Ep 4: Wires, shocks and smoke

An overview of a bike’s wiring harness, or wiring loom. This spaghetti-like confusion of wires and plugs is the backbone of the electrical system – and after a ride across a partly flooded South American salt lake, the KTM’s needed replacing. Pete gives a brief rundown on rear suspension compression, rebound and preload settings, and how the shock and spring are a single unit but do different jobs.

Trent and Waz discusses the dry-sump oil system used on many adventure bike models. Richard gets his number two bike up and running (creating a bit of smoke for added drama) and Trent grapples with the last spokes to be removed from the front wheel hub that he’s helping Waz rebuild. Make sure to leave a comment after you watch!

Electrics and suspension tend to be voodoo areas of bike mechanicals. Just looking at a wiring diagram is frightening enough, without delving into the loom itself, which of course looks nothing like the diagram! But troubleshooting bike wiring is less about an in-depth knowledge of electrical systems – and more about the ability to work through a problem, starting with the simplest and most likely cause, such as a ‘bad earth’.

Headlights that have become dimmer over time might make you think you need a new or bigger battery, or even new bulbs, but more than likely you’re looking at a deteriorated connection somewhere.

Bike electrics are very exposed to the elements, and right from the start there are ways you can protect against failure, such as by cleaning out any dirty or corroded connectors, and sealing non-weatherproof ones with silicon, as discussed in this episode.

A contact cleaner spray sold at an amateur electronics store or auto-electrical outlet is one way to get grease and dirt out of connectors. But sometimes you can’t avoid the need to pull connectors apart and give them a proper mechanical cleaning. You might even have to replace the metal terminals themselves – this is something we want to show in a future instalment.

You don’t need a full understanding of suspension variables – rake, trail, preload, compression damping, rebound damping, spring rates to name a few – to take advantage of the settings available on modern bikes to improve the ride quality. The range and position of adjusters varies widely on bike shocks absorbers – some bikes have little or no adjustment. Watch this episode for Pete’s brief introduction to rear suspension adjustments.

If you’ve heard of dry-sump lubrication and are wondering what it is, Trent and Waz have a rundown for you on how it works, and the benefits it brings to adventure bikes and dirt squirters. Apart from the advantages we discuss in the video, a tank-based system like on Pete’s KTM or Rich’s BMW also lets the manufacturer improve the weight distribution of the bike by moving the oil storage unit to the most desirable position.

It’s good to see Richard’s number two bike on the road – apart from the smoke. Now we can get working on number one, which will be having a set of sexy KTM White Power inverted forks installed.

- Waz

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10 thoughts on “Ep 4: Wires, shocks and smoke

  1. Hey Guys, I always enjoy seeing what you are working on, but mostly I just like to listen to people from Australia. I know that’s weird as hell, but ****’em if they can’t take a joke, I always say.

    Anyway, keep on keepin’ on!
    Milt Lee
    South Dakota, US of A

  2. excellent stuff to watch when you want to get in that mood of fixing your bike,., I really appreciate your work and time spent making these episodes happen.
    Btw Waz… when your finished with the Elefant hub..let me know and i will ship you mine just to check if you can do it faster the second time .-) no way i would jump into a spokes job.. by my self… i have zero experience in that area for sure..
    have fun
    Dan from Denmark

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