Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ural Power Dilemma

In my last post, I described my frustration with the Ural and upon initial inspection believed the battery to be at fault. Last night, I had time to diagnose the problem further. I expected to confirm the failed battery by testing it with my multimeter, and then scavenge the battery from the R1150GS to get me back on the road while I waited for the replacement to arrive later this week.

When I tested the Ural’s battery with the multimeter, it read 12.59v. A healthy battery. Huh? The other voltmeter I had said 8.5v, and none of the lights worked. Dang. I was hoping for an easy fix. The new battery is still on its way and will be here tomorrow. It would be prudent to replace it anyways since the Harley battery in there now is near the end of it’s expected life. I guess my other voltmeter needs to visit the trashcan.

Ural Electrical

I checked the fuses next still hoping for an easy fix. They all appear to be in-tact. Next I looked at the relays. One of them was corroded like last time, so I clean it up and put it back. Still no difference.

Ural Electrical

After a sigh and a shake of the head, I started removing the fairing to get at the headlight and the rats nest of wiring behind it.

Ural Electrical

While I was in the rats nest of wiring, I found a couple red hearings. A couple of the wires for my heated grips were loose in their connectors, so I reattached them. I also sealed up some of the loose heat shrink that appears to have been forgotten about during that install. I was disappointed to see that. I hadn’t looked in this area since they were installed to see the quality of the work.

Ural Electrical

The Ural last worked flawlessly Sunday, but when I tried to start it on Monday morning. I turned the ignition key, and watched all the lights light up including the headlight. After pressing the starter it made a short “grrr… clunk” noise as the bike went dark and the power died. It seemed to lose power mid-crank which is what the clunk sounded like. Thinking back I had an issue like this a couple times earlier this year, but a reset of all the switches brought it back immediately. Not this time.

Ural Electrical

The above led me directly to the ignition switch since the fuses and battery checked out. It was getting 12.5v from the battery, but nothing after going to the “on” position. Maybe a bad switch? I spent some time looking on the Ural forums on how to hotwire a Ural. Ural ignition switch below with five different contacts – two blue which I should be ground and three red which are hot in various switch positions.

Ural Electrical Ignition Switch

The main method is to connect a wire from the positive side of the battery to a wire coming out of the top of the engine. It is supposed to have a spade connector. On my Ural, there are three wires in one, and no spade connector. The connector is also jammed under the gas tank, and not accessible without removing it. I’ll try that next. If I do that, I will bypass the mess in the headlight bucket, and I should be able to kick start it. I also tried connecting the main hot wire from the ignition switch to the “on” wire. Nothing happened. Darn. Maybe I used the wrong wire.

I’m a bit stumped right now. I think it might be the ignition switch or right hand grip unit, but I’m venturing out beyond my electrical troubleshooting experience now. My attempts to bypass the suspect parts has failed to produce actionable results. It may be time to hire a trailer, and bring it to a professional which means taking time off work. Bummer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dead Battery on the Ural #2

Low Voltage Ural Battery

It was the coldest day of this winter at 15F, but my garage was still in the 40s for some reason. I put on my gear very methodically making sure to seal out all the usual draft areas: neck, zippers, wrists, etc.

I opened the door and went into the garage. The Ural looked ready to go. I had just ridden it two days earlier, and it ran fine. I tossed my laptop into the trunk, and closed it with a clang. I do enjoy having such a large luggage area. It really makes things easy.

I began my normal starting ritual. Remove the battery tender cable. Shift the transmission from reverse to neutral. I moved the kick starter several times to lube up the engine. Pull out the choke on the left carburetor, and then on the right side. Turn the ignition key to the run position while noticing the green and orange lights normally on the dash. Thumb the engine stop switch to on, and press the starter while squeezing in the clutch lever. “grrrr…. “ then darkness. 

