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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!

My bike is a 2nd gen 2010 KLR650 with about 15k miles on it. I haven't done the doo on it, and it doesn't have any substantial mods except for a re-jetted carb. All of the electrics are stock, no weird mods or switches bypassed or w/e.

Last summer, I was riding along, enjoying a nice sunny city ride, when my bike suddenly died while coasting to a red light. The bike was working perfectly fine before, no hiccups, no issues starting, nada! I tried starting the bike back up - it would turn over, but not start. I checked my petcock, my kill switch, my kickstand, my fuel level - everything was in the correct state for the bike to start, but no dice... I noticed that the bike was missing oil, about a half a quart in around 200 miles (I'm not certain of this though, it's been a while). I topped it back up, but it didn't help. I tried to crank and crank and crank, but the bike never fired, it only backfired once and sounded like a gunshot just went off in my exhaust. I had to tow the bike back home and didn't get the chance to work on it until now.

Here is what I have already checked:
  • Pulled the spark plug: It was quite black and the anode was rounded off. I had changed it two years (5000 miles) ago. The spark seemed a bit weak when I touched the engine case so I decided to change it. No dice, the spark still was quite weak and the bike still wouldn't fire.
  • Battery: The battery was fully charged and I tried another known good battery - same thing, the engine turns over, but won't fire!
  • Gas: I had cleaned and re-jetted the carb two years prior to a larger than stock jet size, since the bike was running a bit lean (the plug was really white). There is a good flow of fuel out of the petcock and the bike smells like gas when I open the throttle and turn the bike over. To check if it could be gas related, I shot ignition starter down the air box, and didn't get anything, no pop, nothing.
I had some recommendations from PeteK and Tom Schmitz. Here is my troubleshooting checklist:
  1. Check spark by unplugging the spark plug wire and holding the wire in my hand while cranking over. If I am able to hold onto the wire, it means the spark is indeed weak and the problem is probably electrical (Thanks Tom for the suggestion!)
  2. Check compression and valve clearances (Thanks PeteK for the suggestion!)
  3. Come back here and cry for some more help :'(
I will let you guys know what my results are as soon I can later this week!
 

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I would check the valve clearances first, as that is a very common cause of hard starting.

If it was running well when it quit it is unlikely that there is a compression issue, as the cause of a sudden loss of compression would be accompanied by a great deal of noise, none of it good. But since the valve cover will be off and the spark plug hole readily accessible you might as well. There's a video you can watch if you want to get the true, KACR-less, compression numbers.

The last thing I would do would be holding onto the ignition wire to test the spark, as that is the least likely problem. I should also mention that, even though that method is tried and true and not at all misleading, you can also buy a spark testing gadget that may suffice and save you some grief.
 

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Tom - you told me to put the plug in my mouth while cranking to check for spark strength. Have you modified this procedure? - Scott
 

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I had an issue last fall where I was out for a ride, came to a stop and when I pulled the clutch the engine died and wouldn't restart. I checked fuel flow, which was fine. After about 20 minutes of fooling with it, I tried starting it again. It sounded like it wanted to start but wouldn't. While cranking, I gave it full throttle and it started, running roughly and still wouldn't run at low throttle. I nursed it home and after about 5 minutes of driving, the rough running started to clear up. It runs fine now, although it idles high when the motor is hot, a symptom of a lean mixture. I suspect that there was some dirt in the fuel that blocked the pilot jet and maybe it is still partially blocked. Weather is just starting to get nice here so I'm planning on removing the carb and giving it a good cleaning. I got a fuel filter from Eagle Mike over the winter and will install that as well as a preventative measure. Not sure if your issue is the same as mine, but might be worth trying.

Wayne
 

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Tom - you told me to put the plug in my mouth while cranking to check for spark strength. Have you modified this procedure? - Scott
Yes, it was found that it was too awkward to hold the thing in your mouth and still be able to reach the starter button. It was also a bit of a bad optic that gave klapped-out KLR kin a tarnished reputation.

Removing the plug connector and holding it in your hand is the newly recommended procedure, though one should try not to go into rigor and fall over. That is also a bit of a bad optic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, it was found that it was too awkward to hold the thing in your mouth and still be able to reach the starter button. It was also a bit of a bad optic that gave klapped-out KLR kin a tarnished reputation.

