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Old 09-19-2007, 02:32 PM   #76
cavebiker OP
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Eh? HELP! What is wrong with our bike?

Mexico:
I wake up hungry and had to go find food. Colonia Vicente Guerrero is a nice small village with several restaurants. I walk up and down the main street and pick a place where a lot of the locals were eating. Huevos rancheros and coffee. I feel like a new man. Further up the street I get some fresh squeezed OJ to go for Heidi. We enjoy a lazy slow morning at the motel knowing we are in Mexico and all is good.

We’re on the road by about 10:00 AM. The sky is clear and the temperatures are perfect for riding. I almost need gloves but opt to go without knowing it will be getting warmer throughout the day. Cruising south we soon see the Pacific on our right with beautiful sand beaches and dunes. This is where we were hoping to make it to yesterday but were glad to have stayed the night in Colonia Vicente Guerrero.

Just before the road turns inland we stop for gas. A couple miles later we see a road sign saying 328 km to the next gas station, about 200 miles. If we aren’t experiencing a head wind or aren’t traveling too fast that’s about our range before hitting reserve. I’m glad I bought that 4.2 gallon tank from Ebay last year, without it we would be hosed.

The winds were strong, hitting us at an angle of about 100 degrees. The road is twisty, we were averaging about 50 MPH. I knew we were getting better then 50 MPG and should have no problem making it 200 miles.


We’re cutting almost straight across the Baja from west to east, from the Pacific coast to the Sea of Cortez. The road is super curvy and mountainous with constantly changing vegetation. At times it was just rocks, than 50 foot tall cacti and huge boulders.






Up and down, twists and turns. The highway here is super narrow with zero shoulder and steep drop offs on both sides. There is no time to be thinking about anything else except driving. About 30 miles from the last gas stop we’re sailing along and BAM! The bike just dies. No precursor, no indication anything was wrong, the bike just quits. This is the same thing that happened about 60 miles before Yuma. Luckily we coast to a tiny pull off on the side of the road. Before coming to a stop I tried popping the clutch a few times, nothing. We dismount. Heidi and I are looking at each other with indescribable emotions in our eyes. What the _ is going on here. We wait a few minutes and try the starter. The bike fires right up. We waste no time getting back on the bike and continue on. There is no way I can describe what is going through our minds. This is only our second day in Mexico and we are having big problems with the bike. The road didn’t get any wider or straighter and I had little time to think about what this means. We just continue on. There is nothing on this road for the next 170 miles and we need to continue. The thought of turning back to the last town didn’t even enter our minds. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we just couldn’t accept the severity of our situation. We dreamed and planned too long for something like this to stop us now.

170 miles, the bike is running perfect. We make it to the gas stop and the road to Bahia de Los Angeles. After stopping and dismounting Heidi wanders off to some shade. It’s hot here. After filling up, Heidi walks back to the bike. I see a look in her eyes I’ve never seen before. She was freaked to say the least. It started hitting me to. What the heck is going on here. I think about the fried blinker wires we repaired in Yuma. I was just kidding myself in thinking that had anything to do with the bike dying the first time. There is nothing hot on those wires unless we are blinking and even then the battery is isolated from those wires through the blinker module. The worst thing that could have done was to fry the module and that has nothing to do with the ignition.

Fuel stop:


42 miles down a dead end road to Bahia de Los Angeles. Heidi has read about this place, it sounds just like the kind of place we like. Small village on the Sea of Cortez with fishing and sailboats. We plan on spending a few days here and sorting out our situation.

More desert, mountains and cacti:


There is no traffic and the road is straight at times. I have a little time to think about what the heck is going on with our bike. I have a theory now about why the bike is starting back up after quitting but it doesn’t explain why the bike quits.



Again I’m not making any of this up. We are tooling along less than 20 miles from the Sea of Cortez and the bike just quits again. We coast to a stop, dismount, take off our helmets and look at each other. This can not be happening!
I stay calm, confident my theory about why the bike starts back up is correct. A few minutes later I hit the starter and the bike is running as if nothing is wrong. We hop back on and continue on. Bahia de Los Angeles here we come….





