1997 Honda CBR1100XX, Aprilia RSV 1000r, European vs. Japanese Bikes and Basic Motorcycle Training Questions | Answers


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I have a 1997 Honda CBR1100XX with 55,000 miles on it. I bought the bike new and still love it. I ride it to the mountains, to Daytona Bike Week and to the AMA roadraces at Road Atlanta, despite the fact that it has gone through three stators and voltage regulators. It usually fails at Bike Week or Road Atlanta, which invariably results in an embarrassing push-start to get going again. The electrical system overheats when the temperatures are high and I’m mired in stop-and-go traffic. I am at a loss to figure out how to prevent it.

The problems started about eight years ago, and I had a dealer replace the stator and regulator/rectifier. The next time it was just the R/R, so after reading on some forums that the OEM unit was prone to overheating because it wasn’t finned, I tried a CBR900RR unit. When that didn’t last, I replaced it with an aftermarket unit, followed by a new aftermarket stator a year later. Now, that combination has failed! The plug into the R/R has several burned contact points, and when I check the stator voltage right from the plug, the best I get is 12 volts. I will be replacing the stator and R/R again, but would like to find a way to avoid this in the future. Any ideas?
Mason Pruner
Deerfield Beach, FL 

After sharing your story with a couple of Honda’s wisest “XXperts,” the consensus is that your stator coils have shorted to ground, depriving the regulator/rectifier of its ability to convert AC voltage into the DC kind that charges your battery. That 12V reading at the R/R coupling is low, but without knowing how you’re getting said reading, it’s inconclusive. Testing charging voltage by the book is the best way to determine whether your stator is good or bad.

First, measure battery voltage with the key off. Call that Voltage 1. Now start the engine, hold the tach at 5000 rpm and measure again. That’s Voltage 2, which should be greater then Voltage 1 and less than 15.5V. If V1=V2, check the stator coils for continuity between the three yellow wires and insulation (no continuity) to ground.

Our friends at Honda suspect that a glitch overlooked during an earlier repair triggered subsequent failures, citing the burned contact points on the R/R coupler as evidence of poor contact caused by corrosion or other contamination. Check your other couplers and ground-wire connections. Heat-damaged terminals should be replaced. Otherwise, a little DeoxIT electronic contact cleaner—available at Radio Shack and elsewhere—should clean things up. If you do end up replacing the regulator/rectifier, make sure you get Honda’s new and improved version (part number 31600-MY7-305) with a larger finned body to dissipate heat more efficiently.

Euro Tech
I’d like to understand why the Japanese manufacturers fail to give U.S. motorcyclists the same features that European riders find common. The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 sold in America is a really nice sport-touring bike, yet the Europe-only Z1000SX Tourer comes with color-matched Givi bags and available ABS. If I want ABS or traction control, I’m forced to go European or make Kawasaki’s new ZX-10R-ABS into a supersport-touring bike. Looking for a bike my wife can grow into as she gains experience, I’m pointed to European makes again, and trying to convince her that Ducati’s Diavel would be great for her: relatively lightweight, low seat height and lots of features. Can the Japanese be that far behind in bringing technology to the masses?
Jon Ford
Canyon Lake, TX

It’s not like there’s any shortage of bright ideas at any of the major Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. Japan, Inc. is basically doing the same thing it’s always done: Aiming its technology where it can make cash registers ring loudest. The global financial meltdown of 2008, along with recent unfavorable dollar/yen exchange rates, hasn’t helped the cause, and the tsunami disaster back in March dealt the whole country a devastating blow. Meanwhile, European brands like Aprilia, BMW, Ducati and Triumph have been coming on strong with bright ideas of their own to pry a larger share of the market away from their Eastern competition. But Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha have brought more two-wheeled technology to more people over the last 50 years than anybody else. Maybe they’re not bringing all of us everything we want like they did in the Good Old Days, but that will change sooner than later.

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