Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ignition Coil Relay Mod


Symptoms-Sporadic cutting back and hesitation from idle through 3500rpm.Engine temperature has little effect on condition.

Attempts to resolve the problem.
Mulitiple carbs cleanings
Multiple electrical connection cleanings
Clean tank tank and fill with fresh fuel
Multiple valve clearance checks
Multiple carb balance/sync
Complete electrical system tear down and diagnose

Problem- 11.8 volts at the ignition coil terminals.Should be an absolute minimum of 12.0 volts.

The cure- Ignition coil relay mod.Power the coils directly from the battery and grounding the coils directly to the battery.

After reading about the ignition coil relay mod over on  The GS Resource Forum,I visited  Bass Cliff's website.Then I did the ignition relay mod.I haven't yet had a chance to ride and see if the problem resolves itself.I am positive that this mod can only help.I will hopefully be heading out in a little while to ride and see how the mod performs.I'm a wuss and have to wait for the afternoon warm up.

To do this mod you need the following.

wire stripers
soldering iron,gun,or pencil torch
wire cutters
needle nose pliers
metric socket set
JIS screw driver or philips head
long flat head/blade screw driver
BBQ or cigerette lighter
Dielectric grease
Small piece of sand paper- 40 to 200 grit

Supplies with cost break down.
$3.00 1/4 male spade terminals
$3.00 1.4 female terminals
$3.00 10 gauge uninsulated but connectors
$3.00 heat shrink kit from Harbor Freight
$4.00 14 gauge red primary wire 12'roll
$4.00 14 gauge black primary wire 12' roll
$7.00 solder
$1.00 electrical tape roll
$3.00 black wire ties
$5.00 30 amp horn/light relay
$7.00 30 amp fuse holder
$4.00 20 amp fuse-I could only get these in boxes of five.

$47.00 Total

If you can find it,use 16 gauge orange wire for the relay to ignition on wire.This will make sense later.I couldn't find orange wire locally.

Most of us have some of these supplies on hand.I did and I think my final cost was under $20.One thing I can not stress enough,DO NOT USE ELECTRICAL SUPPLIES FROM HARBOR FREIGHT.The shrink tubing is good.Their wire is copper coated aluminum and thier connectors are aluminum.The connectors I used are marine grade.They are expensive and over kill for this project.You can also use connectors with shrink wrap insulation and/or connector covers.I chose to use shrink wrap because I had uninsulated connectors.I despise the connectors with plastic on the bases.I usually pull the plastic off and use shrink wrap.

On with it.The ignition coils will be powered directly from the battery by the relay.The relay will be powered by the old ignition coil power wire.There are two.Only one will be used.The coils will also be grounded directly to the battery.This isn't complicated.Just take it one wire run at a time.All connections are coated with dielectric grease.

Here is the wiring diagram that I followed.This is from Bass Cliff's website linked above.

Remove the seat,battery,all the tail plastics,and fuel tank.Don't forget to turn off the tank petcock.

First thing I did was to locate,unplug,and tape off the left coil wire that wasn't going to be used.

I wire tied this to the frame.The pic I had of it has been lost.It may be visable in other pics.

Next I mounted the relay.Try to mount it as close to the battery as possible but leave enough room for the inline fuse.This is how I did it.

Locate and remove the right side hemet hook/lock and bolt down relay.No,it isn't touching the regulator rectifier.that is getting replaced later.

Some of my pics were lost so I will walk through this using my exsisting pics.

First thing I did was run power from the starter relay to the inline fuse and plug it into the relay.

I made connections to make the inline fuse removable.I have had these go bad and wanted to make it easy to replace.I crimped and soldered my connections.Then I double shrink wraped each terminal.All of my connections will be like this or better.

Then I ran a short wire into the starter relay cover.

Pull off those two white plugs.The lower lug terminal is the one that is powered all the time.

Run the wire up through the relay cover,install a ring connector,and bolt it on.

Install a spade connector on the end of the wire that was just connected to the starter relay.Then connect the inline fuse holder to the starter relay wire and terminal 30 on the relay.

Add some shrink wrap to help secure and protect the connection.

Install fuse and admire.

Here you can also see the relay ground.It is a simple loop of wire with a ring terminal on one end and a female terminal on the other end.It connects to terminal 85 on the relay.

Powering the coils from the relay.I installed a female connector on the end of my red wire roll and connected it to terminal 87 on the relay.They I unrolled the wire and ran it along the main wiring harness on the right side of the frame.I cut it off when I made it up between the coils and installed a but connector.Then I made two short wires with female connectors to run to each coil terminal.I removed the wiring for solder and shrink wrap.

Here the wiring is connected to the coil + positive terminal.You can also see how I taped and wire tied the old connector.

Some notes here about the trigger wire for the relay.If you can find 16 gauge orange wire,use it.The original coil wire is orange with a white or green stripe.This makes it easier to know what wire is what,should a problem arise.You could also use thinner 16 gauge red primary wire or loner lengths of shring wrap to help distinguish between the two.This wire is also protected by the main wiring harness fuse so no other fuse will be needed.

The connection is super easy almost as easy as the relay ground.I installed a female terminal on the end of my red roll of primary wire and ran it along the mainwiring harness.I cut it off at the right coil + positive wire.I installed a spade terminal,pulled out the old coil + positive wire,connected them, and shrink wrapped the connection.I pushed the original coil wire cover back in place.

Now the wiring can be tucked away and the coil to battery ground can be ran.

The coils are grounded to the frame and over time the connection is lost due to corrosion and rust.This mod helps to offset that.

First thing is to make up two 8 inch wires with ring connectors like so.

Then add a but connector to the two short wires and connect the black roll of 12 gauge primary wire.Here is a pic of the but connection from eailer as a reminder.

Remove the inside coil mount bolts and connect the wires with the ring terminals like so.Be aware that the aluminum coil stand offs will drop out when the bolt is removed.Clean the metal coil end with sand paper and bolt the ring terminals on the coils.

Unroll the wire and run it along the main harness until it makes it to the battery negative terminal.Install a ring connector.

Now comes the fun part,securing the wiring.I used plastic zip ties.It looks pretty good considering it was a rush job.There is a glare or something at the top of the pic that makes it look like there is more wires thatn there actual is.

After doing the mod,I didn't have enough room for the relay under the seat,so I flipped it over.Works like a dream.

After this mod,my voltage went from 11.8 to 12.4 with a battery that has set for six months without use.I expect the voltage to be higher after I run the bike and build
the battery back up. 

Do not forget to turn that damn tank petcock back on.

Please note that I had to remove the wiring and take it into my building to solder the wiring.I left the camera outside with the bike.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Suzuki GS500E/F Suspension Upgrades-Rear Shock Options

There are a lot of options here for upgrades and room for improvements.I will list each with my opinions and experiences.I will start with the most expensive option first and work down to the least expensive.

$695 Works piggy back street shock offers non adjustable dampening,but does offer adjustable preload.Pretty much a stock shock with better valving and you can chose a stiffer spring.Better options on the used market.I'm not real familiar with this shock.I don't know if it changes the height from stock.

$150-$500 Cannon Race Craft will re-spring and re-valve your shock, and work with you to get the proper spring rate for your application.They will rebuild and modify shocks upon request.Ask for Tony.Even tho the GS shock only has preload adjustment,Cannon should be able to re-spring and re-valve the shock to match any upgrades done to the front suspension.This is an option for someone needing a new shock that wants a no fuss set up that's better than new.This set up will not raise the bike up,unless the shock was sagging from age and wear.

$50-$200 2006+ Yamaha YZF6R AKA R6 rear shock.These can be rebuilt with Race Tech springs and valving for a super performing shock.These are completely adjustable right off.Very few will feel the need to build their shock for better performance.You need the shock with the clevis on the bottom,along with the bushing that goes through the linkage,and bolt.The red spring has a rating of 9.8kg/mm and the yellow spring has a rating of 10.1kg/mm.Not really enough to make much difference.I say go yellow if you can.This shock may raise the rear about an inch.This is usually due to an old sagging shock or old badly adjusted original shock preload.

$40-$120 Suzuki SV650 rear shock.You need the standard shock without the fluid reservoir.The clevis end has to have a new mounting hole drilled and the excess clevis has to be cut off.This is not really difficult but a beginner mechanic should weigh options carefully and seek help.I don't know the spring rate difference between colors.Here is a write up on modifying the shock to fit.Be aware that this shock can raise the rear up a couple inches which can cause the steering to quicken dramatically.This may cause a new rider to crash.

$15-$80 88-97 Suzuki GSX600/750F Katana rear shock.This is the shock I have.It has preload adjustment and rebound adjustment.It will raise the rear about 1 to 1.5 inches in the rear.This depends on preload, and how bad the old shock was sagging or adjusted.These shocks are getting hard to find in good usable shape.They can be rebuilt but you have to find a very knowledgeable person to do the work.That gets expensive.

If you install a shock,and it's too high,you have options.No need to remove a shock upgrade because of the height.You can get lowering links fairly cheap.Most will get 1 to 2 inches of drop.That will more than compensate for the shock's extra lift.They are easy to change.Suspension links are the same from 1989-2011

Yana Shiki 2" Drop Billet Aluminum Lowering Links

GS500 Lowering Links

Burkhart Cycle 1 to 3 inch drop links

Suzuki GS500E/F Suspension Upgrades-Stock Fork Improvements

I am often asked about the suspension upgrades I have done to my Suzuki GS500E.I have done so many,it's hard to go through them all in one post.So I'll break it down into three posts,stock fork improvements,rear shock options,and upgrading to an 88-97 Suzuki GSX600/750F Katana complete front suspension.

The GS500 forks are just ok for cruising around on, if you're under 140 pounds.The later GS500F models (02+) seem to have a better spring rate than 89-01 models.I haven't been able to confirmed this.I am going based on word of mouth from internet forums.Anyway it goes,the forks are still lacking performance.Most people complain about the front forks bottoming out and being squishy.Squishy is a technical term used when discussing the soft GS500 suspension.The best upgrade is new fork springs,better heavier oil,and a fork brace fender mount.The GS500 forks are only 37mm in diameter,which is tiny and flexible.

FORK SPRINGS-What's best for me?
There is no perfect answer for this,So I will break it down based on my opinion, on what I have learned from my experiences,as well as others that I have talked to.First, there are two types of fork springs, progressive rate and straight rate.Please don't confuse Progressive "name" brand springs with progressive "rate" springs.Progressive rate springs get stiffer the more the suspension is compressed.Straight rate springs are completely compressed after the weight rating is exceeded.Straight rate springs are sized to the application and rider.Example,a rider that only rides solo and commutes can get away with a softer spring.Where as a heavier rider, that rides two up through curvy roads, will need a stiffer spring.

I break it down like this.
For the general rider that commutes and does light traveling, with a little sport riding thrown in,progressive rate springs will work great.The springs are progressive so the manufactures don't usually give out rating numbers.They are also the cheapest cost wise,usually $20 to $50 cheaper than straight rate springs.

Progressive Suspension Fork Spring 11-1128

80kg/mm-under 140lbs total riders weight
85kg/mm-under 160lbs total riders weight
90kg/mm-under 180lbs total riders weight Race Tech Fork Springs - 0.90kg/mm FRSP S2938090 Most popular option.
95kg/mm-under 200lbs total riders weight
These weights can actually go 30lbs either up or down.It's just a guideline.Going up on kg/mm gives a stiffer spring rate.There is no 100% correct spring rate.It's all based on personal preference.

Stock springs are rated at .594 kilograms per millimeter AKA kg/mm.

I recently had a discussion,with Tmod on KatRiders forum, on this very subject.I used factory 15w Suzuki fork oil, after rebuilding my forks.I decided to do some cold weather riding,at least cold for my area.The temperature ranged from mid 50'sF to low 40'sF.My front end was rigid.Even after 120 miles, my forks never softened up.When I would hit a bump at speed, the front wheel would lift off the road surface.Sounds fun eh?Nope,not when it's out of your control.During my discussion,I was put on the right track to solve my rigid cold fork problem.I was referred to a product that is perfect for most applications.A quick issue needs to be addressed here.As temperatures drop,oils thicken.To solve this problem,we need an oil that maintains it's viscosity over a broader range of temperatures.Bring on the synthetic blend fork oils.Tmod introduced me to Torco RFF fork oils.They hold their viscosity better in all temperatures.The best for most applications is Torco RFF 15.If you're under 150lbs,try out the Torco RFF 7.Each fork holds approximately 382ml or roughly half a quart.

Torco tech sheet PDF

Torco RFF 7 Fork Oil

Torco RFF 7 Fork Oil

These are 100% custom made.I have never ran one on a GS500 front forks.I know they help.Anything that stiffens the front end, and keeps the tire running true,helps feel,feed back,and performance.The fork sliders can move ever so slightly out of line, when moving up and down the chrome fork stanchions.Along with this,the sliders can rotate ever so slightly, causing the front wheel to track off in relation to handle bar position.Most riders will never push their GS500 hard enough to notice this.For those of us that do,we need a fork brace fender mount.There are three ways to get them,hope that one comes up for sale on ebay,check GStwins forum to see if anyone is making/selling them,last but not least,take your stock fork brace fender mount to a machine shop, and have them make one out of 3/8 inch aluminum plate.They're simple and people report having them made between $40 and $60.

Emulators,these are a whole different monster.Unless you are racing in a class that requires you to use stock forks,forget them.They are expensive and require extensive knowledge on how to set them up and tune them.The forks have to be partially dismantled to make adjustments to them.Money would be better spent on upgrading to an 88-97 Suzuki GSXF600/750F Katana front end.I will be doing a write up on that soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Suzuki GS500E Fenderectomy and Reflectorectomy

The ugliest thing ever put on a motorcycle is those huge but flaps,I mean mud flaps,that are used in place of a rear fender.First thing to do is loose that crazy huge fender mud guard flap thing.This is known as a fenderectomy in the Suzuki GS500 crowd.There are varying degrees of fenderectomies.I label these versions as extreme cut,the high cut,and the half cut.Before you do a fenderectomy,please be aware that your license plate will not have any support behind it, IF you do an extreme or high cut version.No support, or wind block, allows the license plate to flap about in the wind.This leads to the tag breaking off at the mounts.Some people use metal supports, or metal license plate holders.While others opt for the free half cut fenderectomy.I was convinced by another GS500 owner that this would be a better choice for me.


Here is a description of the three versions of fenderectomies.

EXTREME CUT!-This is cutting the fender liner flush with the bottom of the rear body panels.It also requires that the turn signals (AKA directional indicators) be relocated to the rear side body panels and the license plate be remounted or moved.Most people I have seen do this use aftermarket flush mount turn signals and license plate holders.I do not have any pictures of this, or I would share them.Also make note that all states have specific laws on how license plates are to be mounted.Check your local laws to make sure you are within the laws for license plate mounting.

HIGH CUT!-This is cutting the fender liner about a half inch below the factory turn signal (AKA directional indicator) and leaving the area where the license plate mounts.

HALF CUT!This is cutting the fender liner at,or near, the bottom of the license plate.This fully protects the license plate and prevents the plate from cracking or breaking off.It also helps keep the back of your motorcycle clean if you ride in fowl weather.