Removing the plug connector and holding it in your hand is the newly recommended procedure, though one should try not to go into rigor and fall over. That is also a bit of a bad optic.
Instructions unclear, got my d**k stuck in the plug wire and now I'm stuck in the ER.

All jokes aside, is it really a decent procedure to hold the wire in you hand, or am I just too gullible?
 

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I've always done electrical work (even household 120V) using the one-handed method. Unfortunately it's hard to hold the plug wire & hit the starter simultaneously using one hand. It's not a huge shock but startling. Rubber gloves, rubber mat & insulated tools are essential.
Years ago before adopting the one-handed method I was messing with a photo strobe for an underwater camera. I was sitting there one second and a few seconds later I was flat on my back. Big 300V capacitor. Mental note not to do that again. TC
 

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All jokes aside, is it really a decent procedure to hold the wire in you hand, or am I just too gullible?
To answer your questions; maybe and probably. While standing in a puddle with wet hands - definitely not. Rubber soled shoes & rubber gloves - probably. Add non-conductive implements to hold and push starter - definitely. Remember when using your hands to complete a circuit, your heart is right in the middle. If in doubt have a friend hold the wire. TC
 
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This is what had happened to me at 15.4k miles...... Which is why I'm rebuilding mine, new shims, valves, chain, tentioner, clutch, big bore kit, cams, ect. Got it appart, might as wrll rebuild it.
 

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I would confirm a strong ignition spark FIRST. Unscrew the spark plug cap from the coil wire. Hold the bare end of the coil wire about 8mm / 3/8inch from the RH rearward valve cover bolt & crank the starter motor over. Should see a nice blue spark if working in a dim garage.
If you don't see a nice blue spark, get the wire a little closer to the steel bolt.

If you still don't see a reasonably long 4mm / 3/16 inch blue spark, put your finger tip on the bare end of the wire and 100% confirm that there is very weak or zero spark, and I'm not kidding!

Which way did you swing the handle of the fuel tap? Handle to the rear? Handle to the front?

Did you suck on the small vacuum tubing with the larger fuel hose disconnected from the petcock to confirm fuel flow?

Next I'll inquire about your air filter maintenance (in explicit detail please) and the integrity of the underside of your air filter box?
 

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Instructions unclear, got my d**k stuck in the plug wire and now I'm stuck in the ER.

All jokes aside, is it really a decent procedure to hold the wire in you hand, or am I just too gullible?
I will answer this completely.

If you are working in a brightly lit area, be it indoors or out, it can be a very good method. The spark is hard to see in bright light. It can be made doubly hard to see if you are relying on the plug being somehow held to ground against the motor. That's a poor path to ground that affects the quality of the spark. Now, in truth, you are only going to be able to hold on for one spark event, after which you are going to let go of the wire and swear a lot. It's a bit of a shock, but it won't harm you. It may hurt, but it won't harm. Of course, take some sensible precautions regarding wet areas, keep it away from your dick, touch only the starter button, and such.

If you can provide a really solid ground and work in an area of subdued lighting, then observing the spark is preferable. I concocted this spark testing device when I was trying to figure out the RPM at which the spark was inhibited by the Gen 2 igniter. It worked well and I didn't have to hang on to the wire. There are commercial versions available which have the added advantage of being able to increase the spark gap to get a relative idea of spark strength. Similar things can be done with screwdrivers, nails, etc. as the shade tree mechanic's imagination knows no bounds. This particular set-up put the spark in the dark so I could see and video it.

I have a couple of oscilloscope set-ups that I can use to check for spark, too, both on the low and high voltage sides of the ignition. If you can set up an oscilloscope, that's a good method. Of course, this is with the engine running, but you get the drift.

But still, for spur of the moment "Do I have any spark at all?" nothing beats popping the spark plug cap off, exposing the wire, grabbing the wire, and hitting the starter. It's fast and accurate. And, it's sorta like ripping bandaids off. Once you get used to it you don't mind so much. It can be done in one-tenth of the time it takes to faff about rigging up some questionable set-up where, when it's over, you're not sure if you don't have spark or if the ground was bad.

Edit to add: Use Paul's progressive approach to evaluating spark if at all possible. Why grab it if you CAN see a nice fat spark?.
 

