Backroad Ramblings September 2007

September 7, 2007
Jason Giacchino
Jason Giacchino
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

A freelancer and published novelist Jason is currently the editor in chief of Mountain Bike Tales digital magazine and holds a State University of New York degree in applied science with a minor in journalism. When not hunched over a computer monitor, he can be found playing outside in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York.

Giacchino spent three weeks replacing the CDI box  the ignition coil and voltage regulator on his Banshee and was stymied by his quad s inability to start before finding out it was its throttle override sensor.
Giacchino spent three weeks replacing the CDI box, the ignition coil and voltage regulator on his Banshee and was stymied by his quad’s inability to start before finding out it was its throttle override sensor.

Seasonal Repairs

There is change in the air. The trees are yet green and full of leaves, the birds still chirp noisily before unloading waste onto the hood of my car and it still gets pretty hot around lunch time. Even still there is a slight chill in the air. The sky is a deeper shade of blue, heavy purple clouds roll in from the north without notice, and the days are becoming ever-shorter. Gone are the rich aromas of weekend barbecues and in their place the sweet smell of ripening grapes on the vines. Despite residual panic from years of being trained that fall meant a return to school, I must confess that here in New York some of our best riding is a result of the seasonal switch.

As sure as you can depend on autumn following summer, it’s a given that despite my best efforts to have all of my equipment in tip-top shape to celebrate fall’s arrival, my best laid plans will crumble just prior. This year is no exception and I’ve been spending a great deal of time under the flickering florescent light of the workshop, sipping on cold coffee while diagnosing electrical anomalies.

I have to be honest. Despite my appreciation of the challenges in customization, aftermarket upgrades, and performance bits, I do have a deep-seated fear when it comes to electronics. There is simply something about the coils of twisted wire and the complex circuit boards within the CDI box that keep me from feeling confident. I have a pretty good grasp of how it all works and an even deeper appreciation when the process occurs without hitch. This saga all began in late July, when fall was theoretically distant enough to warrant welcoming a 1995 Yamaha Blaster into my humble stable. The idea behind picking up the air cooled 195cc ATV was the result of a combination of factors coming together harmoniously.

1) I recently parted with a Pontiac Fiero via eBay motors that resulted in a little extra cash to play with.
2) I needed something small to tool around on while my little cousin, Zachary, learns the off-road ropes on his new XR70.
3) I have been suffering through 2-stroke exhaust withdrawal.
4) I’ve been hungry for a cheap project to eat up what little money I have.
5) Fall was coming.

After handing over my cash, the quad’s prior owner and his son leant a hand in loading the machine up onto my truck. I got it home well after dark (pretty close to midnight) and convinced myself to suppress the urge to fire it up for a test ride on account of respect for the neighbors. Inner conflict erupted when I was reminded that this is the very same neighbor whose dog happens to come into my yard on a daily basis to leave a little present that I don’t notice until I’m mowing the lawn (and then it’s too late). Responsibility prevailed and I put my test ride off until the following day after work. After about seven nice laps around my modest MX track, the quad sputtered then stalled out completely, refusing to relight despite a series of mule kicks that would have made even Van Damme proud. Checked the plug, checked the fuel petcock. She wasn’t making spark. Hmm, odd that it ran so healthy ten seconds prior. I took it into the workshop for what should have been a few hours worth of work.

The Yamaha Blaster our Rambling Man picked up earlier this summer didn t deliver end of the riding season fun... That is  unless you consider fruitless kickstarts and pushing a quad home fun.
The good news is, Giacchino just bought a 1995 Yamaha Blaster with enough days left before fall to get in a few rides. The bad news is, he gets it home and it craps out and won’t kick over despite his Van Damme-like efforts to get it started.

I’m reluctant to confess the following, as electrical gurus from around the globe are undoubtedly rolling their eyes in disgust at my apparent ignorance, but alas, if I can’t laugh at myself (or so the saying goes). I spent every spare second of the next three weeks checking wires, cleaning connections, checking switches, searching for shorts, replacing components that weren’t broken (CDI box, ignition coil, voltage regulator), and kicking like a madman to no avail. Oddly enough, everything seemed okay. I even had two different mechanics lend their expertise. Then just as I was about to give up and list the machine in my favorite of classified ad terms, “Project bike”, I stumbled upon a forum devoted to the Yamaha Banshee in which confused backyard tuners couldn’t understand why their quads were making spark one minute then refusing to do so the next. The answer it appeared was the result of a Throttle Override Sensor (TORS) system that is known for malfunctioning. When it is triggered, the entire electrical system becomes grounded and all of the kick-starter stabbing in the world isn’t going to get it to fire. Best of all, it turned out that the system was present on my Blaster and that removal of the entire circuit carried no risks (aside from some careful wire cutting).

Just today, under the threatening clouds of late summer, I removed the system and the quad blasted to smoky life on the first kick. I reveled in a moment of silent victory and enjoyed the unmistakable flavor of unburned hydrocarbons that bellowed from the exhaust stinger. Considering that time is already against me, I made a quick list of the remaining mods in need of completion to get this baby out on the track: Carb rebuild kit, new tires, wheel bearings, brake pads, grips, chain, sprockets, seat cover, and nerf bars.

I’ll tell you when else the riding’s good here in New York- Springtime.

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