Riderinfo.com, connecting bikers, runs and bands.
Your online exchange for run and band info. Keep in touch with all your riding friends online at RI.
Riders of all motorcycle makes and models welcome.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Thread: Trouble starting my bike

  1. #1
    Settled In
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    10

    Trouble starting my bike

    Hey all,

    This really sucks. My 1981 XJ550 is having trouble starting. The battery is ok and is cranking the pistons, but it won't start. I usually have this problem after week of not riding my bike, but it starts up after a few tries with the choke all the way back. This time it just won't catch. Any suggestions? A couple things to add: my intake manifolds to the cylinders are cracked and may be leaking air; the weather here has been extremely rainy and humid the past couple days (not sure if that would have an effect or not); I haven't changed my spark plugs yet since I bought the bike 1000 miles ago and don't know when they were last replaced either.

    Thanks for the help.

    ~Alex

  2. #2
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    83
    Geez Alex, you can't run an engine with an intake manifold that is leaking, whether at a gasket or a crack. This will burn valves due to a lean burn condition all the time and you can't be getting any power that way. You need to get that replaced, soon.

    The 'no start' could be no fuel or no spark. You should be able to choke the carberators while cranking an get fuel - smell? If not; check that out first.

    The no spark condition is going to require that you remove a spark plug and hold it against the head while cranking for just a bit. You should see a nice blue spark at the electrode. Don't crank the engine without grounding the plug to the engine - you could destroy the coil electronics. You could also spray some starting fluid into the intake (just a little) to see if you have spark.

    Other than that, it may take a mechanic friend or motorcycle shop to check out the problem.

    Good luck....

  3. #3
    Settled In
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    10
    Hey BClem,

    Thanks for the help. Yeah, burned valves...not good. Hopefully that's not the case. I already ordered intake manifolds so they're on their way.

    I checked the spark plugs and they have a decent blue light from each one. THey are not charred or melted or wet. The fuel lines are in good condition, but the carbs may need to be cleaned. I didn't check the flow of fuel from the tank to the carbs. A friend of mine said it may actually be the battery that is supplying an insufficient charge. Don't know when that was last replaced. I'll try hooking up a battery tender and see how that works.

  4. #4
    If you left it out in the weather, there is a good chance the gas tank got rained in. It only takes a couple of drops of water. The water finds the weakest point of everything. Water gets into the seams of a gastank, freezes and leaks there. Also it starts rust. That is next to imposible to stop. Water gets into the boul of the carburetor and will crush the floats when it freezes.
    Water can contaminate and dilute engine oil as well. If there is condensation in the cylenders, the rings will be less efficient. If both the petcock and floats are ruined by guess what water, the oil and bearings pay the price. !000 miles on a second hand bike is plenty soon enough to change the oil. If you have winter where you are or if not, It is best to stop for maintence.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    83
    You already said that the battery cranks the engine.... either it is good or it will not crank the engine....

    Check for the water in your fuel.

    Also: put the plugs back in, remove the breather to access the carbs, find a squirt bottle or something to shoot some gasoline (prime) into the carbs while you crank. If it runs the prime then quits, find out why you are not getting fuel. (could be the water) probably is dirty carbs with stuck needle valves. Could be a fuel filter, could be that fuel was left in the carbs and it dried up leaving a green sticky goo that will require some carb cleaner to remove. You might need a pro... but keep checking as we are working on this.

    How long has the bike been sitting? In a protected environment?

    Bill C.

    You couldn't possibly be getting any worse weather (rainy) than we are!

    ALSO: I see that you have two posts on this... I'll retire as of now.
    Last edited by BClem; 10-11-2005 at 04:43 PM.

  6. #6
    Settled In
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    10
    Hey Guys, sorry it's been a while. Been kind of busy. Just to update, the rubber intake manifolds that I ordered have just arrived to replace to cracked ones on my bike. I was saving the carb cleaning until I got those booties so it could all be done at the same time. Biggest problem is that I live in center city philly and my bike is parked on the street. It will be a bit of a hassle but it can be done.

    As far as the other questions, the bike is always covered but it is also outside. And being caught in the friggen monsoon that passed through here last week didn't help any either. Hopefully no water seeped in the bike, but it's always a possibility. Also, the amount of time between my last ride and the first time the bike wouldn't start was only one week. Now it's been sitting out there for about 3 weeks.

    I'll fix the bike up this weekend and let you konw how it turns out. Thanks for the help.

  7. #7
    Recognized Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    S. Dakota
    Posts
    161
    I keep my bike on a battery tender year round. does anyone else use this?
    Think Ink!!!
    Riding proud with the
    US MILITARY VETS M/C
    WWW.USMVMC.ORG(NATIONAL)

  8. #8
    Recognized Member Dgrason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Nashville, Tn. soon to be Kingston Springs,Tn.
    Posts
    194
    I'm going to borrow a little knowledge from my line or work. I'm a Professional Grounds Maintanance Expert. Yeah, I mow grass for a living. Anyway, when I got the Harley, I quickly found that the engine on my E-Glide shared many of the same commonalities as my professional mowers did ... namely the tendency to collect moisture in the gas tank simply due to condensation. The cure for this is to always fill the tank to the brim when I'm finished. This gives less area to collect condensation. If I know a mower (or the bike) is going to sit for a while such as over the winter, I run the tank down a little ways, put in a stabilizing additive and run the machine until I know that some stabilizer has reached the carb. Then I refill the tank.

    The other thing that gives me fits sometimes will be the sparkplugs. I've gotten to where I don't try to analyze old plugs. If they seem questionable in the very least, I toss em and put in new ones. You would be amazed at the difference that can make. Plugs seem to be total junk these days and can give all the signs of being fine while not being worth squat.

    Also, finally always turn off the fuel petcock when finished riding. If you don't you may have your cylinders filling with gas while you're off doing other things ....like sleeping for the night. If the cylinders fill high enough, gas can work its way into the crankcase and will contaminate the oil. This has NOT happened on my Harley yet because I'm not letting it. But I learned this lesson the hard way with one of my commercial mowers a few years ago. Replacing a low hour engine that otherwise would have lived a long happy life makes an indelible impression.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by tat
    I keep my bike on a battery tender year round. does anyone else use this?
    The cheapie WalMart battery maintainer, $17.99 works just as good as the Battery Tender (TM) $54.99. I use them both. Surprise, either of them can cause a battery to need distilled water over a time of 30 days or so. I have to take my battery out to look at the level.

  10. #10
    Lost bufordtpisser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    2,173
    Blog Entries
    2

    Internal Combustion Engines..............................

    Internal combustion engines only need a few things to run. One being fuel in the proper air/fuel mixture, and two, being a source of ignition. I would verify that you do indeed have fuel, good fresh fuel. Make sure that the fuel is flowing through the petcock and into the carbs, and that you do not have blocked idle passages. Then make sure that you have spark, hot spark, and at the proper time in the rotation. Since you say that the bike is hard starting anyway, I would try the new plugs first. Fresh plugs could make all the difference that you need. If you have verified that you have both fuel, and spark, then it is more than likely a timing issue. Spark at the wrong time isn't any better than no spark at all.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •