Miss Busa’s How-To:
Installing a Tether Kill Switch
2010 BMW S1000RR
RND: Research & Delirium
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. ☺
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I have been quiet for a few months. Too quiet. Partially that was due to working way too much, not having the brain for writing because other things were preoccupying and distracting me. Then there is life. It happens. Always does. But if it were easy to follow your dream, it wouldn’t be a dream by definition. It takes hard work. Can’t just sit around and wait for a knock on your door. You have to get off your bum and reach for it. Give chase. Be tenacious. Be persistent. Be it. And not take no for an answer. Ever. If discouragement rears its ugly head in whatever form it choses, give it the finger, push it aside and refocus your efforts. It’s hard. It’ll throw you off your path. It will detour you. No matter. Take the detour and find your way again. If one door closes, another is surely to open. But those freshly unlocked doors are hard to find because most of the time one is too disappointed to even pay attention. It’s just easier that way. At least it is for me. So convenient to fall back into the old routine (because it isn’t really all that bad) and forget what really drives your passion. What really feeds your soul. In my case, as many of you already know, it’s racing. What kind you ask? Simple. Whatever. As long as it’s two wheels on asphalt. LOL I like pavement. I feel at home there. Dirt is a foreign entity to me. Besides, I hate getting filthy. Can’t stand it. No. As fun as that is to watch, not my bag. No ma’am. Give me drag, road, and land speed racing. That’s where it’s at for me. =D I have a love for the rush that is hard acceleration and flying down a straight stretch of road as fast as you dare. I’m addicted to acceleration.The arm-stretching torque, the slight lift of the front wheel as the weight shifts rear, the approaching red line as is evident by the engine’s overwhelmingly loud roar, the upshift, the way the motorcycle reacts to your inputs, then settles in, does its thing. One with the machine. Nothing else matters; at that moment the world stands still. Something about pure straight-line speed. The violence of the air rushing past, the roar of the turbulence, the tunnel vision, the thought (stuffed way back in the corner of your mind) that one little mistake could probably be the end of life as you know it. The danger zone. I have said it best the first time I dared it on the Hayabusa: “At 147 one is closer to God.” I also like to lean. I like curves. More so, I like a succession of them. The dance that is when you find the road’s song, hear its music through the sound of your bike’s engine as you flow through the turns as one. The unfamiliar road, not knowing what will await you around the next apex. Being ready for anything; anticipating, realizing, deciding, executing. The exhilaration that is honing your skills in the relative safety that is the race track. Memorizing the layout, studying turn geometry, prepping your bike, the nervousness you can feel as butterflies in your belly when you first get there; finding your line, gently pushing your limit, practicing, experimenting, learning. The after-action review. The mental processes required to observe while executing, then evaluating and applying the result appropriately in your next session. The constant drive to do better. The focus required to do well consistently. The measure of your success by the clock, the feeling that you could have gone faster, braked later, leaned harder, accelerated earlier. It should be frustrating, but to me it is not. Maybe it is the “one thing at a time” mentality you get to embrace on the race track, but is eschewed in our daily working lives of hectic stressfulness in favor of the much-overvalued and mythical ability of the human brain to multitask. No wonder so many of us do track days to relax. ;P It never seems to get old, there’s always something else to reach for. Something else to work on, either on yourself or your machine. Prepping your bike, wrenching on it. Changing it, fixing it, making it truly yours by tweaking it to compliment your own riding style (and of course to go faster.)
There is so much work to be done before next season. Learning. Riding. Writing. Racing. And my favorite: Fundraising. Not necessarily in that order, but one way or another I need to do all of them to varying degrees. Looking at this almost insurmountable mountain of tasks and subtasks, I want to tuck tail and run. Who needs this? Some of this is way out of my comfort zone. I’m shy. I’m an introvert and a tad bit of a loner. Well, girl, it’s your dream. The answer then is: You do. I have goals I want to reach. In the great scheme of things, they barely even matter, but accomplishing them would mean the world to me. They stand as a test(ament) of my strength as a woman, my propensity towards mastery of a subject, my journey as a survivor. I am emPOWERed (by 999cc and 193 horses =D)!
