How-To: Teach a Woman…

You have asked and I shall answer, to the best of my ability.

This one goes out to all the men out there who are lucky enough to have a lady in their lives who is either riding her own motorcycle, is learning to ride her own, or is thinking about learning to ride. Maybe she’s your wife, your girlfriend, a family member, or just a woman who is in your social circle and for some reason or another has “adopted” you to be her mentor for her two-wheeled adventures.

These are the “rules of engagement” as I have come to understand them in my journey as a biker chick to become the best skilled rider I can possibly be. Look at these “rules” as a general guideline, as an inside peek at how us girls roll.

Biker Babes

If the woman in question is already riding her own motorcycle, there are only two points you need to be clear on:

  1. More likely, a woman will ask for advice when she wants it and ask it of whom she trusts. Do not offer uninvited advice, unless you see her doing something repeatedly that could endanger her and others. In this case, be tactful, respectful and don’t get personal. And please don’t dress her down in front of the entire crowd. Think of how you would want this to be handled. This is not the time to trash talk, poke fun or be condescending. The message will only be heard if it is delivered appropriately. Any other time, keep it to yourself. Men are protectors, they want to fix things that they deem to be broken in some form or another. You’re wired that way, but please rise above your biology and resist the urge to “fix it” or “save her from herself”. Uninvited critique on technique or style will come across as patronizing, sexist, sometimes belittling, and even disrespectful. Again, a girl will ask if she wants to know.
  2. When you overhear a woman, usually in quite an animated fashion, critiquing her own screw-ups, please don’t take this to be an open invitation for a riding lesson. We’re not exasperated or unsure of ourselves. It isn’t a sign of being helpless. When a girl goes on about how she totally blew a corner, or how she was a complete idiot for doing this, or not doing something else, she is processing. She knew she’s messed up; and that should be the key to understanding that she isn’t asking for help or trying to elicit your advice on the sly, but rather is engaging in an “after-action review”, to relive an event so she can do better next time. She is aware of her boundaries and where her skill development needs further attention. She’s got it under control and is handling her affairs.

Biker Babes in Training

If the woman is a beginning rider or is thinking about learning to ride a motorcycle, here is a list of things to keep in mind to understand how our learning experiences differ from that of the men, and how best to deal with gender-specific issues that may not even cross your mind as it is a non-issue for most guys.

  1. If she has asked you to teach her how to ride and you have agreed, you should sit down first and talk about the expectations you have of each other. Make your own ground rules to ensure a pleasant and fun experience, for both student and teacher.
  2. Implore her to take a basic riding course either before or after you begin teaching her. I cannot overemphasize the importance of formal practical training. She can learn the fundamentals of motorcycle operation in a safe and controlled environment with a relaxed and non-threatening atmosphere. A foundation which I personally found to be of huge benefit to my further education and skill training. Two of the most common courses are the Basic RiderCourse offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and the Rider’s Edge Course offered by a lot of Harley Davidson dealers. Taking a riding course will also help those women who are unsure, to figure out if riding a motorcycle is something they would enjoy, before they take the plunge and buy a motorcycle, which is a sort-of big deal for a lot of us financially.
  3. If at all possible, hook her up with an experienced female rider who rides the same type of motorcycle that she does. Women riders understand the obstacles a girl faces when first starting out and are for the most part very supportive of each other and a lot of women will feel more comfortable asking certain questions of another female rider.
  4. Be patient and let her take each lesson at her own pace. A woman’s learning curve differs from that of a man’s. Generally speaking, a woman will learn at a slower pace, but will peak their skill set above that of the average man. I’m not saying this to be sexist, it has to do with how most of us girls approach new experiences and how we work through problems and our anxieties. We place more emphasis on education and prevention to keep us out of potential trouble. Men are more apt to wing it and learn as they go. “One down, five up? Ok, see ya.” That’s how my husband learned to ride; that was the question-statement he posed to the dude he bought his first bike from, gave him the cash and rode off into the sunset.
  5. Do not pressure her about her speed. If you constantly nag her about “being slow” you may inadvertently destroy the confidence she is building in herself and her bike’s capabilities and turn it into frustration. In other words, don’t push her too far too fast. Girls don’t have the need to keep up with their buddies for worry of embarrassing themselves or being called slow; for the most part. Her speed will pick up on its own as her skills mature and her confidence increases.
  6. Don’t try and talk her into something or out of something. Ride your own ride, let her do the same.
  7. Let her buy her own ride. Period. She is the one who has to ride it, not you. Give her pointers, if she asks for your opinion, but give them objectively and without putting a spin on things. Also implore her to do her own research. The more she knows about motorcycle basics, the better the position she’ll be in to make an informed decision.
  8. Don’t let her wimp out. This is a toughie, though. When we have a bad experience and we aren’t reliant on our motorcycle for daily transportation, we have the option to take the Chicken Exit rather than working through it and conquering our fear. This can manifest itself in several ways, and not necessarily where you would think. That is what makes this one so difficult to pinpoint, even to ourselves. Be supportive, listen, and gently encourage her to keep on trying. How do you do this? That is something I cannot answer. It’s probably easier for another female rider to accomplish, because girls are more apt to say “if she can do it, so can I” when she can’t find the motivation on her own. Left to her own devices, a woman usually will either work through her discomfort and keep pushing herself in an effort to overcome the obstacle in her path or she will eventually quit. It all depends on how much importance she places on conquering the perceived setback. Not all women will become avid motorcyclists, some will find that it’s not for them after all and some will turn it into a lifestyle and sell their cars. Some will be content with riding pillion and others won’t stop until they have their racing license and have proven to themselves that they can do it. Again, whatever she decides, it is not a failure on her part or yours as her mentor.
  9. Realize that women riders face a slightly different set of difficulties when learning to ride a motorcycle. Things most men find a non-issue and have never really given it much thought. Things such as: seat height, rider position, weight of the motorcycle, upper body strength, physical endurance, inseam, body shape, etc. These all have an impact to one degree or another of how we approach riding and the kind of bikes we find “agreeable” to us when we first start out. Even finding properly fitting motorcycle gear can be a real chore for girls.
  10. And last, but not least, don’t ever append “…for a girl” at the end of a statement; unless you want to carry your balls home in a jar.

Tuned But Out Of Control(s)

Load In

This article is not quite a product review, but rather does it culminate in a “how-to” of sorts. But would I not go against all that is long-winded and unnecessarily wordy if I were just to post a few snappy bullets and call it good? Yes, I would; and that’s not the kind of writer I am. I am, after all, an editor’s worst nightmare and I can’t just dispense with the tradition of the 3000-word paragraph in the name of brevity. You have been warned! For those of you who are prone to early-onset superfluous information overload, scroll down to the very end of this article to get the scoop under the “Eureka!” heading. You won’t find starred ratings, or an in-depth look at any product in particular, neither will you gather any geeky tech specs. These are just Miss Busa’s ramblings on her woes of motorcycle music management and volume control.

