Aug 14 2011

Electrical Noise Part 2


Today I pulled apart the bike and checked the wiring for the accessory power outlet that I’d added two years ago. Contrary to my previous doubts, I found that the positive cable originated at the main fuse, and the negative (ground) terminated on the frame under the seat. Both these locations are about a close to the battery as you can get.

I also checked the configuration of the relay, and confirmed that was OK.

Just to be sure, I rigged up another cable, directly to the battery, and started running some tests.

  • AutoCom and VIO POV both connected to bike power, with the engine running: Lots of noise on the VIO POV recording, but none in my helmet.
  • AutoCom and VIO POV connected to bike power, but through a 20A noise supressor: Lots of noise on the recording, but with some of the lower frequencies gone.
  • AutoCom connected to bike power, and VIO POV running on AA batteries: a faint, high pitched noise on the recording, but otherwise clear audio.
  • The VIO POV connected to bike power and not connected to anything else (ie using its own microphone): lots of noise, as before.
This is enough to convince me that the bike power is fine the way it is, and the VIO POV will be running on AA batteries from now on.
I also tested the Push To Talk switch, and found that the 3.5mm plug and socket that I’d added to make the PTT switch removable is pretty flaky. I’ll be looking around for an alternative connector for that.
Pulling the bike apart gave me an opportunity to clean parts of it that normally get missed. There’s still a lot of red dust in hard to reach places, so I dismantled a few things to clean that off.

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Aug 9 2011

Electrical Noise


As part of the original setup for the Trip, I bought an AutoCom ActivePLUS, which connected my iPod, my phone, and my UHF radio, and routed the sound through to my helmet. The other thing it did was feed all of that sound through to my helmet camera.

One of the things I’d hoped to do was capture some commentary of my own and radio chatter from the rest of the party as a way of narrating the video. Trust me… helmet camera footage is interesting for all of 30 seconds, music or no music.

One of the things that got in the way of that plan (and there were a few) was electrical noise. All the comms gear was powered off the bike, and all the helmet camera video I recorded was infected with a whining noise which changed pitch with the bike’s engine revs. I was aware of the problem before the Trip, and bought a noise supressor which was meant to resolve the issue. It didn’t.

Last weekend I bought a larger noise supressor, and started running some tests on gear powered off the bike. Using the AutoCom and the helmet camera, I ran a series of tests with various combinations of bike power and battery power. What I found was that, even with the filter in place, the helmet camera picked up a lot of noise when powered off the bike. The AutoCom itself seemed to remain reasonably clear on bike power, though the helmet camera (running off batteries) still picked up some electrical noise from the AutoCom.

Both these gadgets are designed to be fitted to a bike, so it came as a bit of a surprise that both would be so susceptible to electrical noise.

I started searching the ‘net, trying to understand the nature and cause of electrical noise, and found that the most common cause was a poor ground (or negative) connection. I started looking at the photos I’d taken when I first added the SAE cable that powers the tank bag, and I think I might have found a clue. The positive lead runs near enough to straight from the battery, so that should be reasonably clean. From there it runs to a relay behind the instrument panel. The trigger wire on the relay comes off the instrument backlights (which are always on when the bike is running). Again, this shouldn’t be a problem, since the switch side of the relay is isolated from the power it’s switching. The weak point, as expected, is the ground. Rather than go back to the frame, or all the way back to the negative terminal on the battery, I attached the ground to a negative wire off the back of the instruments. I can’t be sure, but I think that’s the weak point.

The next step is to rerun the auxiliary power on the bike, with positive and negative originating as close to the battery as possible. From there I’ll break out only for the relay, and use the same trigger source as before.

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Apr 28 2009

Work Weekend


Managed to get some great work done on the bike over the weekend. A few weeks ago I ordered the Wolfman Large Expedition tank bag (in black), ProiTaper ATV Hi handlebars and a bunch of cables and connectors. They finally came, so I worked out what smaller bits I would need, bought those, and got to work.

Naked, but for a fancy pair of handlebars

Pro-Taper SE ATV Hi Bars
I took a couple of phone-photos of the OEM bars in their current position in case I needed to compare them later, but in the end it was the front fairing and the dashboard that decided the angle of the bars. I’ve been holding off on buying a riser kit, but I think I’ll get one now. The new bars are almost the same bend as the stockers, which means they’re just a little too low when I’m standing up.

SAE Power Connector


Amongst the gear that I’d ordered (and waited some time for) from BlueRim were a couple of fused SAE wiring harnesses. I decided to go for these instead of a dashboard or handlebar-mounted Powerlet socket, since a mounted socket would require a connecting lead, which is both more expense and something else to go wrong down the track.


The cable I’d purchased was long enough to reach from the battery to the tank bag, but I ended up deviating from my original plan and adding in a relay, so that the tank bag would turn on and off with the ignition switch. By the time I’d run the cable from the battery to the dashboard (where I’d mounted the relay and sourced the switched power) to the tank bag, it was all too short. Since I had to cut the cable to add the relay anyway, I spliced in some extra cable, and it worked out pretty well.


