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Thread: BMW Broken Down - Rt29N, ~ Gainsville, VA

  1. #1
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    BMW Broken Down - Rt29N, ~ Gainsville, VA

    Saw a BMW broke down on Rt29N tonight. Stopped, but didn't have a set of jumper cables to help, so I went on and acquired some (no big deal...I really need a set in that car). However, when I returned they were gone. Hopefully you got home safe. I don't even know if they are on this forum, but worth a shot.

    Just checking in to see if you made it back ok.

  2. #2
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    That was me - thanks for stopping! Which car were you in???

    I had planned a most awesome weekend in Monterey, VA for the three-day Columbus Day weekend. I had made a two-night reservation at the Montvale Motor Inn (aka Highland Inn Lite) and planned out some incredible routes. I made it out Saturday at about twice the fast way mileage, mostly on 3-digit back roads, the weather, the foliage, and the roads were incredible.

    I had about 300 miles of solid back roads planned for Sunday, lots I haven't seen in years and some I have never ridden before. When I got up Sunday morning however the bike would not start - all signs pointed to a failed battery cell or two (normal voltage, all lights bright and happy, not enough juice to turn it over.) I decided to jump it and try for home

    I did manage a few nice roads on my way to 211 east, including Moyer Gap Road which was a real treat, along with Sugar Land road. I did notice that when I honked the horn the bike would momentarily shut down so I took it easy and made sure to keep the revs up. I filled up with gas in Luray with the engine running, probably mot too smart and much to the dismay of the attendant, and after crossing over Skyline figured I was home free.

    Then I got stuck in traffic approaching I-66. And the fan came on, pulling a huge electrical load and causing the engine to just stop. I pulled off the side of the road and put my helmet on the shoulder (which used to mean "I could use help.")

    Since traffic was stop and go at about 5mph I tried asking folks driving by if they had jumper cables, but I got a lot of weird looks so I just hung back and figured someone, probably a rider, would stop to offer assistance. First to stop was a woman in a Lexus who had no jumpers. She said she stopped because I reminded her of her son. Then another woman who was a rider and thought she had jumpers but didn't, we talked for a few minutes then she was on her way when I told her I planned to wait to see if someone with jumpers would stop. Then a nice guy (you??) who also didn't have any jumpers. Then a guy with pillion on a Harley who I also told about my plan to wait for someone with jumpers, who wished me well. Then the only downer of the experience - two guys on bikes with girlfriends/wives in tow, stopped and the conversation went like this:
    Him - You broken down?
    Me - Yes, battery is shot and I need a jump
    Him - Is that a BMW?
    Me - Yep, a K75RT
    Him - Should have bought a Harley!
    Then both riders roared with laughter and took off to catch up to traffic 50 or so yards ahead. So it goes, yin and yang and all that.
    At that point I was feeling pretty frustrated, but not a few minutes after that this fellow Aaron (an F650GS rider) pulled up behind in a Suburban and said he had seen me on his way the other direction 20 minutes before and decided to swing back to see if I needed help. He had jumpers and in about 2 minutes the bike was running happily again and I was on my way.

    I made it home in good time, refreshed in my belief in humanity with about the only regret that I didn't have more time to ride - and that's not bad
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
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  3. #3
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Glad you made it back, Ted.

    I had a battery failure on a trip once, but it was on my old airhead, so I just turned the headlight off, and did push starts for a couple of days.

    I got real good at finding high ground for stops.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  4. #4
    Registered User PHMARVIN's Avatar
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    Hi, Ted,
    Too bad you didn't break down near El Paso. I'm home (until tomorrow) and have a new 1228 battery in my garage, waiting for one of the 3-year old batteries in my 2 bikes to go bad. It seems as if all is well, however. You got home safely. I hope you can make that same statement to me in 2 weeks.
    Ride Safe,
    Phil Marvin - El Paso, TX
    '94 K75A/3
    '95 K75RTP

  5. #5
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Thanks Phil You are in my thoughts by the hour my friend!

