I brought the 650 up the hill to STP this morning to see if anyone would show up for the habitual 10am ride. There was only one guy there, and while we were hanging around, he looked down and said "Your bike seems to be missing a part." Sure enough, the endcap was missing from the right swingarm (the bar that connects the rear wheel to the frame). See the bottom of the parts diagram: part #11065 and its nuts and washer are gone. This isn't the best part to fall off, because it keeps the axle in place so the wheel stays in line with the bike. On the other hand, I'm glad it was on the right-hand side, because these bits are also how you adjust the chain tension, and if the axle had moved an inch on the left instead of the right, I would have noticed sooner, and probably been a lot less happy about it (because the chain would have an extra inch of slack, which can have all kinds of unpleasant consequences).

Noting the wheel alignment, the guy said, "It been handling kinda funny?". And, of course, the steering's been a bit messed up for about a week, especially on bumpy pavement, like it hasn't been tracking straight. I figured, it's my first nice bike, I'm just adjusting to the stiffer suspension. Mainly I'm kicking myself because I should have caught this and didn't; but I'll pay closer attention from now on. Better late than never, and luckily no harm done: I went home, ordered replacement parts, grabbed the other bike (this is why I need two!) and went out for a 131-mile ride. I met up with some SBR guys at the cafe in Davenport; as usual, I was faster than one of the four guys, and the remaining three were way faster than me, but dialing the pace back just a bit, so for a while I could keep up if I rode closer to my limit, which is a good learning experience. I did go into one curve a bit hot, but relaxed and leaned the bike over and came through it just fine.

As an added bonus, the hours on the bike seem to have fixed the strained muscles in my legs. *grin*