I sourced the main power from the main fuse under the seat, just near the generator. This is the same as taking power straight from the + terminal on the battery, but the location is better. The switched power from the relay came off one of the dashboard backlights (which, it turned out, had a blown bulb).


I routed the connector itself up through the handlebars and used the tether on the end-cap to keep it in place. It seems to work pretty well there, and the cable is stiff enough that it isn’t going to move.

Powering the Tank Bag
Another item I sourced from BlueRim was a waterproof power connector for the tank bag. The external socket is made from hard

SAE Socket

rubber, and there’s a metal plate inside the bag that clamps the whole thing in place. On the inside I added a double adapter, so I now have 2 SAE connectors inside the bag. All-up, it came out looking pretty sweet.

I removed the cigarette lighter plug from the end of a 3-way lighter-socket powerboard, and replaced it with an SAE connector, and hooked that up to the inside plug on the bag. I also fitted a cigarette lighter plug on the AutoCom, and connected that to the power outlet, along with my Belkin iPod car charger. I connected the iPod and my mobile phone to the AutoCom, conntected the whole thing to the bike, and tested it. Apart from the mic not registering on the phone, the whole thing worked quite nicely. The AutoCom fades the music when you speak, and it really does cancel out background noise and wind (well, all I did was blow in the microphone, but it seems to work).

More to follow on the push-to-talk switch and other tank-bag gadgets… but it’s coming together.

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Apr 3 2009

Bash Plate is on


The bash plate from JNS Engineering arrived earlier in the week, and I’ve fitted it to the bike. It took me maybe 10 minutes to remove the stock plate and attach the new one.

JNS Bash Plate

This thing is very solid, and while I expect that the powder coat will suffer the same fate as that of my crash bars, I don’t think the plate itself is likely to fail me. The recessed bolts on the bottom are a nice touch, as is the fact that it protects the drain plug properly.

John at JNS was incredibly helpful with his advice, and with arranging delivery from the US. I was able to share the freight with two other Melbourne buyers, and John’s communication thoughout that process was excellent.

Another thing to tick off…

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Mar 29 2009

Autocom, Bash Plate… coming


Wow… it’s a bit sad when my twitter feed is generating more blog posts than I am. Need to remedy that.

Last week I ordered an Autocom Active PLUS from a reseller on eBay. It pays to shop around for these, since the one I bought got undercut by another reseller a few ours before I purchased, and I missed it. Also, by the looks of Autocom’s UK site, they’re replacing their entire model range, so there’s a good chance that all the existing models will start to drop in price in the next few months.

Anyway, I’ll soon be kitted up for iPod, phone, UHF radio and GPS chatter in my ears. I’ll need to get a an adapter made up for my Earmolds and my Noise Terminator throat mic, but that shouldn’t be too hard. In the meantime, the kit comes with two complete helmet setups, so I can at least test it with one of those.

At this point I’m still leaning toward a tank bag as the means of housing the Autocomm and all the associated gadgets. The Wolfman Expedition is probably winning – I’ll wedge all the power adapters etc in the bottom corner of it, and put a false floor over that. I’ll need to feed lines out for power, GPS and the PTT switch at the front, and for the mic/headphone jack at the back. Should be a nice setup when it’s done.

I’ve also ordered a bash plate from JNS Engineering in the states. I was able to share the postage with a couple of other guys… pretty happy about that.

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Jan 2 2009

Top case: this guy’s on the right track


This post on gives some indication of the kind of top case mount I want to make for the Trimcast Taurus case. Mike has gone for parallel runners to slide the case into; I’d taper them to create an almost V shape. That way the case is always braced against the runners under acceleration or forward motion, and the locking pin only has to work under brakes. It also means that the case would only have to move an inch or two forward to release – which should be a good thing, but might yet prove to be a weakness.

I like that the case-side of the mount is in two pieces. It means he doesn’t have to get the centre piece the right size, but simply mount the two pieces to the case in the right places.

I also like that he’s included electrics in the case. I’ll add a high bake light to my case (probably in the lid), as well as 12-volt power. That will give me the option of adding a small inverter for charging less 12-volt friendly devices.

Design Mk II here we come…

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Dec 17 2008

New skid plate on the market


I’ve been dragging the chain a bit with regards to a skid plate for the KLR. I know I should get one… I just haven’t yet. In what might turn out to be a handy justification for procrastination, a new skid plate seems to have just come on the market.

A poster on is working on a new design which, even in prototype stage, is better looking than any of the others I’ve seen. It’s more closely matches the OEM black plastic one for shape and coverage, and isn’t so square-rigged as most. It’s still cut and welded, unlike the nicely stamped one on the BMW Dakar… but it looks pretty good.

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Dec 12 2008



Despite the fact that a 17inch rear tyre isn’t as easy to come by as they once were, I finally managed to obtain a set of Dunlop D606s for the KLR a week ago. I’ve probably only changed a motorcycle tyre once before, but with the help of the KLR workshop manual and a very useful YouTube video, I had the two tyres fitted in around an hour and a half, and 2 beers. I reckon I could probably halve that (the time, but not necessarily the beers) now that I know what I’m doing.

