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New bike tale of woe

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by spenze, May 13, 2010.

  1. Sorry, this ended up much longer than I anticipated.

    My new (for me) GS500 was ready to be picked up this morning. I was rather excited about the whole thing but was a little worried I would leave my gear at home by mistake. Seen as I have been carting a laptop to and from work for several years that part of my day was second nature... picking up a helmet, jacket etc was not.

    When I got to work I showed my colleagues the gear we all thought I was going to forget. But, ummm, I did manage to leave my laptop at home.

    Slight change in plans, I decided to go straight to SpotOn Motorcycles and pick up my GS500 and take it home, while the freeways were empty (for the direction I was going anyway).

    Had a few issues getting the bike home however. When I was sitting on bikes trying them out, I was wearing tennis shoes / sneakers / or work shoes. Managed to manipulate the read brake and gear lever without problem. But now I was wearing my motorcycle boots and I found I could hardly get my foot between the foot peg and the gear lever.

    On the way home, the heavens opened up and dumped a load of water on the roads... and me.

    Still, I had my bike and I got it home without incident. Feeling rather proud of myself at this point. Had a lot of trouble "working" from home as I had a new toy in the garage just waiting to be played with... so I did.

    Rode around the local streets familiarising myself with the clutch, throttle, gears and brakes. I figured after my third outing I had it more or less under control. (I was attempting to work between outings)

    After the evening rush hour had died down I decided to go for a quick night ride to see how it all handles in the dark. OMG the headlight was pointing AT the road, about 5m infront of me. Beam stretched that out to maybe 10m at the most. Slow and ugly u-turn and headed home for the first lot of motorbike maintenance.

    I figured adjusting a light would be easy, there has to be some simple adjustment screws, just like a car. Nope, none of those, at least nothing that would move the light enough to make it useful. Eventually found the nut on the back I had to loosen so I could just swivel the entire thing up. Working well in the end.... maybe a little high even, but at least I felt safe enough to venture out again.

    As I live out west, I figured a quick trip out the Western Freeway, out to the stationary radar to see how close my speedo was to their measurement.

    Well it all went great, held my own in the traffic, what little there was of it. My speedo matched exactly what the radar station displayed (I followed a large truck incase my radar profile wasn't enough to set it off).

    By this stage, I had learnt that the clothes I wear during the day to ride, which make we rather hot and sweaty, are not enough to keep me warm at 110km/hr in a 7°C night. I was cold.

    A few km's down the road, just before the Gordon turn off the bike started to couch and splutter. I figured I had run out of petrol and switched over to reserve. I had practiced this earlier as this was actually part of the plan... run out whatever was sitting in the tank, and put petrol in that I know what it is.

    2 mins after switching to reserve the bike coughed and spluttered some more. A little worrying... but it kept going. Another minute later... and all power was lost and the bike started free wheeling. I pulled in the clutch to change down a gear and it stalled immediately. Clutch out... back to life... clutch in... stall... "oh oh".

    Pulled over and tried the starter.... brrrrrrroooommmm back to life it came... I was on my way. Took the Gordon off ramp to turn around and head back to Melbourne. There is a BP about 5ish km from the turn off so I'd fill up there.

    Well I must have made about 1 km back before it died. Completely. I managed to get it started occasionally but it would die as soon as the revs dropped below 3k. Even when I kept it above 3k, it would only stay going for all of 20 seconds.

    I was in trouble.

    Knowing the BP wasn't that far I decided to start pushing. Wow, a 200kg bike gets real heavy when its not under its own power. But I was definitely no longer cold. Took off my gloves and helmet and found out just how damn cold the air was.... they went back on shortly after.

    Every now and again I would stop pushing and try the ignition again. The starter motor would rev up, I may get a "put put" out of the engine but that was it. Eventually the starter motor didn't even make a noise.... not even a click. But the lights all worked and the headlight was as bright as ever. Couldn't be a flat battery. I managed to convince myself that some wire had worked lose and was shorting out the engine/starter motor.

