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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've ridden my 2002 Honda Shadow VLX for a few months with few problems. Suddenly at the end of a 10-mile trip while on a side road going 30mph about a week ago I smelled some burn and a minute or so later the engine cuts off. I restarted it and it rode a bit clunky and that's when the headlights started to flicker and it cut off again.
I had it towed to a shop and they spent a week riding it. They couldn't pinpoint any issues and it rode fine for them up to 10+ miles. They recharged the battery but said the battery seemed fine aside from it not being firmly set in place so potentially the negative cable could have come loose, which they fixed.
I rode it home just fine but on the way, one of my headlights went out. To describe this headlight: it's always been a bit brighter than the other one and blinked a little faster, but nothing that caused issues. Now that it's out, it's only out sometimes (when I turned the key to off and then back to accessory it came back on). If I use the blinker while it's off it comes back on to blink but then turns off again when I'm using the other blinker or neither blinker.
At this point I'm concerned about a light going out randomly while riding at night and about if this indicates a larger issue. If it helps at all, I rode a bit with the choke pulled in the past (not more than a street per ride) so I was slightly concerned about the spark plugs but I don't think they would cause this issue. Might be the relay for the headlight but was the clunky riding unrelated then? Thoughts?
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If you smelled something burning, and that shop couldn't find anything burnt, it's time for you to pull the seat and gas tank and go over all the wiring and connectors you can find. Check everything electrical. If you don't find anything, pull the headlight and look in there, or find a new shop.
 

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In the pic I see the left running light is not lighted.
1) Is this the headlights you described and not the headlight that is used to see up the road at night?
2) Are there any electrical modifications at all?
3) What size Shadow? (My guess - 600cc)?
Knowing what size the engine is could help when making guesses about the burning smell, lighting and well anything really...

S F
 

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...
I had it towed to a shop and they spent a week riding it. They couldn't pinpoint any issues and it rode fine for them up to 10+ miles. They recharged the battery but said the battery seemed fine aside from it not being firmly set in place so potentially the negative cable could have come loose, which they fixed.
I rode it home just fine but on the way, one of my headlights went out ....
My thought is that the dealership had the prime opportunity to find the original problem and they totally blew it. Sure hope they didn't charge you much for charging your battery and test rising your bike.

... I see a smart phone mount on the bars, was that wired into the electrics to charge the phone? That would be the first place to look, next would be the wires all around the headlight that flex every time you turn the bars or possibly get pinched by the steering stops, followed by extensive meter testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@SemiFast Yeah, I was referring to the running light not the headlight. It's a 600cc engine and as far as I know there have been no electrical modifications. The phone mount is just latched on.

I checked the electricals under the seat.
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I found this a bit concerning. They were barely plugged in when I found them (should they be plugged together? Since I rode home from the shop and they were barely connected) and they're so long they hardly look proprietary. They were kinda stuffed in there with the other cables which were all tightly in place. Then...
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They have a burn in them. Considering they're connected to the battery that might have to do with the issue. Thoughts?

Underneath the seat itself looks just fine to me.
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I checked the other side of the bike.
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It looks mostly fine. A bit dirty but no clear damage. This one cable at the top looks taped though.
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It seems like the taped wire leads to the FUSE 30A box on the other side. Should I undo the tape? What replacement cable will I need if it's in bad condition?

After all that I checked the wires by the lights and on the outside they all look great, no damage or pinches. Admittedly I don't want to remove the gas tank if it can be avoided, but I took a look with a light in the gap and it seems fine.
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Not a great view but nothing looks cut. The bolt in there is a bit green and wet but I'd expect that's probably normal (I say as a non-mechanic). This one little green cord below the bolt looks dirty but that might just be because of it's placement and purpose.

Lastly, these two cables here look a bit bent but not pinched. Probably just natural wear and tear I'd think.
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You found your source of combustion.
From here it looks like somebody added a non fused phone charger output.
:cool: Cool! now you can make your motorcycle a lot more safer and clean it all up nice now that it's apart (y) and you saved a ton of money by not hiring a mechanic to do it at a hundred bucks an hour plus tax.

Oh wait, you already paid somebody to not find that problem didn't you, oops
 

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maybe somebody tried to start it when it was still on a battery charger, or it was stuffed up against the ignition coil output
who cares, it's patched into the main fuse and I bet it's not on the wiring diagram.
 

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I found this a bit concerning. They were barely plugged in when I found them (should they be plugged together? Since I rode home from the shop and they were barely connected) and they're so long they hardly look proprietary. They were kinda stuffed in there with the other cables which were all tightly in place. Then...
............... They have a burn in them. Considering they're connected to the battery that might have to do with the issue. Thoughts?
That's an add on. Most likely used to plug in a .5 ~ 1.0 amp battery charger so you don't have to do whatever it takes to get to the battery in order to connect the charger clamps/leads directly to the battery. They are often used where a battery is not easy to access. The "barely plugged in" is just a dust cover to keep the contacts clean when not in use. (If I understand you correctly).
Most likely the wire contacted the exhaust pipe causing the burned wires in your pic # 3. Also most likely that is where the burning smell and odd electrical issues came from. (Shorting out power from the battery while the wire was against the metal exhaust pipe). You need to just remove it.
Then replace the bulb in your left front running light and you'll probably be good to go.
Please let us know...

S F
 

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WOW seems like multiple problems. If you are having blinking, dimming and unpredictable light problems it is most likely a grounding problem. First remove the cables from your battery and then trace the ground cable to your engine. Remove the bolt clean with wire brush or fine sandpaper and reinstall. If the wire looks corroded in any way replace the end or the entire wire. Use spark plug grease and lightly cost the connection to prevent future corrosion. Do the same with the red battery wire cleaning both ends removing and reinstalling. Then check each light assembly and make sure that the ground wire is clean and tight. The wire that you show is kinked needs to be replaced. Check ends on all wires. Take the connectosr apart and spray them with contact cleaner allow to dry and reassemble. You should be like anew bike. Take your time and check every wire and ground. It will take care of your problems and prevent future ones.
 
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