S1000aRRgh: The Saga Continues…

Originally Aired: October 30th, 2010

Bringing My Baby Home

Previously on S1000aRRgh…

After I pretty much lost it on the phone I laid into Mr. Slow. All of my frustrations, all of my anger, all of my stress jettisoned at once in a whirlwind of a profane verbal shit-storm of epic proportions. I call it venting; psychologists would probably label it transference. Needless to say – and I don’t blame him one iota – Mr. Slow left the building; in a hurry, I might add, to save his sanity, no doubt. I had to apologize profusely to him later on for being such a jackass. I was treating him poorly and I wasn’t even mad at him. Apparently BMW North America doesn’t care. We were told they would “call us right back”, after calling the dealer and “getting to the bottom of this”, but they didn’t. It was painfully obvious that he dealer couldn’t give a two-bit shit less as they’re still clinging to their contrived story. I felt helpless in all this. I hate feeling helpless! There aren’t but a few things in this world that are worse for me than the feeling of being unable to do anything. I suppose there’s nothing left to do but wait for the phone call that will inform me that my bike is ready to be picked up. Waiting isn’t one of my strong suits either; especially the kind of wait that doesn’t come with a definite expiration date.

Making peace with the situation, but nevertheless tirelessly working to get the bike and myself ready for running the You-Know-What at You-Know-Where and then celebrating the occasion with You-Know-Who kept me from committing random acts of homicide; it gave me something to do and something to look forward to, a luxury carrying a hefty price tag of approximately $700.

BMW NA does finally call. We are informed that they have looked into the matter, that it was deemed unreasonable for the repair of my motorcycle to take this long, that they are so very sorry that this issue led me to miss almost a month of prime riding season, that this is completely unacceptable and that she is going to forward our case to Marketing to see if there is any way we can be compensated for being inconvenienced like we have.

A few days later Blue Moon Cycle calls. It is Daniel wanting to keep us updated on the status of our repairs:

“The part has cleared customs. It should be here tomorrow.”

Still no tracking number, I see. I suppose Customs doesn’t issue those after all, eh? Ah, I’m just such a ray of sunshine. I get ticked off all over again. Did I or did I not tell you people to not bother me until my bike is ready to be picked up? Overnight shipping, I have learned as a German who gets packages from the homeland on a fairly regular basis, apparently takes two weeks now. The audacity! My aunt once overnighted a book to me, t’was the day before Christmas and… and I still received it the next day, which was Christmas Eve, no less. DHL to the rescue! That little luxury cost her an arm, a leg, and 27% of her eternal soul. My point is… ah, who cares! I know what the point is. They never ordered the part when they said they did, lied to us to cover up their mistake… and blamed it on customs… ah, here I go again. Enough! It’s making my blood pressure rise just writing this. I detest a damn liar more than anything. Line Feed. Carriage Return.

Two days later, a Friday, my bike was ready to be picked up. Joe and I decided to go Saturday morning after we both got off work and had occasion to squeeze a little nap in. We leave around noonish. I wind up with dash rash on my spine and a bloody elbow on the way and am told at one point to stay in the truck when we get there.

“What? … Why?”

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. That’s why. I don’t wanna go to jail today.”

Pregnant pause, then: “Cake? I want cake.”

Dash rash?!? WTF? What in the Sam Hell are you people doing in your truck? Well, I’m getting my gear sorted because hubby wants me ready to jump on the rocket and leave.

“You stay in the truck. You hear me? If somebody comes over tries to talk to you, ignore them. Don’t even look at them.”

“Ok, ok. Gotchya. Stay in the truck. Keep trap shut. Pretend people are invisible. [pause] C’mon I swear I won’t say anything.”

“No. I don’t trust you. Stay in the truck.”

“Whhhhyyy-yyy?” [takes on a playfully whiny tone]

“You can’t keep your cake hole shut. I know you!”

“Hmmm… cake.”

