Broke down on the first day of a month long ride to Idaho - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-14-2011, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Broke down on the first day of a month long ride to Idaho

Well, the title says it all. Well not quite. My girlfriend and I left for a repeat of our two-up ride through the Rockies last year. This year instead of meeting her in New Mexico, we're departing San Miguel de Allende, Mexico together, and are planning to work our way up almost to the Canadian border. As we approached Zacatecas, a major city and about a four hour ride from our home, I pull over to consult the map, and turn the bike off. When I go to restart it, there's a sickening weak sound, and the engine's not turning over. Battery appears to be dead, and I'm bummed for a couple of reasons. Besides the obvious crimp this is putting into our trip, I just replaced the battery with a new, top of the line gel battery, so I'm pretty sure there's a bug in the electrical system. Hmmmmm....

We're out in the country, but luckily there's a house nearby, and I walk over to see if anyone there has some jumper cables. When I get to the open front gate, I'm struck by the beauty of the interior and the courtyard. This place is stealth. You'd never know what treasures lie behind the outer walls until you breach them. I introduce myself to the owner, Lorenzo, and compliment him on his home's beauty. He proudly tells me that the designer of it was an American. When asked if he has jumper cables, he shakes his head in the negative, and grasping at straws, I ask if he has any old electrical wire around which we could use. He disappears into the house for a few minutes and returns with an old lamp cord.

I'm wondering if there's enough current to melt the cord in our hands as we stand, him at his truck, and myself at the Versys's battery and touch the stranded wire to the terminals. Hallelujah! The motor turns over, I shake his hand and start mounting the seat/Airhawks, and donning our gear. As I go to pull out, the motor stalls, my heart sinks, and we go back to phase one. After two more efforts to get out of Lorenzo's driveway, and the same result, I offer to pay him 500 pesos to run us and the bike into Zacatecas to a moto shop, and he agrees. He asks me if I would prefer to go to a shop that specializes in electrical problems, and I'm thinking that sounds like a pretty good idea.



We arrive at Jose Luis's shop in Guadalupe, outside Zacatecas and unload the bike. Jose Luis get's out his ohm meter, and goes to town checking things out. He swaps out a component under the seat with another from the graveyard of bikes in his shop and when it shows no change, he informs me that it's the "estator", or stator. When I ask him if there's a Kawasaki dealer in Zacatecas where we can order the part, he shakes his head, "No". Dianna and I look crestfallen as the situation sinks into our brainpans.



Then Jose Luis's face lights up like he's just had a thought. A good thought. He tells us that there is one guy here in town who can rewind an estator, but that it will probably cost about 700 pesos, or about $60 US. Sounds like a great deal, not to mention our only option in this case, so shaking hands, we leave the V with him and flag down a cab to take us to a hotel to wait for the repair to be completed.

Fortunately, Zacatecas happens to be one of my favorite towns in Mexico. It's not a gringo town, but is peopled by what strikes me as a kind of cosmopolitan kind of Mexicano. The town has a reputation as one of the cleanest towns in Mexico, and the architecture and general feel of the place seems almost European to me.




We check into the Hotel Reyna Soledad which is right downtown, and has quiet, well appointed rooms off the street which they discount to us for 500 pesos/night. We're not feeling super chipper because of the circumstances, but are cautiously optimistic that the stator will get fixed and we'll be on our way in a day or two depending on the speed of the guy who's re-wrapping the stator.


We settle into the outdoor restaurante where we've chosen to dine, , are trying not to be put off by the seemingly perennial clown show next to it and have made friends with our waiter Napoleon. We'll call Jose Luis tomorrow to check on the stator's status.





To see how this all turns out, tune in to installment #2.

Michael
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- Terry Pratchett

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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-14-2011, 10:01 PM
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I had my stator go out on my first day to Alaska. Luckily I was 10 miles from a shop and they were in the mood to tear a new bike apart for me. I'm starting to think there are regulator issues with the older bikes causing stators to go bad. Kawasaki now uses a different regulator.

Still working on my RR.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=714304

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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-14-2011, 10:07 PM
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Good Luck Miguelito.
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-14-2011, 10:15 PM
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good luck miguelito.

ditto!!!!!



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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:24 AM
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Sorry to hear about the stator failure. But glad you took it differently and still remain positive and spent time exploring the town which looks really nice. Hope to read on your journey's journal. Hope the stator's rewound is done by the time you read this.

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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 02:47 AM
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wishing you and keep posted.

Nice start for a month long journey-looking life form a different angle.

