Restoring an Old Motorcycle (IE: Working on Junk)

Posted on Posted in History, How To
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Courtesy William Barnett

Working on old bikes can be cathartic. It can also add way more stress to your life. Today started off very cathartic and turned very stressful.

I have been working on a friends 1995 DR125SE for, well forever it feels like. I got it not running and in mostly finished condition months ago. A little rewiring from the previous mechanic and reconditioning the carburetor and I was riding around. Replaced all of the switches, rewired the turn signals, and fixed the horn. At this point I returned the bike to my friend and figured all was good.

Queue the horn not working for inspection. Instead of returning it to me, the guy who got it running, he took it back to the original mechanic who had wired everything backwards. He decided that in order to fix the horn he needed to cut all of the wiring apart and start completely over. Mind you this was a fully functional bike that everything else worked perfectly. Unable to get it running he gave up, told my friend to buy new switched and that was that.

Trying to fix what was already fixed once is a daunting task. Having all of the wiring I painstakingly laid out and routed simply cut apart was really hard to deal with. Because of this I was unable to use the hacked up harness a second time. After trying to eBay a new harness that was also junk, my friend ponied up the dough and got a brand new harness. This is where the fun gets really interesting.

I didn’t peel away all of the layers when I was rewiring the bike the first time. That was my mistake. It was worse than I thought. There was a connection that had two wires going into a three wire split! Even worse than that he had used the same color wire for every connector and once covered with electrical tape they were indistinguishable from each other.

Replacing the wiring harness was fairly straight forward. The harness is from a model year newer but all of the plugs matched up near the ECU. The front is a different story and this is where life got sidetracked and we discovered the rest of the wiring snafu that existed. As it stands we have ignition capability but no lights and a ways to go for a fully functional bike but a good days work nonetheless.

What are some of your bike horror stories?

The pictures are to prove I wrench and write!