Where was I? Oh, the dash rash. I drop something. I don’t even remember what it was now, but I undo my seat belt and stick my head under the seat to go hunting for whatever it is that I’ve lost. Picture this: Head resting on the floor mat, one hand braced to keep from falling over, the other groping around in the semi-darkness between old (but fresh looking) French fries, dust bunnies, lost change and whatever else makes its home under there. Two feet wedged between the seat cushion and the lumbar support, balancing precariously on toes, ass hiked way up in the air. Screech! The noise of the sudden loss of forward momentum is accompanied by an incredulous proclamation of “Holy shit!” Meanwhile, in the Land Down Under, my head rolls onto its spine, my posterior is catapulted forward until my back impacts the dash. My feet are now stuck to the windshield with my ass resting on the dash and it takes me a minute to undo the pretzel I find myself in. Damn the physics of an object in motion… I hear an apologetic “Sorry, Foxy” from the driver’s seat. Then, as I slowly emerge from the Underworld, he proceeds to tell me the rest of the story in an excited I-can’t-believe-THIS-shit staccato:

“I almost hit a deer. A freakin’ deer. In freakin’ Atlanta! The guy in front of me swerved, I missed it by inches … and it kept on going. I think it jumped over the wall.” He looks around: “I don’t see it anywhere. I think it jumped over the divider and kept right on going! A freaking deer! Over the wall. Jumped over the freakin’ wall!”

I scan the Interstate behind us. Six lanes of traffic and nothing going on. Just the flowing, uninterrupted organized sheet metal chaos as always. Wow.

“Damn, that takes skill,” I muse, “hooves on asphalt, definitely a low traction situation. Like a dog on linoleum.” I giggle at the thought.

Power Shot

Be afraid, be very afraid: You don't want to piss this woman off. She eats Aktiengesellschaften for breakfast before her second cup of Kaffee (and after she throws up in her mouth a little).

A little later we pull into the joint and park. Mr. Slow gives me a stern look:

 

“Stay here! I’ll be right back.”

With that he gets out and heads into the direction of the service department. I look around. There are two dudes chatting it up over a vintage bike in the back of a pickup truck. The parking lot is pretty full. I get out of the truck. Nobody else around. Good. My heart is starting to pick up the pace a little. I recognize it for what it is: the beginnings of my system going into “Flight or Fight” mode. It is a somewhat awkward moment. I’m half hoping somebody is going to give me the opportunity to chew their ass, but I’m really wishing for a quick, unobserved, unmolested departure. Never mind the unobserved part, it’s too late for that; but the guys are still engrossed in what they are doing and pay me no mind. While I’m putting on my riding gear standing next to the truck Steven walks out the front door with the cell phone glued to his ear. I knew he saw me, because he was looking right in my direction and he promptly turned around and went back inside. Sadly, my quarrel isn’t with him. He sold me the bike, always been straight up with us, no bull, just straight with a chaser of the best places to eat.

This hurts a little. Maybe he didn’t see me after all? No, he had to have seen me. Yeah, this hurts. Before all this went down, he was the one who came practically running across the parking lot when I pulled in, basically telling me that he put the coffee on or would I rather have a Diet Coke this fine morning? Sad, no, it’s depressing. He was the one who offered me a slot in Keith Code’s California Superbike School for half-price, the same week I was scheduled to attend the Kevin Schwantz School at Barber Motorsports Park. Had to turn it down though, because there was no way I could get out of work. Apparently word got around and my email was probably circulated as Exhibit A for the prosecution and of course, I’m the bad guy here. The guilty party. Look at this disgruntled unhappy, ne’er can please her, rude customer who — when not getting her way — runs crying to Corporate to stir the shit pot and all we ever did was bend over backwards for her. Oh, how you can misjudge people… Wrong! Oh well, he’s on their team. He’s got a job to keep after all.

I’ll miss Jean-Marie, too. The man you see for your gear and apparel needs. He always greeted me with “Hello, Speedy Morrigan.”, which made me giggle. Or “How is the only woman riding an S1000RR doing today?” His wife is a fast woman, too. She rides a Blackbird. Oh, the stories he told. His wife and I would have gotten along splendidly to the chagrin of our husbands, I’m sure. ☺ He always answered my questions, texted me updates on my orders and had me look at bike part porn, telling me my Double-R would benefit from this and that… yeah, he had me pegged as one of those high performance junkies right from the start. He showed me stuff on his bike, made suggestions, we had rapport. I know it’s business, and as such he was an excellent sales person. But that’s how it’s supposed to be, or used to be, or should be. I liked it.

