Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

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mikenixon
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Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #1 by mikenixon » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:37 pm

Turnsignal beeper
I'm ill at ease when I ride a bike that doesn't have a turnsignal beeper. Even when test-riding a customer's bike, I feel somewhat at a loss, even aggravated; guess I'm getting a little irascible in my old age. I mean, on every machine I have owned in the past forty years I have added this to-me-indispensible accessory. Along with four-way flashers, every streetbike should have an audible turnsignal indicator. Am I the only one that thinks so?

Yeah, I know, Honda in the 1970s included turnsignal beepers on a few bikes, but they were obnoxious buzzers and distracted more than they helped. And automatic turnsignals? They're even worse. Over-engineered and practical in inverse proportion to their complexity, self-cancelling turnsignals are a huge fail in my opinion. The powersports industry just doesn't seem to really get the motorcyclist's turnsignal ethos.

Ammeter
Call me a Luddite but my favorite motorcycle instrument is the ammeter. Ammeters measure the flow of electricity, while voltmeters indicate accumulated electrical pressure. The difference is electricity on the job and working, versus electricity's aftereffects. Active versus passive. The practicality of the ammeter is huge.

Once found on nearly every motor vehicle, the ammeter became rarer as the durability of charging systems increased. But although the individual components of modern charging systems have improved, the modular design of most powersports systems means they will continue to present maintenance challenges. With parts scattered around the vehicle and joined by vulnerable lengths of wire and resistance-building connectors, an engine-mounted generating unit negatively affected by heat, and an output limited by crankshaft rpm, motorcycle charging systems continue to require many times the attention that their automotive counterparts do. In my view, motorcycles remain the perfect application for the ammeter.

Starter lockouts
I once had a customer who sued American Honda when her bike took off without her while she was electric-starting it. She had the legal advantage because there was a known problem on her particular model with the neutral switch falsely indicating neutral. And she prevailed, settling her case out of court.

Starter safety lockouts began as simple clutch switches and quickly grew to include the shift lever, sidestand and other parts in the mix. There is even a model that has a switch that indicates someone is on the seat, and a few that require holding on the brake. Though I think they've got overly complex, and I never leave a bike in gear, I'm a fan of starter safety systems.

Over time however the components making up these circuits give trouble, and lately I have noticed a particular difficulty with the neutral switches, which instead of simply failing outright build up resistance and cause the starter motor to turn over more slowly. Adds time to diagnosing, you can bet. For decades starting systems have become more and more complex. It helps to keep this in mind while troubleshooting them.

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #2 by Track T 2411 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:20 pm

I love/hate my turn signal buzzer! lolol (Guess I'm too busy negotiating the corner, traffic, and pedestrians to turn the signal off...).
An ammeter would be nice, I just have no clue how to hook one up (I could probably Google it...).
The starter safety switch is another love/hate item. My first long ride on my new2 me '76 found me stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the rain, in the dark, with nary a peep from the starter because the neutral light stayed on and the clutch switch/diode circuit was wonky...
As an aside, I always leave my bike in gear when parking on the side stand. A little less likely to get knocked over (I learned the hard way...).

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #3 by mikenixon » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:18 pm

Track T 2411 wrote:I love/hate my turn signal buzzer! lolol (Guess I'm too busy negotiating the corner, traffic, and pedestrians to turn the signal off...).
An ammeter would be nice, I just have no clue how to hook one up (I could probably Google it...).
The starter safety switch is another love/hate item. My first long ride on my new2 me '76 found me stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the rain, in the dark, with nary a peep from the starter because the neutral light stayed on and the clutch switch/diode circuit was wonky...
As an aside, I always leave my bike in gear when parking on the side stand. A little less likely to get knocked over (I learned the hard way...).


Track T, great input. On my website I show how to install an ammeter on a Honda. Check it out. It's easy. Look for where the solid red and red/white wires converge.

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #4 by mikenixon » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:36 pm

Image
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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #5 by Track T 2411 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:47 pm

Cool! Thanks for the diagram. Another winter project for me...

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #6 by mikenixon » Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:35 am

You're welcome!

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #7 by flyday58 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:36 am

Good stuff from TOG, thanks. I recently acquired a BMW R1100RT, my first Beemer in my 60+ years on planet. The bike is set up so that the side stand has to be stowed for it to be able to start. I found out last week that the neutral light has to be on also, or the start and several other circuits are disabled. The light is driven by a tranny-mounted switch which gets gummed up and dirtified over time, causing erractic or non-operation of the switch, thus no start. The switch is a grizzly to get to so lots of owners end up bypassing this safety feature.

And I just had the tranny out! :IDTS:

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #8 by mikenixon » Sun Sep 08, 2019 1:16 pm

flyday58 wrote:Good stuff from TOG, thanks. I recently acquired a BMW R1100RT, my first Beemer in my 60+ years on planet. The bike is set up so that the side stand has to be stowed for it to be able to start. I found out last week that the neutral light has to be on also, or the start and several other circuits are disabled. The light is driven by a tranny-mounted switch which gets gummed up and dirtified over time, causing erractic or non-operation of the switch, thus no start. The switch is a grizzly to get to so lots of owners end up bypassing this safety feature.

And I just had the tranny out! :IDTS:


:)

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #9 by rcmatt007 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:04 pm

I have always liked the turn signal indicator on my 78. It "clicks" below 40 mph and buzzes above that. So not the obnoxious squelch standing at a light. Also handy as you are slowing down as it is an audible reminder when you are getting below 40.

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Re: Three motorcycle electrical systems considered

Post #10 by mikenixon » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:17 am

rcmatt007 wrote:I have always liked the turn signal indicator on my 78. It "clicks" below 40 mph and buzzes above that. So not the obnoxious squelch standing at a light. Also handy as you are slowing down as it is an audible reminder when you are getting below 40.


Ah, yes. I had forgotten about that one. I like that ethic, almost automotive. I have been using the delicately electronic sounding Honda scooter beepers.


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