Riding from Kuala Lumpur to the Cameron Highlands was incredible. First the road was nice, fast, and curvy. Highway C156 was the best portion of it by far…if you find yourself in Malaysia, get a bike and make a few passes up and down that road…you won’t be disappointed. Almost as important as the amazing riding was the dropping temperatures. This is the first place I’ve been in SE Asia where having a room with AC isn’t important and a blanket is necessary. I think it’s the first time I’ve quit sweating since the middle of January, and I can’t say enough how nice it felt.
All of those wonderful feelings left immediately the next morning when I tried to start my bike and all I heard was the single click of the starter switch and nothing else.
Did I forget to turn the key? Is the kickstand down and the bike in gear? Am I overlooking some other incredibly basic thing?
Nope, Nope, Nope…shit.
All of the other thousands of times I’ve done this, the bike fired right up, and now, not a single sound. No motor turning over but lacking fuel or spark, no ‘dead battery’ clicking…just silence.
My friends Ben (riding an African Twin) and Jacqueline, were planning to check out a tea plantation this morning, which is what the Cameron Highlands is known for, but it looks like we are gonna be a bit delayed.
Luckily I’m parked on a bit of a hill, so I point the nose down and let gravity do it’s thing. Shift into second, drop the clutch, and the motor turns over but won’t fire up. Ben gives me a push once I’m down the hill, but I have the same (lack of) luck. We push the bike back up the hill, hoping to get one more good run and be on our way. Once I get a bit more speed, I drop the clutch at the worst possible moment and lose traction on the rear wheel right as the clutch engages. Next thing I know, the bike is on it’s right side, and I’m on my hands and knees. Not only do I have a bike that won’t start, but now I’m also the dipshit laying on the road next to my bike in front of a restaurant full of people having breakfast.
Ben and I push my bike back up to our hostel where I plan to start investigating the problem. Him and Jacqueline head off towards the tea plantation…apparently girls are more impressed by bikes that A-start and B-don’t fall over so easily…
So…now I’ve got a bike that won’t start, with a dented up right pannier, a broken front right turn indicator, and a bent up brake fluid reservoir protector (which thankfully did it’s job!).
It starts to rain at 2pm everyday here, so I better get it all sorted.
Maybe the original problem is in the switch, which would explain why the starter never turned, and maybe it also explains why the bike wouldn’t fire up despite the engine turning over (if the kill switch was effectively engaged). So, off comes the switch assembly, which is easier said than done, as I don’t have a microscopic torx driver, which just so happens to be the tool needed to properly remove the switch assembly.
The switch has 8 pins (and on the plug, 4 of those 8 pins have wires going to them).
Out comes the meter, to check the individual pins on the switch, which produce no change when the switches are flipped.
Next up, trial and error on the plug with the 4 wires (at positions 1, 4, 5, & 7). I take my trusty SIM Card removal paperclip out of my wallet, cut it in two, bend it up a bit, and with the battery reconnected, and the key turned on, touch it to pins 1 & 4.
Kill switch is disengaged…The dash goes from this
The fact that the fuel level and engine temp show up is a good sign.
With the other half of the paperclip, I touch pin 5 to the original paperclip.
The starter starts, and I’m startled, so I immediately let go of the clip before the bike actually is running. I’m immediately ecstatic, as it appears I’ve solved the problem. I nearly let out a victorious scream, but after falling off a non running bike not so long before, I didn’t want to give the whole town any more reasons to think I’m crazy.
I touch the paperclips together again, this time with much more commitment and the bike comes to life.
Now that the bike is running, I move the starter paperclip over to pin 7 and touch it to the original clip. The heated grips turn on to low. Touch it again, and they turn to high. One more time, and the heated grips are back off. Perfect…not only is my bike running, but I’ve also solved the most first world of problems…the heated grips are functional in a part of the world where I’d never even consider using them.
Now that the main problem is taken care of, I move on to the secondary issues.
With a pair of pliers and shaken up arms, I bend the brake fluid reservoir protector into half-assed place. Luckily, there just so happens to be a Touratech distributor in the next place I’ll stop, so maybe I can pick up a new one there.
On to the busted turn indicator…someone had falling in mind when they designed this thing. The light bulb housing is attached to a soft rubber post coming off the bike, so instead of being completely destroyed in a fall, it pops off the post relatively cleanly. And the two wires are connected to the socket with quick disconnects, so they just pop right off. After attaching the wires, and remounting the bulb/housing onto the rubber post, this is what I’ve got.
Not exactly pretty, but some electrical tape with help hold things together, and at least it still works!
And finally…the pannier. It had gotten banged up a little bit in the past, but nothing too serious. This fall did a bit more damage though. The usual square shape changed to a rhombus, and the latches got bent up a bit. I got to work on the delicate stuff, straightening out the latches, while Ben worked on straightening out the pannier with a hammer and drift (AKA a stick and a stick).
So now that the bike is roadworthy and the afternoon rain is starting to come down, it’s time for an expensive Malaysian beer.