They were almost like family. My newfound BMW family and at first I thought I had died and went to heaven. After the level of service I got used to with my poor, neglected Hayabusa, this was like a dream come true (fleeting as one, also). But what can you do? I have talked to several people, all the shops around the Augusta area suck. Even the place in Aiken isn’t worth going to anymore. There are several decent enough places that will work on your bike, but if you own a new bike, need to keep up with scheduled services and have recalls and warranty to worry about, you’re screwed. You would think with the economy the way it is and with motorcycle sales declining these people would kiss your feet and wipe your ass while you wait for your 3K service to be completed. They have to be there anyway to earn their paycheck, so why the shitty customer service? They all act like they don’t really care whether or not you come in with your bike and open up your wallet. The “we’ve made the sale so we don’t care jack anymore” attitude doesn’t really make sense to me. Yeah, you got me on that first one. But I damn sure aren’t going to be back to buy the next one from you! And if history repeats itself (let’s hope not), I’ll be strolling onto your sales floor about once a year to get a replacement for the one I just wadded up. My Suzuki dealer lost my sales business anyway, since I was treated like I was out of my mind when I told the sales manager that I was wanting to trade my Harley-Davidson Sporty 1200L in for something a little more “my style”. When he asked what I was looking at, I threw a confident thumb behind my right shoulder:

“This white Hayabusa.”

He looked down his nose at me, cocked an eyebrow after sizing me up and sarcastically uttered one word:

“Really?”

Dripping, drawn out, with just the hint of a high pitched man-whine on the last rubberized syllable. I looked him dead in the eye and repeated:

“Really!”

Then turned around, grabbed Mr. Slow by the arm and dragged him outside stating flatly:

“I am not buying a bike from them even if it were the last white Hayabusa on the planet.”

The deal they offered us was shit anyway. Good riddance. I ended up keeping the Sporty and buying my dream bike from a dealer in Hayesville, NC. Good peeps up there. They made me feel at ease and welcome. They’ve made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The deal was pretty much handled by phone and email and when we got there it was but a formality with the paperwork. No hard selling, no macho BS, and 10% off the gear we bought and a really good deal on my Shoei Flutter RF-1000 lid. I wonder if they have good service, too.

Meanwhile, back in the service department….

Joe walks in and informs them that he is there to pick up his wife’s S1000RR. Daniel apparently hadn’t gotten the memo that explained that the game was up and promptly laid another lie on Mr. Slow:

“Hey, Joe! I’ve called Corporate and I’m working out a good deal for you.”

Mr. Slow takes a breather, a moment of strategic silence, and replies calmly, but firmly:

“I called Corporate. They then called you. I think we are done here.”

With that he pays for the extra service I had requested when I was still swallowing their spoon-fed lies in the name of “benefit of the doubt”, grabbed the Pirate’s keys, did an abrupt about-face and walked out.

He met me at the truck, handed me the keys and told me to look the bike over VERY carefully before I took off on it. I did. I was being watched by the two dudes who were still hanging out in the parking lot. I felt awkward. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. I wanted this to be over with. I got on my knees, checked out the bike, took note of the clean work they’ve done on the requested drilling of safety wire holes on selected bolts and nuts; they had even wired them up for me. I started the engine. The S1000RR came to life and sounded smooth as always, looked great, she was clean and seemed to be in good shape. Their work, as always, seemed to be of superior quality. I never had a problem with their workmanship. I sighed heavily as I pulled my helmet over my head, put on my gloves and prepared to leave. As I put the bike in gear and slowly eased out the clutch I noticed how tense I was. My hands on the controls were jittery and I felt a little nauseous. The four holes the dudes in the parking lot had burned into my back with their uncomfortable stares were ablaze. I was starting to perspire. I took a deep breath and tried not to think about it. What I need now is to stall the bike or fall over trying to make a turn or have an incident in the form of any of a number of “This Girl Can’t Ride” adventures.

As I completed my right turn out of their facility I started to feel relieved and the anxiety quickly left my body. I spent the next few miles testing the bike and putting it through the paces. She felt great, shifted smoothly (she always does after an oil change), sounded as she should, handled as she should (well, handled as she must considering the miserable shape my Interstate-abused front tire was in.) and the brakes also performed as they always have. I felt alive again. I hadn’t ridden in almost five weeks and it had gotten on my nerves something awful. And now I have about 150 miles to make up for lost time with my baby: A Pirate Named Trouble.