You need some way of marking the area to be cut and a straight edge to make sure the line is straight.I used masking tape to make my lines and then cut everything below the tape line with a Dremel.A hand hack saw can be used.A regular hack saw may not have enough throat to make the cuts.The rough cut edges can be cleaned up with 80 grit sand paper and a sanding block.I don't have any pictures of me doing this, so all I can offer is before and after pics.

1st mod-Yamaha R1 tailight

1st mod-Yamaha R1 tailight

Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

The second ugliest things put on any motorcycle, is those old bicycle reflectors for safety.There are better ways to make a motorcycle more reflective and still be stylish about it.Thank you aftermarket accessory companies.They are geared toward safety.Almost all motorcycle accessory websites carry reflective tape and rim stripes/strips.These come in various colors to accent, or blend into your motorcycle.They are made with a reflective material that looks like a custom stripe or decal.When a little light shines on them in the dark,they light up like running lights.Some are bright enough to be seen up to a mile away, with the slightest light source.Doing some research will bring up the good ones to purchase.I haven't add these to my black 89 Suzuki GS500E yet.I don't ride it at night.I plan my trips to fall within daylight hours.My other motorcycles will have them.

Motorcycle Reflective Decals

Reflective Rim Stripes


Along with the fenderectomy I did a reflectorectomy.It is basically removing the reflectors on the forks and below the rear side body panels.This is easy to do.A small wrench,10mm and 14mm if I remember correctly,and they can be sent to the spare parts box.However,you will need to re-torque the fork pinch bolts to 18-29 foot pounds.Check your local auto parts stores, and see if they have a tool rental/loaner program.Better yet,ride in and do it there.They may not charge anything,and possibly even do it for you.

1st mod-Yamaha R1 tailight

1989 Suzuki GS500E with upper and lower Targa fairings

Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

Even if you opt out of the reflectorectomy,you still need to keep an eye on the front fork reflectors.Over time these things get bent from bouncing around and will make contact with the forks causing damage to the slider and seals.This can get very expensive,if you don't know how to repair forks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Buell Knock Off Turn Signals AKA Directional Indicators

Another modification I made to my 1989 Suzuki GS500E,was to replace those hideous flapping arms that Suzuki dubbed turn signals.Those things turn into junk in a few years.They are durable, but their flexibility is their undoing.I could feel those things flapping around on rough roads.They had to make an exit to the spare parts box.I really couldn't decided what turn signals I wanted.I liked the LED units but they were tiny,not very bright during the day,and kind of pricey.I wanted something that went with the theme of my bike,low key corner carver.While I was on the GStwins forum,I seen where someone mentioned installing Buell turn signals for roughly $14 per signal from the dealer.I went to a couple dealers, and all of them wanted $90+ per turn signal!I was still required to buy the mounting hardware to install them.No way am I spending nearly $400 for turn signals for a $1000 motorcycle.So off to Ebay.While trolling the listings for turn signals,I saw a listing for four new turn signals for $14.99 plus 3.99 shipping.I go visit the listing, and the turn signals were so close to the Buell turn signals,I bought them.They are half the length of the Suzuki GS500E factory turn signals,better shape,better looking,and way brighter.They also have clear smoked lens on them.Perfect!They fit the theme of my motorcycle to a T.

First thing to understand about single filament light bulbs(AKA two wire turn signals),they don't care which way the electricity flows through them to produce light.As long as the two wires connect back in place where the factory turn signals were disconnected,they will work.However,I like to make the connections a little better and lasting longer.Before fitting the turn signals to the motorcycle,I check to make sure the bullet connectors will fit tight.The open ended connector can be squeezed with a pair of pliers to tighten up the connection.Once that is taken care of,I start fitting the signals.All four are the same.On the mounting posts,there is a little locator ball.These I cut off with a sharp razor knife.Now lets install them.

