Motorcycle Electrical Systems
Troubleshooting and Repair - wBW
by Tracy Martin
webBikeWorld.com Book Review by Rick K.
Dimensions (in cm): 27 x 21
Publisher: Motorbooks (MBI Publishing), 2007
159 pages, many color photographs, sketches and illustrations.
Tracy Martin is a motorcycle Renaissance Man. He's a regular
contributor to Motorcycle Consumer News, RoadBike and Friction Zone
magazines. He was the co-author of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's
training book "Motorcycling
When he's not writing, Martin is teaching advanced motorcycle riding skills
through Lee Parks' "Total Control" workshops. On top of all that, he's
a National Institute for Service Excellence (A.S.E.) Certified Master
Technician, a service writer and an automotive consultant.
So let's just say that he knows motorcycles, he knows how to ride them and
he knows how to fix them.
Motorcycle Electrical Systems Troubleshooting and Repair is a follow-up to
Martin's first book, “How to Diagnose and Repair Automotive Electrical
Systems”, also published by Motorbooks International.
Mr. Martin sent us a copy of the new book, just published in January 2007,
probably because he has discovered from visiting webBikeWorld that I'm an
electrically challenged motorcycle mechanic. Give me a problem
involving metal and grease and I'll fix it, but when it comes to
electricity, I get that weird stumbling numbness in my brain -- the exact
same one I got during High School Algebra class.
Anything that can help me overcome this disability is welcome. In his
preface, Martin states that he hopes that the reader of the book will be
"able to gain some practical skills and knowledge which will help increase
your confidence when ... faced with motorcycle electrical challenges."
Doesn't that sound exactly like the cure?
So let's get to the bottom line here: I think Martin's goals have been met;
that is, I do think I now have some practical skills at diagnosing
motorcycle electrical problems; I do understand more about motorcycle
electrical systems and how they work; and I do have more knowledge about
electricity in general. Whether or not this will increase my
confidence is another matter...
But I have to admit that none of this came easy. Although I consider
myself to be pretty sharp on many subjects (for example, I finally struggled
through the math I needed in High School and beyond), my brain is just not
wired to easily comprehend topics like the relationship between Volts, Amps
and Ohms. In the end, these relationships are something I must
first memorize, then turn them over and over in my head while talking myself
through the words until I feel comfortable with the concepts and understand
how to apply them.
Motorcycle Electrical Systems Troubleshooting and Repair is loaded with
information, color photos, diagrams and sketches that definitely helped me.
But this isn't lightweight reading, at least for me. It takes some
dedicated time and focus to absorb it all.
The first chapter covers the basics of electricity -- or at least the
background topics that are necessary to understand motorcycle electrical
systems. Chapter 2 starts the motorcycle-related information, with
Voltage Drop Testing. We then learn about Electronic Testing Tools in
Chapter 3; Batteries in Chapter 4; then Charging and Starting Systems,
Ignition Systems and then Fuel Injection Systems (hey, they need electricity
too you know!).
Chapter 8 has something I've been wanting to see for a long time: how to
read a wiring diagram. Finally, after all that, we get into the real
meat of the book with Troubleshooting Electrical Systems in Chapter 9 and
the fun starts in Chapter 10 with Electrical Accessories, probably the real
goal for any motorcyclist reading this book.
My advice is to buy a copy of the book and read through it slowly, taking
the time to study the illustrations and understanding the concepts.
Since most of us have only an occasional need for motorcycle electrical
troubleshooting or repair, I don't think we need to be full-time experts in
the topic, with all of the facts and figures at our fingertips.
What's important is to use the book to develop a basic knowledge of
electricity, how it works and how it helps our motorcycles live and breathe.
Then when the time comes, I think it's reasonable to expect that with a
little brushing up, you'll be able to solve many of the electrical mysteries
that would have stumped you in the past.
Motorcycle Electrical Systems Troubleshooting and Repair is a tool that can
be used to improve your breadth of knowledge regarding motorcycle
maintenance and repair. It's the best book I've read so far on
understanding electricity as it relates to motorcycles, and for that reason,
it's highly recommended.
"Flaming Helmet" Book
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