No run/rough run - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 15 Old 10-01-2013, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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No run/rough run

Here's the story so far:

Got back from a flawless trip.

Changed the oil, the air filter, and the spark plug.

Started the bike, it ran for about 3 seconds, then slowed to a stop. Last time that happened, I had too much oil on the air filter, but this time the air filter was lightly oiled (and I had successfully oiled it in the past).

Took it out, made sure it was very lightly oiled, put it back. Bike wouldn't start. Took out the new spark plug (correctly gapped) and put the old one in.

Edit: there's gas in the float bowl, too.

Bike started, choke open. I let out the clutch, and rpms dropped precipitiously, and I pulled it back in (yes, it was in neutral). Coincidence? Not sure. Then it started sputtering and not doing so hot. I tried closing the choke and giving it a little gas, and it was ok, but then it started sputtering again, and died.

It was barely turning over when I started working on it today (after about 2 weeks of sitting), and by now it was really laboring to the point of futility. 11 volts on the battery.

I put it on the tender and got a beer. I'll try it again tomorrow. In my limited brain, a dying battery wouldn't cause the rough running and stopping symptoms; once the bike is on, it should stay on under its own power, right?

Any input? Was it a mistake to get the beer after the work?

I'd bring it to the tech day, but... dammit!
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-01-2013, 10:23 PM
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I'll tell you what my wife told me after a Mexican dinner on Friday night:


"You've got some bad gas!"


(Or a vacuum hose issue--likely loose.)
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 01:36 AM
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Since you removed the tank, the wiring harness may have been disrupted. Check also the petcock vacuum connection, as suggested by Dan Diego (although fuel in the float bowl indicates it's probably o.k.).

You're correct, Generation 1 ignition functions independent of battery condition. The CDI picks up a ground to run, either from the neutral switch, the sidestand switch, or the clutch switch.

Just wondering, why the spark plug change? High mileage?

Since the bike was running o.k. before you pulled maintenance on it, chances are you're facing a gremlin from a small, easily-overlooked detail. Hope so; good luck!
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beejjorgensen View Post

Changed the oil, the air filter, and the spark plug...

Started the bike, it ran for about 3 seconds, then slowed to a stop. Last time that happened, I had too much oil on the air filter, but this time the air filter was lightly oiled (and I had successfully oiled it in the past).

Took it out, made sure it was very lightly oiled, put it back. Bike wouldn't start. Took out the new spark plug (correctly gapped) and put the old one in.

Edit: there's gas in the float bowl, too.

Bike started, choke open. I let out the clutch, and rpms dropped precipitiously, and I pulled it back in (yes, it was in neutral). Coincidence? Not sure. Then it started sputtering and not doing so hot. I tried closing the choke and giving it a little gas, and it was ok, but then it started sputtering again, and died.

It was barely turning over when I started working on it today (after about 2 weeks of sitting), and by now it was really laboring to the point of futility. 11 volts on the battery.

I put it on the tender and got a beer. I'll try it again tomorrow. In my limited brain, a dying battery wouldn't cause the rough running and stopping symptoms; once the bike is on, it should stay on under its own power, right?

Any input? Was it a mistake to get the beer after the work?

I'd bring it to the tech day, but... dammit!

Did the battery just drain down sitting or did you run it down trying to start the bike? Either way 11 volts is a dead battery you'll need a new one. I would replace it first before further troubleshooting.

Could be that the spark plug cap or wire is bad or not making a good connections. If you have the length cut off a bit of the wire and re-attach on both ends. The wire screws onto the coil and cap. Check the other wire on the coil also.

Have you disabled the safety switches on the side stand and clutch?

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9

Last edited by Spec; 10-02-2013 at 12:32 PM.
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Diego View Post
"You've got some bad gas!"
Heh! Gas is 3 weeks old, so not a problem, there.

Quote:
(Or a vacuum hose issue--likely loose.)
I'll check all this.
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damocles View Post
Just wondering, why the spark plug change? High mileage?
Yeah. Old plug showed normal wear.

