photo Jacob Day
The Tour was finally off and running, now with all of us together we set out to cover some miles. My CB550 was the first to start giving us some trouble. While on our way to the first fill up of the day, my bike starts cutting out, sneezing, and wanting to die. limping it the gas station and filling up I pushed it into the shopping center across the parking lot to brain storm what could be going on. After bouncing some ideas back and forth I assume my mechanical advance is sticking and clean and lube it up. Thinking back, since it was a new bike and I still hadn't got used it its character or it mine. I easily could have just been running out of gas. Whatever the case, I never had the issue again. Back on the road, it was good to get out of Vegas and start heading up to Utah.
photos Jacob Day
30 miles out, in North Las Vegas, Tom starts to fade back in the "something is wrong" sort of way. Dave and I slow down and wait while Tom is, fortunately, able to coast up to us. As he's explaining the issue he's having, it was hard to understand with our helmets on, so we decide to get off the highway to a, very convenient, open gravel lot.
photo Jacob Day
As he explains what was going on before it cut out, which was the motor cutting out, surging, and then dying completely with no signs of battery power, all possibilities of causes are running through my head. Tom and I start running through the basics, like is it a loose ground, broken connection, or a short. The grounds are good, even after adding another main ground to be sure, so our next suspect was a broken connection. This turned out to be a memory lesson for me since I wired his bike. Without wanting to completely destroy the harness, I tried to statically check solder points on the ignition and switched hot circuits looking for a short or broken connections. All checking out, we agreed the charging system was suspect. The last system we wanted an issue with. We packed nearly every tool to completely tear all our bikes down, a multimeter was one that was not packed. Key for diagnosing charging issues.
Fortunately, our good buddy Jacob was with us in a chase car getting photos and drone footage on the first stretch. As Tom and I continued to brainstorm on a diagnosis, Jacob ran back into town to buy jumper cables and a multimeter. With no new ideas, Jacob returns with jumps and an analog meter. Never using an analog before I immediately blow the fuse on the meter checking battery voltage, which helped adding some comic relief to the situation. Switching to the jumpers from his car to the lithium battery on the bike, with you're not supposed to do, we get the bike started and all is well till removing the cables and the bike duplicates the initial symptoms of the issue. Without the proper meter, we're still uncertain if it the battery or charging system, so we remove the battery and connect the jumpers directly to the battery leads. Keeping the rpms high and disconnecting the cables the bike dies instantly meaning it is in fact a charging issue. Great.
With a glimpse of hope we call every shop within 50 miles that showed up under a search of motorcycle searching for an 8 wire regulator/rectifier. Being the only part of the charging system that wasn't replaced new. No luck.
We were all very determined to keep Tom on the trip, so splitting up and towing the bike home was not as option. So some creative thinking later we found a cheap trailer on craigslist to at least buy us some time will we get a replacement reg/rec overnighted to our next destination, a hotel in Saint George, Utah.
Tom rushes to meet at potentially sketchy dude about a potentially sketch trailer, when a potentially sketchy dude parks his car and approaches us. With a limp and one hook for a hand we meet Rude, as to make clear "like a dude with a bad attitude." I'm on the phone with Jarred who's at the Seaweed custom shop back home working on getting one of our extra reg/recs overnighted as Dave and Jacob chat with curious stranger. Walking into a conversation cold I pick up on talk of cars, motorcycles, and engine building and tuning, it wasn't hard to jump right in. It had to be more than a couple hours go by as we chat with our new bud, only breaking when he remembers a new friend he could call about sourcing our needed part.
It's getting late and only a few hours of valuable sunlight remain and we are all getting bit restless. Rude offers a ride to Jacob in this car, which was a built to hell 500+ hp AWD VW GTI, in his generosity to do something for us. Jacob politely refused, but I couldn't let chance pass. Upon sitting in his car Rude informs me, in his newly familiar humor, that it's not wise to get into a built car with a man with a partially working hand, a hook as the other, and one leg behind the wheel. The leg one leg was news to me. Nonetheless, I wasn't going anywhere. Rude, shifted through the gears faster than most veteran drivers with all their limbs. After reaching 150 very quickly I look over to just a hook on the wheel as we 4 wheel drift around a cresting turn after the long straight. Circling back to the lot I was still in an adrenaline filled laugh. Dave and Jacob pleased to see us back safe and without any more missing limbs, we say our thanks and goodbyes to our new butthead buddy.
With Tom returning with a seen better days trailer, we load up and make our way north toward Utah. Getting only just over 100 miles in mostly nightfall to a campground, we find that there were no spots available as a storm starts to close in on us. With our patience tested all day, it was difficult not to be frustrated but we pushed through it as we geared up for another stretch to Cedar City, Utah to the closest vacancy in the area. We had our first best sleep of our lives that night. That 50ish mile run in the poring rain while exhausted from the day was a true test of our mental strength and endurance. Something we will later find as a valuable attribute to have on a trip like this with the bike we're on. -Brady