Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Allow me to introduce: Park

I haven't owned that may bikes in  my lifetime. I started out on a 1986 Honda Reflex (TLR200) that a good friend was kind enough to purchase for me. I think the selling price was $400 and, as far as I was concerned, the perfect starter bike. I dropped the counter-shaft sprocket one or two teeth, to make it even more trials oriented, and then headed out to ride the power lines, in Massachusetts, near my friend's home. I even recall flipping it and watching the rear fender break in half. My friend was kind enough to fabricate a "break-away" rear fender out of some MX after-market front fender. He mounted it with rubber grommets and the mounting holes were open on the bottom. It popped off very easily and I never broke another body piece on that bike. If you haven't guessed, my friend is an engineer. Some years later, when I rode the Reflex on the road for a short time, I bought a new rear fender from Honda. It wasn't cheap and I regretted braking the original.

I digress. Every bike I've owned, with the exception of the VTR and my wife's scooter, has been a street-legal version of an off-road bike; 1986 Honda Reflex, 1997 Suzuki DR350SE, 1999 Suzuki DR350SE, 1992 Suzuki DR250SE, 2002 Honda Reflex (scooter), 1989 Honda TransAlp, 1988 Honda NX125 and now 1989 Honda VTR250. The only bike that comes with a "park" position on the ignition switch is the VTR. However, this feature is apparently prevalent on other street bikes. If you're still not sure of which I speak, here's the ignition switch itself:

From the top, going in counter-clockwise direction, is On, Off, P and Lock. The switch is in the Lock position in the image above. What I did not know was that if you leave the ignition switch in the P position, the  taillight is left on (to warn other motorist's of your presence, at night). Well, if you're unaware of this feature, or by some chance leave the ignition switch in this position and don't notice the taillight on, you're going to have a rude awakening several hours later; a dead battery.

Naturally, I managed to engage the P position on the first day I rode the VTR to the office. So, leaving for home that evening involved a lot of frustrated flailing as I removed all of the bodywork in an effort to diagnose the issue. I even called the former owner in an effort to gain some insight. It wasn't until I posted for help on the VTR250 forums, as well as on Adventure Rider, that I was alerted to the "night park" position of the ignition switch. I had to call my wife for a ride home, hook up the trailer, drive back to the office, load the bike, drive home, unload the bike and put the trailer away. That was a lot of work for an evening that should have been pretty quiet. I did hook the battery up to my Battery Tender Jr. in the hopes that it would be fully charged the next morning. When it wasn't, I was pretty sure I was going to have to source a new battery. Fortunately, a Batteries Plus store had one in stock  and that BP store was in the strip mall next to my wife's store. However, when I returned home that evening, the battery was fully charged and has been OK since.

A fellow VTR owner suggested pulling the fuse, which is located behind the ignition cover switch, in an effort to keep from unintentionally discharging the battery in the future. A stupendous idea, in my opinion. And, in case I do get stranded someplace and need the taillight to warn other motorists, there's a spare fuse that I can put back in the appropriate slot, to activate the taillight. What's ironic is that there's hardly anything in the shop manual regarding this. Basically, just a way to test for continuity, of the P position, in the ignition switch. It's the owner's manual that has the real information. Unfortunately, I didn't read through that before riding  That's a hard way to learn about a cool(?) feature. C'est la vie.

1 comment:

  1. You could have just push started the bike. No need for a long drawn out "come pick me up and bring the trailer". Thats the good thing about the little bikes. Easy to get going then just hop on and pop the clutch. Starts right up :)