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Entry 71 // John at Rally Raid UK

Update by: Luke | May 30th 2011

We find out that waking up to start the day is a lot easier when you are camping at a rest stop on the side of the highway. This is a good trick to know for future usage and it is not a trick listed in the books that LucasM gave us to read when we were at his house. This book was also missing the KTM 690. The author probably just wants to save some info for a sequel. (You have to leave the customer wanting more.) I learned that in college so it must be true. The early start is nice and allowes us to get to the Chunnel in France before noon. My bike fired right up in the morning like a champ. My charging system has been working correctly ever since we did the battery swap. I was expecting to have to swap batterys every 100 miles or so, but that is not the case. Another nice suprise. Life is good. Just a few more hours and we will be at Johns.

The chunnel is interesting. Apparently it's cheaper if you book ahead. We did not know this. The cost was $105 euro's each. I think that's pretty steep, but I'm used to high fees by now. I've been in Europe for almost a month at this point. Just for kicks I ask how much a round trip is. It's $270 euros. I don't understand this pricing, but we figure we are taking a ferry to Norway anyhow so we don't need the round trip. Our heated gear keeps us nice and comfortable in the grey morning. A light rain accompanies the wind very nicely. If this is normal weather, I can see why they drink tea upwards of 4 times I day. I know I could use a cup right now. I had no idea what to expect so I didn't have the cameras ready, but we are signaled forward and directed onto the train. It's a double decker, with only the lower portion being used on this trip. Not very busy at all today. We drive inside the train, and ride from car to car to car. We must have drove at least 100 yards inside a train. This is pretty cool. The ceilings are low so when you stand up you need to duck a little. Especially when you have a helmet cam on like I did for the way out. You don't need to strap down the bikes or anything. You just throw down the kick stand and turn off the engine. My wild side wanted to blurp the throttle a few times, but Mr. responsible was in control this morning. I havn't spoke with John recently, he knows we are coming today, but we don't know his address. We make friends with a guy in the car in front of us and segway into using his phone. It worked, but it was strange that he didn't let us do the talking. He called John and relayed all the info for us while Nick typed it into his GPS. Ok, we got the address, Now it's just an hour or two and we are there.

I didn't know this at the time, but it's impossible not to smile when you are riding a bike inside a train. On the way out wild side trumped mr. responsible and I blurped the throttle a few times. My bike is so loud with no airbox and my LV can.
The first thing I notice about England is they love their roundabouts. They have roundabouts surronded by roundabouts. It works out pretty well, but some intersections seem more complex than necessary. If you don't have a GPS a guy could get turned around pretty easily especially with no sun to look at to keep your bearings. We are almost to Johns place and I start seeing some signs. I wish they had this service way back in Ethiopia when my bike first threw the long-9.It didn't last long though. Now we really have to get there even if it comes down to Nick towing me the last bit.But like all good problems, my bike is stubborrn today and did the whole drive with no fault codes. It ran perfectly all the way to Johns. We get to the shop and it just starts to sprinkle. John does not hessitate to tell us we brought the rain as it hasn't rained here in about two weeks. I'm not suprised. Nick does have some good news for us though. He has been oiling his chain for a day or so automatically. His shock is blown as he noticed the bike felt springy hitting the speed bumps in the parking lot. This explains the skunk smell he's been asking me if I could smell the last two days. It was his shock leaking on his chain. miracle man John, calls the local BMW dealer to see how long it takes to order a replacement. We don't have to order it because they have a rebuilt one is stock. It's $750, but Nick gets it for free under warrenty. I need to take lessons from Nick in breaking down. My repairs always cost money and take time. Nicks' bike is fixed for free by the next day.

After we get the tour of Rally Raid headquarters, I fire up the bike to follow John home. Immeditally my bike thows the code. Thank goodness. It's a lot easier to try to fix a bike when it is broken. We head home and create a plan. John has this spare KTM690 show bike he just bought. It's a beauty and he installed the tank kit just last night.He says I am free to take this to bike to finish the trip. That is option number one. Option number two is to replace my wiring harness with the spare that he bought on eBay and see how the bike is running then. The only problem with this option is that bike's problem is intermittent. Today I drove 300 miles before the bike gave me the code, and started running poorly. What if we swap the harness and then the code continues once we are in Norway? That would suck. I am leaning towards taking John's 690 and just finishing the trip. Time is a huge issue with me having to leave to fish in just two weeks. But, let's swap this harness out to see what happens. I am way to curious to just leave the bike when there is a spare harness available. John and I start clipping zipties and unplugging connectors. The harness is free late into the evening. We call it a day with plans to put the new one on in the morning.Morning comes with a great english breakfast, eggs, beans, tea, and most importantly good company. John with his wife and son.Now let's get down to business. First we compair the two harnesses side by side. One connector has a bent pin which we fix and the new harness has a plug for the S.A.S. valve which I eliminated on my bike. The S.A.S. allows the exhaust to heat up quicker so the CAT starts working sooner in the stock exhaust. It takes about 2 hours to get it routed correctly and ziptied securly in place. Now for the moment of truth. It's actually pretty exciting to turn the key. At this point we are convinced this is the problem. What else could it be? The bike starts right up and makes a nice idle. While I am under the hood, I see if I can get my Garmin 276C cable working again. I wired it up in Bucharest, but couldn't get it to charge. The pins are all corroded from using it on my fishing boat in Alaska. I see if John has any special way to clean it and he does. He pulls out a spare 276C cable that he found at a rally event a while ago. I wire it in and the GPS powers on. I have two weeks left of this trip and I finally have a working GPS. Granted I have no europe maps, so it's still basically just a speedometer, but I have it finally and it feels good.

Down the drive way we go. I almost make it to the road before the 9-long starts. haha, I can't help but smile. What else can you do?The wiring harness was our last idea. At this point the entire electrial system has been checked ok.

*Throttle body
*Both ECU's
*Relays
*Wiring Harness

What is left? We do a 15 minute idle and take it for a ride. The code starts up again, but I keep riding it. Now that I finally have my GPS I can watch the volts which I do. I instantly see what is wrong. The bike is trying to charge at over 14.5 volts. This is not right. As I am driving I keep restarting the engine and watching the volts. Everytime the volts reach over 14.5 the FI code pops on, and I have to restart the engine to reset it. I have a pattern. Somthing consistant. This is all we needed. The bike can be fixed now. I am very excited with my discovery. Check out the volts. It was going crazy. At one point it went up to 19.We come back to the shop with me excited to tell the good news. The voltage spikes must be making the throttle body go nuts when of course would make it think that the throttle valve position is not plaussable. This makes so much sense now. Ok, so what controls the volts? The voltage regulator. We take a reading of the volts coming out of my bike then take a reading off of one of John's 690's. The difference is night and day. I steal the regulator off of Johns' rally bike and go for a long test drive. The bike runs great. There are no codes. I have a big smile on my face. The mystery is over. You can't live in the past, but I would have figured out this problem on day one if I had my GPS. I think all this happened for a reason. I'm not sure why, but it did. A big thanks for John and his patience and helping me fix my bike. I think this is a good place to end the entry. I'll talk more about John's tomorrow.


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