Do or die trying. Because a life not lived to its fullest is no life at all.
I think I just gave myself a pep-talk… Huah! But so it goes when you sit down to do something without a concrete plan nor discrete preparation. The fingers interpret what is on the not-so-conscious mind. And there you have it.
The 200-MPH Club: What do you mean there are rules?!?
I’m bored at work, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, which I couldn’t care less about and I feel like something new… I’m tired of the same old stuff, I need something fresh on my brain, but it has to be information that will be useful to me at some point in the future… let’s see here… oh, yeah: Land Speed Racing. Let’s grab the rulebook and get comfy, because joining the 200-MPH Club is on my New Year’s Resolutions List. I need to know what’s involved so I can plan my strategy. Not that this is going to happen this year anyway (so much for that resolution), hubby blew all our money getting me a date with Kevin Schwantz as my birthday present this year.
Apparently there is more to joining the 200-MPH Club than finding myself a long stretch of asphalt, rip it open until I get to the required minimum forward velocity, slow my ass back down and slap a sticker on my bike. Dream on, sista! I suppose I could do that, but I want something official; I need a time slip. Then I thought I’d get the entire mile to do it in. Wrong! Your speed is measured and the time slip printed at the ¼-mile mark. Now that small, but important, detail is bound to make things interesting. Here I thought I could take my sweet-ass time to get it “up there”. Not! I see a lot of practice of full-throttle quick starts with impeccably timed upshifts and excessive rear tire usage in my future. Ugh! Not to mention trying to keep that front wheel on the ground. But oh, what fun to be able to rip through the whole sequence without having to worry about the cops bustin’ your chops at the next red light. But I never had to do it ‘as fast as I possibly could’, I just made sure I kept my front end down and was faster than everybody else, which isn’t really all that difficult to do when you’re the only 120-pound chica on a ‘Busa. The weight differential alone gives me an edge. 😉 This changes things also. A whole new level of difficulty… one which I think requires massive amounts of practice on my part. Time to work towards that goal when the rear rubber nears the end of its useful lifespan in a deserted parking lot somewhere. See if I can’t at least practice rippin’ it from a dead stop before I even go to the drag strip. I’m kind of nervous about going there, since I’ve never been and I don’t want to embarrass myself. When you’re a girl on a Hayabusa, you can bet your sweet ass that everybody and their damn dog will be watching your every move, to see if that silly girl’s got what it takes to play with the big dawgs and if she even deserves to own a ‘Busa, let alone ride one. I’m going to be prepared. Because that is how I roll. I rather lose it in a deserted parking lot without an audience other than my hubby, then at grudge racing night at the local drag strip. Do NOT want!
And here I thought going extremely fast in a straight line is boring. Well, I used to think that. I used to say that going fast in a straight line is something any idiot who can manage to get his ass out of first gear (without the bike walking out from under him) can do. The damned thing pretty much rides itself as long as you don’t want to change direction. I have, however, changed my mind on the ‘boring’ part. I’m a speed freak, I love going fast, although I enjoy the dance on curvy roads much more. It’s a different animal. I need my speed/acceleration fix. And the only way I can get that (safely and to the extreme) is in Land Speed Racing. And now that I know there’s actually a healthy amount of riding skill involved it has become a challenge. I like challenges. Where do I sign up?