    Rang a friend to come and pick me up. I should be at the BP by the time they arrived.

    Some nice chap saw me as he drove past and stopped. Offered to drive me to the BP for some petrol. Figuring I had only switched to reserve for no more than 5 mins, and I could hear petrol sloshing around in the tank, I turned down the offer.... I can't be out of petrol.

    10 mins later, another nice gentleman pulled over and offered a ride to the petrol station. He was in a removalist van and offered to take me and bike. So we did the dodgy and I sat on the bike in the back of the truck while he drove "slowly an carefully" the remaining 2km to the petrol station.

    Friend arrived shortly after and I ran through the symptoms with him. We decided I should fill up the tank, even if there was no way I could be out of petrol.

    As soon as I had filled it up I went through my starting the bike checklist.... key to on, in neutral, kill swit..... oh shit... I had accidentally bumped the kill switch slightly when I was pushing it... thats why the starter motor wasn't making any noise. It still "looked" on, but it was enough to kill the motor.

    After a few false starts, everything came to life. My friend looked at me rather accusingly, as it was all pointing to the fact I had just run out of petrol. (he is not a motorcyclist and the idea of a reserve tank was foreign to him)

    I was still a little dubious that I had actually run out of petrol. I checked the fuel switch and sure enough it was pointing to reserve (which I did just before the Gordon off ramp)... so I put it back to main.

    He followed me home just incase there was a problem, but we made it home without any issues. So in the end it does look like I had just run out of petrol. But that makes me wonder if maybe the fuel switch is on upside down and I was on reserve the entire time. Do I really want to ride around with it on reserve to find out?

    But now I am home, cold but warming up, after my 1 hour trip (that took 4 hours all up), and looking forward to another adventure tomorrow night.
    Also looking forward to a group ride, so help is on hand if something does go wrong... like... umm.... running out of petrol.
  2. All sounds pretty normal to me :grin:.

    On the fuel thing, are you absolutely 100% positive you're not looking at the wrong end of the tag on the tap as the "pointer"? Sometimes they appear counterintuitive.
  3. Thanks for sharing. Glad people were nice enough to stop and offer assistance.

    I thought trying to start/run an engine without petrol was really bad for it?? Or is the only reason you did keep on trying to start it because you could hear petrol sloshing in the reserve tank?
  4. Nope. The worst that'll happen on most bikes is that you'll run the battery flat. You could overheat the starter motor as well, but they're generally pretty tough and will tolerate occasional abuse of this nature without problems. On fuel injected vehicles with an in-tank fuel pump, the pump could overheat as it relies on being immersed in fuel to cool it, but again, there's a lot of safety margin built in as no manufacturer wants a reputation for making vehicles that explode when they run out of petrol.
  5. +1

    same things happened to me where I could operate gears with sports/work shoes but try with motorbike boots and couldn't get my feet between the peg & gear lever. On my first service it was determined the gap was too tight and they lifted the lever and widened the gap a bit and now there is no problems.

    Oh also after the service I rode for probably around 200 metres and being a complete new rider also happened to accidentally press the kill switch and couldn't start the bike up. Called the owner of the bike shop and he came around but just before he got to me I figured it out but waited there to tell him it was just the kill switch. It's all a part of learning.

    Isn't riding a 2 wheeled machine nice : )
  6. Don't sweat the kill switch thing. I've been riding over 20 years and I'm still to be occasionally seen running up and down car-parks, attempting to start a completely dead bike :oops:.
  7. That's why they make the kill switch red. If you can feel yourself going red in the face, check the kill switch.

    I've only ever done that once, but as you'd expect, it was when I was showing off my new bike to friends...
  8. Everyone does it sometime... and if someone hassles you too much about the kill switch sneak up to their bike one day when they aren't looking and flick their kill switch on.