We made it. In my mind I bend down and kiss the Sea. This is what we dream about, places like this.


We cruise around the village and find a place right on the water. A little expensive but we are right on the beach. I pay for three nights.

I practically run and get beer and tequila. Heidi says we need to engage in some high level discussions. Tequila, Fresca and beer. Let the talks begin.


View from our room:


Later that day 5 dudes arrive in a van from LA, California. These guys are fired up and ready for a good time. They’re here to fish but aren’t going out until tomorrow. While we were all down on the beach, a fishing boat comes to shore and we all walk over to see what they caught. Their hold was almost full of fish. The guys ask the fisherman how much for a few fish. About 5 bucks. The guys dig in the hold and throw out 6 Parrot fish. They bring the fish over to the restaurant at the motel and have the cook clean and cook them using their homemade salsa they brought from California. The guys invite us for some fish tacos, Veracruz style. The fish was excellent and these guys are super friendly. I don’t think I have ever heard a group of guys laugh so much while just hanging out.










HELP! What is wrong with our bike? Why does it start up again after waiting just a few minutes? Are their any mechanics out there who have experience with these symptoms? No indication of any problem then the bike just dies. Two incidents in one day now. This is SERIOUS. We can’t travel for 2 years in Latin America like this. We have been lucky so far. All three incidents happened with no traffic around and we had an area to pull off the road safely, but just barely. HELP……..!
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Old 09-19-2007, 04:21 PM   #77
kbear
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Cave,

I am a new guy on this forum, but as a fellow cheesehead I'll try my hand at helping you out with your bike problem. Could it be possible that your gas tank or cap is not venting properly? Try cracking the gas cap next time it happens and listen for air rushing into the tank. I know it has not done anything like that until now, but it could be that a piece of dirt suddenly lodged itself in the vent hole?? Other than that, it seems like it may have something to do with the extreme heat you have been riding through, causing an electrical short. Check the spark plug caps. On my KTM I had that happen when I first got the machine. I was riding on a hot day in tight woods trails with no air flowing and the machine would die, then fire up a few minutes later. Turned out the plug caps were shorting out. Hope that helps. I hope it is something simple such as that.

Great ride report so far, keep it coming!!!

Good Luck,

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Old 09-19-2007, 06:04 PM   #78
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It could be vapor lock. When you say the bike just dies does it feel like you turned off the key or does it feel like you are out of gas. This only seems to happen when it is hot so I would suspect vapor lock. I don't know how the fuel line is run on your bike but you could try to insulate it and see if that fixes your problem.
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Old 09-19-2007, 06:14 PM   #79
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Timing?

Cave,

You know I know nothing about Harley Sportsters. Now that's out of the way, I had the exact same thing happen with my K75. It only happened when it was very hot - riding along, the engine would cough a couple of times, then dead. Always restarted, sometimes without even coasting to a stop. To make a long story short, it was a hall effect sensor that sent an engine timing signal to the electronic ignition. Probably not the issue for your "older" technology....just trying to keep the trip alive! Hope its something simple.

DW

PS: DA has been given a complete bill of health! No worries!
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Old 09-19-2007, 06:57 PM   #80
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Dude, fantastic story so far! Hopefully it is something as simple as a vapor lock. My bike did the same thing for a while when it was hot and I had a new tank with a bad vent hose.

