too bad you can't see the ants in the picture.
I still don't understand why the sidestand sensor never gave a continuity reading. Anyone?

back | next
back to archives |
email me


May 13, 2002

ockham's razor strikes again.
In the fourteenth century, William of Ockham said, "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate" (often bastardized in modern times as "the simplest solution is often the best").

In the twenty-first century, carolyn of Palo Alto said, "check for a blown fuse before disassembling any of your sensor switch assemblies".

You might notice that these two statements are essentially saying the same thing. And now you have a very good grasp of how my weekend went.

tell me again that i love this, part one: saturday.
So, on Saturday afternoon, Peter and I were running a few errands for my garage. We'd gone to Home Depot and picked up some wire and outlet parts, and were stopping off at his house to pick up his cordless drill. The plan was then to go back to my garage and start installing outlets before I had to go off with The Girls later in the day.

We got the drill, got everything ready, I flipped the kill switch, pulled in the clutch, hit the starter button, and.... nothing. No clicks, no chunka-chunka noises, nothing. Nada. Zip. Remembering that Lusty had had a similar experience last week, I double-checked that the bike was in neutral and that the sidestand sensor wasn't stuck somehow. Everything looked OK. It wasn't the battery, since the idiot lights and the digital odometer were still working. Since we were right by the garage, Peter grabbed his multimeter, and we checked the clutch switch for continuity. It was working fine. We decided to check the sidestand sensor.

After squirming around under the bike for a few minutes, I located the sensor and traced the cable back up to its connector. We stuck the multimeter probes into the connector, but couldn't get a continuity sound at all, regardless of whether the circuit was open or closed. For those without sidestand sensors (and those smart enough not to mess with theirs), the circuit is enclosed in a little black box with a push knob sticking out of it. The knob is fully extended when the sidestand is down; when you raise the sidestand, it pushes the knob into the box. On the SVS, if the bike is shifted into gear when the knob is extended (i.e. the sidestand is down), it kills the bike.

Anyhoo, we took the strange continuity reading to mean that something had Gone Horribly Wrong with the sidestand sensor in the five minutes between starting the bike at Home Depot (and succeeding) and trying to start the bike in Peter's driveway (and failing). In the pride that goes before a fall, I decided to remove the whole sensor, cable and all.

Putting the bike up on the centerstand enabled me to lie directly underneath the bike and, with Peter handing me tools as I called out for them, I was able to remove the little black box easily enough. The bolts have Lock-tite on them from the factory, so it was a little tougher than anticipated, but doable. To make a really long story short (too late!), we gently pulled on the sensor, so that the disconnected cable pulled down through the bike and came out.

It was about this time that Peter said, "hey, did you check the fuse?".

So, now, naturally, I'm standing in the street, wearing leathers in the sun, holding an amazingly dirty/greasy sidestand sensor and cable in one hand, and a blown fuse in the other. We replaced the fuse with the spare that comes with the bike, connected the sensor back up, and -- ha ha -- the bike starts right up. I'm already late for my meeting with The Girls at this point, so I decide to leave the bike at Peter's, have him drive me home, and come back the next day to put the sensor back on (Peter, god bless him, wanted to alligator clip the two connectors together and duct tape it to the bike frame, or connect the sensor back on and duct tape the knob up into the black box. My thought: if all that is preventing me from having the bike cut out on the freeway is an alligator clip and/or a piece of duct tape, I'm going to damn well wait until the following day, when I can put it back together correctly. Perhaps that's being paranoid, but, heck, it's my ass out there doing 80mph on Highway 280...)

tell me again that i love this, part two: sunday.
On Sunday, Peter's roommate was throwing a BBQ party. Peter went out back to help grill, and I went out front to "quick put the sidestand sensor back on". It took me FOUR HOURS to get that sensor back on. The cable gets routed up behind the clutch cover, which isn't so bad, except that I couldn't find an 8mm socket at Peter's to remove the cover. It was a bit tricky to thread the cable up behind the cover, making sure it went behind the correct little tabs so that it wouldn't get caught up in the chain. I finally got it all threaded through...and realized that I had threaded it above some structural part of the frame, when in reality, it needed to be threaded below the frame and the shift pedal. This is the bottom end, the end near the big thick black box, which wouldn't fit through the narrow openings. So I had to disconnect the cable again, remove it, and start over. Around this point, I gave up and went in back for some BBQ goodness. At this point, I'm covered in WD-40, chain goo, grease, and blue hair dye. I think I scared most of Sam's friends.

Peter came back out with me for part two of cable threading, which was good, because he managed to find an 8mm socket. Thus, I could remove the clutch cover, which greatly sped up the re-routing of cable. I also obsessively cleaned off quite a bit of chain yuck from behind the clutch cover. That's some nasty junk, there, people. We finally got the cable routed correctly, and then it was time to crawl back under the bike to bolt the sensor back onto the bracket.

To make a really long story only marginally epic, I managed to put the sensor on incorrectly in three different ways before finally figuring out how to mount it. At this point, I was lying on my back in the street, my head in a puddle of WD-40, chain gunk dripping all over me, and little red biting ants were crawling all over my left arm (I'm not making this up. I couldn't have made up the biting ants even if I'd wanted to.). At one point, I rolled over to stretch, and rolled my hip bone directly on top of one of the clutch cover screws. I think it was around this point that Peter (who had given up on me and was playing with the front yard sprinkler system) and I had a conversation that went something like:

Me: Why am I doing this to myself?
Peter: Because you love working on your bike.
Me: I do?
Peter: Yup.
Me: So, I'm having a good time right now?
Peter: In hindsight, yeah, you are.
Me: Oh, ok. Are you sure?
Peter: Yeah. You're having a great time.
pause as i contemplate the sensor bracket once more
Me: Tell me again that I love this.

I finally managed to get the damn thing connected again. There was a bit of confusion as there are two bolts holding on the sidestand sensor, and only one nut -- I decided to just say to hell with it and just put the nut on whichever bolt was more easily accessible. It turns out to be a moot point, as the nut vibrated off on my way home from Peter's last night, which I think is just the universe's way of making sure I don't take myself too seriously. So there you go.

The best part of all of this is that I didn't have any Lock-tite at Peter' sometime this week, I've got to unscrew the sensor again, put Lock-tite on the bolts, and reattach it. But at least I'll be able to do that in my garage, where, all other things being equal, there aren't any biting ants.