Miss Busa is baaaaaaaaack!


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.


Wired For Sound…

…and finally snag-free. I do love my BigEar stereo earplugs. Noise protection for your ears you can pump your tunes through and kill those little hairs in there with more style than road and wind noise, engine whine, and the loud-ass pipes (on the Harley sitting next to you at a traffic light) can provide. I couldn’t find any earbuds that would fit under my helmet without hurting my ears or without coming back out when I pulled the lid over my noggin or without them just falling out miles down the road. Not to mention that I couldn’t really hear my music until I cranked it way up. Yeah, that helps. Then I found this company at the IMS in Greenville, SC in February 2009: BigEar Inc. We were on an unprecedented spending spree armed with the trusty credit card, and after hours of mulling it over I pulled the trigger on a set of custom-fitted stereo earplugs. I liked the concept. Earplugs to keep out the annoying, not to mention mentally tiring, cacophony of riding a motorcycle. They were expensive. But comparable to the price of Shurs and with the same sound quality. So I whipped out the plastic and got fitted. I told Mr. Slow he should get fitted as well, since they keep the molds on file, and can make a set for you later if you so desire. He declined. He “ain’t spending almost $350 on a set of stinkin’ earbuds.”

BigEar BE-1C

My stereo earplugs. I really love these puppies!

I loved those things right up to the point when I dropped them and hubby stepped on them. Crunch! Damn! Why did that happen? I had looped them around my iPod which I was wearing strapped to my thigh when riding and the mess came undone while we were exiting a restaurant; hubby was walking behind me, I noticed them dragging across the ground, stopped to pick them up and hubby behind me stepped on them. My fault, entirely. Shouldn’t have stopped, should have just grabbed the wire and pulled them off the ground instead of stopping and bending over to pick them up. Doh! That little adventure ended up costing me close to half the price of a new set in repairs and I had no tunes for over a month!

I got a little smarter after I got them returned to me. However, the wires have always bothered me. They would snag on things, the wind would eventually work them loose from where I stuffed them out of the way and I’d have wires flapping in the breeze getting caught on this and that. Not to mention that one way or another I always managed to get caught up in them and yanked them out of my ears, or at least dislodged them slightly. Now I had to pull over, undo my helmet, put them back in my ears, put my lid back on so I could continue on down the road without a massive pressure headache. When I noticed last winter that my trusty iPod couldn’t handle the constant change in ambient temperatures. Riding in almost freezing temps then going inside where it was sometimes 40+ degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer, then going back outside was slowly getting to it, as was increasingly evident by the multiplying stuck pixels in its display. Once I stopped using it on my bike it mostly recovered from its bizarre behavior with the exception of one row of dead pixels that runs the entire width of the screen. Hubby bought me an iPod Shuffle and an accompanying replacement warranty at BestBuy to pull entertainment duty on my bike. I already had to use that warranty once. Now I understand why The Slow One told me on the way to the store that he was getting me some “iPod Insurance”. My baby loves me. 🙂

With the iPod Shuffle came the move of the device from my thigh to my right arm. The iPod Classic 160GB is too heavy to wear on my arm while riding. My upper arm is too thin and the armband strap too long and the thing eventually slides from its position, either around the circumference of my arm or down my arm, by its own weight and the fact that I could only use a small portion of the velcro closure to anchor it. It was also made of stretchy neoprene, which didn’t help matters either.

