You know how it is. The weather is starting to warm up and you are getting that itch to go riding after all that cabin fever, you go out to the garage and lo and behold your trusty steed refuses to fire up. What do you do?
Ok, not my V Star, but I get asked this enough this time of year that I’ve decided to do a quick diagnostic post that I can point to instead of writing all of this over and over.
1. PILOT JETS!! Did your bike work fine when you parked it for winter several months ago and now won’t start? Check that the pilot jets are not gummed up, this is a VERY common issue with the V Star 650′s. If the bike has been sitting long at all I would check and clean the pilots regardless. Also if the bike will start under full choke but will not run off choke, pilot jets! Check here for some videos documenting how to clean the carbs. If you have Ziv’s stainless carb screws installed, cleaning the pilots is a breeze and does not take more than 15 or 20 minutes. For cleaning out the pilot jets, the wire out of a bread tie is the perfect size.
2. Battery. Again, bike sat all winter and now it won’t crank. Not to worry, its most likely just your battery. If it drained enough over winter to not start again you can throw a trickle charger on there and maybe get going but typically a battery can not handle many deep cycle charges like this and you’ll want to start looking for a new battery when your finances allow.
2a. Battery terminals. If your battery tests good but you are still getting no crank or the relay is buzzing, clean off those terminals! One of my batteries was working fine till it decided to loose a connection and left me stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception. Took me a while to try cleaning the connections as one last ditch effort and what do you know the bike fired right up.
3. Air leaks. I hate air leaks they are always difficult to hunt down. Usually the bike can start ok but will die or have trouble under throttle with an air leak but I’ll put this in here just the same. Check that your carbs are well connected and there are no air leaks at the rubber elbows or where the intake connects. It is easy to over tighten those air box or GAK POD filter connections causing them to pop off, snug is good, too tight is not. If its none of the usual culprits check that the rubber boots that connect to the air ports under the carbs on the elbows have not dry rotted, or if you have AIS be sure none of those rubber air lines have cracked and started leaking. A good way to test for air leaks is once the bike is running again spray something near those connections and lines and listen for the RPMs to go up something like starting fluid or even WD40 will work.
4. Pickup coil. If the bike cranks well and the fuel system is working well but you are still getting no spark or weak spark, check the pickup coil. The 2 wire connection under the tank is the best place to measure the resistances like stated at the top of this document. If your pickup coil is indeed toast here is how to fix that, I’m sorry to tell you its a bit involved and somewhat of an expensive replacement.
5. Ignition coils. Does the bike have a hard time starting or only runs much of the time on one cylinder until it warms up? If you’ve already checked the fuel system, Check the coils under the tank. Coil problems often mimic carb problems or is it the other way around?
This is just a quick writeup I’m sure I’ll think of others in time and add them here. If you think of something to add let me know in the comments and I’ll put it in too.
6. Fuel. You did turn the fuel on didn’t you? I know its obvious but you put the bike a way months ago and forgot to turn the fuel back on. It’s embarrassing and happens to the best of us, I won’t tell if you won’t.
7. Safety Switches. Kill Switch, Nuetral Switch, Clutch Switch, Kickstand Switch. The bike will not run with the kill switch off or the clutch out and the kickstand down while in gear. We’ll forgive you if you forgot the startup sequence after the long winter. Also if your bike refuses to turn over and all the fuses are good and the battery is good, start checking all of those switches mentioned for failure. It is possible to disable them by shorting them or remove them completely but they are on there for a good reason.