Sometimes The Solution To A Stupefying Electrical Problem Is Simply Jiggling A Wire

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Since I purchased my 2005 Suzuki Burgman 650 back in March it’s been my hard-ridden daily motorcycle. It’s also suffered from two major issues that drove me insane: I couldn’t get the headlights to stay on, and one cylinder just wouldn’t fire. (It also blew two brand new tires, but we don’t need to get into that here.)

This Burgman has been through a lot. At 77,000 miles, the previous owner replaced the engine and transmission unit after the continuously variable transmission (CVT) failed. So now it has an 80,000+ mile body with a young, 40,000-mile engine. Even with the new engine, that previous owner had issues getting the new engine to run on both cylinders (an issue fixed with a new ignition coil).

The big scooter served me well through this season. That is, until the headlights stopped working and it went back to firing on only one cylinder.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

After six months of annoyance, I was able to fix both issues. Here’s how:

I first tackled the misfire by replacing both plugs and both coils. On these Burgman 650s the job is super easy. Take off the shield for the radiator, remove a single bolt on the radiator, then hinge it out. I also removed the service cover for some extra visibility. Here’s what the front looks like in its service position.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

One of the coils was very visibly aged, so that looked to be the culprit.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I replaced the coil with a new one and was overjoyed when the Burgman purred to life on both cylinders. However, my celebration was short-lived as it worked for just 10 miles. When the misfire and cylinder shutdown continued, I was bewildered.

I opened up the Suzuki once again, not knowing what to do. It had new plugs, new coils, fresh fuel, a fresh battery and clean connections...why did it seem like the scooter’s electrical system was shot? I feared I’d have to hire a mechanic to track this down.

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In a desperate last ditch effort I began pulling back the electrical tape holding the wire harness in the engine compartment together. Everything looked fine. The wires were whole and clean enough.

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That’s when I decided to start the Suzuki and wiggle some wires around. Perhaps, like an old phone charging cable, the damage to the wiring was internal. Sure enough, when I wiggled one of the wires, the second cylinder’s coil began working.

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You have to be kidding me. Six months and the solution was...wiggle a wire?

Indeed it was. Just to be safe I replaced the section of wire with a new pigtail. Eyeballing Amazon ads, I surmised that Suzuki and Ford used the same coil plug connectors. I took a chance and sure enough, the connector worked!

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Illustration for article titled Sometimes The Solution To A Stupefying Electrical Problem Is Simply Jiggling A Wire
Photo: Mercedes Streeter

And the lights? They worked too, so long as I wiggled the ignition switch. I replaced the switchgear on the right side to be safe and they work perfectly. Sometimes all you have to do to vanquish a scary electrical gremlin is give your wires a little shake.

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You’re definitely going to see some more of this Burgman 650. I’m currently running a tire test on it and am brewing up a potential cross-country winter trip with it. Until then, keep the shiny side up!

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Loves all vehicles! Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, AmTran School Bus, VW Passat W8, Jetta TDI (x2), Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Suzuki Burgman, Yamaha U7E...

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DISCUSSION

finalformminivan
finalformminivan

I used to be an avionics tech and when chasing wires we always wiggled the shit out of the plugs and wires. The only way to duplicate an intermittent problem was wiggling as much shit as you could.

How do you lie those scooters compared to a motorcycle? I used to ride when I younger and had much more hair on my head and I’ve been thinking about getting back on too wheels since its one of the cheapest way to have fun. I remember seeing those types of scooters in Japan all decked out and modded. I thought about getting a Ruckus but they seem to cost a lot for just having 49cc engine.