Last month temperatures were predicted to hit the mid-60s and above here in southeastern New Jersey. A rare late December gift that lets us get out on the road in normal gear after thinking it’d be a few more months of dressing like a NASA astronaut to get a ride in.
I looked forward to riding in the temperate weather but lately Big Red’s electrical system has been giving me fits. Intermittent losses of my low beams, turn signals, and neutral light had left me not riding and delaying finding a local mechanic to deal with the matter. Given that the holidays were upon us and I’m new to the area I was loathe to give my bike to someone only to have it languish there causing me to miss this weather gift only to get it back after the new year when it’s sure to be snowing and/or too cold to ride.
Over the years I’ve taught myself (with the help of YouTube and a few rider forums) to take care of most of the usual repairs that crop up with a bike that has the number of miles on it that Big Red does. Electrical, though, is something I haven’t yet had to tackle. I’ve wired a GPS and swapped the stock horn for an air-horn, easy stuff; but this issue had me walking past the bike hesitant to tear apart the wiring harness to find the cause of the problem. I tend to take baby steps where these things are concerned; wary of leaving myself without a ride should I get in over my head.
One of the best side effects of motorcycling is the spillover confidence it generates. Things you once thought you hadn’t the skill set to tackle become a simple matter of education and concentration. Quite often it’s as simple as doing what you are comfortable with, stopping to re-evaluate before proceeding, and also having the ability and willingness to seek help when it’s clear a solution isn’t forthcoming. My homework told me the trouble could be a relay, fuse, sensor, a burned wire, or a half-dozen other possibilities.
I figured I would try and that I may be capable of more than I give myself credit for. The problem may be minor and I can always stop and leave it to a professional if it turns out to be something beyond my abilities. Often solutions are a mere matter of deciding to act, like so many other things in life. Avoidance causes stress, self-doubt creeps in, and you find yourself afraid to begin and retreating to the safety of excuses and delay. As M. Scott Peck wrote: “If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.”
In the end, a thorough cleaning and securing of Big Red’s two main electrical connectors fixed the dilemma. An $8 can of connection cleaner, a little research, a block of time to devote to the issue, and the patience and confidence to give myself a chance left me riding on a warm late December day having learned, once again (and in large because I ride), that I am more capable than I had imagined.