Wire management was so much easier on the upper arm; snagging the wires or yanking the plugs out of my ears were but an infrequent occurrence. I had to finally succumb to moving it to my thigh, however, when I was going down the road at approximately 70 mph one day and the armband came loose. I noticed it because the iPod promptly fell off my arm and dropped down to my elbow hanging by its neoprene armband. I immediately and instinctively covered the band with my left hand keeping the end from sliding out of its plastic “wrap-back-on-itself” buckle (what do you call those things anyway?). Now what? I can’t stop safely because I can’t use my clutch lever and there’s traffic all around. I can’t go on down the road like this indefinitely. Eventually, I’ll have to make a right turn. I have about 30 miles to figure a way out of my predicament. It seems I have three choices: a) let the thing go before you wreck yourself; b) undo the strap and hope you can hold onto it while clutching your way down to first as you pull off onto the shoulder; or c) redo the strap while going down the road maintaining lane position and speed. What an adventure that was! I eventually opted for choice “c”. “A” was unthinkable; “b” was iffy and probably would end up in “a” anyway, so the course of action here was clear. Normally, this would take two hands, but I only had one, since I don’t have a Throttlemeister like Mr. Slow. Normally, I’d use my chin as a “helping hand” but I was wearing a full-face helmet, not to mention that I would have to turn my head completely away from the direction of travel. I tried. Can’t see anything out of the corner of your eyeballs. Nada. It also introduces steering inputs that could lead to losing an iPod AND a Hayabusa, maybe even a limb or two. I slid around the Hayabusa’s tank like I was hanging off in the straights. That enabled me to use the side of my helmeted head without having to look away from the path of travel to hold the armband in place and preventing it from coming completely undone. It also helped keeping the throttle steady. Meanwhile, I used my clutch hand to feel around for the proper end of the strap, pull it tight and align it correctly so the velcro would grab and hold. After a few miles of cold sweat, visions of an iPod bouncing down the road with a Hayabusa crashing shortly thereafter, a few choice curses and riding pretty much like a drunk ass, I finally managed to do just that and I could then grab the now doubled on itself fastened armband and pull it back up to its proper place on the fattest part of my upper arm. Wow. I checked that thing every paranoid mile until I arrived at my destination to make sure the velcro kept its hooks in the loops. Once I strapped the thing to my thighs I could use the entire length of the velcro fasteners and haven’t had a problem with it since.

At first I clipped the little blue Shuffle to my collar by its metal clip. I’ve almost lost the thing several times doing that. And you do have to have the unit in possession when invoking the replacement warranty. Loss or theft are not covered, understandably so. Once, I actually caught it with my hand before the wind yanked the plug completely out and set my little iPod free. It was then when I realized that history was repeating itself and I went shopping for an armband. I finally found one that fit my skinny arm without too much overlap, which was part of the problem that almost cost me an iPod once.

I’ve been using that setup now for almost a year. I still have problems with snagging the earplug wires and consequently yanking or dislodging the earpieces, especially when I’m wearing my backpack. With winter approaching I am pretty much riding in the same gear every day and now I have the added problem with managing the thick-gauged wires that run from the bike to my heated gear. All this junk hanging off of me was starting to really get on my nerves. It took me forever to get ready again. Fiddle with this, fiddle with that. No big deal when you’re riding alone, but when with other people, I’m always the last one to be ready and everybody ends up waiting on me. Bah! I can’t have that. The other day I had the idea of attaching the high-viz vest I wear during the winter months to my riding jacket, since the thing always slid off my jacket when I was taking it off. I also ran the wires that run from my heated vest’s power distribution unit (that’s what they call it) through my sleeves and used the liner hookups in my jacket to secure them. Perfect fit. I never snap the liner in anyway, since in Georgia a lot of times you ride to work layered up, but it’s too warm to wear all of it on the commute home. That is the case in early and late winter, anyway. In the dead of winter (most of December through February) it’s freaking too damn cold 24-7! I’ve tested the setup and I’m liking it. I’m a lot faster getting ready to ride and it’s a lot more convenient at fuel stops. I always know where my plugs are, so I can plug it in without stopping if I forgot before I left or if it came undone because I stood up on the pegs. I always know my earplugs are safe from harm, and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

This wire management thing got my perfectionism cranked up. Hence, I decided all those safety pins weren’t good enough and it needed some minor adjusting anyway, so I got the needle and thread out and fixed my armband. Now I don’t have to hunt for the control pod when I want to skip a song or turn the volume up or down. I kept making wrong inputs too frequently as of late and that’s getting annoying. If you own an iPod Shuffle or fondled a friend’s, then you know we’re dealing with teeny buttons, one of which has multiple functions, depending on the number of times you press it or for how long. So does the adapter that you have to buy if you don’t want to use Apple’s provided proprietary earbuds. Quick push on center: Pause. Long push on center: Voice-over (announcing the song title and artist). Double-press on center: Skip to next song. Triple-press on center: Restart current song from the beginning. Triple-press on center twice: Skip to previous song. The volume controls are standard: Up and down, each has their own dedicated button. One above and one below the center control button. Now try to hit that just right with gloved fingers, especially with winter gloves. It takes practice, and when the thing moves around or rolls to the side it gets even more challenging.

