Perspective #motorcyclerepair #ridinglife


Ever felt like you were in a time warp? No? Just me?

I don’t know that I have spoken much about this here. The stuff here has a general scope that changes from time to time as my mood strikes but has normally revolved around some specific activities. So it might not have come up. I don’t remember and I am not going to dig into the posts and search.

I’m driving this toward the current frustration and path I have been on for a long time. See, through the years I have taken to motorcycles. They haven’t always been part of my life but they have been in there off and on for a long time. And really right now is a pretty big stretch where I have had a bike available. But that’s just it, sure the current bike is available and waiting but at the same time it is a PITA that I have been dealing with over the past couple years.


1982 Suzuki GS650GL The tank color is actually a Kawasaki color. It was a custom paint job and I like it.

Currently, I’m riding a Suzuki GS650GL. This is a street bike if you are unfamiliar (mind you there is a picture to showcase that point). It’s also from 1982. Yeah, I like older bikes. As far as age goes, this is the oldest bike I have ever owned. The other that came close was a 1974 Kawasaki ZR4. The ZR4 was the pre-runner to the KZRs that became the California Highway Patrol bikes. The time I had the bike it was close to 20 years old and it is long gone now. The Suzuki is 39 and still mostly stock.

Over the few years I have owned the Suzuki I have been working on the different problems that come up (and they do when you consider the age). For the most part I have been keeping things as close to stock as I can. And now this is beginning to change.

One of the issues has been with the turn signals. Every time I use them they short out and blow a fuse. The temporary fix is to just not use them. Well, to make it more interesting, I added a back rest last summer. This in turn meant ripping out the back turn signals because I needed their space for the backrest supports. Not a big deal since I wasn’t using them anyway. And oddly, this isn’t even my biggest issue right now.

There has been an ongoing problem with the charging system. Pretty much since I bought the bike, it hasn’t really charged the battery while running like it should. I ended up picking up a trickle charger to keep things topped up when I put the bike to bed for the night. And a couple years back I had the staitor switched out in the hopes that was the issue.

Wouldn’t you know that this only made the problem worse. Over two years I ended up killing two batteries over the riding season. And they still weren’t charging. Next logical thing to change was the rectifier/regulator. For those who don’t know how it works, this is the part that controls how much power is pushed into the battery while the engine is running. It needs to maintain a specific charge level to keep the battery topped up. Too much or too little and things don’t work like they are supposed to.

This is where I sit now. See, I was able to get a new rectifier (aftermarket) easier than I thought I would. But I am waiting on a new battery still. I don’t even know if I fixed anything other than to know that this new one is better than the old one.

Which brings us in a round about way to what’s been going through my mind recently. Sorta…

I ended up doing a search on Amazon and found a repair manual for the bike. Got it for less than $20. It had been listed as good condition so I didn’t expect too much. But what I received was actually a decent looking book that is as old as the bike. And here we are going back to full circle. The last time I had a bike repair manual was for the Kawasaki. And yeah, I didn’t understand much of what was in it at the time.

Which leads us to the next bit…

I was really close to finishing the book I was reading and wasn’t sure if I wanted the next in the series. The repair manual had my mind going in a different direction. The movie bits of my mind I was seeing lead me back to time on ship during the Gulf War. We spent a good deal of time on ship during Desert Storm.

Time on ship means quite a bit of reading. Books travel throughout the whole ship, sometimes if you aren’t looking they could walk away on their own. The book I had to keep an eye on at the time was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig, 1974). Yeah, I caught others leafing through it before I was done reading it. But I digress…

See, at the time I first read the book, it was before I even owned my first bike. Sure I had been on bikes in the past. But only as a passenger. They were still part of my life though I wasn’t active in that aspect. I vaguely remember some of the book but honestly, I don’t remember much of what I read then. We are talking around 30 years ago. I had to get the book again.

I’m not finished with it. But I am finding as I go through, there is so much that I don’t remember at all. It’s a bit like reading it for the first time but now I understand so much more of what I am looking at. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it isn’t so much about motorcycle maintenance. This is more a study of humanity with the bits about motorcycles being their to illustrate the points.

The book is written in the first person and meant as an autobiographical introspection. Though it isn’t real. This is a fiction of reality to give us perspective on reality. I dig it. And much like the Suzuki repair manual, I feel like I have gained so much more perspective on life, that I can understand what it is I am reading better than I did when I was younger.

So after all that, there is something to be said about gaining wisdom and such from age. We are able to grasp more within the world around us. Understanding is a good thing. And now I am sitting here hoping that the battery for my bike shows up at the shop soon. The weather might actually cooperate and allow me to get some road miles in again this summer.

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