Joining The Club: A Nightmare In Logistics
I have the bike that’ll do it, pretty much stock with a few tweaks. Now I need to ramp up the safety factor and get the Popo off my tail. Aside from an empty parking lot for some initial practice, I need a place to work on the whole sequence. Not the top-speed issue, but more the technique required getting there. We have a drag strip not too far from here, in Jackson, SC: The House of Hook. They’ve got something going on Thursdays. Hubby works on Thursdays, I work every other Thursday. I don’t want to go by myself, so I’ll either have to get over going alone or find somebody who’s willing to go with me. I can’t really ask Manx to take off every other Thursday just so I can feed my speedy dream of fastass grandeur, besides I’ll need the money he’s hauling in on that day. That turbo charger doesn’t buy itself… j/k =D
It seems to follow that after practice on the ¼-mile drag strip, I’ll reach a point where I’ll have to play in the actual arena, the place where my 200-mph attempt will be made. The closest facility for Speed Trials seems to be the ECTA’s (East Coast Timing Association) Maxton Mile in Maxton, NC; a 424-mile round trip for me. Yeah, this is already looking to be one hell of an expensive proposition and I haven’t even started considering the cost in tires, parts, and whatnots. * sigh * But I suppose that’s why they’re called dreams. If it would be easy, we would never experience that deep satisfaction we derive from beating a challenge and it would mean so much less. Maybe I should just do it my unofficial way, it’d be a lot cheaper (even after bribing the Popo out of the inevitable ticket) if I just show everybody my GPSr while pointing to the ‘Max Speed’ field in the corner.
The Class Of Fast
A precursory scan through the ECTA’s 2008 (the only free one I could get my hands on before having to leave for work) rulebook reveals we have three main classes motorcycles can compete in: Production, Modified, and Altered. Production sounds cheap; that’s the one I’m going to probably go with, since I’ll be spending all my money on tires and traveling. So let’s focus on that.
Upon closer inspection of the rules, my gear meets the standards set for the 175mph+ trials and The Fat Lady is pretty much good to go on all requirements, except:
- I’ll have to run the stock foot rests. Bummer.
- I also need to run the stock windshield, since modification of shape is not allowed in the Production class, which my Double Bubble clearly violates. Further, I’m also not entirely convinced that the Zero Gravity windscreen is actually shatter-resistant (another requirement), chances are it’s not.
- The OEM triple tree clamp has to be put back on, too; which means I would have to run the front at stock height. They don’t mention requirements for the rear, so I do not know if those Brock’s lowering links are in violation or not. However, the rules do mention ground clearance: “OEM Specification for minimum ground clearance must be met.” I need to look into this, too.
The only other modifications required are safety related, such as safety-wiring certain parts, getting a metal chain guard and battery holder, removing the mirrors and passenger pegs, adding an ignition kill-switch lanyard, and disconnecting and taping the headlamp. No biggie, there.
I’m still confused about which CC class I would be running in, they have a 1000CC and 1350CC class listed. The Gen 2 Hayabusa has 1340CCs. I would assume that’s considered part of the 1350CC class, but the rules read ambiguous to me. “Displacement must be greater than the maximum allowable for the next lower class.” Seems that by letter of the law, I’d actually be in the 1000CC class, but that seems unreasonable to me. I need to get confirmation on that from the ECTA, since nowhere in the rules does it state a CC range within a class, which is clearly indicated by that statement. However, it would be sweet to be stuffed into the 1000CC class, since the record there is lower. LOL
I would have to hold off on that Brock’s full exhaust system since that would definitely move me into the Modified Production class, without an easy way to revert to stock; however, I could keep my stinking rearsets and my new top triple tree clamp installed and my suspension setup intact. The record to beat in the Modified Production class (M/G-1350/4) I then would find myself in is 185.490. No way, that can’t be right, can it? Set way back in ’04? The record for the M/F-1350/4 class stands at 203.438, set in June ‘09. The only difference between the two classes would be the fuel used. The G-class uses event gasoline. Well… I have to think on that some. I have more questions to ask the peeps of the ECTA to get the necessary clarification in order to make up my mind in which class to do my Record Trials in. I have all my stock parts, so prepping the bike to stay in one class over another is not a big deal, as it stands now.
The records for the two Production classes, according the ECTA website are as follows:
- P/P-1350/4: 202.465 set by Marc DeLuca in October 2005.
- P/P-1000/4: 190.464 set by Marc DeLuca in October 2007.