    And Rinty, I was really regretting not keeping the Euro headlight switch when I sold my last K75. They are rare as hen's teeth these days, and twice as expensive
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

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    Glad to hear you made it back. I was in the tan Honda Civic with my wife. I tried stopping at a couple of gas stations, but none of them had cables. Think I saw the Harley's who mentioned when pulling out of the second station. Finally Target all the ways up by I-66 had cables, but because of traffic it was a while before I made it back to where you pulled over. It was a good excuse to get some right then as I've been meaning to get a set for that car for years. Of course every time I thought about getting them I wasn't able to do it and quickly forgot.

    Glad to hear you made it. I haven't broken down on my bike yet, but I can only imagine it much worse than a car.


  7. #7
    Registered User mneblett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHMarvin View Post
    Hi, Ted,
    Too bad you didn't break down near El Paso. I'm home (until tomorrow) and have a new 1228 battery in my garage.
    Not to worry -- I have a new 1228 I'll be taking into the office tomorrow to coordinate a hand-off to Ted.
    Mark Neblett
    Fairfax, VA
    #32806

  8. #8
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    A few random related ideas/comments
    1) Passable bike jumpers are as cheap as $10-20. Got mine on sale from one of the big mail order places- Motorcycle Superstore maybe. Always on the bike just in case. My cars also all have jumpers but most people don't carry them. I attribute the relative decline of those carrying jumpers to side terminal batteries that don't corrode terminals near as fast as old style, and to ignitions and starter electrics, fuel injection, etc that are far more reliable than machines of 30-40 years ago
    2) My experience of the past couple years has shown me that modern pulse chargers (mine happen to be Xtremes but there are similar others) have pretty much made older charger designs obsolete. Aside from doing a great job at maintaining any battery type, I also used one to recover a stone dead car FLA battery that was so discharged it couldn't even make a glow in a dome lamp or get the starter relay to click)
    3) I use a Battery Bug to watch my battery. In addition to being a voltmeter, which is inadequate for monitoring, it also stores effective starting power of the weakest start as a percent- in effect a kind of continually updated worst load test result.
    4) Nothing can guard against a broken internal battery connection as has been reported periodically for the BMW gel batteries supplied as OEM on some models- sudden death with no warning possible. And jumping a modern CANbus bike with a battery that fails this way may not result in a bike that stays running...
    5) I carry a spare alternator belt but with a modern RT serviced at factory intervals,
    I don't expect to ever need it.

    I guess I'm really really old school. Been doing this back to the days where only fools went very far if they couldn't fix or maintain it and all the customs of roadside breakdown that newbie motorcyclists don't know but that Ted mentions were developed- out of necessity...

    Ted- glad you didn't get hung out too badly.....

  9. #9
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Update!

    I came home from a long day to find a new WestCo battery in my front hall, MANY thanks Mark! Now I can do the swap and ride this weekend instead of waiting on a mail order It is hooked up to my BatterTender Junior showing that wonderful green light as I write this (glad I kept those alligator clips!)

    Racer7 - that Battery Bug is COOL. Much more than a voltmeter and about what I was planning on spending on one anyway. Seems like the perfect gadget to keep from getting stuck again. You should think about doing a product review in the gear section, I know I am not the only one sidelined by a battery failure who has never heard of this neat device before. Edit - found a cool Youtube vid covering install and how it works.

    Yes I missed a day of riding but this whole experience has been great. Who would have thought standing by the bike on the side of a busy road in the dark would find me kind souls, both those who could help right away and those who would go so far to try.

    Aaron, Gunderwood and Mark - I owe you a debt I hope I can repay someday, or at least pay it forward with interest!
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

  10. #10
    Registered User mneblett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    or at least pay it forward with interest!
    That's what it's all about

    I tested it with my battery load tester night before last, and it showed well up in the "Good" range (it's new, so it should!). It's been sitting on the Battery Tender for a couple days, so it should be plug-n-play, good to go.
    Mark Neblett
    Fairfax, VA
    #32806

  11. #11
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    That battery bug is very cool.

    Those guys should consider advertising in the ON, they'd sell a ton of them to us gadget freaks.

    Ted - you might consider joining the AMA and get free roadside assistance as part of your membership.

    Ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
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