Jack of all trades

11160576_10152838468560922_7104451451233098035_nBeing interested in motorcycle to the point where you actually wrench and do stuff to your bike, other than just changing oil and riding around town looking cool (which is fine too), requires you to become somewhat of a Jack of all trades. Besides a basic understanding of mechanics, you have to know about wrenching, tools, preferably welding and metal fabrication, and, there is no escaping this, electrical work and soldering…

Most people tend to ignore the fact that a bike has a lot of electrical component. A modern bike even more so with all the electronics aboard, but even an old bike, like my Honda CBR 600 from 1992 has a lot of wires and stuff. Granted, it’s not like a lot of high tech electronics in there but more of an old school relay thing going on, but it does require you to be able to read a wiring diagram, know something about currents, voltage and resistance and how to solder correctly.

Luckily for me, I actually have a high school diploma in general engineering and I worked with soldering and basic electronic constructions and testing for a few years right out of high school. I don’t remember much per se, but I am pretty good with a soldering iron and I grasp the concepts of diagrams, fault finding and so on pretty easy.

Due to a banged up wrist (never ever try to lift a GSX 750 -99 by yourselves, kids), I focused on hooking up my Acewell 2853 speedometer to the wiring harness. Most of a wiring harness is pretty straight forward. You connect the connectors that fit together, and more often than not they are even color coded to make sure you get it right. But when you’re trying to hook up a universal gauge to your old harness, you’re bound to have to do some work yourself.

I take pride in my ability to read and understand a wiring diagram but I must admit that it took me like thirty or forty minutes of intense staring together with all my brain power to get into that mode. It reminds me of the time I first read Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Then I really had to use all my mental strength to follow the train of thought without getting lost. This was the same. You have to kind of immerse yourself in the wiring, to become one with it, before you get it. After that it is a piece of cake.

The most common problem for the non-interested rookie is that the connectors from the speedometer/instrument cluster/whatever don’t fit your OEM-connectors in the harness. Like my situation right now. In the original setup, I had for example a side stand warning light. There is no such thing on the Acewell, so instead I’m hooking it up to a general warning lamp. Why? Because I can.

Another example is that the connectors don’t physically fit. Since I am a firm believer of making wiring harnesses plug and play, I never just cut wires and solder them together, even if it would make for a neat harness that probably would fit on top of the engine. No, I use connectors and construct new connectors and cables of different types to use as bridges between old an new. It takes up more space, but it does let me restore things to their original state in case I ever want to. Besides, it makes it easer to replace or rebuild stuff if you have to.

So today I constructed the connectors between old and new, and installed a comfort connect indicator connector on the battery for easier access to the battery when recharging. Next time I’ll hook the wiring up and test it properly. After that, only there are only the fuel system and engine left to oversee before firing her up.