Viva Baja !!
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Old 09-19-2007, 07:02 PM   #81
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I'm thinking heat related Hall effect sensor too. Lots of BMW ignitions fail that way. No idea if the Sportster could be prone to something similar.
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Old 09-19-2007, 10:21 PM   #82
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Cave,
Great report and I love the pictures! Wish I had gotten to see the Tetons without the cloud cover, they look awsome in your shots. Your lucky to have the time on your trip to get off the bike and hike around in diffrent areas. My ride to the bad lands, yellowstone and Steamboat was a bit faster paced. You both will have a life time of memories from this trip.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:55 AM   #83
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I had a KZ1000 that had a similar problem. I was pulling a trailer and the additional lights put too much of a load on the main fuse. It wouldn't blow the fuse. But the prongs holding the old glass fuse would heat up and spread just enough so the connection would be lost. Once the bike cooled, the prongs would contract and it would fire right up.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:23 AM   #84
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I'm no Harley expert either, but i HAVE heard there were some bad Main Circuit Breakers out there. Exact symptoms. Easy and cheap to replace - once you find one, that is. Otherwise, check the regulator connections, including the mounting bolts.
My money's on electrical.

Best of luck you two!!! As long as the thing keeps re-firing, I wouldn't let it be a complete buzz-kill.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:25 AM   #85
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I believe that the Sportster has resetable ckt. breakers and not fuses. One of them could be overloading and opening, then when it cools off it is reseting. Hope thats the case. I'd find a dealer soon and have it checked out, don't want it to stop resetting. just my .02. Great report keep them coming.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:51 AM   #86
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Hi Tom,

My Sporty was acting up intermittently last year and it turned out to be a bad ingition module (known problem). When the bike was hot it would sometime cut out or feel like it was running on 1 cylinder but, when it cooled down it ran fine.

If your ignition module is located in the same place as mine (right side of engine under the derby cover) remove the cover and you should see the leds on the module flash indicating the ingition is firing. To test it, heat it up with a hair dryer and if the ignition cuts out, its probably bad.

The Harley ignition modules are hard to come by so I replaced mine with their Screaiming Eagle version that was in stock and less money.

Hope this helps,
Tom
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Old 09-20-2007, 07:52 PM   #87
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Cave,

I'm thinking vapor lock also.

You couldn't have left home at a better time. It's been cool here and as of yesterday, we are finally getting some rain.

Colors are starting to change and a week ago we seen snow flakes. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:47 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbear
Cave,

I am a new guy on this forum, but as a fellow cheesehead I'll try my hand at helping you out with your bike problem. Could it be possible that your gas tank or cap is not venting properly? Try cracking the gas cap next time it happens and listen for air rushing into the tank. I know it has not done anything like that until now, but it could be that a piece of dirt suddenly lodged itself in the vent hole?? Other than that, it seems like it may have something to do with the extreme heat you have been riding through, causing an electrical short. Check the spark plug caps. On my KTM I had that happen when I first got the machine. I was riding on a hot day in tight woods trails with no air flowing and the machine would die, then fire up a few minutes later. Turned out the plug caps were shorting out. Hope that helps. I hope it is something simple such as that.

Great ride report so far, keep it coming!!!

Good Luck,

kbear
cheeseheads unite! Thanks kbear for the help. I will for sure check the cap vent.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:48 PM   #89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlinBeaverton
It could be vapor lock. When you say the bike just dies does it feel like you turned off the key or does it feel like you are out of gas. This only seems to happen when it is hot so I would suspect vapor lock. I don't know how the fuel line is run on your bike but you could try to insulate it and see if that fixes your problem.
Hey AlinBeaverton. I sure hope it's not that. Where the gas line runs there is no room for any insulation or anything but the line. It is tight. I do appreciate the advice a ton though.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:53 PM   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bike4ever
Cave,

You know I know nothing about Harley Sportsters. Now that's out of the way, I had the exact same thing happen with my K75. It only happened when it was very hot - riding along, the engine would cough a couple of times, then dead. Always restarted, sometimes without even coasting to a stop. To make a long story short, it was a hall effect sensor that sent an engine timing signal to the electronic ignition. Probably not the issue for your "older" technology....just trying to keep the trip alive! Hope its something simple.

DW

PS: DA has been given a complete bill of health! No worries!
bike4ever, thanks much for the input but again I hope it's not anything like that. I don't get any coughing or any indication what so ever, the bike just dies like I hit the kill switch.
.
Good news about DA!
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