The classes are designated by a string of numbers and letters, as such: [Frame Class/Engine Class-Displacement Class/Engine Cycles], the Fat Lady’s class then would be P/P-1350/4 or P/P-1000/4, depending whether they round up or down. Soooo, in either case, Marc DeLuca is the man to beat if I also want to get my name on the books in addition to joining the 200-MPH Club, which in the 1000CC category would happen concurrently. I want to be in THAT class… would make things a lot easier. 😉 Marc, hang on to your testies, because you’re gonna (eventually) get spanked by a girl. =D I now have an outline of a plan and over a year to see it through and work out all the juicy details. I feel the need for ticket-free speed (and for being the fastest girl at the Maxton Mile * giggles *)
PUG: an acronym that I’ve borrowed from the MMORPG online gaming scene, meaning ‘pick-up group’. A PUG refers to a random and informal collection of people, who usually don’t know each other, getting together for the purpose of achieving a common goal, such as the completion of a mission objective or quest. In motorcycling I obviously use it to refer to an impromptu, informally organized ride by a bunch of bikers who are more or less strangers to each other. PUGs mostly happen at bike nights or well-known biker hangouts.
Ah, Tuesdays. It’s that time of the week again: it is bike night at Hooters. Why do we keep winding up at this particular venue? Because we are such classy individuals, that’s right. Classy and addicted to fried pickles. Actually, it’s the only bike night around here that is on a day Manx isn’t required to grind gears for the sole purpose of hauling simple carbohydrates to Point B. Our schedules pretty much suck that way. We’ve joined a riding club early this summer and we have yet to make it to a meeting. They never seem to be held on a day when we both have the day off. They may have given up on us it’s been so long. But I digress.
This time it’s a bit more organized. We do their usual loop, which heads out of town towards the dam, where they stop on the SC side to shoot the breeze and then to downtown Augusta to finish out the night at a joint called ‘The Loft’. I really like this joint, I get to ride on the sidewalk. LOL Anyway, I’m at the back of the pack with Manx and Paul behind me. I’m trying to watch the level on my Squid-O-Meter, since Paul is an MSF RiderCoach, and I really don’t want to make a bad impression. Gawd, I’m a weirdo! Nah, it’s probably more along the lines of not wanting to give the ‘Hayabusa-For-Experienced-Riders-Only’ proponents ammo for their argument. Then there’s that whole fear-of-embarrassment-in-public thing. And if somebody can see the kinks and screw-ups in your riding, it’ll be a motorcycle instructor. This makes me a little nervous. However, I’m proud of what I have accomplished since I’ve started on two wheels. People are surprised when they find out how long I’ve been riding. Not that I advertise the fact, but I’m not going to lie if somebody asks me straight up. And the reaction is always the same: They’re amazed at a ‘little girl like’ me handling ‘such a beast’ and when they find out that I’ve only started a little over a year ago, it’s instant kudos. Sometimes it’s good to be a girl.
I’m so glad that I don’t have to defend my decision to buy a Hayabusa (as my second bike) iRL. It is what it is to most folks. I’ve come across only one negative reaction, and that was before I actually owned one, from a sales rep at a local dealer. Needless to say, I bought mine at a joint where they offered me a killer deal, were friendly and supportive of my decision and where they treated me like ‘one of the guys’. They acted like they actually wanted to sell me the bike I had already picked out for myself and made the process as enjoyable and smooth as possible. It was an awesome experience. I would highly recommend these peeps. Would you like to know more? It’s all in ‘The Busa Report’. Recommended reading for all you girls out there wanting to ride your own, but too scared to do it. On that subject, you may also want to read ‘The First Year: 13828 Miles & A World Apart’ where I talk about my fears, worries and insecurities about being on two wheels and how I learned. I’m getting sidetracked again. But it’s all good; I do eventually find my way back to where I’m supposed to be. Eventually.
And this is where I’m supposed to be: After fuelling we head on out of town to the dam. It is an enjoyable ride, less squidly and more relaxed than last time, too. Maybe that’s due to having ridden with most of these peeps before. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I have Mr. RiderCoach breathing down my neck with a watchful eye? I soon forget about ‘The Man With The Patch’ and settle into my groove. I do cross an intersection on ‘cherry green’ and leave Paul and hubby waiting at the line. I don’t know why I did that, other than wanting to stay with the group. I wasn’t even the last person and I knew where we were going. Stupid. STOOPID! Calamari, it’s what’s for dinner.