Proper rerouting of the wires and using the “spaces in between” that DLO had the decency to create by not sewing all the seams closed on their armband (by design or by coincidence?) provided the means to hide and position the wires; needle and thread enabled me to secure the entire setup. Neat. Tidy. Functional. Just the way I like it. Make your gear work for you and enjoy it more, that’s where it’s at. Less chance of saying screw this, I’m riding without, too. A few pics are worth a thousand words (although the current word count stands at 2102).

Oh, and I also fixed the zippers on my riding pants which got trashed in my crash. Luckily the damage is on the bottom end of the zipper, so I sewed the bottom zipper pulls in place where they can’t come undone anymore due to the missing tooth. No more wardrobe failures. =D w00t!

I feel so accomplished as a woman right now.


S1000aRRgh: I have a riddle for you…

Another update, this one given to me second hand by Mr. Slow. Apparently, after the new master cylinder locked up the brakes and the diagnostic logs didn’t show anything wrong whatsoever, the BMW rep spent three hours going over my S1000RR personally like a CSI goes over the crime scene of a murder-suicide in a retirement home. It all basically ended with everybody scratching their heads, letting out a long collective “Uhhhh….”

I’m getting nervous now. My first official LSR race is in 16 days, and here we are with the experts saying that this all doesn’t make sense, they’ve never seen such a thing before and this is the first time this ever happened. So, back to looking at the ABS pump. That’s a $2500 part right there. I think I’ll trade this sucker in when the warranty runs out and get a new one. I would be so AOL if it wasn’t for BMW’s 3-year/36000-mile warranty with roadside assistance. Screwed. Hard. No lubrication.

A few conversations with the service department later, the scoop is this: The main computer checks out fine. No faults. Every electronically linked part essential to the operation of the ABS and DTC system has a chip integrated that communicates the status of its host to the brain. In essence, if the ABS pump was defective and slowly getting worse (which it was, see “Rear Brake Roulette“) until total failure happened and by coincidence its signal chip was a dud from the factory also, the main processing unit would have no way of knowing that the part failed. In essence, this basically translates into never having had a working ABS system to begin with. Of course, that could be a distinct possibility since it has never come on for me as far as I am aware of. I have been making it a point to ride like I always have: I pretend I don’t have any of this geeky awesomeness and continue to develop my skill set as I should be doing in the first place. I have a problem with relying on tech to save my ass. Now I know for sure that I was not wrong by taking this approach to my riding. Case in point.

This of course is not what I have been told verbatim. This is my conjecture using the information that I have been given. Of course, in the back of my head the thought is nibbling on my riding confidence and trust in machine: What if this had happened to the front brakes? But that is part of the inherent risk, isn’t it? Every time we get on the bike, in the car, on an airplane or a ship… there is, to varying degrees, the risk of injury or death. We have relied on tech a lot longer that we care to admit. Redundancy. That is what it all comes down to. ABS has redundancy built in: If the system fails, for whatever reason, it is supposed to revert to hydraulic brakes, which is the underlying base technology anyway. “Revert”, by definition, isn’t the right term then; it’s more akin to losing Windows and just doing crap in DOS. Everything still works, but damn it ain’t pretty. And if you’ve never had a GUI you don’t know what you’re missing out on when playing “root” on the command line. (Now I’ve made two geeky-ass half-funny, or is that half-assed funny geek, jokes… one Microsoft, one *nix. I’m not leaving you Mac peeps out, since MacOS is based on BSD, so there. ;))

Where was I? Oh, yeah: They are overnighting the part from Germany. Obviously it’s the weekend over there already, the shop is closed on Monday, so in their best estimation (customs able and hopefully willing) they’ll know whether the new pump does the trick or not about two hours after the package has been delivered. My dealership has assured me that my bike is their top priority. It better damn well be, I paid almost $19K OTD for the thing with all the options and extras I had put in. Now, while you are holding my baby hostage on the behest of BMW Motorrad Deutschland, would you be so kind and give her an oil change and drill me some safety wire holes, because I’m lazy and am running short on time!