I’ve probably ridden around 200 kays on the new tyres, and for what they are I’m happy with them. They don’t inspire the same confidence on the bitumen that the road tyres did, but I wouldn’t expect them to. That said, I didn’t find myself holding back though the corners on the D606s… I was just more aware of them.

I’m also aware of the noise. At higher speeds I can’t hear it for wind and engine noise, but at low speed the tyres make a but of a howl. Not bad, and certainly not unexpected.

On the dirt they’re great. I repeated a 100km ride to Mt Donna Buang and back, taking the same route I’d taken the previous week on the road tyres, and while the on-road experience was not wildly different, riding on a variety of other surfaces was much better. Hard-packed dirt, muddy corners, thick gravel and water on the track where all much easier to negotiate.

While I’d still probably choose the Trailmaxs for a long highway run, I’d be happy enough with the D606s, if that’s all I had.

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Nov 30 2008

Return of the buzzard beak


As much as I hate the look of it, the original buzzard beak is back on the KLR. I headed up to Mt Donna Buang from Healesville yesterday, and came home covered with crap. As you can see from the picture, most of the spray has come from directly in front, as though I was riding behind a car or another bike. In reality all that dirt is from the front tyre and the mudguard. I’d noticed before that water would flick out of the mudguard, get caught by the wind and flick straight back at the headlight… but this is just crazy.

I know that Kawasaki did a lot of wind tunnel testing on the 08 model, and I’m starting to get the feeling they just kept making that mudguard longer and uglier until it did what they needed it to.

Not pretty... but hopefully more effective

The old one is back on now… next time I’m on the dirt I’ll post a photo of the results as a comparison.

Speaking of dirt, I’ve been trying to get some nobbies for the KLR, and it’s proving difficult. The bike has a 17inch rear tyre, something that’s becoming a rarity on newer dirt bikes. I should have new tyres by the middle of the week, but no one in the area had them when I went looking on Friday.

This would have to be the nearest thing to a clear liability I’ve seen in the KLR for a long-distance trip. I always figured that any replacement parts we needed along the way would have to be carted with us, or ordered in advance, but it seems that tyres are going to be that little bit harder to come by. It’s not a big thing… but I’m glad I found out about it now.

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Oct 22 2008



I’ve been wondering lately what should be my next modification to the bike. I’m keen to get a tank bag, and I’d also like to get the electrics sorted out and a GPS added, but I found out last week that the top priority is going to have to be the windscreen.

Last weekend I rode 150+kms from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to Ocean Grove, on mostly highway and freeway. The ride itself was pretty good, despite some cross-winds on the Western Ring Road, but the buffeting from the windscreen was terrible. I actually didn’t realise how bad it was until I stood up on the pegs at 90km/h and found that my helmet had gone quiet and I could hear my iPod better. The difference was incredible. Being out in the wind with no protection at all was far better than riding behind the stock screen.

There are two main schools of thought with windscreens, it seems: higher is better, and the airfoil approach.

The taller screens range from the Kawasaki +4 (inch) screen through to the Cee Bailey monster. Some screens continue the contour of the stock screen and fairing, while others curve up to “flick” the airstream over the rider’s head. If I were to go for a taller screen it would be a curved one. The idea of a tall screen sitting closer to my head doesn’t thrill me, and something that directs the wind up and over me just makes more sense.

The airfoil screens come in two flavours. The Laminar Lip (an early favourite) attaches to the stock screen and curves up to a taller angle, creating a “flick” and a low pressure area between the two screens. I like the idea of this, and that it can be easily removed, leaving the stock screen intact. Wile the total assembly is taller there’s no means of adjustment, so if it doesn’t do the job… tough.

The Vario Touring screen works on a similar principle to the Laminar Lip, though the kit includes a replacement for the stock screen plus an adjustable airfoil or spoiler. The Vario doesn’t add any height to the screen, and the airfoil area is actually fairly small. What I do like about it is that the pitch of the foil can be adjusted to suit the height and riding position of the rider.

The problem I have with all of these is that I don’t know if any of them will work. I’ve read positive and negative reviews of all of them, and it seems many people have bought more than one before they’ve found the right screen for them. One guy has the Kawa +4 with a Laminar Lip, others have the Cee Bailey or CalSci tall screens.

The one that intrigues me the most is the Vario. I like the fact that it’s adjustable, meaning it’s not as hit and miss as the fixed solutions from other vendors.

The Australian distributor of the Vario was not aware that there was a screen for the new KLR (MRA’s own site doesn’t list it, so it’s hardly their fault), but they can order them in for around $AU250.

Won’t be next week, but it will be soon.

I’m also pleased to report that the de-restriction mods performed a few weeks ago are behaving nicely. Power is up, particularly at lower revs, and if anything fuel consumption is down. My last tank (mostly highway riding) saw 385km to reserve, which is the best result I’ve had yet.

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