Operational Interrupt

So we’re at the hotel on Morning Two of a training tour, throwing stuff on the bikes and preparing to hit the best secret (ok; some not-so-secret) roads of Western NC, when one of the bikes — a new BMW — shows signs of a weak battery as the student grinds the starter with no positive results.

“You better quit cranking it before the computer pulls your plug!” the other student (similarly mounted) offered.

Huh?  “…computer pulls the plug?”  What’s this about?

The explanation was that when the electronic management system senses a battery no longer has enough juice to start the bike, it shuts everything down.  Once that happens, it’s irreversible, and the bike must be trailered to a dealer to have the system re-set.   ….and presumably the battery re-charged.  Or do BMW riders just throw away a low battery and replace it?

Fortunately, in the case above, the rider laid off the starter of the failing bike and I got out my BMW Emergency Kit (jumper cables), fixing the problem the old-fashioned way.  It would have been an ugly start to the day if we had had to go off in search of a dealer and truck/trailer to solve an otherwise dirt-simple problem.

Reflecting on the logic of this “improvement” in motorcycliing engineering, I was remionded of the power-assisted brakes on an ’05 R1200GS I once rode.  If I stopped and shut off the engine, say to refuel, when I re-cranked and was ready to roll, the brakes did not regain their power assist until I had reached sufficient speed to re-set the ABS.  Consequently, if I had to make a sudden stop pulling out of the gas station, perhaps for traffic, the brakes were wooden in feel, and took an unreal amount of lever force to operate.  No brakes when you’re counting on them?  That ain’t good!

Is this a forbear of Motorcycling’s Future?  I sure hope not.

PT

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2 Responses to “Operational Interrupt”

  1. stayinsafe Says:

    I learned recently about another downside to low batteries on BMWs. My stepfather learned that, if the battery gets too low on his R1200C, the ABS lights begin to flash, apparently indicating that there is not enough juice to operate the system. Now, I have not verified that this is a designed-in function or whether it was coincidental timing, but the fact remains that he unexpectedly lost ABS braking and learned of that not by the flashing lights (surely dimmed in sunlight) but by an unexpected lock up of his rear tire on a dirty section of road. Technology is a wonderful thing when it is working. Unfortunately, no one has developed a 100% reliable system that has compensated for all potential situations — including a low battery. So, until they do, I will not have 100% confidence in those technologies. (see also the ABS=Atrophied Braking Skills post on this blog)

  2. Chris Says:

    Don’t have these problems with Airheads

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