    Good for much amusement :)
  9. just don't do it whilst participating in a group ride :)
  10. It's possible I got it wrong. This is the setting it was on when I picked it up. So when I ran out of petrol I turned it a full 180°

    Does it match other peoples GS500's?

    Is it possible the tubes are on back to front? or maybe the knob is on upside down?
    I will have a look at the other ends later tonight or over the weekend.
    I'd like to get to the bottom of it as the "reserve" really is my only tool in the toolbox to stop it happening again.
  11. My GS is the same as yours. Arrow facing down is normal and would turn it 180 degrees with arrow pointing up for reserve.
    A mistake refitting the tubes would cause what happened to you occur.

    On the kill switch, I couldn't start up the bike last time I picked up bike from service so I went back inside to tell the bloke it wouldn't start. He returned to the bike with me pointed straight at the switch. Felt like a real knob!
    I always use the ignition to stop the engine and never really use kill switch.
    Prefer that as using the ignition also turns off the headlight.
  12. I had a similar experience with my bike when I got it. Brand new, dealer delivered it (cause it was a surprise present from the wife). Got on it, took it for a ride round down the road and around the block then parked up in the garage. Went to take it down the servo the next day to fill the tank, got around the corner and it cut out. Switched on reserve, drove it to the servo which must have been 3km down the road, pulled up at the pump and the engine cut out. I have not run it down to reserve again yet, but have only just cracked 800km, so only filled the tank three times.

    I need to run it down to reserve again, but I dont like running out of fuel. I am a bit suspicious that turning it to reserve in case I dont make it to the servo.
  13. Fixed your gear lever yet.

    If not they are really easy to adjust. Take the bolt out, slide it off put it on where you think it needs to be, jump on and try it, then just put the bolt back on. First thing I did when I bought mine, I would of needed steel caps if I didn't.
  14. Did the same with mine as I felt it was too high.
    Also lowered foot brake which was a little more involved due to readjusting the brake light switch as well.
  15. Best bit is they are in the manual (from memory, I haven't seen mine in about 3 months).

    GS's are too easy to work on.
  16. Not quite. My GS was predictable as clockwork with fuel consumption. With the riding I did - commuting with some enthusiasm - I never needed reserve before 300 clicks, so I just reset the trip meter every time I filled up and always filled up not long past 300. I've heard the same from other GS riders too so you might not need to rely on your reserve so much anyway :)
  17. I hit reserve between 250km and 360km, but my riding is very varied. But the reserve on my tank (and yours too) should give another 100km, at least.
  18. I haven't done anything about it yet, but it sounds easy enough to do. Can you get shorter gear levers?

    I noticed when I went out tonight that it takes a fair bit of force to change gears sometimes. On occasion I used my quads to lift my knee/foot instead of twisting the ankle. That makes me think the lever is too high for me.

    Still curious about where to leave my feet when not braking or changing gears. At the moment I could easily rest my feet on top of the peg and gear lever / brake but that just seems wrong.

    Tonights maintenance was all about putting a pretty clock onto the handlebars so I knew what time it was when I was out.
  19. Mostly I put balls of feet on the pegs and rested heels on the silver plates
  20. It should only take a flick of the foot (big toe for me) to change gears. When cruising I turn my toes outward a tad,but they are under the gear lever..it just feels natural rather than have them point forwards...around town though where a lot of gear changes will/might be in order I keep my feet forwards.

    If the gears feel crunchy or it's hard to find neutral it might be your clutch cable that need adjusting.

    Avoid resting your feet on the rear brake lever,if your foot rests on it when you are cruising the lever will need to be adjusted a poofteenth downwards...otherwise you'll end up wearing out the rear pads in short order and getting shocking fuel economy.

    Where did you get that clock and the big question?...how much?..I like it.

    Enjoy the ride..if you are ever heading over Mornington way drop me line. Mornington to Flinders via a few scenic detours makes for a great ride at any pace.