Getting stuck in New Territories

Last Sunday the weather was great and I hadnt been out riding for a while so thought I would head out for a ride. Not having ridden for a few weeks I noted the battery had gone flat. I took it out and put it on charge for an hour while having breakfast. Normally I charge it longer but I was keen on getting out on the road and while riding the bike the battery is getting charged so didn't worry to much of having a flat battery.

I was just coming over the mountain range on Route Twisk, where plenty of sport bikes go racing, when I noticed I was low on fuel. I pulled into a gas station and filled the bike up. Once I was ready to go I turned the ignition back on but nothing happened when I pushed the start button.

Since the light came on and the headlight looked fine it wasn't obvious what was wrong. The most obvious sign was that the service light was showing after a few seconds when turning the ignition on. I thought maybe the ECU, the bikes computer, had gone wrong so I borrowed a wrench at the gas station and disconnected and reconnected the battery. No luck though!

I started to notice that the head light was slightly fading which gave me an indication that the battery might be too weak after only riding for 30km. The very first time I ever got stuck on a bike was in the little villange Vang Vieng in northern Laos. At that place they did have a guy charging battery as his profession but the setup was a bit sketchy.

This setup obviously didn't work having them all in serial but I managed to push start the Honda 250 XR without ever having tried to push start anything before. Great success at the time. When I spent a year in South America one of the features of the KTM 640 Adventure bike was that there was a kick starter on it. Great tool which I used a few times.

With this background I thought maybe I could push start the bike down a hill. That didn't work at all for my KTM 690 Enduro and there were only a few questions on the internet forums about if this was possible. 

Luckily I did find car workshop around the corner. They spoke absolute no English and my Cantonese is embarrassingly non existent. However with a few images of jump cables I got the message across and with the help of a nearby car I could get the bike back to life!!

Now this isn't so bad when you are in a built up area in the first world but if this happens when you are in an empty desert hundreds of miles from any other living human being then things are worse. The intention with the bike is to ride back and forth from Asia to Europe one day and there are sections like that around.

Being an electrical engineer the obvious solution is to add a decent battery monitor just like I have in the cockpit when I'm flying airplanes. One of the items on the pilot checklist is to verify that the battery is charging so I wanted something like that on the bike.

I searched the internet for some decent battery monitors and found some in US for USD 70 which I found expensive and then ordered an almost identical product from ali-express for USD 3.50! Almost too cheap.

The unit came this weak so I took it apart and filled it with epoxy. From my experience in South America I know that anything with a circuit board mounted on a bike will vibrate to pieces unless it is filled with epoxy.

Next step was to put it on the bike. The bike has two connectors behind the head light, one is on all the time and the other is switched by the ignition key which is the one I wanted.

A bit later it was sitting all neatly on the bike and so far is working all as expected :)


  1. That should of course have been a standard feature on any adventure bike.
    Maybe you could get someone to 3d print an even better holder instead of a GoPro mount for the display.
    Knowing the current battery level is of course important, but it is also important to see that the generator is working too, which this device will tell as well. An adventure bike without kick starter ?!

    1. Yes a kick starter would be nice but guess they mostly sell "Adventure bikes" to city boys who wants some "Adventure" image well within reach of AA recovery service :) Also for standard you think the battery warning light would go on if your battery is bad which it didn't (it is the middle light on the left hand side in the first video)

  2. Good you sorted it out. Could be an option to look around for a more weather worthy bike for your next adventure. If you’re riding the Silk Road or something like that you don’t want to be stuck because running low on battery. A kick start could be essential! Os

    1. Yeah, you would think so but then it is almost the case you have to go back a generation and buy what I had in South Am with a carburetor instead of fuel injection.


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