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6. Electrical

6.1 Problems

The only electrical complaints I've heard is that a couple of people have had trouble with corroded contacts in the handlebar switches, (using dielectric grease on the contacts the first time you open the switch to clean it will probably help keep it from happening again), and a couple of people have had the regulator/rectifier go. The symptoms in this case including batteries boiling dry quickly, and in one case the main 25A fuse blew immediately, even with the key off. One person says they were able to replace the unit with one from an Intruder, and that it's a shared part among many Japanese bikes. Several readers have recommended Electrex USA as a source for alternator/regulator parts. As of Winter 2000, some listers have reported problems with the Electrex connectors for the specified unit and with company support. They do offer a good electrical system diagnostic procedure. Replacement may require removal of the battery and battery case, neither of which is too difficult.

Glen Farney uses an inexpensive ($5.99) Radio Shack voltage tester (Cat No. 22-112) to monitor his electrical system. It's easy to attach and has a magnetic strip on the back so it can be mounted on the tank. Alternator voltage output can then be monitored while you ride. I find that hooking mine up every month or so during a brief ride is enough to know my system is charging properly.

6.2 Lights

Be careful of the connector to the taillight! It's very easy, when replacing the toolkit back in its spot below the grab rail, to dislodge and disconnect that plug. This leaves you with no lights in the back at all -- no tail light, no brake light. Put a simple twist tie around the two halve to hold it together. It's not worth the risk of riding at night with no rear lights!

Also note that the taillight is a single bulb, single filament. If it burns out, again you have no rear running lights.

If you want more lights on the bike, it's fairly straightforward to replace the turn signal stalks with something from a catalog which will have dual filaments. This will give you amber running lights in addition to the red taillight. (This may or may not be legal, and you may or may not care.) another approach that someone pointed out is this -- it turns out the posts that the signal lights mount on are identical to the posts used on mid-eighties Honda Shadow. And the good news is that Honda tends to put dual filament heads on the front stalks of their bikes. So if you get the front signals heads from a Shadow, they should mate perfectly with the posts on your VX, either front or rear. The Shadow I saw (I don't know if they're all the same) had "bullet" shaped signal heads, i.e. the back of the head was pointy, but other than that they were very similar to the VX signal heads.

Another solution to getting more light in back is to do what I did -- install a neon license plate frame. :-) (Seriously -- I got a red neon plate frame from JC Whitney -- the color matches the taillight, and it doesn't look too bad. And it sure makes me stand out in a crowd.) (Equally seriously -- it has now failed, after 6 months of service. The first one I got failed after 3 days, but was under warranty. I don't think I'll get another.)

A more recent solution is to install a TailBlazer from Kissan Technologies. This unit replaces the taillight bulb with the tailBlazer which cycles several times when the brakes are applied before remaining bright.

6.3 Turn Signals

The turn signal flasher can be replaced with a standard automotive two terminal flasher unit.

Glen Farney has designed an interesting Turn Signal to Brake Light Converter. Click here more more information.

6.4 Instrument lights

If one of your instrument bulbs burns out, you can replace it by just pulling the little rubbber socket out from the back of the speedo cluster. The replacement part is cheaper if you buy the Honda part rather than the Suzuki part, by the way.

6.5 Battery

Take care of your battery -- for some reason the VX battery is an odd size (somewhat large), and replacements cost somewhat more than those for other bikes. Yuasa lists the YB16B-A as the right battery in their "better" class, and they don't list a less-expensive equivalent. One mailorder place wants $73 for that battery.

Someone reports that Chaparral (800-841-2960) sells an economy battery for $36.99. Part# 378-1097. That's worth checking out.

GT Turner says that he's converted to a commonly available 14AH battery: "You need to lengthen the negative lead to accommodate the battery as the positive and negative poles are reversed from the stock VX battery. I found out about this from a fellow VX rider who still has his first converted battery after 4 yrs of use.... 14L-A2 is the base #, worth a try when the OEM is so $$$. You only need to lengthen the negative lead. I used a 5" piece of 8-ga FINE strand wire with ring connectors on both ends. Bolted one ring end to the existing negative lead on the bike and insulated it with sleeve tubing. That way you can very simply revert back to stock Install the battery so the overflow tube mates up to the battery. You'll have to make a spacer (I used foam) to take up space in the battery box as the replacement is 1" less in width."

Bear in mind that GT lives in a relatively warm part of the country. If I made this substitution, I'd use a 16AH battery.