To start the install,I like to install the hardest set of turn signals first.The front ones are the hardest, because the entire headlight has to be removed to access the connections to the factory turn signals.If you don't have a service manual,you need one.Check this blog page.I should have a listing to two different service manuals.It explains how to remove the headlight better than I can,but I will try.First,locate the two screws on the lower sides of the headlight trim ring.They look like philips screws, but they are in fact JIS screws.If you're careful,you can remove them with a #2 philips screwdriver.Be aware that the headlight is mounted to the trim ring.

Gently pull out on the bottom of the trim ring.The top of the trim ring is held on by a little bracket that acts like a hinge.

Once the bottom of the trim ring is away from the headlight bucket,push up gently.The ring will pop off,so make sure you are holding on to it.Now disconnect the headlight from the wiring.It slides right off, but requires a little effort to get the connector loose.Set the headlight aside and out of the way.They are extremely expensive and hard to find if they get broken.

Now comes the fun part,locating the turn signals wires inside that mess of spaghetti in the headlight bucket.Two ways I have done it.1)Find the wire exiting the back of the turn signal at the mount.Wiggle the wires until you find them inside the headlight bucket.2)Remove the turn signal from it's mount.Gently pull it away from the headlight bucket, while watching for the turn signal wires to move in the headlight bucket.Either way you chose,when you find the wires inside the headlight bucket,wrap tape around both sets of wires.Only remove one signal at a time.

When installing the new signal light,refer to my post above about checking the connections.Once that's done,thread the wires through the front signal mount,and loosely install.Fish the wires through the headlight bucket.Before connecting them,apply dielectric grease to the connectors.Any auto parts store has it for a few dollars.It prevents corrosion and helps the connection pass power through it.Do not tighten the turn signal down to it's mount yet.Install the other signal the same way as the first.Once you have both signals loosely installed,step back about 50 feet and have a look at them.Most people set their signals to match the angle of the headlight.This is not the best way in my opinion.I set mine perpendicular to the ground.If they're perpendicular to the ground, everyone will see them clearly.If you don't know what perpendicular means,let me state it this way.If the bike is on dead level ground,the face of the turn signal will be at a 90 degree right angle to the ground,and facing straight out.Now that the signals are pointing straight,snug down the mounting nuts.The washers will lock the nuts so don't over tighten them.Now admire your handy work.
Went from this.
1989 Suzuki GS500E with upper and lower Targa fairings

To this.
Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

Now onto the rear.These are the easiest to do,but you need to decide where to mount them.If you plan to do a fenderectomy,what stage of fenderectomy do you plan to do?If you do a full high fenderectomy,you will need to drill new turn signal mounting hole in a different location.If you do a half or one quarter fenderectomy,you can mount the new turn signals in the factory turn signal location.I mounted mine back and up.For this,I am going to go out on a limb, and assume most people will use the factory location.Using the factory location,you will need four fender washers.Any local hardware store will have them.Take your new turn signals so they can match them up to the mounting studs.Get a cheap can of flat black spray paint.Clean the fender washers really good with dish soap and a brush.Allow them to dry and wipe them down with rubbing alcohol.Once the fender washers are wiped down,don't touch them with your bare fingers.The oil from you skin will cause the paint to lift.Give the fender washers a few light coats of black paint, and let them dry while you prep the motorcycle for the turn signal upgrade.Remove the seat.Follow the turn signal wires to where they disconnect and disconnect them.There should be no other wires close by with the same type connectors.Can't go wrong here.Now remove the old turn signals and file them away in the spare parts box.When you install the new signals,do it the same ways as the front ones,except use a fender washer on the inside and outside of the mounting hole.Connect the wires using a little dielectric grease and admire your work.

1st mod-Yamaha R1 tailight

And after.
Custom 1989 Suzuki GS500E

Links below for low priced turn signals and electronic relay.

Buell Knock Off Turn Signals

Buell Knock Off Turn Signals

Tridon EL12 Flasher Relay

Tridon EL12-C Flasher Relay