The Lead

A gorgeous iPhone 4G in all its glory: Underpowered processor, low-resolution camera, smallish screen, an oversensitive accelerometer and a well-known propensity to drop a call here and there. But that gorgeous Retina display makes up for all its personality flaws. These are not the ramblings of an Apple fangirl, it just so happens… I’m Microsoft Certified and Casa Busa has been a Mac household ever since I passed the exams, but that is an entirely different story altogether.

The Love Interest

The Monster iEZClick Remote Control for iPods is a weather-resistant and ruggedized wireless remote control for various iPod models. It communicates with your iPod by employing radio frequency signals via an RF receiver that plugs into the dock connector and is powered by the iPod’s battery. The remote control draws its power from a lithium-ion watch battery aka a button cell. Since the iEZClick is using RF, it has relatively low power consumption levels and works through clothing, bags, and even walls. The unit comes with a belt-clip and armband and sports raised rubberized buttons of decent proportions, which make this gadget perfect for outdoor activities and extreme sports.

Why do I dig up this fossil from the bottom of my tech pile now? Let’s start off with…

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

I like to listen to tunes while I’m riding on the street. It keeps me focused, calm and staves off the boredom that’s bound to creep in on the longer trips. It also gives me  a grand opportunity to look like a total jackass doing the motorcycling equivalent of the Chair Dance, a little number I’d  like to call the Saddle Wiggle. I really don’t care to know what my fellow motorists are thinking when they see me fly by, enthusiastic feet tapping away on foot pegs while a leather-clad posterior is bouncing around in the seat, all to the rhythm of an unknown, unheard song on some obscure playlist.

In my quest for the perfectly tuned, hassle-free aural assault I have tried a few things:

  • I started out with my iPod Classic strapped to my right arm, nestled in a waterproof gadget-specific Otterbox hard case secured to the optional armband. I could not operate the Click Wheel’s swipe functions, such as volume control and menu navigation, while wearing gloves; hence I was limited to the use of  Play/Pause and the two Skips.
  • The 160GB version is pretty heavy for this sort of setup, and my arms are skinny which left me using a heck of a lot less Velcro than is recommended for the snug fit I needed. After almost losing my iPod while motoring down the Interstate (don’t ask!), the entire rig ended up strapped to my right thigh. This way I had much more of the Velcro strap fastened securely and I could actually see the iPod’s screen and didn’t have to feel my way around the controls anymore. However, I kept accidentally pulling on the wires and eventually the Otterbox’s internal audio jack passthrough succumbed to the abuse. Not to mention it was annoying to accidentally yank the ear plugs out of my ears and consequently having to pull over, take my helmet off and reinsert them or keep going and risk one killer of a headache.
  • LennTek‘s Hookup accessory, which I bought on clearance somewhere for half off the MSRP, lets you wirelessly connect your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone and your iPod to a remote control unit. I never tried the BT function, since the last thing I want to hear, while I’m on my bike, is the incessant ring of a 100% bothersome phone call. Meh. Bike-time is me-time! I only used the wireless remote control. It worked well, but the thing is a drain on the iPod’s battery (since it streams sound wirelessly), it isn’t weather resistant, and the buttons were a little too small for my gloved fingers to manipulate comfortably. Good for commuting in fair weather, that’s about it. (FYI: Plugging your ear buds into your iPod rather than the remote control unit negates much of the power drain, but this isn’t an option if the device is used as designed.)
  • Enter the iPod Shuffle. Neato! Small, lightweight, and sexy with a built-in clip. The little Shuffle was perched on my jacket collar to keep the wires out of harm’s way. But I’ll be damned, if I didn’t have to run out and buy a (then) $20 inline remote control adapter so I wouldn’t lose the Shuffle’s control functions when using my custom-molded stereo plugs. Weather-proofing foregone in favor of a replacement warranty, I went through two Shuffles and two adapters in the span of a year. Even though I loved this setup, I didn’t want to buy yet another overpriced piece of glorified wire, so I started looking for other options. (FYI: The adapters are now priced starting at around $6, which makes this definitely an option again, if you don’t use voice guidance on your GPS, that is. Also, the newest iteration of Shuffles has buttons again. =D)

Mr. Slow, aware of my two-wheeled audio woes, set out to find a solution to put his baby back in control: The aforementioned Monster iEZClick remote control.

Click the receiver into the dock connector, select your playlist, shove the entire kit into your jacket pocket or tank bag, route the wires to your ears taking the path of least snag- and yankability, put  your rocket in gear, rev the engine to about 9000 RPM and dump the clutch. Please do enjoy responsibly. 😉 (FYI: You cannot change playlists with the remote control, since this would require Click Wheel functionality.)

I was happy and tuned in again, until I traded my Droid X for an iPhone 4G and wanted to schlepp around but one gadget. My favorite remote control ever was not compatible with the phone. Bummer! I could get it to work sporadically, but not to the point of usability. I spent the next few months starting my music, shoving the iPhone in my jacket’s breast pocket and accepting the fact that I couldn’t do jack about nothing until I either a) got to where I was going, or b) pulled over to the side of the road.

I briefly considered buying another inline remote control adapter for my trusty button-less Shuffle, but resisted the temptation. Crap! I want control back over my tunes!

Race Gloves & Touchy Screens

Touch screens are a wicked pisser while wearing gloves. You can lick your finger and then “push” two or three “buttons” before you have to lick your finger again, to awkwardly navigate onscreen menus while your phone is stuck in yet another weatherproof, shock-resistant bulky Otterbox case, cradled in its universal RAM mount, which is secured to the upper triple tree clamp via a stem-nut mounted 1-inch RAM ball which I had to have shipped from Germany because the one RAM makes sucks balls (pun fully intended.)

[I have got to be freakin’ nuts!]

Magic At Your Fingertips!

I procured myself some quirky Digits conductive finger pins which you stick to the tip of your gloves’ fingers so you can finally get along with touch screens. A heck of a lot safer (not to mention more hygienic) than the lick ‘n stick method I have employed on more occasions than I’d like to admit. However, I cannot get over the way those things feel, but they do work.

quirky Digits call a truce between gloved fingers and touch screens. The MSRP is set at $11.99 (as of this writing) for a box of four.

I don’t like them very much. Maybe it’s because the fingers on most of my motorcycle gloves are slightly too long and the dots feel like they are a bit “shifty” on my finger tips; or maybe it’s the fact that I can feel their base pins on the inside that drives me bonkers. But I have no choice but to use the conductive dots if I want to use the GPS app on my iPhone, or else every time I get an alert I’m stuck with a screen-blocking info box and an OK button that desperately needs touching. (FYI: Don’t forget to lock your screen’s rotation or every time you lean into a curve or pass a car, your screen gets all wonky and it may not return to its proper orientation.)

The quirky Digits are a well-made, secure solution to a very frustrating moto problem. Now if Apple would only let us lock the screen in landscape mode... the world would be a better place.

I suggest you put one “dot” each on both of your index fingers, so you can use your right hand when you’re stopped at a light with the clutch in, and your left hand when you’re flying past unsuspecting racer-types in their souped up Mustangs.

Eureka!