No headlight, no dash lights, no life it seemed was in the beast. I turned everything off and reset all the switches and tried again. Nothing. No lights. Damn. I grabbed my voltmeter and saw the battery was at 8.5v, and not the normal 12.x. Not enough juice to kick start either. Not good at all. I’m a bit sweaty now; I’m dressed for riding at 15F not for standing around in 40F. I played around some more, but to no avail.

My wife stepped into the garage to leave for work. I asked her for a ride. I’m now late. I stripped off my riding gear and leave it in a heap as I dashed out the door. Now we’re both late.

Could it be an electrical short like the last time I had battery trouble? Maybe it’s a dead battery like when I first bought my Ural? There is an HD battery in there is now three years old, and unfortunately has been deep cycled a couple times. I have a new Odyssey PC680 on order. Ural dealer isn’t going to warranty an HD battery. Sure I could have gotten another battery to fit, but I want a reliable brand like Odyssey in my Ural. They make robust, reliable batteries.

I need some free time to figure it out which I hope I will have tonight. I checked, and it looks like the R1150GS battery is the same size as the Ural. I might swap those tonight. I guess the GS might be useful after all.

I’m very thankful I have a wonderful wife who can chauffer me to work while I fix the Ural.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winter Riding Has Arrived

1st Ural Snow Ride

It’s amazing how much can change in a day. In my last post, I mentioned how it was sunny and in the high 60s. A rare thing indeed for Minnesota in late November. When I woke up yesterday, it was still in the 50s. As the day wore on the temp withered away. It began to snow just after lunch, and by dinner there was two inches of snow resting on the ground. For my ride today, the temperature crept towards 30F, but never made it. Winter has arrived.

I spent some time getting reacquainted with the Ural in an empty parking lot. Just like I do in the spring when I switch my primary riding to two-wheels, I spend some time practicing emergency maneuvers in the winter when I switch to three-wheels. Swerves, quick stops, and flying the chair. I’m a bit rusty with the later one, the first two came back quickly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunset on a Lake

SV650 at Lake at Sunset

Amazingly, the temperature was in the high 60s (F) today. The warm air and clear skies made for a great commuting day. I HAD to take the long way home past a half dozen different lakes. I managed to work in every twisty road I could find. It was nice.

I can hardly believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Have a great holiday weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter Sidecar Prep

It snowed just briefly this morning which encouraged me to finish getting the Ural ready for winter. The two-wheeled riding season is about to come to a close, and the three-wheeled winter fun is about to begin.

Ural Tire Rotation

I put the main fairing and lower leg guards on last weekend. Today, I jacked the Ural up and rotated the back tires. I am still using the K37 Snowtex from last winter.

Ural Tire Rotation

The pusher (motorcycle rear) tire wears out the tires the fastest, and conversely, the cart (sidecar) wears them out the slowest. Since the K37 are not directional tires, I just swapped the wheels. A very easy procedure requiring about 30 minutes. It could probably be done in 10-15 minutes, but I was taking my time.

The photo below shows the cart (left) vs the pusher (right) over the same mileage. The cart tire is practically new.

Ural Tire Rotation

I also took the time to put on the hippo hands. The last time they were used was on my SV650 during my Everyday for 7 Weeks trip. Riding to work in the cold recently has reminded me quite strongly of riding through the Canadian Rockies. I find it interesting how the similar weather reminds me of that trip when I am on the SV. No other motorcycle trip has had such strong memories.

Ural with Hippo Hands

I should probably change the oil too, but I am otherwise good to go for winter.

Bring on the snow!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Motorcycle First Thursday–November 2012

First Thursday - November 2012

Yesterday was First Thursday at Dulono’s Pizza in Minneapolis. Earlier in there year this event would have drew in over a thousand motorcycles, but now the number of bikes matched the temperature. It was in the low 30s (F).

First Thursday - November 2012

This was the first one I’ve been able to make in several months. It was nice to visit with friends and catch up on summer adventures.

When I left, it was dark and there was only three bikes counting my SV650. I was happy to have my heated coat for the brisk ride home.