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.
Oh No! After the extreme cold weather my V Star 650 is pretending to be a Harley Davidson again! (Its just a joke people jeez, bikers are so sensitive. I know HD’s quality is not anywhere near as bad as the AMF days anymore)
Sooner or later if you have a xsv650 variant you will get this annoying leak by the kickstand. Not to fear this is a very easy fix that even the most non-mechanically inclined can fix. For me this problem seems to happen most often in the cold of winter, I think it is due to the plastic switch being set into the aluminum engine and the different materials expanding at different rates, or it could just be the cold O ring not sealing as good. Who knows, but eventually all bikes seem to get this leak.
Pull the fake Transmission cover off. There are only 4 bolts holding it on, they will be the ones with the washer and rubber behind it. The other bolts on the Classic cover are fake and for show only, they don’t go to anything. Your guess is as good as mine why they put fake screws on there, maybe its supposed to make the cover look cool and less like a fake tranny or as we would say “lipstick on a pig.”
Remove the crescent moon shaped cover, just 2 bolts here.
Check your stator wires grommet for leaks. Another leak can happen from here that is much more difficult to fix. These look good and seem to be holding since the Stator Replacement.
As you can see my leak this time is from the plastic neutral switch. 9 times out of 10 this will be the source of your oil leak from the kickstand area.
Its that time of year again, I let the bike sit too long over winter without first putting Seafoam in the gas and now the pilot jets in my carbs are clogged up and the bike won’t run off choke. I thought about doing a post on how to clean out the carbs but since someone already went through the trouble of doing some fairly nice videos of the process I’ll just use those instead. Parts of these videos are wrong here and there and while the guy looks like he knows what he’s doing its apparent he hasn’t done much with this particular carb or bike before, but overall they are ok. Enjoy.
Most of the time you would not need to fully disassemble the carbs to clean them, however if you do so be sure to use Ziv’s stainless replacement screws as it makes future maintenance a breeze. If the bike has only been sitting a short while and will not start or will not idle off of choke then 90% of the time the pilot jets are clogged and just need to be cleaned not the entire carb. If you happen to have Ziv’s screws already on your carbs you can very easily clean out the pilot jets (or swap main jets) in about 5 to 15 minutes without taking the tank off. Maybe I’ll do a future post on that process.
This one is a good example of the differences between a California model V Star (in the video) vs a 49 state model (mine). Most likely you would not have to deal with the extra gas tank vent lines.
I also wouldn’t even bother with the fuel catch jar. What are you saving? 5 drops? Just hold a rag under the petcock when you pull off the fuel line and call it good as the numerous pics of me on this blog doing the same have shown:
We went for a nice ride today to get a picture for a scavenger hunt from the CC&D forum which ended up taking us into new territory that I didn’t know existed. The fall colors of all the cotton woods and aspens were spectacular, quite a surprise. The colors visible from Santa Fe up on the ski hill had already faded, they usually peak the week of Columbus day and we’d had an early snow which knocked all the leaves off.
We went from Glorieta to Pecos along the old Route 66 winding through the amazing colors and from there we came to a crossroads where I had no idea where we were or where any of the roads went. We decided to head north and see where the road took us where we found a cool monastery and down a dirt road a lake surrounded by orange and yellow.
After doing the GAK mod to my bike I have noticed that the crankcase breather likes to spit oil all over everything when doing lots of Interstate travel at 80+ MPH. Its usually not so bad but if doing 4 or 500 miles or more it can start to drip down the side covers and generally make a mess along with building up lots of gunk under the tank and coating the outsides of the carbs.
This was my home grown attempt to fix that problem on the cheap.
Heres what I used, a few plumbing fixtures, another new filter, and a Jim Beam salt shaker can I had laying around and never threw out aka free!
Ignore those scrub pads, Do NOT USE SCRUB PADS. Many types of scrub pads use fine embedded abrasives which could destroy your engine if they got introduced into the oil. Since it is hard to determine which have them and which don’t its better not to take the risk.
I had to seal up the seams on my can to get it water tight. it was able to hold a full cup of water overnight without spilling, hopefully that should do.
I did not have much room to work with so I have the air going in from the side and exiting through the top, many of these catch can designs use a long internal tube for the line to the bike and a short internal tube for the line to the filter. Either way will work, you mainly want to create a change in direction for the airflow inside to help separate the oil gases from the air.
I have this side connector cocked to the side for clearance under the tank.
Testing the fit, perfect. The only problem with this location is you will eventually need to take the tank off to drain this can. You could also use a longer line and attach your catch can where the AIS components used to be.
Instead of using scrub pads I used a lawn mower air filter. Since this media is designed for air intakes to begin with it should be fine for the engine and help filter out the oil mist a little better.
UPDATE: This catch can worked beautifully for over a year but one day I noticed a few drips on my floorboards on the right side and sure enough it was coming from this catch can. I pulled the tank to check if it was full but nope it was seeping through the seams in the can! I hadn’t sealed it good enough. I have removed this until I can find something else to use for the container, preferably something made in one piece with no seams.
One day the next week I went out to start it and crankcrankcrankcrankcrank. Oh great now what? It took a good 25 mins to get her started that morning on the way into work and nearly the same on the way home, the next morning she was totally dead and would not start at all. Following the diagnostics here: http://650ccnd.com/coil.htm I found my pickup coil was reading very high and was toast. I was planning on maybe cracking it open that weekend to fix the sticky clutch but now I had no choice but to break open both sides.
Pulling the stator cover.
Japanese engineering likes to use lots of bolts close together at lower torque than other manufacturers. Be sure to remember exactly which bolt went in what hole, as you can see below they are all different lengths.
