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If you’re having issues with your motorcycle or scooter’s electrical system, it might seem like it’s been cursed.
Well, it isn’t – there’s a reason why you’re having these problems.
And in this episode, we’ll explore some of those reasons and their meaning.
Tune in to discover:
- 5 common electrical issues – and why they happen
- 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast Episode #28 – “What a Motorcycle Fuse Is and Fuse Color Coding”
- The Dual Wheel Journey blog post “Ohm’s Law Explained With 4 Examples”
- Tool Tutorial – “Multimeter”
- 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast Episode #42 – “Basic Lead-Acid Battery Upkeep & How to Connect and Disconnect a Battery Safely”
Hello, and welcome to another episode of 30-minute motorcycling – a podcast for those riders who are at the beginning of their own Dual Wheel Journey, where you’ll discover something new about how your motorcycle, moped, or scooter works – in less than 30 minutes.
Whenever there’s an issue in your electric system, it might seem like it’s a curse.
But it isn’t, really – just like how there’s a reason why your engine is overheating, there’s a reason why the electrical system isn’t working like it’s supposed to.
In fact, there are 5 common reasons that we’re going to cover in this episode. There are many more, but we’re saving those for a future episode.
For now, let’s get started with the first common electrical issue – a blown fuse or a dead battery.
In the case of the fuse, if it’s “blown,” it means that the copper wire inside has broken off, which in turn means that the components that draw power from that circuit won’t work.
If this is the case, simply replace the broken fuse with a new one, and the problem should be solved – as long as your replacement fuse has the same current rating as the old one.
If you’d like more information about fuses and how fuse color coding works, please check out episode 28 of the 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast.
But it won’t matter if the circuits and all your fuses are fine if the battery’s dead.
Remember – the battery is the heart of the electrical system, as it stores all the energy your motorcycle or scooter needs.
Therefore, no battery power means there’s no electricity to flow through the circuits.
The best way to check if you’ve got a dead battery or a broken fuse is with a multimeter, and if you’d like more information about how one of those work, I’ve put a link to one of my Tool Tutorials in the description for this episode.
Moving on, the second most common electrical issue is a short circuit.
You’ll hear the term thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?
To keep things easy, remember this – electricity has ONE intended path to take from the energy source (i.e. the battery) to the component (such as the front headlight).
If, for some reason, the electricity takes a “shortcut” – such as if your battery’s terminal are directly connected with each other, you might see a few sparks coming out. In some extreme cases, a small fire might even break out.
But why does this happen?
The intended path has a determined amount of resistance – if the electricity flows through a shorter path, the resistance is decreased, and according to Ohm’s Law, if the resistance decreases, the electrical current increases.
If you’d like to know more about Ohm’s Law, I’ve included a link to a blog post about it on The Dual Wheel Journey that explains it.
Anyway, the circuit can’t handle the excessive and sudden increase in electrical current – hence the flying sparks.
So therefore, don’t directly connect your battery’s positive and negative terminals together – and also avoid any metal tool like a spanner coming into contact with your battery terminal and another piece of metal, such as your chassis.
The third common electrical issue is voltage drop.
The name says it all – the voltage drops as it travels from one end of an electrical cable to another.
So even if you measure the voltage at 3 volts at one end, if you measure 1.7 V at the other end, you’ve got a voltage drop problem.
But why does this happen? The most common cause is an excessively long cable. Cables will always have some inherent resistance, and although this resistance is minor, it increases as the length of the cable increases.
But voltage drop can also occur if too many components are attached to and use the energy from a specific circuit.
As for the 4th most common electrical issue, it’s increased resistance.
If you’ve been paying attention, this issue is a no-brainer – if the electrical resistance increases, it means that the current won’t flow as smoothly through the circuit.
But why does the resistance increase? Well, did you know that rust is one of the major causes of increased resistance?
Therefore, if your battery connectors look corroded, it’s time to clean them off using a wire metal brush – just remember to disconnect the battery first.
If you’d like to know more about how to do that, please check out episode 42 of this podcast.
Anyway, the fifth and final common electrical issue we’re going to cover for this episode is about lights – a blown lightbulb.
If your lights aren’t on, and the problem isn’t caused by a dead battery, a blown fuse, or any of the previously mentioned issues, it might be because your lightbulb had blown.
Or it could be because the terminals are broken – here’s where the multimeter will come in handy again. Just remember to let the bulb cool down before you remove it.
One final note, if you’ve got an LED headlight for your bike, a blown light is unlikely to happen as LEDs are known to last for years, if not decades.
And those were 5 common electrical issues explained. There are some more, but we’re saving those for another episode.
I hope you enjoyed listening and, above all, that you discovered something new.
Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road. Bye!