Monday, January 11, 2010

that's the key

My motorcycle was stolen this last summer, and miraculously found and returned two months later. I was going to write about the repair process, but after I started I figured no one would give a shit but me. However, today something funny happened related to all of that, so I'm going to share.

The thieves apparently kept the bike and rode it themselves, as opposed to stripping and selling it. To bypass the ignition, they simply removed it and wired in a standard style wall mount light switch from a house; inelegant, but effective. Motorcycles are expensive to repair, and parts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are often overpriced, and occasionally underquality, versus aftermarket parts. I did most of the repairs myself to save money, but I did have some parts ordered from Suzuki and put on by a good local shop. One of those parts was a new ignition.

The new ignition started to act up shortly after installing it and then it getting rained on a few times. I blew it off, since I had had the old ignition in the same configuration for several years with no problems. Now, after getting snowed on and not being used for most of a month it doesn't seem to work at all. Yesterday I thought I would be clever and put a switch on in a similar fashion to the thieves, but actually do a good job. I ran to Radio Shack, got some parts, and went home and cobbled something together. Preliminary tests were ok, and I left it for today's morning commute all based on this switch:

Now if it had worked fine, I would obviously not be writing this. It worked well for a while then died in a somewhat dramatic sputtering fashion while zipping along today. Luckily there was a bit of notice, so no big surprises came. I stopped (of course), and since it was ~30 degrees out, I wanted a quick fix to get on my way. A moment or two's poking and prodding confirmed that my switch installation job was probably shoddy, and I made the simplest shortcut I could with the parts at hand:

behold - my new key

Oddly, it occurs to me that this is probably about as secure as a real key, due to the ease with which one can roll off or hotwire a motorcycle anyway. Someone who recognized what was missing and what to do about it would not be slowed at all by the most complicated ignition system, however everyone else should be confused as shit by the current set up.


james said...

so you carry around that makeshift piece of wire? i'd probably just connect those two spade terminals to ends of one wire instead of having that funky wire twist in the middle.

scientist 1 said...

I've carried around that funky piece of wire all of 5 hours since I made it by the side of the road, and most of that time has been me at work.

Connecting spade terminals by jamming wire in them, especially teeny Molex type spade terminals, is iffy. Sometimes great, sometimes works for a bit then slips, sometimes works spotty, and sometimes not at all.

Besides, I would have had to chew through the wire myself to expose the other end. Even though I set it aside all special like, I forgot my multi tool when I left this morning.

james said...

don't you hate it when you forget those things

scientist 1 said...