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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 04:09 AM
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All the best and hope they do a good job for you, looking forward to part 2
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 04:23 AM
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Good luck....and sorry to read about the clown part
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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 10:12 AM
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Bummer about the stator, but seems that things are off to an adventurous start!
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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 10:31 AM
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More please.

If a brake down must happen, that seems like a pleasant place to have it in.


Cheers.
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 05:00 PM
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Good luck with your repairs, for better or worse, snafus are memory makers
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 05:30 PM
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Sorry to hear about your troubles! Sounds like you are making the best of it.

Steve

I bought a motorcycle because my wife said that I couldn't! Now I have two and she still says I can't have another one!
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Sounds like a challenge to me!

Now I have four!
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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 09:11 PM
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great adventure!!!! sometimes the break downs instill the fondest memories of the journey....one time when I was doing a coast to coast slog I...........Safe travels!!!!.
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the well wishes amigos!

Ok, the stator's rewired and back in the bike and we're humming along the Mexican highways. Total cost was about $93 US. After reading Steve Harrison's report on his replacement cost of the stator on the forum, (about $280 US just for the part/shipping), I'm thinking I got a pretty good deal.

Left Zacatecas about 4 in the afternoon, and are blasting north to make up for an extra day in Zacatecas. Not much to say other than we're just stopping wherever we ended up by evening which happens to be the town of Cuencame, a few hours north of Zac. My guess is not many gringos stay in this town. People are friendly though. We ate at this restaurant:


Checked into a little motel on the north end of town. This is a real US style motel with parking outside of each room. The difference is that the room costs 225 pesos or less than $20 US.


Talked to one of the workers who's here installing satellite TV cables about his work. He worked in the US for a couple of years, so I asked him how the pay compares here south of the border. He told me the difference in a nutshell is that in the US he could work for a few hours and buy a 30 pack of beer with his pay. Here he said he has to work a couple of days to do the same. Specifically he said he's paid on how much work they accomplish each week and on a good week he makes about 2000 pesos or about $180 US, but that a normal week sees his pay at more like 1000 pesos or about $90 US.

We've decided to take the cuotas, (toll roads), north from here, rather than my original plan to wend my way up along the foothills of the Sierra Madres to the west of Ciudad Chihuahua in order to make up for some of the lost time. That turned out to be a mistake. That first day cost us about $50 US in tolls, and was excruciatingly boring, (read: flat and straight). Plus we ended up crossing at Ojinaga/Presidio, so we have a lot more flat and straight ahead of us before we'll hit any mountains and the curves.

I decided to get the bike washed in Ojinaga before crossing the border. The last time I crossed here, it cost me 25 pesos or about $2.20 for a hand wash that I was very satisfied with. I couldn't find that place so I pulled into "Pequeno's Auto Lavanderia" and asked for a wash. These guys were all over it, and spent a lot of time cleaning it up. When he got out some kind of sprayer with some additive in it, I was tempted to stop him, but decided he must know what he's doing, so I let him proceed. That turned out to be another mistake.


When they finished I got out a 50 peso bill to pay Pequeno, and he shakes his head, and informs me that this wash costs 130 pesos. I just laughed out loud, and told him I'd never paid more than 50 pesos for a bike wash anywhere in Mexico, and the last one I'd had in Ojinaga cost me only 25 pesos. He protested, and I ended up reaching into my pocket and giving him another 10 pesos. Neither one of us was happy. Kind of a drag to leave this country which I like so much on the note of being scammed by a Mexicano, but I'll try not to dwell on it. It is something that gringos should be aware of, especially in border and tourist towns though: that while most Mexicanos will go out of their way to help you, there's a small percentage who will try to take advantage. I almost never am faced with that kind of thing in the cities and villages here that aren't magnets or conduits for tourists.

We crossed the border and then I noticed the stuff he'd sprayed on at the last minute had baked onto the exhaust/muffler. Dayum! Wish I'd told him to cease and desist when he pulled that out. Anyway, Mexico travelers beware: boycott Pequeno's Car Wash in Ojinaga.


Crossing the border was more crowded than I remember it ever being at the US side. Waiting in line to be cleared by customs:


The good news is that the stator's operating as designed again, and the bike starts well as per usual. We were holding our breath the first few times we turned the ignition off, when we went to restart it. Keeping our finger's crossed that it was a good re-wrap job.

More later.

Michael
Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual.
- Terry Pratchett

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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 03:16 PM
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Thanks!

Michael, thanks for the update, I'm enjoying this report. Glad you are back on the road and having fun.

Keith
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post #16 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 03:39 PM
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Glad you guys are back on the road and doing fine! Looks like an adventure already.

