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The “Rest of the Story”—Big Green Back on the Road

May 17, 2012

This is a story that has needed telling for almost a year. Thanks to bobskoot for reminding me that there may be riders out there wondering.

To recap: Early last year (January 2011), I was having major problems with my beloved Kawasaki ZX6e (read my diatribe for the details). In February, there had as yet been no progress in diagnosing the problem, which could only be in the fuel or electrical systems. After my partner Tony had thoroughly cleaned the carburetors several times and done as much diagnosis as he was able in the home garage, it was time to take Big Green to a shop, in order to save our relationship. And get the bike fixed…

I had been referred to The Zen House by several riding friends, a shop down the coast in Point Arena, run by master mechanic David Harris and his wife, Kelley Littel. They’d become disillusioned with city living and wanted to “live the dream” by opening a motorcycle shop in a small town on the northern California coast.

I placed the phone call and spoke to David. He would be coming up to Fort Bragg for parts and supplies the next week, and he graciously offered to pick up my bike and haul it to his shop in his specially-equipped-for-motorcycles van. Cool! We arranged to meet in a big parking lot in town, and at the appointed day and time, Tony loaded my bike onto our trailer (not specially-equipped-for-motorcycles) and we met David, who expertly maneuvered my bike into the back of his van and away it went.

(Cut ahead three or four torturous weeks, waiting for “the phone call”) Finally David called and said he’d blasted out the carbs (he’s got super-fine tools for reaming out the tiniest of parts that make up a carburetor), replaced the fuel lines, tested the bike and thought it was running fine. Tony took an afternoon and the trailer and went down to bring Big Green home.

Bike comes home. The weekend comes and we want to test things out. Guess what? She’s still having problems cutting out in the mid-range rpms. Dammit! I’ve just spent a bunch of money getting the thing fixed and she’s still not running right? Back to the drawing board…

For a week after, Tony sat in the garage late at night mulling over what could be causing this issue. Since he had cleaned the carburetors three or four times, and Zen House had done the same, a fuel-related issue was ruled out. He bought a multimeter to test the fuel pump relay because, as a solid-state part, you couldn’t just look at the part and tell if it was burned out.

Well sure enough, he was getting no reading on the multimeter, so we ordered the $30 part from Bike Bandit. Tony swapped it in and bingo! no more problems. Almost six months and many frustrating hours later, to have the issue resolve into a minor part was cause for both relief and head pounding.

I happily rode the rest of the summer season.

I have learned through this, though, that my motorcycle does not care to be idle. She sat for about six weeks this winter and was again having some issues in the mid-ranges when I took her out for a test spin. Fortunately, I was able to ride that hesitation out and have since kept her running and warmed up at least once each week when I’m not able to ride.

So there you have it… the rest of the story! And more stories to come, because riding season is upon us!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2012 3:21 am

    Liz:

    I am so happy your bike is finally fixed and on the road. It is so frustrating to work on it for so long, then take it to an expert and it comes back, “not yet fixed”.

    It’s dangerous if it hesitates at the wrong time. Hope to see you on the road.

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    • May 18, 2012 3:44 pm

      Bob, you’re right, and it did hesitate at the wrong time when it was running so poorly last year. The first indication that something was wrong was when I rode into town and at the first stop light I came to, she died. I had to roll the bike across the intersection and into a (fortunately convenient) gas station. Then call my boyfriend to bring the trailer. That’s not so fun. But we’re through it now, and all is well.

      Are you scootin’ down the coast this year? Be sure and let me know if you make it to my neck of the woods.

      Take good care… and again, thanks for requesting the story; it’s one I had been meaning to tell and simply put aside this past year. Cheers! Liz

      • May 18, 2012 10:04 pm

        Liz:

        I am not sure but I will be in Oregon, Hell’s Canyon area for our Bloggers meeting, staying in Joseph for a couple of days, then I was thinking of heading south to find the LOST COAST (of CA)

        bob
        Riding the Wet Coast
        My Flickr // My YouTube

      • May 23, 2012 4:12 am

        Well, if you head down to the Lost Coast, let me know and if the timing is right, I’ll take a quick trip up the 101 for a cup of coffee (or tea) with you. Cheers!

  2. May 17, 2012 3:38 pm

    I am glad you managed to get the issue fixed. It sure is a pain when it takes that long. At least you know the bike doesn’t like to sit and wait. Maybe Kawasakis have no patience.

    • May 18, 2012 3:41 pm

      Perhaps not… it certainly tested my patience, especially when my partner and friends were still riding! 🙂

  3. May 18, 2012 2:23 pm

    electrical issues are always such a pain in the A**. I’m really glad you were able to get it solved. But…I have one small suggestion, other than just starting her up once a week or so, or a short ride…invest in a ‘Battery Tender’ and ‘Stabil’. If your bike is going to sit more than a week, the ‘Battery Tender’ will keep the battery happy (and you as well). Your beloved ride will start happily each and every time. If however the bike will be sitting for 2-4 weeks, a dose of ‘Stabil’ fuel stabilizer or the Lucas brand will keep fuel from going stale, which here in California can happen rather quickly (ethanol blends..check your local gas pump…)
    All the best to you,
    Paul

    • May 18, 2012 3:46 pm

      Hi Paul: I do keep the bike on a battery tender now, and after a ride, I make sure to fill up the tank before I park it again. That’s working like a charm for me. As is simply starting it up once each week and letting it warm up nicely or going for a ride. Hope all is well in your corner of the state!

  4. May 19, 2012 4:43 am

    Sorting electrical problems is a real PITA. I’m glad you finally got it fixed. A multimeter is a definite life saver. That and a GS911 if you have a BMW with a cranky CANBus =D Throw in some jumper wires for testing connector pins and stuff starts being less of a headache.

    • May 23, 2012 4:11 am

      Em Alicia, electronics confound me utterly. I leave such diagnostics and the fixing thereof to my sweetheart, who is gifted with a brain that “gets” all things mechanical and electrical.

  5. Princess Scooterpie/Moto_Diva permalink
    May 22, 2012 7:22 pm

    Like your blog Liz. My bike has been down for 3 weeks now and there is no end in sight. My hubby has been trying to figure out what is wrong with it and we are getting nowhere. He thinks it is the CDI unit, which would suck because you can’t get OEM ones anymore. I have an older bike. The main dealerships won’t touch my bike because it is ‘too’ old. So it doesn’t leave much hope at this point. Luckily I can ride my hubby’s bike, but this may screw up our summer riding plans because I wanted to go for a few trips with him and I am not willingly riding 2 up anymore.

    • May 23, 2012 4:07 am

      Ooh, no good! Can you find a replacement unit on eBay or Craigslist? I surely empathize with you and do hope you can find a solution to get your bike running again soon! I’m with you on the two-up riding — I don’t mind it for a quick trip into town, but for the whole vacation? Not for me, thank you very much!

      Keep me posted on how it’s going. In the meantime, I’ve subscribed to your blog! Thanks for stopping by, Moto_Diva. 🙂

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