*sends heartfelt prayer to the God of Speed* “I better not miss this friggen race, you basturd!”


S1000aRRgh: If at first you don’t succeed…

Soooo…. yesterday, right before I went to work, I called the service manager to get an update on the Pirate’s surgery. They received the part. They stuck it in. The mechanic took it for a test ride. You know, I really do dislike the fact that they have to do that. The thought of some dude on MY bike, doing god only knows what, just makes me feel somewhat ill. I don’t mind them wrenching on it (at least not at this shop, but that’s for another story), but damn! Git yer ass offa my ride! It’s not even that they put miles on the clock that don’t belong to me, it’s the fact that I don’t exactly know what goes on when they go pleasure cru… I mean, test riding for those 15 minutes. Maybe I should test ride it and let the mech ride bitch. Nah, I would have to put the passenger pegs back on… Where was I? Oh yeah, he took my RR for a test ride and nada. No change. Back to looking at the ABS system. Amy said they were working in conjunction with BMW in Germany and she usually “hears back from them by 7”. Get another part (I’m assuming this time it’s going to be an ABS pump) overnighted, expect it delivered by Saturday. Stick it in, go forth and put some more miles on my ride and see if that solves the problem.

Now I’m back to looking at the scary thought of brake failure due to ABS component failure without the bike’s brain even knowing something’s amiss. And here I thought ABS failure had a ‘revert to hydraulic brakes’ failsafe built in. Ah, what the hell, stopping is overrated anyway. Hope the front brakes have a failsafe. I’ll let you know when they scrape me off the back wall because I couldn’t make my turn at about 133 miles per hour. This geek thinks something doesn’t quite add up. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I thought my country(wo)men were better engineers than that. And the attention to detail that went into the S1000RR, which is quite evident when looking at the bike and even more so after you’ve owned it for a while and have had occasion to look under her skirts, makes the point quite clear.

I am the “lab rat”, as I have been told by my service dude, hence I will exercise my patience; which is not one of my strong virtues, as if you couldn’t tell already. If motorcycle repair is anything like troubleshooting PCs, they are doing it right. Eliminate all variables, in the proper sequence (and if applicable in all variations), one known-good component at a time until you arrive at the source(s) of the problem.

To add to my general malcontent: I’ve checked the schedules for open track days at four of the nearest race tracks and came up empty, for various reasons, most of which involved scheduling conflicts between work and what I’d rather be doing. Meh. If I don’t get any practice in soon… ah hell, I’m already screwed for next season; but I am a quick study and I can catch up if I can keep motivated about the whole affair, that is. If only I was independently wealthy… yeah, I’d have me a track day and a backup bike, a pearl splash white Hayabusa. Make that multiple track days and two backup bikes: I’ll be in need of a Six-Gixx, too, fo sho! I need a SUGADADDY!!!! Now accepting applications, send your resumes to MissBusa@weride… 😉