Although the manufacturer does not specifically mention compatibility of the two devices, the Monster iEZClick Remote Control for iPods works with the iPhone 4G running iOS 5.0.1 if you follow a few simple steps in the exact order stated.

Here’s how you get them to cooperate flawlessly:

  1. Make sure all music player apps are closed.
  2. Connect the RF receiver to the iPhone’s dock connector.
  3. Plug in your ear phones of choice.
  4. Fire up the ‘Music’ app.
  5. Go for a sporty little test ride!

The iEZClick remote control even works with the embedded music app in MotionX GPS Drive. However, the lack of a passthrough connector on the RF receiver makes use of GPS enabled apps while using the RC unfeasible due to their piggish power needs..

Curtain Call

Since I have used up all my longwinded wordiness, here are a few bullets to wrap this puppy up and bring it in:

  • The Monster iEZClick does not have a passthrough connector. This is quite the bummer when you also need to be able to charge your device while riding, so your phone will be at full power once you get to your destination and get off the bike. This makes the use of this device unpractical on longer bike trips.
  • The Lenntek Hookup has a passthrough to charge your iPod while the receiver is plugged in. However, the remote control is also BT enabled and has higher power requirements than the RF receiver that plugs into the iPod’s dock connector, especially if you also pair it with your mobile phone to accept phone calls while listening to tunes. The RC unit is charged via miniUSB, so it is not impossible to have it charging while on the bike. This solution is only feasible in a tank bag (or similar) setup, since weatherproofing becomes the next greatest issue after meeting power requirements. The Hookup is also (still) quite expensive.
  • Conductive “finger dots” become an absolute necessity when also using the iPhone as a GPS receiver or ride logger/lap timer. You do not want the glue-on type for motorcycling. I recommend the quirky Digits, they work and stay secure by means of a backpin they screw into. However, you will have to pierce your glove to install them.
  • Out of all the stuff I’ve tried, the simplest (and cheapest) solution to enjoying tunes on (shorter) rides is still the iPod Shuffle, since the newest iteration (as of this writing) has push buttons, albeit tiny ones. The most important of which (Play/Pause) is the biggest and is dead center. And with the addition of an armband (or clipping the thing to your collar), wiring yourself in is also hassle-free and fuel stop friendly. It is also least painful to lose or break.

I think I have finally arrived at a solution that I can live with on and off the bike, on road trips long and short, with the hardware I had already laying around. I am glad I didn’t have to throw more money at this particular problem. I wouldn’t have. I like to race. I have no money for things other than gate and entry fees, transponder rentals, gas, tires and crash repair.

“You gonna finish those?” *points at your Cup Noodles*

Disclaimer

Having your delicate gadgets along for the ride, especially out in the elements, exposed to extreme temperatures (and the inevitable damage done by extreme temperature variation, especially when moving from cold to warm) will shorten their lifespan significantly. Why do you think I bought an iPod Shuffle with a replacement warranty? At the first sign of trouble my poor iPod was retired from moto duty. Not to mention the risk of them falling off and bouncing down the road when you hit that pothole you didn’t see in time. I almost lost my iPhone to a pothole once. Imagine my shock, a few miles down the road, when I happened to look down and found the cradle empty. I sat there in disbelief, mouth hanging wide open, muttering over an over “I just got that!” until I noticed it frying on the Beemer’s hot-as-hell frame, dangling precariously off its charging cable. One more reason to charge on the go. 🙂 Do secure your stuff by the use of lanyards, zip ties, duct tape, whatever it takes to keep the crap from hitting the road.


How-To: Kensun HID Conversion Kit Installation

Prelewd:

Flicker. Flicker. Pop. Crap! Let there be light, I think to myself as I flick the high-beam switch to shed some lumens on the situation. My turn-signals only work when they feel up to the task, my emergency flashers have given up the ghost a long time ago, and the high-beam switch needs three-fingered coercion to be pushed into the “on” position. In short, my left-hand combination switch is an embarrassment and needs replacing. However, I really am not up to spending $228 plus shipping and handling on a collection of space-age buttons. After all, that’s a third of the cash required for that Dainese leather jacket I’ve been lusting over, or a new rear tire, or almost the cash needed to procure a Power Commander on sale. I can think of a multitude of things to waste $228 on, a multifunction switch isn’t one of them.

I ride around in semi-darkness for about a week or so, before it finally gets on my nerves. The Beemer’s headlight throws what looks like the image of a ghost rider’s full-face helmet on the road before me. It’s starting to creep me out; never mind that I can’t see shit and had almost run over a steaming pile of fresh deer guts one evening. I wondered where the rest of it was…

It’s time to buy an H7, 12V, 55W bulb to replace the burnt out low-beam stocker. I look around online and am not happy to see that one of those bright, bluish-white HIDesque jobs costs around $30. Hell, that’s a pair of knee pucks, right there. How much are HID conversion kits anyway? I go look and find very good reviews on a company by the name of Kensun. Never heard of them, but for $55 + $9.95 S&H, I’m going to pull the trigger on a set of 8000K Xenon eyeballs with slim-fit aluminum ballasts.

Three days later, I almost trip over the box on my doorstep on the way out for a high-velocity pleasure cruise. Needless to say I didn’t go for a ride that day. It’s time to wrench. Yet, again. It’s really quite the tragedy. I now own two bikes (yes, I bought a dedicated race bike while I was on my hiatus), do twice the wrenching and ride half as much. Hand me a pit crew shirt. Hell!

Preppy:

It’s easier and less frustrating if you take the nose off the bike, although you could do this without bothering with the plastics. To remove the nose, you’ll have to take the following fasteners off of both sides and nothing more (unless you absolutely insist on it):

· Unplug headlight connectors

· Remove mirrors

· The two screws above the headlight assembly

· The two screws on the uppers, forward of the BMW roundel

· Top screw on tank trim panel

· Lower plastic rivet which secures the inner fairing cover to the tank trim panel

· The three top-most screws on the inner fairing panel

Carefully work all the interconnecting parts free, and then pull the nose forward until it comes free. Take the damned thing inside and get comfortable with a beer and some power tools. 😉

Mod:

The OEM protective screw-on caps have to be modded to allow for the additional wires and plugs of the HID bulb’s wiring harness that connects the bulb to its ballast and the bike’s factory power plug. The best tool to use for the job is a step drill bit. The HID kit is pretty much plug and play.

1. Unscrew one of the protective caps and stick the thing in a vise.

2. Drill a hole in the center of the cap, just big enough to allow you to shove the biggest of the three connectors through. If the hole is too big, the HID bulb’s rubber grommet will be too loose to allow for an adequate seal against the elements; if it’s too small – you guessed it — the connector won’t fit.

3. Once you have drilled the correct size hole, smooth out the rough edges. I used my Dremel tool and one of the orange grinding stone bits for this.