Ride To Live, Live To Ride....no, really!
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post #17 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 03:42 PM
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I've greatly enjoyed reading this report as well. Thanks for posting it!
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post #18 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 08:49 PM
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I have found, in my travels, the adventure starts when something goes wrong.

That is what makes it fun. And memorable.

Safe travels my friend.

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post #19 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-19-2011, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for the well wishes, and following along amigos.

After crossing the border, we spent the night in Van Horn, TX. When I stopped here a couple of years ago, I remember having trouble finding a room for less than $45/night. Don't know if it's the economy, (I suspect it is), but this time we saw about three different motels advertising rates as low as $29/night. We checked into the Village Inn at about $35/night including taxes. The room was clean, pretty spacious, and a good bargain. Dinner at the local Mexican restaurant, Chuys where we talked with a couple of guys who'd been all over South America and the US installing wind turbines. I guess these guys are the "roughnecks" of the future, instead of drilling for oil, they're harnessing nature's energy. They told us to look out for the wind farm on the right about 50 miles north of Van Horn on our way to Santa Fe, and we did.

The ride north to Carlsbad was pretty with a few bends in the road, and then it turned into rider's Hell, with mind numbing mile after mind numbing mile of straight flat roads. Filled up on gas in Roswell, and started more monotonous riding toward Vaugn, NM. About 20 miles out of Roswell, the bike started losing power, and I'm starting to worry that the re-wrap of the stator is beginning to unravel. I figure we're far enough out of town, it makes little sense to turn back so I keep on towards Vaughm. I'm finding that if I keep the rpms high, it seems like the surging feeling is a bit less, so I wind it out, and we're booking down the road at 100 mph.

After 20 miles or so, I'm starting to recognize the symptoms I'm feeling as those of a bad batch of gas rather than a problem with the electrical system. The fact that the bike seems better at higher rpms jibes with my theory, and I'm feeling a little more optimistic. 100 excruciating miles from Roswell, we pull into Vaughn and stop at the first gas station. I send Dianna in to get some gas treatment, and once we've filled up, the bike is running normally. Whew! *sigh*

It was interesting to me that I was more worried about getting some assistance on this stretch of American highway, than I usually am in Mexico. There were so many sleek new cars and trucks around us today, that I thought most would be reluctant to stop and help a sweaty couple on a motorcycle broken down along the road. One of the things about Mexico is most people don't have much, and so they're willing to help those around them when they're in need. I could be wrong, but I think as people become more affluent, they lose sight of where they came from, and consequently, they're more apt to donate to their favorite charity, than reach out to someone in need in their immediate environs. Either way, we made it fine without anny assist necessary and made it to my amigo, Mundobravo's place in Santa Fe that afternoon.

Talk about 4-star hotels! Mundo and his mujer styled us with great meals, half of which came out of their garden, for the next two days. We took them out to one of our local favorite places, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, where we bumped into a lot of friends from when I lived here. Contrary to the sign, the party was not "reserved".




Mundo and I took a joy ride up to Taos via the high road on our layover day, and came back via a short dirt section from Dixon, NM. What a great area to ride.


Tomorrow, Mundo will join us as we ride north via the high road again, then over La Veta Pass to visit some other friends in Westcliffe.

Stay tuned.

Michael
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- Terry Pratchett

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post #20 of 57 (permalink) Old 08-20-2011, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Took the high road up to Taos, then north on the straight but scenic ride to Fort Garland, CO.


Near the top of La Veta Pass, we took the cutoff to Gardner, CO, and stopped to enjoy a beer which we'd picked up to bring to our friend Greg's Colorado mountain house.


Taking a break on the rock outcroppings on Greg & Maureen's property.


Greg had just returned from Okemah, Oklahoma where he's won first place in the Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. Here's a video of him performing it at the festival:
No Video

The next day Mundo left early to run into town then back to Santa Fe, and we cut out shortly afterward for Salida. On our ride into Westcliffe we passed our intrepid amigo, Mundobravo, pulled over as one of the local constabulary was writing him a ticket. Those BMWs sure do like to go fast mate.


After breakfast in Salida we went on to Fairplay, to Frisco, to Idaho Springs where we stopped at the Tommyknocker Brewery for lunch, and to see the brewmeister who's an old kayaking bud of mine. The food was great, but we never found my buddy. (:


We encountered our first rain of this trip upon leaving Idaho Springs, and suited up in rain gear for the ride to Nederland then down to Boulder for another free night of lodging with friends. Too bad, 'cause this section was nice and twisty, but the wet took a lot of fun out of it.

Michael
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