S1000aRRgh: Thoughts Of Mutiny

Last time I took the S1000RR to the BMW dealership to have it serviced according to its maintenance schedule, I pointed out that there seems to be something going on with the white LEDs on the bottom of the main display. One of them was turning a distinct yellowish color. The service tech looked at me and said: “LEDs are either on or off, they don’t dim and go out.” I replied: “That’s what I thought.” They checked it, found nothing wrong (as I knew it would turn out). I felt a little silly, but told the dude I wanted it on the record for future “just in case” reference. Not too long ago, I was washing my bike and I noticed another yellowish cast appearing on the left side of the display. Where once was one, now there are two. WTF?!? This has been bothering me. The bike gets hot. Damn hot! You can’t ride the thing in shorts, you will burn your knees on the frame. I found that one out the hard way when squidding around Myrtle Beach, SC in July. That’s the sort of heat we are talking about. In 100°F weather in rush hour stop-and-go traffic, the temperature readout climbs as high as 223°F. I’ve seen it in the 230s. But the bike doesn’t complain, as a matter of fact, so far it has been regulating its heat output without overheating. I don’t even know what the danger zone would be, but I’m assuming there’s an idiot light for that, too. With the recent rear brake failure issue, this is coming back to haunt my brain. Is there a way these symptoms could be related? The bike has always been finicky with the rear brake pedal. I like to drag rear brake during slow maneuvers and sometimes the brain of the operation just tells me no, and the lever loses all pressure and goes limp under my foot. Annoying. Overshot my driveway once because it did that to me and I was not expecting that at all. Putting the bike in ‘Race Mode’ seemed to have solved that problem, hence I thought that to be of design rather than a malfunction. Now? I’m not so sure. Then there is the issue of the turn signal failing to cancel. Sometimes it just won’t cancel when you push the button. I noticed it first after I had the first alarm system installed, on the way home from the dealership. But clicking the button to the right first, then pushing it in its center position for the cancel function seemed to help. Alternatively, I could wait for it to auto-cancel on its own. Here I thought it may have to do with the bike not accepting its new toy. We found out later, from BMW, that the unit was obsolete and had been superseded by a newer version, which my bike wanted.) I also had that checked, along with the main display when I had to come back to get the alarm units switched. Again, the fault could not be duplicated by the technician. Of course not, that’s The Law, after all. Hubby suggested it was probably an issue with the button itself or the contact underneath it. I let that one go, too. If it was a mechanical problem, it would quit altogether soon enough and it wouldn’t have to be reproduced, it would just be. Same with the LEDs, really. I figured eventually they would probably fail. And the warranty would take care of it. The strange thing is that the signal canceling issue became almost non-existent after the alarm units were switched and the anti-theft system was in perfect working order. Coincidence? Perhaps.

I still couldn’t leave it alone. The first clue that something could be amiss was the limp rear brake lever, the intense heat transmitted through the frame always made me wonder if that was within operating specs, then the first LED yellowed, shortly thereafter the turn signal cancel function stopped working intermittently, then the second LED yellowed, next was the rear brake failure due to ABS pump failure. So I did a little quick googling and I came across this gem on the web:

A Non-contact Method for Determining Junction Temperature of Phosphor-Converted White LEDs

An excerpt of an interesting study conducted by scientists at the Lighting Research Center of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY

The original paper by Yimin Gu and Nadarajah Narendran can be found in PDF format at the RPI’s website. [direct link, opens in new browser window]

Funny Fact:
When I installed the rear fender eliminator kit and had to splice the new license plate LEDs into the stock wiring harness (before hitting the CANbus) and the ground wire came undone during routing of the wrapped wire bundle, the bike threw a fault. Told me plain and simple that I had a bulb out. Yeah. That’s important to know, if the rapidly blinking front right turn signal didn’t already give that little tidbit of information away. Truly, that is the mother of all idiot light warnings.

Cascading Systemic Failure… can you smell the ozone? OMG! This is so not funny! x/

…another thought keeps creeping into my mind: “heat is the main cause of electronic failure”. Screw this, I need a beer. Prost! *lifts her bottle of Warsteiner* We shall see what comes of this when the brake dust settles.


S1000aRRgh: Bye Bye Baby

The Pirate and The Tow Truck: Very interesting experience driving the bike up on that and then having to hold her while dude leveled the bed back out.

I had to make use of BMW’s Roadside Assistance for the first time. Which was a rather pleasant experience. They made me feel like I was actually the customer and I was the one calling the shots. Wow! Not “here is how it is going to go down!” but rather “this is what we can do, how would you like to proceed?” The wrecker service was at my house 35 minutes later to take my S1000RR to the dealership in Norcross, GA which is a little over 140 miles from here.

My S1000RR getting prepped for her ride to Norcross, GA

I really want to cry, but no time for tears I've got to get my butt to work.

After going to the drag strip on Saturday my Baby suffered rear brake failure. My guess is that it’s electronic in nature, although she doesn’t throw an error on initialization during the ignition sequence. But there are other little hiccups she has been experiencing, such as the turn signal not cancelling when the button is pushed, or the rear brake pedal just going limp without reason (which I thougt was. by design since running in Race Mode alleviated the problem) or the display yellowing where the LEDs are located. First it was only in one place, now it’s two. I hope the shop finds what ails her. I have a ride planned on Saturday and I hate being without my bike!