4. Rinse, repeat for the remaining cap.

Bulbous:

1. Unplug the power plug from the back of the bulb.

2. Gently push on the lower two retaining tabs and remove the stock bulb from its socket by lifting the bottom out first. Do NOT use a screwdriver to pry the tabs open, or you’ll spend 30 minutes bending them back into useful shape to get a tight fit later. Ask me how I know… This is important! The bulbs have to be fully seated and be tight. Any rattling around in there and you’ll burn one out in let’s say… two commutes. Again, I don’t wanna talk about it…

3. Unplug the spade connectors from their plug and set the bulb aside.

4. Take one of the HID bulbs out of its protective case by unscrewing the top and gently pulling the base off of the wiring harness. Be careful not to touch the bulb or its burn-out time later. For once, I didn’t learn that one the hard way. And no, it is not an old wives’ tale that fingerprints, debris and various other contaminants will create hot spots and shorten the lifespan of a bulb. It’s true. It’s true. HID bulbs have a very thin wire running along the outside from their tips to their bases. Don’t mess with that either.

5. Route the harness through the modded stock cap and seat the grommet into that (hopefully correctly sized) hole which you’ve drilled a little while ago.

6. Install the HID bulb in the headlight socket. The little tab goes into the upper retention tab first, then push the bottom into the lower two retention tabs. The bulb should seat properly and should be in there tightly and flush against the socket.

7. Plug the spade connectors into the power plug. I don’t think polarity matters, but to be on the safe side, I plugged the blue wire into the slot which was previously occupied by the yellow wire marked with a white line.

The rule of thumb with same colored wires is that the one with the markings is usually hot (+) and the other ground (-). But what do I know? I’m a girl who’s scared of lightning.

8. Find a suitable place for the power plug inside the headlight housing. Pull any excess wiring through the rubber grommet, you should have the excess on the OUTSIDE of the socket, with just enough slack to avoid chafing or stress on the wires.

9. Screw the modded cap back on.

10. Rinse, repeat. You’ve got one more to do.

Ballast:

1. Get your hands on some industrial strength Velcro and stick some to the back of each of the aluminum ballasts. I prefer the loop side on the bike, in this case. Do as you wish, but please clean both surfaces first with some 50/50 alcohol-water mix or any other suitable chemistry. The Velcro won’t stick for long if you don’t. If your shit falls off at a buck-fitty-plus, you have nobody but yourself to blame.

2. Decide how you are going to route the wires and determine the placement of the ballasts. Clean the spot, peel the backing off of the Velcro and stick it to it.

3. Plug in all three connectors. They are all keyed, so no worries about which end goes with what.

4. Rinse, repeat. One more side to hook up.

Fused:

· Take the nose back outside and reinstall on bike. If you have fasteners left over, and followed the optional step above to booze it up while you work, you’ll have to stop here and continue after you sleep it off. Otherwise, read on.

· If you have fasteners left over and you didn’t follow the optional step above to booze it up, I dunno what to tell you other than I hope it doesn’t fall off at an inopportune moment. Please continue…

I should have told you this earlier, but if you had read the installation instructions that came with the kit, you would not be in this predicament right now. I know, I know. It’s downright un-American to read instructions, manuals, traffic signs, or indicate a lane change by using proper signaling via actuation of the blinkers.

· Replace the 7.5A fuses in positions 4 and 5 with 20A fuses.

Yes, I had to run to the auto parts store to hook myself up. Half-blind and 15 minutes before closing time, Miss Busa could be found squidding it up the road with her Hello Kitty Pirate wallet shoved down the back of her pants, an iPhone snug as a bug in her bra and not a stitch of gear on her other than the legally required lid. ATGATT no more! As luck would have it, I had one 20A fuse, so I just unplugged the stock headlight connector on the high-beam side and went to the store. Glad I did, too. The two dudes working there followed me out the store and drooled all over my baby while I was putting in the newly acquired 20A fuse and reconnected the high-beam connector.

· Wipe drool from bike once you get home.

I would say, go for a test ride, but if you’re like me, you already did. Only one thing left to do:

· Adjust the headlights according to the instructions in the owner’s manual (or the ripped off BMW service manual I know y’all have downloaded) and be prepared to be illuminated!

Tying Up Loose Ends:

After you’ve made sure everything is working properly, route the wires to your liking, secure with cable ties and seal the rubber grommets with a suitable substance. I used Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive & Sealant. I should have used the black stuff.

Review to follow… after I’ve put some miles on these puppies.

Picture Menu:


Wired For Safety: Because if the stuff falls off…

…we’re not going to have a good time.

I don’t know what it is about safety wiring, but the task seems overwhelming and insurmountable and a big pain in the backside when you think about it; not to mention it is confusing when you first are faced with a list of stuff to secure properly to pass Tech at a track. I’ve been procrastinating this safety wiring project for the better of six months and I finally decided to tackle the subject in small increments.

Let’s start off with the important stuff:

The Tools of the Trade

  • Safety wire pliers: This is a specialty tool that is technically not necessary, since you could clip the wire to size with wire cutters and twist the stuff with a pair of needle nose pliers. Technically. Do yourself a favor and buy one of these puppies! You’ll thank me later. No, seriously! Miss Busa is making these mandatory!
  • Safety wire: The thickest wire I am using is 0.041″ T-304 stainless steel marine-grade lock wire, which is a perfect match for those 1/16″ drill bits. However, I use various thicknesses for different applications. I also use 0.032″-diameter and 0.02″-diameter wire. The skinnier the wire, the easier it is to work with, but due to its lesser tensile strength, it’s more likely to break. I like to use the thick stuff for places that have to be wired and are very unlikely to have to be undone. A medium-thickness wire is a pretty good all-around choice and I use it for most of everything that needs to be wired up. The skinny wire is great for wiring up such things as grips and rearset components.
  • Racing safety pins: Completely optional, but they make life at the track so much easier. I like to use these in places where the wiring has to be undone and redone quite often, such as the oil fill cap, the radiator cap, the oil filter, the rear axle nut. Pay attention to the rulebook though, you may not be able to use these in certain places; the oil drain plug would be a common exception to their allowed use.
  • Tab washers aka safety wire washers: Also completely optional, but these make things much more enjoyable. Also keep some of these in your tool box, you’ll never know when some extra-anal white-gloved tech inspector wants you to secure this or that and now you’re hard pressed to fix the problem since your drill is at home, no anchor point is within reach and your day could have just went down the tubes if it weren’t for these little lifesavers. 🙂 I like to use them where points of attachments are difficult or too distant to be feasible. You use them like a washer, torque the fastener down onto them, then use pliers to bend the tabs up around the bolt’s head. You can then secure your safety wire to the tab that has the hole in it. Obviously, you cannot use them as anchor points for safety wiring the exact same bolt you are attaching them to. That would be silly.
Tools for Safety Wiring

Tools to safety wire your bike: safety wire pliers, safety wire, tab washers (aka safety wire washers), and racing safety pins.

  • Safety wire drilling jig: This is another specialty tool and a must-have item if you do not have a drill press and have to manually drill the holes into the bolt heads. Miss Busa is making this a mandatory purchase as well! No whining. Just order the jig set when you order the pliers and the safety wire.
Safety Wiring Drill Jig

The safety wiring drill jig is a must-have tool if you do not have a drill press.

