Motorcycle Relationships: In it for the Long Haul

Dec 27, 2014 View Comments by

Motorcycle Relationships: In it for the Long HaulSome guys seem to switch motorcycles like they change clothes: never satisfied with the one they’ve got. Others will stick by a good bike through thick and thin, in spite of the machine’s faults and weaknesses. I fall into the second category, if only because my wallet isn’t fat enough to support any other habit. Nonetheless, as with any long-term relationship, time tends to reveal quirks and failings in a motorcycle.

Motorcycle Relationships: In it for the Long HaulMy current ride is a 2000 Suzuki SV650. It’s a motorcycle I’ve totally fallen in love with. However, experience, talking with other owners, and perusing the online SV Riders forum alerted me to another foible baked into my bike (you can read about another one here). Don’t get me wrong; the SV has a fantastic reputation as a well built, reliable motorcycle. In fact it shares its 645cc V-twin with the V-Strom 650, a bike known for racking up serious miles. I did recently find out, though, that one little electrical component was destined to leave me stranded by the roadside sooner or later. The bike’s OEM Regulator/Rectifier is, in so many words, a piece of junk. This little part takes the alternating current produced by the bike’s alternator and converts it into the direct current the motorcycle’s 12-volt system needs. When it fails, and it inevitably does, the battery ceases to be recharged and will eventually be run dry by the lights, spark plugs, cooling fan, pumps, and other systems necessary to keep a motorcycle running. Virtually every SV owner I’ve talked to has had a similar experience with a tow truck bill being the eventual outcome.

It turns out I’ve been quite lucky in that the R/R on my particular bike has outlived its prognosis by several years. Still, I have been sufficiently warned. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a completely straightforward solution to this problem as replacing the part would only buy me time. So I went with a rather unorthodox solution that’s worked for many other SV riders—replacing the stock Suzuki R/R with the same part from a mid-2000s Honda CBR600RR. Conveniently the Honda part bolts right into place on the ‘zuke, and all that is required is some, err, modification of the bike’s wiring harness.

The Honda R/R was sourced from eBay for around $25 with the various electrical connectors and wiring adding on another $15 or so. A small price to pay for the peace of mind. The project took about two hours on a Saturday morning. The result is—at least I hope—that my faithful steed will remain as such for years to come.

Have you had similar experiences with your bike? What modifications have you had to make to keep your old bike reliably on the road?


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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.