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Not sure if they still exist in our litigious society - remember the machines in the Penny Arcade at Disneyland? Hold onto a pair of knobs and ever increasing current caused your arms to tingle and muscles to tense. TC
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
This is what had happened to me at 15.4k miles...... Which is why I'm rebuilding mine, new shims, valves, chain, tentioner, clutch, big bore kit, cams, ect. Got it appart, might as wrll rebuild it.
To be honest, I'm not very mechanically educated, so if I can avoid rebuilding the engine, that'd be great! That being said, if there's no other way to fix it, might as well learn from it :)

I will answer this completely.

If you are working in a brightly lit area, be it indoors or out, it can be a very good method. The spark is hard to see in bright light. It can be made doubly hard to see if you are relying on the plug being somehow held to ground against the motor. That's a poor path to ground that affects the quality of the spark. Now, in truth, you are only going to be able to hold on for one spark event, after which you are going to let go of the wire and swear a lot. It's a bit of a shock, but it won't harm you. It may hurt, but it won't harm. Of course, take some sensible precautions regarding wet areas, keep it away from your dick, touch only the starter button, and such.

If you can provide a really solid ground and work in an area of subdued lighting, then observing the spark is preferable. I concocted this spark testing device when I was trying to figure out the RPM at which the spark was inhibited by the Gen 2 igniter. It worked well and I didn't have to hang on to the wire. There are commercial versions available which have the added advantage of being able to increase the spark gap to get a relative idea of spark strength. Similar things can be done with screwdrivers, nails, etc. as the shade tree mechanic's imagination knows no bounds. This particular set-up put the spark in the dark so I could see and video it.

I have a couple of oscilloscope set-ups that I can use to check for spark, too, both on the low and high voltage sides of the ignition. If you can set up an oscilloscope, that's a good method. Of course, this is with the engine running, but you get the drift.

But still, for spur of the moment "Do I have any spark at all?" nothing beats popping the spark plug cap off, exposing the wire, grabbing the wire, and hitting the starter. It's fast and accurate. And, it's sorta like ripping bandaids off. Once you get used to it you don't mind so much. It can be done in one-tenth of the time it takes to faff about rigging up some questionable set-up where, when it's over, you're not sure if you don't have spark or if the ground was bad.

Edit to add: Use Paul's progressive approach to evaluating spark if at all possible. Why grab it if you CAN see a nice fat spark?.
Wow! Thanks for the in depth explanation :)

I would confirm a strong ignition spark FIRST. Unscrew the spark plug cap from the coil wire. Hold the bare end of the coil wire about 8mm / 3/8inch from the RH rearward valve cover bolt & crank the starter motor over. Should see a nice blue spark if working in a dim garage.
If you don't see a nice blue spark, get the wire a little closer to the steel bolt.

If you still don't see a reasonably long 4mm / 3/16 inch blue spark, put your finger tip on the bare end of the wire and 100% confirm that there is very weak or zero spark, and I'm not kidding!
Will do. I'll be working in that area of the bike anyways, so might as well check it first before tearing into the head.

Which way did you swing the handle of the fuel tap? Handle to the rear? Handle to the front?
So I tried both ON and RES positions with the exact same result. I did not however check it at the OFF position, assuming it would just stop the fuel flow (is that accurate?).
The vacuum hose was securely in place and fuel was coming out of the fuel hose IIRC (I'll check again this week by sucking on the vacuum hose).
Side note: if the issue was fuel related, wouldn't the bike fire with starter fluid sprayed in the air box? When I tried that, I didn't even get a pop from the bike.

Next I'll inquire about your air filter maintenance (in explicit detail please) and the integrity of the underside of your air filter box?
So I changed my air filter two years ago, greased it and cleaned the airbox entirely of any sand, dust and debris. The replacement filter was a HiFlo Filtro and was greased with OEM Kawasaki air filter oil. That was about 5k miles ago and I haven't touched my air filter since. Before that, I had done around 5k miles on it, but I don't know how long it had been since it was cleaned, because that's when I first got the bike.
The air box is completely stock, so the underside of it should be in good condition, but I'll report back with a few pictures when I have access to the bike.

I'll have access to the bike on Friday, will keep you guys posted!

