by Tracy Martin
159 pages $26.95
Motorbooks, MBI Publishing Co LLC
by B.P. Goebel
The complex electrical systems on our motorcycles are so reliable these days that we really take them for granted. Until we have an “ELECTRICAL PROBLEM” (cue scary music). “ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS” can strike fear into the heart of even the most skilled shade-tree mechanics. That is until now. Hope has arrived and its name is Motorcycle Electrical System Troubleshooting and Repair by Tracy Martin.
Readers may recognize the author, Tracy Martin. He’s been a moto-journalist specializing in service/repair-oriented articles for years. Before he became a writer, he worked in the trenches wrenching, then teaching repair classes to technicians. As anyone who has ever taught knows, the processes of teaching streamlines and clarifies ones own thoughts and ideas on a subject. Mr. Martin realized that, as applied to motorcycles, traditional electrical theory was needlessly complex, and was usually presented in a less than straightforward manner. In a way similar to moto-technical-journalist-deity Kevin Cameron, Tracy Martin is able to explain very difficult and complex theories, in simple terms that just about anyone can understand. His book, Motorcycle Electrical System Troubleshooting and Repair, is anything but complex and could not be any more straightforward.
Instead of numbing the reader with 200 pages of electrical theories, laws, and mathematical equations, he gets what you need to know over with in a mere 12 concise pages of text and easy to understand illustrations! The next chapter, Voltage Drop Testing, is the super special secret backbone of his very streamlined, easy way to test the various components of your motorcycles’ electrical system. This chapter is 7 pages long. The rest of the book is practical application. He includes a chapter on Batteries, where he distills the facts from the many myths surrounding their care and set-up. The chapters on Charging/Starting systems, Ignition systems, and Fuel Injection systems give excellent overviews of each of these systems’ components, operation, potential problems and solutions. The Wiring Diagrams chapter will help you to decipher in a practical manner the hieroglyphic nature of your motorcycles electrical schematic diagram. He even includes example questions with answers and explanations to ensure comprehension. At this point in the book, you will already have the nuts and bolts of motorcycle troubleshooting. Here he includes a Troubleshooting chapter that highlights some of the more common motorcycle “ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS” and how to check for them. Along with all this, he includes chapters on the correct tools for the job and planning for some common motorcycle accessories and their installation.
If a person purchased the book and used it to solve one “ELECTRICAL PROBLEM”, the book would have paid for itself many times over and you would still have it on your reference shelf for next time. But the best part would be that next time, instead of a vague, catastrophic “ELECTRICAL PROBLEM”, you would have a plan. You would know where to start, you would know what you were looking at, and you would know what you were looking for. Verdict: Where’s the oil go in? – Buy a riding technique book instead-you’ll have more fun. Comfortable in the garage – Lots of general, very applicable knowledge that will de-mystify your motorcycle’s electrical system. Master of carbs, valves, and cam timing – What are you waiting for, grasshopper?
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