  • QUALITY 1/16″ drill bits. I mean it. Buy junk and they’ll break or won’t get you all the way through to the other side before they turn dull and useless! I’ve bought some DeWalt 1/16″ Split Point Cobalt drill bits which are claimed to have “maximum life in metal” and are rumored to “start on contact”. I can attest to both of these statements being fairly accurate so far.
Say NO! to cheap drill bits!

Friends don't let friends buy cheap drill bits! Just because it says "titanium" on the package...

  • Automatic (spring-loaded) punch:  Mine was broken, so I had to make do without; which isn’t a big deal IF you bought the aforementioned QUALITY drill bits. Tell me you didn’t buy junk!  This is an optional item, unless you didn’t listen and bought a ten-pack of “titanium nitrate” bits for $1.98, then it becomes mandatory. This tool is used to make a little indentation for your drill bit to sit in to get you started and to help prevent the bit walking all over the place while you attempt to do so.
  • Drill: I have some housewife-grade cheapie by Black & Decker. Variable speed, quick-release chuck, reversible. It does me just fine with those DeWalt drill bits.
  • Vise: You either have to have one of these or try and talk your buddy into holding the piece for you while you come at them with the drill. 😉 I use a little suction cup mounted articulated hobby vise I got at Harbor Freight. I have no garage or workshop, so this little guy is prefect for the occasional Tool Time session.
  • If you’ve got the cash to burn and the workshop to go with it, you might want to forgo the whole vise-and-drill thing and go out and get yourself a decent drill press. Way more accurate and way quicker, but overkill if all you’ll be needing it for is drilling a few holes into bolt heads to stick some wire through. Have a friend who has one? Pack your crap, hop on your bike and go see him. Don’t forget the pizza and the beer.
  • Cutting oil: If you’re trying to find “cutting oil” you’ll run yourself nutters. Some people use WD-40 to cool down their bits, others use machine oil, or multi-purpose 3-in-1 oil. You get the picture. You’ll need something to keep the drill bit from overheating and to ease its passage through some of the tougher stuff you’ll ever find yourself drilling holes through. If the bit gets too hot, it’ll break.
  • Safety glasses: This goes without saying. A scratched eyeball hurts like hell and you can’t ride motorcycles when you’re half-blind. Put ’em on!
Tools for Safety Wire Hole Drilling

Tools for drilling safety wire holes: drill, 1/16" drill bits, cutting oil, drill jig, automatic punch (no pictured), cotton swabs, paper towels, rotary tool, and safety glasses.

Let the Fun Commence

Today, I’m doing caps and calipers. Since I have a short attention span and find learning how to safety wire almost as coma-inducing as teaching myself suspension tuning, I can only handle this mess in short spurts. I already have my axles, oil filter, and oil drain plug done. I will have to write them up later. Fear not, as this comes together I will re-organize these posts and work them into a proper how-to. This is really just something to get you started, to give you time to gather up all the tools you’ll need and give you a general idea of what is coming. I will take the mystery out of this subject yet. Because this is one of these things: You’re totally lost when you see the list of junk in the rulebook you have to properly secure, some of it makes sense. Some of it is vaguely familiar and some of it has you drooling form the corner of the mouth, mumbling incoherently. “Oil gallery plugs” anybody? As luck would have it, those beyotches may be secured with RTV silicone; a girl can do that laying on her back in two minutes flat. 😉

  • Always take the parts you need to drill off the bike. Before taking them off, a lot of people like to mark their fasteners when they are properly torqued, so they know where to drill the holes for the wire. Plan how you are going to wire up the fasteners that you are taking off. Remember that safety wiring has to tighten one bolt as another tries to come loose, so the tension should always be to the right of each fastener, which will route the twisted safety wire in an s-shape between them once two bolts are wired together. Plan on drilling your holes accordingly. Some people drill more than one set of holes for just that reason, but I bet those are the same peeps who also own one of those snazzy drill presses. (I will post pictures of every secured bolt on my bike when I’m done. A pic is worth a million words and a hundred google searches!)
  • Secure the part in your vise. Make sure you don’t bend or break anything. Always wrap your part up in a shop towel or use soft vise pads to avoid damaging anything. That’s one reason I decided to thread the bolt into the drill jig, even though my vise has soft rubber-capped jaws. That’s not exactly how you’re supposed to use the thing, or is it?!?
Closeup of Brake Caliper Bolt (Drilled)

I used the safety wire drill jig to hold the bolt in the vise for drilling to prevent potential damage to the bolt's threads.

  • Mark your fastener with your automatic punch, if you have one.
  • Put a drop of oil on the drill bit and on the bolt.
  • Carefully start drilling, making sure that your drill bit stays put and doesn’t wander around. With the DeWalt bits I mentioned earlier this is not a problem, they stay put, even without a punch to mark the spot. Once you have the hole started, speed up the drill and add a little bit of pressure, not too much, though, if you bend the bit you’ll break it. Let the bit do the work for you. Be patient. You’ll see metal shavings piling up, I prefer to clean those out with cotton swabs, wipe the drill bit off and add some more oil, then I resume drilling. Each bolt took me about 5-6 minutes to drill. I didn’t break a single bit either. 🙂 Remember those “titanium” cheapies? Yeah, I tried those first. After 10 minutes of nothing much happening, I finally admitted defeat and changed to the DeWalt’s. A world of difference! The no-name bits are going to have to be re-dedicated to drilling holes into wood or styrofoam… they suck!
  • I decided to drill straight through the bolt heads, using the first hole as a guide to start the second hole. I thought that this may be a mistake and would make me break a bit, but it worked like a dream. The holes are nice and clean and perfectly aligned, which will make wiring these up a cinch, no matter where they end up in relation to each other. And I did a way better job than the ex-BMW dealer did on my axle nut, if I dare say so myself.
Closeup of drilled safety wire hole

I decided to drill the hole straight across to make it easier to wire the two bolts together later.

  • The caps were easy. I decided to drill the radiator cap from the back side, so in case the bit slipped I wouldn’t scratch up the “pretty side”. That was probably a mistake, since I had to use my Dremel to deburr the side the drill exited, which is probably going to cause it to rust. We shall see. If I had to do it over, I’d drill the holes front to back. I drilled both sides of the cap because I couldn’t remember which was the one I had decided to drill. Should have marked it, but thought I wouldn’t forget. I put the racing safety pin on the side that I’m betting on. We shall see if I didn’t drill that extra hole for nothing.
  • The oil fill cap is plastic and was done in a few seconds. It took me longer to put the part in the vise. I decided to drill both sides, because the cap could end up at a number of different angles in relationship to the safety wire’s anchor point.
Parts Drilled

Parts that I've drilled today: the four front brake caliper bolts, oil fill cap and coolant fill cap


Visualize This!

vi·su·al·i·za·tion noun
\ˌvi-zhə-wə-lə-ˈzā-shən, ˌvi-zhə-lə-, ˌvizh-wə-lə-\

  1. formation of mental visual images
  2. the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form
  3. the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography
  4. (Psychology) a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal

Visualization, also known as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, or meditation, works for me. If I can concentrate enough to actually visualize rather than just thinking about “doing it right.” A lot of my skill practice is done by using visualization techniques. I was first introduced to the technique by my therapist while doing trauma-work in order to process and heal from a nasty case of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) I had developed after, well… after “something had happened” that was a little above my natural coping abilities. I would say that visualization and processing through imagery (artistic expression) were the two main tools that helped me overcome the experience and move on with my life.