Also remember how your shifter is set up. I took a picture so I could tell later where the dot on the shaft goes in relation to the bracket. In my case dead center in the gap.
Unfortunately the kickstand has to come off to remove the shifter. There is a nut on the back side of the frame you need to keep from turning, it would be better if you had a helper and another set of hands for this part. I was by myself and had to use another box-end wrench on the back of the frame and a breaker bar/ratchet with a cheater pipe on the front. Yamaha really doesn’t mess around with these bolts, they were a bear to get off. Once the wrench on the back turned enough to press up against the engine or my lift I was able to break the nut free.
With the kickstand out of the way the shifter will just slide off the shaft after you remove the bolt in the previous picture.
As you can see I also upgraded from my poor mans bike stand to one from Harbor Freight for this operation for a bit more stability and lift, I needed one for the BMW restoration anyway.
Follow the wiring back up the frame and cut the zip ties as you go and remove a few bolted on wire clamps. Its a bit of a struggle to get these connectors through the downtube, use one hand to press back the big main wiring harness and press these plastic connectors through one at a time. It takes a bit of patience but you can do it.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with the V Star following our epic month long ride across the western United States and back. It all started with a simple oil change. You see, when I bought the bike I also got a service plan that included unlimited oil changes and all maintenence for 3 years. I can work on my bike as you can see but I’d rather not have to on at least one of my vehicles and with as many miles as I’ve put on in the last three years this service plan ended up being a great money and time saving deal for me. For years one of two techs has always done my bike and always done a good job, even cleaning it way better than I do most times. Every time that is until the last time, when they were both off. A small voice in my head warned me that I shouldnt hand over the keys to some tech I didnt know but I didnt listen. He really torqued down the oil filter screws and stripped the center one as is an easy newbie mistake to make.
The bike leaked slowly for 8000 miles and by the end it looked something like this where its really perfected the old Harley patina with oil slung down the whole side of the engine, all down the pipes and swingarm and on the front of the saddlebag. As RTWDoug has proved, a bike can go around the world with a nasty oil leak or dozen as long as its topped off regularly.
Unfortunately the only requirement for the primo bike parking on the sidewalk next to the door at work, no leaks!
Since they were the ones to break it they agreed to fix it at no charge but with this being New Mexico and as Ulysses Everett McGill would put it “a geographical oddity, two weeks from everywhere” it took a month to get my bike back from them due to waiting on parts. They ended up tapping the stripped hole and putting in a timecert. After I got her back I noticed right away the clutch was very grabby and sticky, so much so that trying to start it while cold with the clutch pulled in the bike would take off with you or lurch 5 or 6 feet when first putting it in gear. WTF? I immediately changed the oil and cut open the filter and just as I feared, they had gotten slivers of metal down in the engine while tapping it. #$%^&@!!!!
We hiked back up to where our bike was parked and there was our helmets sitting on the sidewalk next to the bike, What the hell? Someone had been messing with the bike! We ran over and a guy sitting in the shade came up to us and told us what had happened, they had backed into the bike with their SUV and knocked it over @#$%
Both of our helmets were dinged from falling off the seat
My Yellowstone bottle had taken the brunt of the fall, I’m so glad none of the bike ended up like this.
Only body damage, a nicked fender. Damnit I just fixed that! I had another one in the exact same place untill our wreck when the insurance replaced the whole fender.
Great now Both turn signal lenses are broken, one from each SUV encounter.
At first it ran great, butter smooth shifting and ran much quieter etc. But over a few long hard days shifting had gotten rougher and rougher to where I was having to double clutch a lot of the time to get it into gear, and the oil level stayed fine. After prolonged high speeds the bike would develop this god awful whine, using a screwdriver to my ear I tracked it down to the cam chains. It was bad enough that on the highways I couldnt even hear the pipes over the screeching of the engine. It literally sounded like I was running a turbo in there somewhere, it was bad. But then after it cooled off overnight, everything would go back to normal and it’d be quiet and smooth as can be untill the bike warmed up several hours later.
As many of you know my bike’s probably had the most leaks of anyone here due to my stupidity er.. stubbornness to ride when its below 0. I’ve had leaks from all of the common areas in addition to the bottoms of both jugs, the stator grommets, both sides of the crankcase and more I should probably just change my nickname from lynx to leaks heh. Well afer much work (years) I was able to fix all my leaks and with no riding in cold temps this winter they have stayed fixed, that was until I ran that damn Shell Rotella T 5w-40 synthetic. I started getting seeps from everywhere all over again. I felt bad for leaving lots of oil drips all over the nice concrete driveway I was parking in, even when it was leaking before it never left quarter to silver dollar sized spots. All my leaks came back with a vengeance all at once. @#$%!!
Time to get rid of that shit. How to change the oil on the road: Lasanga pan and a big flat rock from the neighbors yard.
With the bike a little more level you can put the 17mm wrench on a few inches above the ground and it will hang there.
Then just step down on the wrench to loosen it and do the rest by hand. Piece of cake, no lift needed.
By the time we got to Spokane the bike was running more and more like crap the further down we went. It kept hickupping and backfiring through the carbs at idle once and while and now it was starting to do that while at speed on the highway causing a big jerk when it did and also starting to run a bit warm on my gauge again.
Next morning at the motel with the engine cold, time to rejet! Threw in jets 2 sizes larger and good as new, lots more power too.
About an hr later though… Went to pass an RV on the highway and suddenly the bike bogged down and one cyl cut out.. &@#% ! When I found a place to get off the road it idled fine but give it gas and it turned into a thumper. That should have been a clue, but I thought it had to be the fuel filter or something as I had just filled up 10 miles down the road. Tore the whole thing down trying to figure this out, eliminating one thing after another till finally it had to be in the carbs…