Editor Tom has just installed (Mar '01) an EverStart ES14BS maintenance-fee battery. It's a bit smaller than the OEM but fits satisfactorily. WalMart offers this battery for $70. They also offer an ES16B, specified for the VX at $35.00, but Tom has been informed that the terminals are on the wrong side for the VX.

6.6 Odd Switch

Recent European models (definitely the German models, perhaps others) have an unusual switch on one of the carburetors that closes when the throttle is fully open. Harald Bilke made some inquiries, and found that it's part of a system to reduce noise emissions!

"The switch is necessary to keep the noise emissions just below the threshold. It engages only in the 3rd and 4th gear when turning the throttle fast to "full open" and between 40 and 60 km/h. (This is the setup how the measurement is done - hint, hint ;-)) The ignition timing is being changed - so full power is released a little bit later. This is enough to pass the microphone and having a little more distance between it and the engine the dbs are lower.

As I recall now I could feel the "hickup" myself. But you have to turn the throttle really fast.

My dealer states that most european from 1996 on should have a similar device, because the noise thresholds are EC ones."

6.7 Horn

A number of listers have commented on the anemic sound of the OEM VX horn. Tom, and a few others, have cured the problem by installing a pair of Fiamm Freeway Blasters. He followed Glen Farney's solution for mounting and electrical hookup. The horns are mounted under the seat using the bolts that hold the footpegs onto the chassis. Some listers have cautioned that horns should be in the front as that's where other motorists expect the sound to come from, and that the use automobile horns can create ill will. Your humble editor (Tom) respectfully disagrees on both points but cautions other to take this point of view into consideration.

If you decide to install more powerful horns, a proper electrical hookup using a relay is essential. Glen has provided the following:

If you are installing only one horn, the stock wiring will work, but a relay will make it better, as long as your new horn is dual terminal.

If it is single, you will need a relay. Dual horns really should have a relay for proper and long term functionality. Radio shack sells an automotive relay of reasonable quality, and a reasonable price. Don't pay more than about $6 for one. I see them frequently packaged as "daytime running light wiring kit" or "alarm accessory kit". Same relay, extra cost. A relay can increase the volume of the stock horn as much as a new horn without a relay, to get full benefit, do both, dual if possible. I ultimately found good quality disk horns are my favorite for volume, and sounding like a motorcycle. My GS650 has "Freeway Blaster" horns, and sounds like a car, a damn loud one, but a car none the less.

Ok, the stock horn wiring goes as follows.... starting at the battery.....

....power flows through one of the fuses (sorry, I forget which one), and directly to the first terminal of the horn. The second lead from the horn goes to the switch (horn button) on the handlebars, and then to ground. Yes, that's right, they pulled the ultimate no-no, and switched the ground for motorcycle horns, don't ask me why. The good news is adding a relay is very easy when you start with a two terminal horn.

The short version on how to wire a relay, it will make more sense if you have the relay in front of you, and know remember how the horn is already wired. The relay has 4 terminals on it (maybe a 5th). They are numbered and connected as follows:

30 - This lead is the incoming power that is ultimately switched by the relay. Use larger wire than stock (14 gauge should be ok, but 12 gauge will work better, and connect this lead directly to the battery, with an in line fuse as close to the battery as possible. I always try to use red wire for such an application, but that's just for me to keep track of what's what, black works just as well.

87 - This lead is connected to the horns. Some relays have two 87 terminals, if you have two horns, connect one to each. *If you have an 87a terminal, do not use it, it is normally closed, and therefore powered, even when the bike is off. Make sure this terminal is covered, and can't short out to anything.

85 & 86. These two terminals are used to activate the relay. When power is placed across these leads, it energizes a coil, and pulls the contacts together. Most can be polarized both ways and still work. Here's the part that makes it really easy.... connect these two to the original horn wires, polarity doesn't matter. No cutting of the bike's original wiring is required (good for putting things back to original later if you choose). Doing this requires you tuck the relay up at the front of the bike somewhere, I find there is room behind the little covers at the front of the VX. It doesn't need to be mounted, but it's good to tie it off to something to keep it from getting anywhere it's not supposed to be.

The last thing required to do is ground the horns. If you have one terminal horns, they are already grounded through the mounting brackets. If they are two terminal, (+) and (-) are usually identified on the horns, or on the package. Simply ground the (-) terminal to the frame somewhere with a short wire (often included with horn).

This type of upgrade is also worth while for headlights. Decreased voltage on halogen bulbs cause a dramatic decrease in light output, especially with high wattage bulbs. Strangely, the VX doesn't suffer this problem too bad.

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