At the dam we stop to hang out. There is a lot of talk about farkles and mods from the Connie crowd, which is now up to three, thanks to Paul. Hubby is getting ideas. Can’t really say anything in that regard. I have done 23 mods to The Fat Lady so far, and I can’t seem to stop. Somebody warned me about this, but I didn’t believe it. At least I’m not ordering swingarms and fat tires and sending various bits off to get chrome-plated… in other words, it could be worse. Definitely.
Somebody comments on my riding style, how I seem to be one with the bike, how well I tuck in and ‘go with it’, how smooth my movements are. And, of course, how teeny I look on that ‘big ass bike’. Naturally. Compliments and attention make me feel awkward, and I’m glad it’s dark, so they don’t see me blushing. I smile and give thanks, as it would be rude not to; but on the inside I’m high-fiving myself and doing the happy dance. “Uh-huh. That’s right. Girl’s takin’ care of her business. Yeah. Uh-huh. You said it, brother.” Gawd, I’m such a dork. LOL
We get back to town, and it seems that half the crowd is in the process of unleashing their inner squid. We’re sitting at a four-lane intersection. The light is red. Four of us are stopped at the line. Sammy is at the far right and I happen to be at the far left. We take up both lanes. The rest of the crowd is behind us, with hubby directly behind me and to his right, Goose. There’s a lot of revving going on in the first string. I turn to give hubby a questioning look. He smiles and nods. He yells something, but I can’t hear him over those loud-ass chopper pipes and the blipping of throttles. Yup. Apparently I assume correctly, I’ve read about this. Red-light-to-red-light (illegal-as-hell) drag racing. I think to myself that there’s no way, they’re gonna do that. They’re just playing. Not on freakin’ Belair Road in the middle of town. It is late, but NOT that late. The light turns green and off they go, screaming into the night. I sit there astonished for a split-second, then collect myself and grip it and rip it, I have some catching up to do and I’m on a machine that’ll do it. The Fat Lady’s made for this! She purrs contentedly and then roars to life. The docile kitten turns into a ferocious lion. I inadvertently lift my front wheel off the ground (in my first ever baby of a wheelie), but gracefully correct that little lapse in clutch control with a bit of throttle modulation. By the time I catch up with them I’m doing somewhere in the neighborhood of 120. Holy frakking mother of pearl (splash white)!!! In a 45. In the middle of town. In a stinking 45! I slow my squidly group-thinking ass back down and decide to stay behind them (still going well over the posted speed limit) until we all come to a stop at the next red light, grinning like jackasses. Weeeeeeee! That was fun I have to admit. Riding like idiots. Loads of fun, good gawd! What a freakin’ rush!!!! I can’t do that any more. No ma’am. Holy crapola! And here I thought drag racing was boooooring… Since it lacks curvature. I need to get my adrenaline junkie self to Jackson, to the strip, where I don’t have to worry about felony arrests, complimentary body cavity searches and turning myself into a pedestrian for a predetermined length of time. But maybe that was part of the rush? I’m such a heinous criminal… We take it slow until the group is back together and I take up my accustomed and preferred position at the rear of the pack, riding sweep. We, more or less, keep it under control for the rest of the ride. Although two more incidences of redneck drag racing do occur, they’re just not quite as… umm… felonious. The speed limit is also not being observed too strictly.
I asked Sammy later when we were hanging at ‘The Loft’ how fast he was going, since I still couldn’t quite believe what had transpired. He wouldn’t say. I told him what I was doing just to catch up with them, he just grinned and remarked nonchalantly: “My bike doesn’t go that fast. I probably did around 70.” My ass, buddy, my ass!
Realizations & Lessons Learned:
I still don’t like PUG riding. I mean, I do love the social aspect of riding with a group, but I’m not sure the added safety concerns and elevated risk are worth it. I know I will (and would want to) ride in a group on occasion, but there are a few things I have to consider, and I have to be honest with myself here:
- I’m too competitive to keep it legal.
