Motorcycle Migraine Therapy

All wired up and ready to ride.

It was +20°c yesterday in Calgary, and my migraine was off the charts. If I were a canary in a coal mine, there would just be a pile of yellow feathers on the bottom of the birdcage — caught by a gust of Chinook Wind, one solitary feather would be floating free until it got wedged between the hard rock and a beam in the darkest corner of the mine shaft. It was that kind of migraine.

Today it’s -1°c and snowing. See? I’m the Weather Canary of Calgary.

However, this post is not about my epic migraine and all that entailed. Today’s post is about how I decided to ignore my blinding migraine and went to the garage to work on my bike in the sunshine. I mean, if I’m miserable inside, why not go out into the sunshine and take my mind off it? Other migraine sufferers at this point are shaking their heads, “Why would you do that?” they decry. “Stay inside in a dark room, you doofus!

Being still is not my nature (and I’m powered by sunshine), so off I went, tools in hand.

If you recall from earlier stories (Ronco For The Ages, Old Dog Tricks, Suburban Bikerz, Aspiring Electricologist), Blackfoot Motosports had installed a USB port on my motorcycle but had opted to just hardwire it to the battery. Unfortunately, this means that every time I store my bike for extended periods of time, I would need to remove the seat, unscrew the leads, and put the seat back on again.

What a pain in the ass.

So, I did what any self-respecting Wile E. Coyote would do and placed an order for switches with ACME (Amazon). My order arrived a while ago, and I’ve been plotting and scheming ever since. Where would I add the switch? How would I access it? How will I weather-proof it? And why did this switch come with Red and Black wires already attached? I’m confused. Is one lead positive (red) and one lead negative (black)?

I decided to do a Facetime call with my friend, John Legare, to get some tips on electricity. He happily had a look at what I was working with, taught me how to test the circuit with my spiffy new circuit tester, and then simply said, “Ignore the colours on the switch.” He told me if I wanted to switch out the black wire for another red wire, I could, but it doesn’t really matter. I just had to interrupt the red wire coming from the USB Port to the battery and place this switch in between.

With wire cutters (and newfound confidence) in hand, I went to the garage to start the operation. My migraine was still intense, so to take my mind off it, I pretended I was a Bomb Squad guy who was called out to disarm a motorcycle bomb. The seat was already removed, so I took off the side cover, careful not to trip the “bomb.” I was mildly disappointed (but not really surprised) to see there was no timer counting down from 30 seconds. So I pretended there was one, along with a Bomb Squad team backing up my moves from a blast-proof van just down the alley.

Carefully I separated the black and red wires. With trembling hands, I positioned the wire cutters.

In the imaginary earpiece radio I was wearing, I heard, “CUT THE RED WIRE!

My wire cutters were hovering over the black wire. The timer showed 5 seconds left. “Are you sure it’s the red wire?” sweat pouring off my face.

RED, RED, RED!” Screamed my team leader from the make-believe Bomb Squad van.

Just as the timer reached 1 SECOND, I snipped the RED WIRE. Nothing happened. No explosion. I wiped my brow. “We’re clear,” I reported.

Copy that,” the team leader replied. “Good work out there.” I could hear the cheers and celebrations in the van just down the alley. The Mayor will probably give me a medal.

Testing the connection

Now that the wires were cut, I decided to do a quick test using marrets to make sure the switch did what I wanted it to do before wiring it permanently and sealing it with heat shrink. It worked like a charm, so now it was time to mount the switch in its forever home and wire it for bad weather. I removed the marrets and went to work.

First, I drilled a hole in the top of the tool kit where the switch would be installed, then fed the wires in and pushed the pressure-fit switch into place. From there, I drilled two small holes for the wires to come in and out of the toolkit, which will be sealed with silicone.

Wires and switch in place, I remembered to slide the heat shrink onto the wires before I spliced them — this is an important step. Once together, I slid the heat shrink over the splice before using a lighter to heat shrink it all together. Beautiful.

Now to turn my USB ports on and off, all I need to do is remove my side cover and hit the switch. I’m no Orange County Choppers mechanic, nor am I a Bomb Squad Tech at the top of his game, but I was able to take a bad situation and make it better.

When I was done, it was still +18°c, my migraine had given up tormenting me, and I needed to go for a ride — the first one of the season. Geared up head-to-toe, I hit the streets (figuratively) and rode down to Loose Moose Theatre, where Dennis Cahill was teaching a class on Improv in preparation for weekly shows starting up again.

The final product.



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Michael Dean Dargie

Michael Dean Dargie

I do cool and weird shit with cool and weird people. Dad, biker, writer, speaker, artist, adventurer, doer of things, teacher of stuff.