05/05/2014 – 305 days/26619 miles

My main priority when I arrived in Penang was to get some things sorted out with my bike. Most important was getting my starter situation taken care of. Although it’s been working fine for a couple days with the paperclip, that’s not much of a long term solution.
In some brief looking around online, I came to the conclusion that replacing the switch assembly with a BMW part would be pretty expensive (like into the hundreds of dollars expensive!). I figured I’d be able to build a simple setup with some basic wires and switches that mimicked my paperclip setup for far less money.

After a bit of walking around and popping my head into various shop that looked like they might have some bits of electrical parts laying around, I was directed to the Malaysian Mom and Pop version of Radio Shack, which had all the switches, lights, and miscellaneous electrical trinkets one could ever need.
Once I collected some switches and wire, I asked if they happened to have a soldering iron I’d be able to use for a few minutes. They didn’t but another customer there pointed me in the direction of a different shop that might. Anytime I was getting directions from one shop to the next, it surprised me how much it felt like Home Depot. Any time I’ve been shopping there, I’m surprised how employees seem to be able to point you to the exact location of the most specific little nut or bolt. In Penang it felt like that, but throughout the whole city. When I was directed to the shop with a soldering iron, the guy walked me out to the middle of the street, pointed to a building on the right side of the street about 4 blocks away that stuck out because it was bright orange.
“Walk down to the orange building, go directly across the street, then go two doors to your left and you’ll find a guy with a soldering iron.”
Google Maps doesn’t have shit on this guy!
So, I go down to the shop, and sure enough, they’ve got a soldering iron, but they’re just getting ready to close (it’s late Saturday afternoon), so they say I’m welcome to come in on Monday morning and use it. Perfect!
That gives me some time to get the wiring together and make some sort of panel or box that will house the switches and get mounted to my handlebars.

In a pinch, a Gerber knife will work as a halfway decent drill
Not fancy, thats for sure, but it’s cheap.
IMG_6796 IMG_6797

Monday morning rolled around, and I had quite a bit of stuff to take care of. First, I had to go meet with Mr. Lim, the guy who is shipping my bike from Penang to Sumatra in a few days.

After everything was settled with him, I headed to the Indonesian Embassy to apply for a 60 day visa, rather than only having the 30 day one I’d get arriving in Medan. The visa process was straightforward enough, except for the fact that they require proof of your exit before they will give out the visa. Problem is, I don’t really know when, where, or how I’m going to be leaving the country. All I know is I need to get out of there within 60 days to avoid some pretty stiff punishment. Luckily the solution to my non-planning is pretty simple. Get online and go through the process of buying a plane ticket right up to the point where you need to hand over your credit card information. Print off the summary page, and when they ask for your proof of exit, hand it over. They don’t seem to look it over very close, so they either don’t notice that it’s not a ticket, or they don’t care. Neither do I…I just want that Visa!


Once I’d handed over my passport and 170 Ringit, I was on my way to the Touratech shop to see if could get my right side pannier latch (which broke when I stupidly dropped my bike in the Cameron Highlands) repaired.

On the way there, I was passing the BMW showroom, so I thought I’d stop in quick and see what a new starter switch would cost. I had no intention of buying one, as I figured they were pretty pricey. Mostly I just wanted to see how much money I’d be saving by making my own switch setup, and how much I’d be in for if I want to properly fix it whenever I get home.
I got to talking with the service guys there, and they got a kick out of my workaround. One guy came out of the shop with the exact switch that I needed, marched over to my bike and just started installing it.
“Whoa, wait a minute…how much does this thing cost?!”
I wanted to know what I was getting into before he just put it on the bike.
“It’s a little over one thousand Ringit.”
Thats over $300!! Shit, there’s no way I’m paying that much money. He must’ve seen a little look of shock in my eyes…
“For you, this one is free”
Nice! Looks like that saves me the time of soldering and mounting the switches…although I was starting to look forward to having my bike look a little bit Mad Max-ish.

IMG_6825Alright, with my free part from BMW, it was time to continue on to Touratech to take a look at my pannier latch.
The guys at this place were great. When I told them my plans, they just directed me back to their shop and told me to use whatever tools I needed.
My plan was fairly simple…the pin that was broken was hollow, so to replace the rivet that had sheared off, I was just going to run a screw into the pin…unfortunately that plan ended when I twisted off the screw.
Next plan was to find someone who could just weld the pieces back together. I asked one of the guys there where I could find a welder. He grabbed my pannier lid and said his friend would take care of it. Twenty minutes later he came back to the shop with the latch welded up…free of charge. The generosity here is great!

4 thoughts on “05/05/2014 – 305 days/26619 miles

  1. What a wonderful community, I’d rather have a network of small businesses than a Home Depot any day. It should remind us here at home to support our local shops that make up our town. Think global act local.

  2. You are a regular McGiver with your work arounds. It’s great to follow your posts and look forward to each new one.

  3. I had a similar problem with my pannier lid. One side of the bar popped out with no chance to re-insert and fix. Instead of fixing the existing piece, I removed the whole thing and replaced it with a long thin bolt. Next step, fatten the thin bolt up with electrical tape and replace when I make it home…accept now I’m home and haven’t gotten around to completing the repair to factory spec. =)

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