Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Motorcycle Diaries (Part 3): Roadside Repairs

Well, a tale of broken motorcycles, parts littering the landscape, or at least a string of trashcans throughout Nevada and California. Let's start at the very beginning (I've here that's a very good place to start).

Leaving Susanville Mule's bike starts to backfire and miss.  Nurse it to Reno Harley, figure out it's probably the main circuit breaker, run down the road to another motorcycle shop which actually has the part and van, back on the road with a perfectly running bike.

For five minutes, until mine starts backfiring and dies.  Off the highway, a small mall, diagnose like mad but can't find anything, finally change the sparkplugs and it seems to be OK. Off we go. Make it to South Lake Tahoe and it dies again but this time it's dark and I can see that everything dies. Oh. I also have a defective main circuit breaker. Next morning, off to the auto parts store to get a new breaker (no Harley shop in South Tahoe) and back on the road.

How weird that both bikes, eighteen years apart in manufacture date, have the exact same problem within hours of each other.

It's good to be a Harley mechanic but frustrating to spend more time working on the bike than riding. Anyway, no further mechanical breakdowns, although the Fatboy seems to need a slightly smaller slow jet and the timing needs to be adjusted a little but nothing major.


Max Piedra said...

I’m glad to hear that everything somewhat got okay at the end of the day. But I agree with you. It certainly is a lot more fun to ride a Harley than to fix it. Maybe you should check your bikes several times over again the next time you go for a ride, so you can avoid any inconveniences on the road.

Max Piedra

heresolong said...


The problem with the bike isn't a maintenance problem so much as it is an age problem. The bike is over twenty years old, and although it has been meticulously maintained (I am a Harley Davidson mechanic) things wear out. For example, a couple years ago the transmission sprocket went out on a trip. No way to tell ahead of time short of doing a major tear down just to see. This trip, the main circuit breaker went out, an item which often doesn't show any signs of failure prior to going, and the charging system went out (Day 1)even though it tested fine a few weeks earlier when I did a full service on the bike. Sometimes stuff just goes out suddenly, and the older the bike, the more things there are that can do that.

My advice to people who aren't mechanics is to avoid touring on an old bike. If you are a mechanic, avoid touring on an old bike unless you don't mind doing roadside repairs.