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Mechanical Mysteries

Keeping to a similar theme (now that my dirt riding paddock is federally navigable water), what's the most unusual mechanical problem you've experienced or seen?

The two most unlikely occurrences happened to a friend of mine, two years in a row, two different bikes.

2004 he had a CBR600F3, and was leaving late to catch up with us, hopefully in northern Pennsylvania. His bike crapped out at night, with headlights flickering periodically, somewhere near Ellicottville NY. Next day a local dealer says the wires and connections are all good, so the battery must have some kind of intermittent short. Replaces battery, rides somewhere in PA, same thing - bike just dies periodically, clearly from electrical problem, only at highway speed. Some locals rescue him, take him to a shop on a Sunday that is usually closed, they go over all the connections, switches and wires that could cause such a total failure; nothing seems to be amiss.

Then someone noticed the vinyl cap on the positive terminal had a hole in it. The battery was flopping around at speed with the positive terminal contacting the frame and shorting periodically. A piece of old rubber inner tube and he met us in Gatlinburg on the Sunday night.

Next year, on his recently acquired SV1000, we are in the last 100 miles of a run to Charleston SC. I was bunking with him and had booked a surfing lesson so time was of the essence. We were going 140-15 km/h down the interstate towards Charleston (it's all flat near the coast anyway, so local roads are just slow, and flat) and I lose him in traffic behind me (I'm on the FJ1200 at the time). I pull over, but he is nowhere; I assume maybe he passed me. The rest of my group passes me, and I arrive at our motel to discover that he is stranded about 25 miles inland, blew a wheel bearing, and has been rescued by a local. I head off to surf, when I return we ride out to "rescue" him and the guy who picked him up was a Guzzi enthusiast, and an engineer/machinist with a motorcycle garage to die for. He already has diagnosed the problem and removed the old bearing; but it got so hot on the interstate the alloy (or were they magnesium?) hub was distorted beyond repair - new wheel needed. Meanwhile, my friend had been given home-cooked supper and we all got an invite to the weekly motorcycle enthusiasts' dinner gathering the next night.

After waiting a couple of days for a wheel from California, and using the FJ as a cargo and human transport vehicle, we got him back on the road.