this be a max-load weight issue? We have 410-pound bikes, 100-pounds of gear, 140/180-pound riders and a rear with a max load of 640 with two-tires to absorb the weight. Thus, we're good, right? Anybody?

Since Malcolm's leak was slow, I filled his tire and told him to burn rubber to the hostel so we could have a place to park and sleep while we patched the problem … yet again.

The Weary Traveler in Tulum; good people and a popular dorm-only place, as a Lonely Planet recommendation, minus the ridiculously regimented computerized check in/out process and $300 peso deposit required for sheets and a towel.

Now, after a morning jaunt to another llantera, where we replaced the tube with a new one (the only one) we had bought from MotoMundo and patched the old one for emergencies.

And now, Malcolm is now on a mission to get a new rear axle nut after it was over-torqued and stripped.

I know overcoming mechanicals is part of moto-travel, but right now, my patience is as thin as my hair is becoming. I think I need another cylinder.