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Thread: Neutral Light Bypass

  1. #1
    Macrunch MCrenshaw's Avatar
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    Neutral Light Bypass

    My wife rides a '97 R1100R, approx. 65k miles. While getting the bike ready for the season today I noticed that occasionally the neutral indicator light will not come on, even though the bike is in neutral. The wiring on this model is such that if the light doesn't come on, even with the bike in neutral, the starter doesn't engage. Apparently the neutral indicator switch is located inside the transmission case and I'd rather not pull the transmission unless absolutely necessary. Rocking the bike in neutral will occasionally get the switch to come on but it takes a lot of "fiddling" to get it just right.

    The question is to know if there is a way to bypass the neutral light/starter switch so it doesn't matter if the light is burning. Thanks, Mike

  2. #2
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    I'm just guessing here, but couldn't you just jumper the two wires together, thus completing the circuit ?
    '03 R1150R, '03 F650GS, '97DR200SE,'78 Honda CT-90, '77Honda CT-90

  3. #3
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    The neutral and gear indicator switch is located external to the transmission case on the back if the transmission. It come out/off after removing two capscrews. The wires run over to the left side and up, and connect right at the frame by the rear of the driver's seat. It is futzy to reach. I might pull the swingarm for easier access, but the subframe and transmission can stay right where they are.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  4. #4
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    +1 to getting at the switch and repairing it.

    You can bypass it by grounding the brown/black wire coming from the switch. Though if you do that, the bike will start in gear, with the clutch out. And hitting the starter at the wrong time could have negative consequences. And the neutral light would always be on too.

    Another work around is to always pull in the clutch to start.

    Here's a link to the schematic: R1100RT Electrical.

  5. #5
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    An argument in favor of repair is: if the clutch switch fails, you won't be able to start the bike.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  6. #6
    Rally Rat
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    Even with the light off (or in gear) it should start with the clutch in. If not, you have bad clutch switch too. The clutch switch is a snap to jump. Cut the wires going to the housing and wire them together. If you ever really get stuck you can jump the whole system by pulling the starter relay and jumping hole 2 to hole 6 with a thin piece of wire (key on).

  7. #7
    Macrunch MCrenshaw's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. Lots of good information here. No joy with the clutch lever in, so I'll have to check that as well. Normally I don't like to short cut wiring and switches, they are there for a reason, but at the same time I don't want for us to be stuck on the road with a bike that won't start. Been there before and one can't always rely on the kindness of strangers to get home. Seems like the neutral switches have been an issue for me in the past year as the one on my 75 R90/6 also needs replacing, but I've done that before and know the drill. It's always something!

  8. #8
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    The neutral switch and the clutch switch ar both notoriously unreliable on these bikes. I'm told the clutch switch is pretty easy to replace, but I've never done it. I never saw the point of replacing an unreliable switch with another unreliable switch. I just snipped the two wires and wired them together.

  9. #9
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Hey! It's a 15 year old bike. Over 15 years a little oil seeps past the switch shaft seal and fouls the contacts so they only work sometimes. Really unreliable, I'd guess.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  10. #10
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    Yeah, unreliable. I've answered this same question myself on various forums dozens of times of over the past fifteen years. God knows how many actual failures there have been. Thousands? Tens of thousands? The bottom line is that if BMW is going to design a switch that disables the motorcycle when it fails, that switch better be damned reliable. And it's not. By a long stretch.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcrenshaw View Post
    ...occasionally the neutral indicator light will not come on, even though the bike is in neutral. The wiring on this model is such that if the light doesn't come on, even with the bike in neutral, the starter doesn't engage. .... Rocking the bike in neutral will occasionally get the switch to come on but it takes a lot of "fiddling" to get it just right.
    The observations don't add up for me.
    When you say the bike is in neutral I assume you mean the RID shows 0 for gear position. False neutrals are common. For example, when my RID shows 0 at a traffic light but my neutral light has not come on, I am very careful not to release the clutch!

    When you say that rocking the bike has some effect, clearly you were NOT in neutral but close to it. In other words, the neutral switch and its indicator light are fine.
    I don't mean to contradict you, but before snipping, replacing, bypassing, etc, could you check the basic observations again? For example, the next time you don't get a neutral light could you just fiddle with the gear lever and clutch- does that 'fix' it?
    Your neutral switch can be pronounced bad only if you could spin the back wheel (really neutral) while the neutral light is off. The bulb is fine since it works at least some of the time.

    Also it seems so unlikely that clutch and neutral switch would fail simultaneously (I use my clutch to start the bike frequently and would know right away when it failed). Could you confirm that your clutch switch never works to crank the bike when in gear?

    When two independent switches seem to fail at the same time I like to look for a common cause before replacing stuff.
    Just trying to save effort.
    The question is to know if there is a way to bypass the neutral light/starter switch so it doesn't matter if the light is burning.
    Sorry, I don't think that is a good question.
    --
    Doug Raymond
    R1150RT '02
    Ambler, PA

  12. #12
    Macrunch MCrenshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Hey! It's a 15 year old bike. Over 15 years a little oil seeps past the switch shaft seal and fouls the contacts so they only work sometimes. Really unreliable, I'd guess.
    No kidding! She loves that bike. About every 2d or 3rd month I'll drop a hint about getting her a new one and she just looks at me as if I was Goofy. Just the other night she said "It's just like you, just because it's getting old doesn't mean I'd give up and get a newer model" followed by batting of eyelashes. Guess I'll keep the old girl running as long as I can get parts and have good advice from you guys. Thanks again.

  13. #13
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    The neutral lights on these things do become 'lazy' at times, but failures are rare. My 1998 RS has been periodically lazy for the last 100,000 miles. My 2002 RT is seldom lazy. Replacing the neutral switch is best done when you have to rebuild the transmission, or replace the clutch - it is too much trouble to do it otherwise.
    The clutch interlock switch on these bikes, on the other hand do 'frequently' fail, and the first indication that it has gone south is that the bike won't start in gear when you stall the bike on a Friday afternoon, during rush hour, in downtown Chicago, and you are the first vehicle at the light.
    Replacing the clutch interlock switch (which I had to do on my RS at about 110,000 miles) is easy - cut the wires going to the switch up by the clutch lever, slide a deep socket down over the wire (11 or 12 mm maybe??) and unscrew the switch. Trace the wires down under the tank and unplug from the harness. Spin the new switch into the clutch lever housing with your fingers, use a pair of long needle nose pliers to tighten it (it doesn't need to be TORQUED - just a little tight). Connect the other end of the wire to the harness. Go ride.

  14. #14
    On the Road
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    I have a 1996 R1100RT and my neutral light is also "lazy". It always comes on, but sometimes it takes 5 seconds or so. If the light is not on I can not engage the starter even with the clutch pulled in. Always been like that on this bike. You are saying that even if the bike is in gear and the neutral light is off, the bike should still start if the clutch is in? So my clutch switch is toast.

  15. #15
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouieSkretas View Post
    You are saying that even if the bike is in gear and the neutral light is off, the bike should still start if the clutch is in? So my clutch switch is toast.
    In a word, yes.

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