A friend of mine is in hospital right now after experiencing the rear wheel on his 98 RT coming off. There was no warning. Luckily he was only travelling at about 15mph so his injuries are minimal, if you can call cracked ribs and a collapsed lung minimal..

He reports that when he picked the bike back up and examined the errant wheel, the little hub cap was still in place but 2 bolts and tapered spacers were lying in the space behind the hub cap and that the other 2 bolts and tapered spacers were still in place on the wheel. Looked like about the last 1/4 inch of thread in the hub is stripped.

Has anyone ever experienced or even heard of this and does anyone have any explanation as to how this could happen with no warning.

I would have expected wheel wobble of some kind well before total wheel separation.