Let me know if you have any more ideas :)
Thanks a bunch for your help!
 

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Not sure if they still exist in our litigious society - remember the machines in the Penny Arcade at Disneyland? Hold onto a pair of knobs and ever increasing current caused your arms to tingle and muscles to tense. TC
Did high voltage linework for 32 years gloved 120-19,920, that's single phase to keep it simple, electric, is the worse, if it crosses the heart, if it disrupts ones heart beat, then one needs cpr. It only takes a 5th of an amp. Good electric tools with the rubber/plastic handles are good for 600 volts AC, and since it takes 1.414 volts AC to be equel to one volt of DC the tool is only good for rounded up, 425 volts DC.
In the bigger voltages, its like a gun shot wound, going in is small, coming out is big.
I beleave people were kidding on the plug in the mouth trick, I just don't want anyone to possibly kill themselves.
 

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My Dad always taught me to keep one hand behind my back when I was playing with electrical fire. Told me not to let amps go through your heart! He worked for the power company, though as an engineer and not a lineman. I have always had respect for the guys that wrestle with big voltage! Dangerous job that eats a few every year. The mouth trick was absolutely a joke, but you were smart to turn it into a PSA moment!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok!
I got my hands on the bike this weekend so here goes:
All test were performed with a fully charged, known good battery, the airbox open, and the air filter removed.
I would confirm a strong ignition spark FIRST. Unscrew the spark plug cap from the coil wire. Hold the bare end of the coil wire about 8mm / 3/8inch from the RH rearward valve cover bolt & crank the starter motor over. Should see a nice blue spark if working in a dim garage.
If you don't see a nice blue spark, get the wire a little closer to the steel bolt.
I wasn't exactly sure how to get the wire out of the plug cap, so I put a screwdriver in the cap plug and held it close to the head bolt. I couldn't see any spark at all. That being said, as a failsafe I tried to insert a brand new spark plug and touched the plug gnd to the bolt. I could see a very visible orange spark that was slightly blueish closer to the anode/cathode. I tested this in a fairly well lit garage and the spark was clearly visible and happened at regular intervals.

Which way did you swing the handle of the fuel tap? Handle to the rear? Handle t
Did you suck on the small vacuum tubing with the larger fuel hose disconnected from the petcock to confirm fuel flow?
So I tried this again today just to be sure, and by sucking on the vacuum line, I do get gas flowing out of the petcock. I also get nice gas squirts when I crank the engine.

Next I'll inquire about your air filter maintenance (in explicit detail please) and the integrity of the underside of your air filter box?
Here is a picture of my airbox. My filter was removed to make it easier to spray starter fluid a little while ago. It was a bit dirty, not gonna lie, but not torn.
29088
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive fuel system Automotive exterior Automotive wheel system


I'm about to check my clearances right now. Do you guys have any tips also to check if my carb is working properly? Is there a way to check for gas squirting into the combustion chamber?

Thanks a bunch once again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just realised I didn't hold the wire in my hands to check for spark strength, I'll do this as soon as my motor head is back together!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I just realised I didn't hold the wire in my hands to check for spark strength, I'll do this as soon as my motor head is back together!
Ok, so I was definately not able to hold on to the wire haha! It didn't feel super strong, but something like touching an electric fence.

But more importantly, I have also cleaned my carb and wouldn't you know it, it turns over! Still doesn't idle, but it it definitely turns over. It's so weird that it could juat suddenly die like like this with a carb issue!

That being said I was still due for checking my valves and they were all good, except for the left exhaust one which was 0.0045 instead of 0.006. I'll change my shims when I finally get the bike running!

Thanks so much for your help, I'll keep working on getting it to idle tomorrow and I'll keep you posted :)
Cheers!
 

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IT is best to re-shim the KLR valve tappet clearances to as Near Maximum Specs as possible.
Because this type of system gets nothing but TIGHTER as things wear.
.006inches on the exhaust tappets is the Minimum of specs, you want near Maximum clearances on all valve tappets!

Hopefully your air filter was very oily even if it was quite dirty/grungey?
But your air BOX looks quite DRY and oils do tend to 'Creep' everywhere, so I do wonder if a dry air filter allowed dust ingestion to Wear on your valve faces and Create minimal tappet clearances?
 
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