Motorcycle Design Problems: Finding Out the Hard Way

Apr 25, 2014 View Comments by

Motorcycle Design Problems: Finding Out the Hard WayLast year, on the way back from RoadRUNNER’s Touring Weekend in Maggie Valley (this year’s Touring Weekend will be in Snowshoe, WV) I discovered a quirk particular to my specific brand and model of bike. Over the long weekend I’d already racked up around 1,000 miles and all that stood between me and home was another 150 miles or so of interstate. As Florian and I took off early that morning the sky was overcast and a fine drizzle filled the air. Before long, those drizzles turned into a light, but steady rain. It was then that a fundamental design flaw in my 2000 Suzuki SV650 decided to rear its ugly head. As I descended from the Appalachian Mountains the bike’s power started to come and go. I would suddenly lose half my power, and then it would come roaring back—a rather disconcerting feeling that would have been very dangerous had I been on a curvy road instead of a nearly deserted interstate. Soon, the on again off again power spurts ceased and I was stuck with barley enough power to maintain 55 mph in fifth gear (sixth wasn’t even an option). The rain stopped and I eventually made it all the way to my house, all the while wondering what could possibly be wrong with the bike. About 10 miles from home, another enigma was added to the puzzle, at first the power spurts began again, and by the time I pulled into my driveway, the little zuke was running perfectly as if nothing had ever happened.

Perusing the wealth of wisdom to be found in online motorcycle forums, I soon diagnosed the issue. It’s called the SV325 problem, when riding in the rain water can get under the spark plug boot of the number one cylinder and cut off its ignition. Apparently Suzuki never thought that anyone would ride the SV in the rain. I had covered almost 150 miles on only one cylinder, which certainly explains why it was hard to keep up with traffic!

It’s a bit ridiculous that such an obvious flaw would make it past the quality control people on such an otherwise bulletproof bike. Still, it just goes to show that even with the amount of time, money, and effort poured into designing and building modern motorcycles they’re still far from perfect. Fortunately for me, my SV325 problem was easily solved with the application of some dielectric grease.

What about you, what quirks and problems have you discovered with your motorcycle?


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About the author

There’s something relentlessly romantic about riding a motorcycle. I’m blessed to know that feeling. With a background in photography and a love for motorcycles, I’m interested in the beauty and honesty of the open road. You’ll find me riding Carolina’s roads on my Suzuki SV650.