The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance: Tips & Techniques to Keep Your Motorcycle in Top Condition

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9781884313417: The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance: Tips & Techniques to Keep Your Motorcycle in Top Condition

Popular motorcycle journalist and author Mark Zimmerman brings a comfortable, conversational tone to his easy-to-understand explanations of how motorcycles work and how to maintain them and fix them when they don't. This practical tutorial covers all brands and styles of bikes, making it a perfect companion to the owner's service manual whether you need to use the step-by-step instructions for basic maintenance techniques to wrench on your bike yourself or just want to learn enough to become an informed customer at your local motorcycle service department. This book includes more than 500 color photos and a thorough index to make it an especially user-friendly reference for home motorcycle mechanics of all skill levels.

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About the Author:

Mark Zimmerman is the Technical Editor of Motorcycle Cruiser magazine, and a contributor to Classic Bike Guide magazine. He lives in Danbury, Connecticut. Jeff Hackett has been photographing motorcycles for magazines, books, and calendars for 19 years. He lives outside New Haven, Connecticut.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Troubleshooting the Charging System

Many, certainly the majority of us, are more than likely going to ride our motorcycles for a very long time without ever experiencing a catastrophic charging-system failure. Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t run into the occasional dead battery or other charging system glitch. In most cases, some simple troubleshooting procedures and a little common sense will have you back in the saddle ASAP. Lots of charging system faults can be traced to either poor maintenance or bad electrical connections, including broken wires and bad grounds.

Frequently, the first sign of charging-circuit problems is hard starting. The bike may turn over slowly or not at all. Your first inclination may be to simply replace the battery at this point and hope for the best—don’t. First, check the charging voltage using a voltmeter. If the voltage is within specifications, remove the battery, service it, and charge it. If you find something obviously wrong, for instance, a dry cell or two, or a bad battery connection, it’s more than likely you’ve found your problem. If the charge rate is low, look for corrosion at the system-component connections. All of the connections need to be in good, clean condition. If they aren’t, make them so before reconnecting the component. Coat the terminals with a dielectric silicone grease to prevent any further problems. Use your wiring diagram to locate all of the connections and their grounds. Separate each connection and thoroughly clean the terminals. Likewise, remove each ground, clean the terminal, and clean its grounding point, usually the frame. Don’t be afraid to get a little aggressive here. A small file or piece of sandpaper should be used to reach bright, shiny metal. Use your brain. If the problem cropped up just after you installed some kind of high-zoot electrical accessory, disconnect the item to see if the problem goes away. Likewise, if the problem cropped up after you removed some component or bodywork for service, you may have inadvertently left a ground wire or connection loose.

Investigate. Some alternator connections are routed perilously close to drive chains, hot exhausts, or pinch points. If the charging indicator suddenly comes on, it may be due to a broken or melted wire. A quick charging-system check for bikes not normally equipped with a charging indicator is to simply watch the headlights at night. At idle many lights will dim slightly, especially if the turn signals or brake lights are applied. As you rev the engine up, the light should become slightly brighter. This is by no means an accurate test, but it does give you some indication that the charging system is functioning. If all else fails, and your charging system does go belly up, don’t be afraid to improvise. An ignition system can run for three or four hours on battery power alone. I’ve seen all types of bodges used to get the bike home: spare batteries strapped to the luggage rack or stuck in the saddlebags are popular. Once, two friends of mine were on tour when the rectifier in one bike packed it in. The nearest replacement was about a three-hour ride away. Since both bikes used a similar-sized battery, they rode halfway, swapped batteries from the bike that wouldn’t charge to the one that did, and rode the rest of the way to the dealership, where the new rectifier was installed.

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