Inspection woes

For some reason, in its infinite wisdom, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has ALL motorcycle inspections expire at the end of May, rather than spread throughout the year like most other vehicles.  I just got my PC800 last fall, and it aced inspection then, but I had to do it all over again by the end of this month.  So yesterday I bit the bullet and got it done.

IMG_0704They have a pretty streamlined process there. Of course, bikes don’t get emissions tests, so it’s a pretty straightforward once over.  After the seven bikes in line ahead of me got theirs done, it was my turn, and the tech wheeled it into the garage.  One of the first things he noticed was a sticky throttle.  I was amazed.  It had never done that before, but sure enough it was doing it now.  That isn’t good.  But even worse, during the routine light check, my tail and brake lights didn’t work. I gave the bike a quick check before bringing it in, just to make sure I didn’t have a burnt out bulb or something, and it was fine, so of course it gathers up problems on my way there.  I did a quick scramble to trace the wiring.  I knew exactly what went where, because I wired up the trunk lights and learned it at that time.  I soon figured out what the problem was – the wire had popped out of one of the Posi-Tap connectors they gave me with the lighting kit to splice their wiring into the factory wiring with no cutting or soldering.  It was a neat idea, but as is too often the case with such things, they tend to rattle themselves loose over time, and that’s what happened here.  I reattached the wires, and the lights came back to life.  The tech put a new inspection sticker on (red this year, to match my bike), and gave me a stern warning to get the throttle fixed.

When I got home, I checked the tail lights again, and sure enough they were off again.  I had been hoping to go on the Give Back Ride the next day, and I knew I had to get the lights fixed before I hit the road again.  What should’ve been a quick five minute job turned into an hour of things not working, trying to cram big tools into small places, and a great deal of pain in my fingertips after manipulating and getting poked by exposed stranded copper wire constantly, not to mention getting more and more angry that such a stupid problem was becoming a bigger and bigger deal to fix. Eventually I found a combination of crimp connectors that would actually stay put, and make contact with all the wires involved.  The real fix is to solder the wires together, but I don’t currently have a soldering iron that doesn’t require me to plug it into the wall, and I have no outdoor power available where I live.  It looks like one of those butane soldering torches is in my future.

As for the sticky throttle, I learned something new about my bike.  It has weighted bar end plugs, the kind that are supposed to help dampen vibration.  What I didn’t know is that the one on the right handlebar doubles as a throttle locker!  When the tech wheeled my bike into the garage, he must’ve twisted it enough to grab the throttle and make it stick.  As soon as I twisted it forward to release it, it sprang back instantly, just like it’s supposed to, and just like I remember it doing before I took it in. At least that problem didn’t require a repair. In true Microsoft style, “It’s not a bug – it’s a feature!”  And now I know about a new accessory my bike has.  I can use it as a crude sort of cruise control on the highway to save my wrist.

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