- Although I stay well within the limits of my riding skill, it doesn’t take much for me to get caught up in the ‘showing off’ and/or ‘keeping up’ mentality that can so easily happen during informal group rides.
- I don’t like taking responsibility for other people. I cannot control their behavior, mostly don’t know their skill levels, their riding attitudes or their attitudes towards safety. I can control what is in front of me, by being proactive and reactive (if need be), hence I like for all the unknown variables to be in a place where I can keep an eye on things.
- I’m too much of a control freak, that’s another reason why I prefer to bring up the rear. I love to ride sweep. That’s where I feel most in control and most comfortable. It also helps me to keep the right wrist under control. However, one’s position in a PUG is at best dynamic, and you’ll eventually find yourself elsewhere in the pack.
- It would be too hard for me to have to tell someone that I don’t want to ride with them anymore for whatever reason (I find unacceptable to my own level of risk acceptance), so it’s best just to say no. I’ll spare myself being put in that awkward position of ‘having to be blunt’ with someone later.
- Crap happens when two or more are gathered. The only person I really feel 99% good about riding with is my hubby, Manx. I trust him. I know his skill level. I know his attitude towards safety and his level of risk acceptance. But even then, I mostly let him lead. Unless we’re in the twisties, of course; he’s too damn slow. ;P We have an understanding, however: We don’t keep up with each other. We ride our own rides. The person in the lead will wait patiently (at a safe, visible location) for the slower half to rejoin, so there is no pressure to outride our respective comfort zones.
- Although I can, and will behave myself and adapt to the common consensus of what is deemed ‘acceptable riding style’ to a particular group and adhere to their rules, when things get spirited, you can bet your sweet ass that I’ll be in the thick of it. When Ms. Squidlypants hears the call, she will gladly listen and come out to play. Another reason for me to keep away from PUGs. It’s a weakness that’s difficult enough to keep under control when riding alone.
- One has to know one’s limitations and work within and around them. I’m a prime candidate for a therapy of regularly scheduled track days, so I can keep certain things where they belong: at the racetrack. I can get my speed and aggressive cornering fix in a safe and appropriate place, so I have an easier time to keep it civilized on the public roads. Redneck racing only gets a girl so far.
- A group ride is NOT a place to practice one’s (drag) racing techniques.
- If you have a tendency to fixate to the rear (worrying about what happens behind you), you don’t belong in a group ride. Ride your own ride. That doesn’t mean you should be completely oblivious of what’s going on behind you and neglect your mirrors or head checks. You still have to maintain your full awareness to all sides. You can’t control the front (or your own safety) if you ignore what’s going on behind you. I have a hard time with this one, but I’m learning to relax about it. Again, another reason why I like to be last.
- Riding SAFELY in a group takes more skill, more concentration, quicker reflexes, more self-discipline, and demands you be in full control of your machine at all times, or you will put yourself and others around you in jeopardy. Newbie riders have no place in a PUG ride until they have become comfortable with their own skill sets and have freed up enough attention (from the controls and executing basic riding skills) that they are but second nature and require not so much as a thought to execute. This will help ensure that riding with others is more fun and everyone is safer doing it.
All Things Considered:
PUGs are not for me. Period. Organized rides? I’d probably give it a shot, when the right opportunity presents itself. Riding with one or two friends? Check. Going riding with a bunch of people I just happened upon? Hell, no! This ‘Busa doesn’t play well with others. 😉 Would I go to a bike week? I don’t know. To me that just seems like asking for trouble. Too many people who don’t know what they’re doing in too small an area. Add to that the cagers and the people milling about on foot. Don’t think I would want to put myself through that.
Famous Last Words:
Ride it like you know what you’re doing. The rest of the time, when the inner squid comes out to play, at least be respectful and responsible about it. Take the lives and wellbeing of the people around you seriously. Just because you like to dance with the devil on occasion, doesn’t give you the right to force others to join the music (unless they’re cagers [on cell phones], then all bets are off. Ha!)
Would you like to read about my first group riding experience? Check out PUG Hooters Style