While reading my first book on racing technique I had occasion to become reacquainted with an old friend that had served me well in the past. I had not a clue that visualization could be used with great success in the field of sports performance. There are some differences between the therapeutic method of “feeling” and the performance enhancing method of “seeing”. One is more intuitive and is based upon abstracts and individual perception; the other is based on empirical data, the interpretation thereof and then the manipulation of skill application for best possible outcome.

So exactly how do I go about using visualization for my riding skill development? It’s not really all that complicated, once you know what it is and how to use it properly. Visualization requires a set of pre-acquired data to work in the enhancement of applicable skill.

One must know the environment said skill is to be applied in. You cannot visualize yourself getting through a turn faster unless you know the turn’s geometry. Is it downhill or uphill; flat, banked or off-camber; does it have a constant or decreasing radius; is it tight or sweeping; is it a true double-apex (compound curve) or a single apex turn? What does it look like? Where are the curbs, the brake markers, the paint lines, the skid marks, is the pavement rough in texture or smooth, or a combination. And to know that you have to have been there. The more details you have about the turn and the more clearly you can see it in your mind, the better visualization will work. Mind you, if your recollection is shoddy and your references sketchy or erroneous, you will inadvertently introduce errors in your visualization and therefore you may even hinder rather than enhance your progress.

Once I learn a track layout, I use visualization to remember all that hard-earned visual data I’ve collected, so next time I’m there it won’t take me but a fraction of the time to get reacquainted.  If you can run a lap in your head with your eyes closed in about the same time you can do it in real life, then you’ve got it down. If you are faster in your head, you’re missing something. If you are slower you are unsure. I think I took that particular page out of Keith Code‘s book, A Twist Of The Wrist, but I’ll have to double check that. I’ve devoured so many skill books from so many different people that it is hard sometimes to keep it all straight and give the kudos to the proper person.

I use it to find errors in my riding, too. But I don’t like to do that on my own, I usually run that by someone who is a better rider than me and also knows the track and can help me interpret my visual data and analyze what exactly went wrong or what could be done better. Then I come up with a plan and during the next session, I will see if it helps. Lap times don’t lie. If your analysis was correct and your application was optimal you should eventually see a marked improvement in your lap or section times. If you are slower at first, don’t worry just yet. You have to reach a certain level of comfort with the “new and improved way” before it’ll show. If you stay slower consistently, then you have cause for worry and should revisit the problem and its original solution.

I also use visualization to stay cool, calm and collected under pressure. It helps me to not freak out and panic and cause myself a world of calamity and pain. Panic and its related reactions have no place while you are on the bike. You may wipe your butt and freak the hell out when you’re back at the pits (or pulled over safely on the side of the road). When the ass is connected to the seat of your bike, failure is not an option. We are human, we will make mistakes, we will miscalculate and misjudge. Visualize yourself getting out of the trouble you’ve created for yourself and more often than not your cool head and muscle memory will prevail and let the machine do its thing and get you out with the shiny side where it belongs and rubber side down.

I also use it to calm my hyped-up nerves before I go out on a session. Instead of worrying about how embarrassing it would be if I did this or that in front of a bunch of people, like dropping my bike or missing a shift or totally screwing up a start, I see myself being perfect. And I haven’t done anything stupid in front of a bunch of people in a long time. It also helps me not to throw up when sitting on the grid. 🙂

Visualization is my weapon of choice.

If you visualize it, it will come true. See yourself failing and you’ve made it favorable for the outcome to be just that: a huge fail of epic proportions. See yourself succeeding and you’re on the way. Don’t be afraid to be your best.

And no, we are not having a narcissistic moment when you catch us watching a video of ourselves riding our bikes over and over and over again. Panning, shuttling, slo-mo, pause and stare. I know of one other person who does this (or admits to doing it anyway) and I bet my Dainese two-piece leathers that she is doing it for the same reason I end up spending countless hours drooling over my own ass sliding around on a sport bike. We like the way we look. We are awesome. We are THE shit! But that’s really beside the point. 😉 It’s an important step in visualization. The acquisition of visual data, analyzing and processing said data and finding the weak spots in our riding, so we can see ourselves doing better next time. If I had to make another wager, I would put my money on all the better riders doing this to one degree or another, whether they know it by its term or not.


The “Yes, it is fast. No, you can’t ride it!” Dilemma

Left: Proper Right: No!

Left: Proper Right: Nooooooo!

Picture this: The Germans finally get around to making that thing that not anybody thought would ever happen, but plenty of us dared dreaming about it: A superbike. But give them enough time and keep them in the beer supply and eventually they do come around.

I ask you then, why in the name of all that’s holy and properly fermented with just the right ratio between hops, malt and yeast, did they stick us with a completely superfluous, not to mention ugly, pillion seat and nothing to do about it? Well, we have the option to buy a pice of color-matched plastic for $346.95 (plus S&H) to cover up the horrid eye sore; and in conjunction with the removal of those equally extraneous passenger pegs, serves to squelch any idea that might be forming in some random head about asking for a ride.

I’ve waited for the aftermarket to come up with a cheap way out of this dilemma caused by gross oversight by the German engineers. The weight savings alone would have dictated it being the other way around: Get a cowl and race hooks out of the crate, buy a seat and some foot roosts if you wanna take the ole lady (or the ole fart) for a ride. I’ve waited… and waited…

I’m done waiting. I need a substrate to stick number plate decals to. What an awesome excuse to finally make the Pirate’s ass look as bootylicious as it is proper for ladies of her ilk. She looks insanely fast just sitting still. Poised to obliterate the egos of any young Peregrine Falcons that dare get sassy, with her nose down and her tail up in the air. Perfection. Engineered with purpose. And then you’re gonna mess it all up by slapping a two-up ass perch on her? Sacrilege!

Save yourself 98 smackers and recycle with this S1000RR mod. Well, technically it isn’t a mod. Nothing has been modified. This is a recycling project. 🙂

You don’t get the mounting hardware with that $350 purchase, nor a new coded lock cylinder. Both these items are $98 extra. Imagine that! BMW for ya. Get you hopelessly drunk on lust and then take advantage of your quivering lovesick heart.