Quote:
Since the bike was running o.k. before you pulled maintenance on it, chances are you're facing a gremlin from a small, easily-overlooked detail. Hope so; good luck!
That's what I'm hoping! If I can't sort it, I'll just have to make the most of my towing coverage.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spec View Post
Did the battery just drain down sitting or did you run it down trying to start the bike? Either way 11 volts is a dead battery you'll need a new one. I would replace it first before further troubleshooting.
The sequence of events was: worked on the bike the first time, and it started right up. I only tried the starter a couple more times, and it sounded fine each time. But before I could troubleshoot farther, I went out of town. So it was a couple weeks before I got back to it. When I did, the first time I tried to start it, I could tell the battery was having trouble. I got maybe 4 start attempts out of it.

So that sounds to me like a dying battery. It's at least 2 years old (PO installed it sometime). I'll dig up that thread that talks about which battery to replace it with. Maybe I can find a local shop with compatible sealed battery.

Quote:
Could be that the spark plug cap or wire is bad or not making a good connections. If you have the length cut off a bit of the wire and re-attach on both ends. The wire screws onto the coil and cap. Check the other wire on the coil also.
I'll have a look at this, too.

Quote:
Have you disabled the safety switches on the side stand and clutch?
I haven't, but it could be that's in my future. (I carry the instructions in case I have to chop it up on the trail. ) Might explain the RPM drop when I let the clutch out...
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spec View Post
Did the battery just drain down sitting or did you run it down trying to start the bike? Either way 11 volts is a dead battery you'll need a new one. I would replace it first before further troubleshooting.
So I took half your advice and ordered another battery.

In the meantime, the tricklecharger loaded the battery up to 13.3 volts, so I wheeled it out for another go.

On the unlikely chance something was amiss with the gas, I poured half a seafoam into it last night.

Visually inspected the vacuum lines: intact from what I can tell. Still getting gas.

Quote:
Could be that the spark plug cap or wire is bad or not making a good connections. If you have the length cut off a bit of the wire and re-attach on both ends. The wire screws onto the coil and cap. Check the other wire on the coil also.
Examined the sparkplug end of the sparkplug wire. Very interesting. I had no idea it just screwed in there. I didn't really know what you meant until I messed with it for a bit and unscrewed it off the end. The cap had been fairly freely rotating on the end of the wire, which strongly suggests to me the connection wasn't solid.

I didn't cut the end off, but screwed it back on tight.

Tank on, fingers crossed, and I started the bike. It fired up.

I let it warm up a bit... after about 5 seconds, it stuttered, and then ran for the rest of the test.

I pulled the clutch several times; no effect on running.

Gradually closed the choke. Still ran.

Gave it some gas. A little hesitation like it does when cold, but picked up.

Holding it as steady as possible at 2.5K - 3K, I was noticing that there was RPM fluctuation of about 250 RPM. I don't recall this happening before, but I didn't normally do that with the throttle. Is that normal, or an indication of something else? Related to the initial stutter when the bike started?

Ran the bike for about 3 minutes. Battery showed 12.4 V after that.

My current plan is to put the new battery in, and chop a tad off the end of the sparkplug cable and rescrew it. There's not much slack there, but I think " should do it.

Thanks for the pointers so far. It was not running at all. Now it is running mostly. This is why you guys rock.
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 07:44 PM
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Good news!

Here's a page on motorcycle batteries:

http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/maintenance/battery.htm

Usually if a battery gets discharged below 12v it doesn't have much life left.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-02-2013, 08:21 PM
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Glad you got it running! Sounds more-or-less normal; questionable plug wire connection may have been the proximate cause of the problem.

Again, just to clarify; you realize a new battery may help crank the Generation 1 engine, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the running of the engine, whose ignition is powered exclusively by alternating current from the stator exciter coil.

Good on you, for getting back on the road!
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