  1. Take your seat off, remove the two phillips head screws that hold the retention plate for the lock assembly in place. Take junk off. Lay it to the side.
  2. Remove the three smaller phillips head screws that hold the lock cylinder housing in place.
  3. Stick the key in, unlock it. Use a flat head screwdriver, depress the retaining pin and the cylinder will slide out and bounce off the floor and roll a little ways, since you’re holding the thing upside down.
  4. Pick it up.
  5. Leave the key in and carefully insert it into its place on the cowl. As you insert it, you’ll have to again depress the retaining pin to get the cylinder to slide into the housing. It’ll click when it is properly seated.
  6. Use a #10 hex socket and remove the nylon locking nuts from the hinge bracket. Remove the washers, then remove the bracket.
  7. Drop the washers back onto the bolts and screw the nuts back on. You are done here.
  8. While you’re at it you might want to put the lock assembly back together loosely, so you won’t wind up with missing parts; and tape the locking pin with its plastic clip to the underside.
  9. Sell it on eBay to someone who has the audacity to actually ride two-up on the S1000RR to replace their worn out one. (You know who you are: One word: Onions!)
  10. Now what?
  11. I really hope you have two plastic washers, two T25 fairing fasteners, and two bodywork retention clips laying around. I do. I bought a few extra because I always keep losing stuff in “The Void”. The Void is the black hole that resides somewhere between fairing panels. Location varies; however, every fully faired motorcycle comes with one standard.
  12. Insert the clips into the spaces provided for them, put hinge bracket on top (make sure the openings of the hinges face toward the wide end) then use the two screws with their plastic washers and secure the mess.
  13. You are done-done. Unless you haven’t removed the passenger pegs yet. Do that now! Put some bolts in there and paint them or get some race hooks to replace the anchor points you just lost.
  14. Optional (but highly recommended. Miss Busa tested and approved!): Reverse your shift pattern, slap a “GP” sticker on your upper triple tree clamp and never again be bothered by the twinge of guilt when refusing requests for test rides from your street-squid buddies. 🙂
Lock assembly

Closeup of the pillion seat's lock assembly holder. The cylinder is already removed and the hardware loosely reattached.

Hinge bracket bolts

The pillion seat's hinge bracket bolts after removal of the bracket

Retention clip

The bodywork retention clip on the cowl's bracket attachment point. I actually found out later on that this is indeed what they intended you do. Online microfiche is awesome!

Rear Cowl

All hardware is now attached to the cowl and it is ready to go back on the bike.

Important Note: If you tour on your S1000RR and you are using BMW’s model-specific tailbag, hang on to your pillion seat and hardware. You will have to swap the seat back in to be able to use the tail bag. It says so in the instructions. I’m sure it has to do with the lesser height of the cowl (paint damage likely) and the lack of support (the cowl is hollow, no place to put that tool and no straps to secure luggage either). You have been warned, but do as you wish. 🙂

This no-guilt, drama-free solution to “Yes, it’s fast. No, you can’t ride it!” is brought to you by Miss Busa.


In Case of Get-Off, Pull Here.

Miss Busa’s How-To:

Installing a Tether Kill Switch

on the

2010 BMW S1000RR

RND: Research & Delirium

PMR Stealth Tether Kill Switch Combo (finished setup)

PMR Stealth Tether Kill Switch Combo: The finished install.

I’ve googled myself to death trying figure out what type of switch I needed for the S1000RR and how to hook it up. A tension headache, one 800mg Ibuprofen, and a nap later I was still pretty much clueless. What little information I could dig up was conflicting and not very useful. Heck with it, I can figure this thing out myself. The biggest pain was trying to ascertain whether the S1000RR utilized a “normally closed” or “normally open” switch for the engine kill. Blech. Apparently nobody knew. The one reference I found on a certain S1000RR forum turned out to be wrong. Not that I gave much credibility to the thread, since it sucked and was no help to the people who wanted to know and were wanting to install a tether kill on their Double-R. The more I googled the more confusing it became. I finally found a reference on Pingel’s website that paired the words “normally open” and “magneto ignition” and “normally closed” and “battery ignition”. Magneto? I didn’t really know what exactly that was, but I’ve heard the term before in reference to old junk. So “normally closed” is what I put my money on. Off to buy a switch. My bike was in the shop, so I couldn’t look at it and couldn’t recall the information needed from memory. I really liked the PMR setup. The kill switch housing replaced part of the brake master cylinder bracket and it came with optional switch options. An extra switch? Always good for likely future upgrades. But I couldn’t recall if the S1000RR had a Nissin setup or not, so I decided to err on the safe side and bought an MPS switch, which was only half of an inch wide and fit 7/8-inch bars. It later turned out that I didn’t have the ½ inch to spare to cram that sucker onto the bar. Damn. I should have gone with my initial instinct. Oh well. Anybody want to buy a brand new MPS switch? Hit me up. ☺

PMR Switch Housing

The PMR Stealth Switch Combo housing replaces the front bracket on the Nissin front brake assembly.

Pingel has decent looking switches up for grabs, however I definitely don’t have room for them on my clip-ons and the panel-mounted option just didn’t fit the bill for me. I wear one-piece leathers. I have nowhere really to clip the tether other than making a wristband which will also keep the lanyard out of my way. I stole the wrist strap idea from the Pingel site, so kudos to them. ☺) I didn’t want a setup that would reach across bike or body parts. The Pingel switches to me look more to be made for cruisers or Harleys, not that I would have had the room for the bar-mounted ones anyway. I really wanted something a little more subtle and sporty.

Those are the only three viable options that I came up with in my research. There are other choices out there, but I dismissed them for various — now forgotten — reasons. I’m sure some of them were due to looks, design, price, or workmanship. I’m picky when it comes to my bike. I get the best I can afford and I want the stuff to last. The Pingel switches probably would outlast my bike. 😉

Slapped On The Wrist!

Yes, I could have just bought Pingel’s ready-made one, but I wanted to save some money and it would be kind of cool to make my own. I had most of the stuff already lying around from various other projects. I went to Joann’s to get a parachute buckle. 1-inch wide red canvas strapping, black retro-reflective iron-on ribbon, a 1-inch metal D-ring, the purchased $2 buckle and a sewing machine did the trick. I opted for white thread to do a little “contrast stitching”, but I should have just used red because my sewing skill leaves room for improvement… lots of wide-open room.

Exploratory Surgery

My difficulty finding a tether kill switch and trying to figure out how to install it stems largely from a lack of sufficient knowledge of electrical circuits, switches, basic wiring, and how ignition systems work. I had to beef up on long-forgotten high school physics subjects and educate myself in the application of the fine art of soldering wire joints. Basic Electrical Wiring 101 with a little something thrown in about relays, switching and simple circuitry.

Armed with a multimeter, Torx screwdrivers in various sizes, a clipboard, pen and my BlackBerry I got up close and personal with the Pirate. I took the engine switch/mode selector control pod apart and had a peek inside to figure out which one of the wires is the one the tether kill switch gets spliced into. This should also confirm whether or not the S1000RR employs a “normally closed” or “normally open” circuit. I had read somewhere that a good way to distinguish one from the other is by the number of wires that come out of the engine stop switch: two wires means “normally closed” and three wires is a sign of a “normally open” switch. I took the thing apart. I was presented with five wires hanging out of a keyed plug and a small PCB sporting three push buttons. Five wires? Great. I should have known. Why was I even thinking this could be as easy as following the one coming out of the stop engine button to note its color for later reference? I looked at the circuit board closely. I could definitely make out the paths of the circuitry. The pins on the plug are numbered. I also saw tiny numbers printed on the PCB. That made things a lot easier. The keyed plug also helped with keeping the orientation of things aligned correctly. It was time to draw a wiring diagram. After having studied the thing for a while it dawned on me that there is a place left for an option. A very faint cutout line on the switch’s front housing, an indentation on the PCB for an additional button with all the necessary circuitry in place, and three open slots in the keyed harness plug. Noting that, the whole mess became a little less confusing. Four functions, namely: Mode, Engine Stop, Engine Run, and Engine Start; one common connection to them all; it adds up to five wires. This started to actually make sense.

The multimeter proved useless, since the probes are too thick to fit into the harness plug and the entire circuit board is encased in some sort of clear plastic — to weatherproof the whole affair, I’m sure. So I ran my findings by Mr. Slow, but he refused to get involved, claiming lack of knowledge on the subject. I mulled it over in my head off and on for a few hours and then ended up sleeping on it.

Kill Switch Wire (Black with Blue Stripe)

Found it! This is the wire to the Engine Stop function. This is where the tether kill switch needs to be spliced in.

I need a method to test my findings nondestructively. I don’t want to cut into a $1500 wiring harness on a hunch. I need some way to connect the male end with the female plug in isolation to engage in a little simulated wire snipping. Test leads. I could make myself little test leads to jump the pins. The female end is easy, but the pins on the male side need insulation to keep them electrically isolated from each other. After scrounging around for supplies I come up empty, naturally. I had, not too long ago, relocated my “computer graveyard” from its home in a closet to the neighborhood dumpster. It never fails. Hang on to the shite for years, not finding use for a single thing and as soon as you throw the crap out to make room for new junk you end up needing something from the pile.

I didn’t know what those “test leads” were actually called, so googling the subject proved to be coma-inducing, but eventually I hit on the name of the thing and once you can name it, you can find it in 0.0289 seconds. They are called jumper wires. They are used in robotics and prototyping to easily and quickly connect header pins on breadboard setups. They’re cheaper to buy than to make unless you have the stuff already lying around. I still would just buy them… trying to get those little fragile crimp pins onto the stripped end of a teeny wire sucks! I scored a pack of 10 6” male-to-female ones for about $4.

A Kick in the CANBus

With five jumpers in five different colors I set out to validate my thoughts on the kill switch subject. I dismantle the control pod once more, this time it only takes me a few minutes. I pull the plug out of its socket and use my spiffy wiring diagram to jumper the pins. After double-checking my work, I turn the ignition on and the RR begins its initialization. The RPM needle executes its customary sweep through the entire range of the dial, all LCD segments are displayed at once and all LED lights come on and blink off. The DTC and ABS indicators remain lit and blinking, as is expected. After the POST is complete, I put the transmission into Neutral and push the Engine Start button, the bike comes to life. No faults are tripped. All is as it should be. I pull the black wire that connects Pin 4. The engine dies instantly, just like it would if you had put the kickstand down while in gear. Still, no faults are thrown. I turn the ignition off and back on and try to start the bike again. Nothing. That too, is as it should be. I reinsert the wire to Pin 4, start the bike and press the Mode Selector button repeatedly to scroll through the four DTC modes. Again, all functions as expected.

I would have been so wrong!

Just for giggles, I yank Pin 5’s jumper wire out and nothing happens, the Pirate keeps on idling sedately. Pin 5 is the other half of the engine stop switch circuitry. Pin 4 is the connection that is common to all of the functions. Pin 5 is the wire I would have cut with a shaky, clammy hand had I have been on the bomb squad, sweating bullets with three seconds left on the ticker. Aren’t you glad I’m not on the bomb squad? I am. I am also glad that I took my time with this one and did it right. On the Hayabusa I would have spliced a wrongly cut wire back together. On the Beemer, the fear of the almighty CANBus and its renowned bitchiness saved me from myself.

The Pirate Is A Dead Man Girl!

This is a walkthrough of installing the PMR Stealth Kill Switch Combo. If you have another bar-mounted switch the install should be fairly similar.

  • Remove the two-part housing of the right-side control pod. There is a small Torx-7 screw on the bottom part of the control pod’s housing, use firm, steady pressure and a precision screwdriver to remove it. Pull the front of the housing down and towards the front of the bike, until the plastic hinge on top separates and the two halves are free of each other.
  • Unplug the harness plug from the top portion of the housing and place it out of the way.
  • Use a Torx-27 socket or screwdriver to remove the two bracket bolts that secure the front brake lever assembly. Hold the assembly with one hand while you switch out the OEM bracket with the PMR switch housing and use the supplied #5 Allen bolts to fasten it to the bar. Don’t torque the bolts down just yet you still need to be able to move the assembly around a little.
  • Route the wires of the tether kill switch to your liking and determine where you are going to splice them into the OEM harness.
  • Once the position of your splice has been determined, cut the rubber tubing that protects the wires from the elements and from chafing. I used hubby’s nail scissors from his grooming kit, which are extremely pointy and razor sharp (shhhhhh! Don’t tell Mr. Slow.) Be careful not to nick the wires’ insulation. Once separated, cut a horizontal slit into the sleeve. This makes it easier to pull it out of the way and will also accommodate the added thickness of the bundle due to the newly spliced-in wires.
  • Pull, then push-roll the tubing out of the way to expose the wires where you will splice in your tether kill. Give yourself plenty of space to work here.
  • Snip the black wire with the blue stripe. That’s the common. IMPORTANT: If the colors of your harness wires do not match mine, you’ll have to find the wire that is connected to Pin 4.
  • Strip about ½” of insulation off the ends of the four wires.
  • Slip heat shrink tubing over the wires before you twist them together. I used 3/32” diameter tubing for the v-joint and 1/8” diameter for the straight joint. This way you won’t have to bend any wires and they’ll lie nice and flat against the harness bundle. It doesn’t matter which of the wires get paired, as long as you make the circuit whole again.
  • Twist the wires together then solder the connections.
  • Position the heat shrink over your solder joints and use a heat gun to shrink them down. Be careful where you point that thing, you don’t want to melt any of the S1000RR’s tasty bits, such as your brake or throttle lines.
    [Alternatively, you can use crimp-style butt connectors, solder or crimp in quick disconnects, or use gel-filled 2-wire IDC (Insulation Displacement Connectors) butt splices but they will make your harness bulky and unless you can hide them somewhere, extremely visible.]
  • To test your work crank up your bike. If it doesn’t start recheck your connections. Pull the plug out of the tether kill switch and your bike should die. If it doesn’t, in my best guesstimation I can’t help but assume that you screwed up somewhere… big time. I’m washing my hands of that one right now. *nods then turns and walks off quickly* “Gotta go!”
  • Carefully pull the protective sleeving back into place. You might have to slit it some more to accommodate the new wires without bunching.
  • Use electrical tape to wrap the spliced area tightly. It’s best to do it at a 45-degree angle and keep the stuff taught as you wrap the bundle.
  • Follow up with friction tape to keep the electrical tape in place and from gumming up the works first time it gets hot and dusty. I also secured the ends with smallish cable ties to prevent them from unraveling.
  • Go for a test ride. Don’t skip this step, it is VERY important to the entire process. It bears repeating: Go for a damn ride!

My work here is done.