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Discussion Starter #1
Driving down the road at 50+ mph, all of a sudden the engine started hissing, died, rear wheel locked up for 2 seconds ... then restarted (due to forward momentum) and drove normally on the way home. (whew...) Upon arrival at home, shut the bike off and then tried the electric start ... clicking but did not turn the engine. New battery this spring. Do I need to replace the started motor, or is there something else I should look to investigate first? Looking for some advice before buying a new starter motor ($300). Thanks in advance.

1993 KLR 650, 15k miles
 

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Nothing indicates to me a starter problem yet. I think it would help to cover the ride a lot better where the bike "Hissed, died, rear wheel locked up for 2 seconds....then restarted".

A few questions come to mind:

1. Is there any oil in the engine?

2. With the bike in second or third gear, will the rear wheel turn when you try to bump [push] start the bike? If not, this may indicate a locked up engine. when the engine died on the road at 50+ MPH, there was enough momentum to break loose an engine that had seized up. The starter won't have that kind of torque available.

3. My opinion is that you will need to determine that the engine is either stuck or free before much else can be determined or other trouble shooting methods used.

Welcome to the forum, there is a lot of help here, and let's hope this is simple and painless!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Some more insights into the problem ... 2 seconds or so after the engine lockup and subsequent shutdown, the engine restarted (assume due to high speed) and then I drove home as if nothing happened. It was a bit freaky. There is plenty of oil in the engine.

Since I drove home normally, I assume the engine is not locked up (will verify tonight). When I push the start button, I hear clicking at the starter but no engine turnover. Wondering if there is a relay or other ignition part that may have failed or is failing that caused the problem. I do have the full manual indicating the different components that can be diagnosed, but as you can imagine wondering if anyone has knowledge/experience in this area.
 

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Some more insights into the problem ... 2 seconds or so after the engine lockup and subsequent shutdown, the engine restarted (assume due to high speed) and then I drove home as if nothing happened. It was a bit freaky. There is plenty of oil in the engine.

Since I drove home normally, I assume the engine is not locked up (will verify tonight). When I push the start button, I hear clicking at the starter but no engine turnover. Wondering if there is a relay or other ignition part that may have failed or is failing that caused the problem. I do have the full manual indicating the different components that can be diagnosed, but as you can imagine wondering if anyone has knowledge/experience in this area.

When you say engine lockup do you mean that the back tire skided like the brake was on? Or the motor quit but the back wheel was turning? If the former then that indicates a mechanical problem that needs the engine torn down to investigate. The latter is more likely an electrical issue especially now that the starter won't turn over. First thing I would look at are the safety switiches on the sidestand and clutch, most bypass them.
 

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Some more insights into the problem ... 2 seconds or so after the engine lockup and subsequent shutdown, the engine restarted (assume due to high speed) and then I drove home as if nothing happened. It was a bit freaky. There is plenty of oil in the engine.

Since I drove home normally, I assume the engine is not locked up (will verify tonight). When I push the start button, I hear clicking at the starter but no engine turnover. Wondering if there is a relay or other ignition part that may have failed or is failing that caused the problem. I do have the full manual indicating the different components that can be diagnosed, but as you can imagine wondering if anyone has knowledge/experience in this area.
An engine can seize up, break loose, and run again. It is more likely to happen when the engine is still at the operating temperature that it was at when it initially locked up. Once that same engine cools down, expansion and contraction factors move in, and that engine could be froze tighter than a KLR 650 owner's hand on his wallet. I have "broke free" a number of engines that have seized, usually from lack of oil or overheating, and coaxed them into running again. Usually, there is ring damage and stresses on the lower end so severe that there is no reliability left in the engine...basically it could throw a rod any moment...but my point is that the engine locking up and breaking free again does not negate the very real possibility that there may be internal problems, not electrically related.

In just about any trouble shooting scenario, the trouble shooter tries to establish a "known". In this case, based on what you have revealed, the "known" best established would be if the engine is locked up or not. Once that is determined, there are calculated paths to pursue in resolving the issue.
 

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Putting some effort into working the shift lever into the highest gear you can get it into before trying to push start the bike will make the process much easier. I can get most motorcycles to drag the rear tire in first, some in second.

Have you ever had the rear wheel / engine lock up on you before?

And make sure to look in the oil sight glass, after you stand the bike up!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Responses to the questions...
1. When the engine stopped the back wheel skidded like the brake was on, but then "came back to life" again and I drove home normally.
2. I will double check fluid levels
3. Need to double check the kickstand and neutral sensors.
4. Will try to push start the bike in a high gear, or at least get the engine moving thru the wheels.
5. May pull the left engine cover to view the magneto and starter motor gears for any obstructions.
Will report back on findings. Appreciate the support!
 

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So, by determining that the back wheel did indeed lock up and skid you have ruled out electrical and fuel system problems. Did you notice where the temp gauge was when it locked? You also know that it is not a wheel bearing or braking system problem as the bike will not turn over now. Surely sounds like a seize to me but I'm hoping I'm wrong... Hopefully people with more knowldege than I can shed some light on it. I really hope its nothing too serious, not many miles on the bike for a major malfunction. I have heard of them going south in a hurry if they overheat badly though.

Edit: I forgot to ask, how far did you drive it to get home after the lock up?
 

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Responses to the questions...
1. When the engine stopped the back wheel skidded like the brake was on, but then "came back to life" again and I drove home normally.
2. I will double check fluid levels
3. Need to double check the kickstand and neutral sensors.
4. Will try to push start the bike in a high gear, or at least get the engine moving thru the wheels.
5. May pull the left engine cover to view the magneto and starter motor gears for any obstructions.
Will report back on findings. Appreciate the support!
If you are intent on checking the safety switches, focus on the clutch. The sidestand safety functions as an ignition bypass, allowing the starter to turn over as long as there is battery to power it. The engine will not fire. The clutch safety acts as a starter interrupt, prohibiting the starter from engaging. When functioning as designed, you will hear nothing at the starter.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The drive home was about 2 miles after the lockup/back tire skid. I'm crossing my fingers that it is not a major failure.
 

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The drive home was about 2 miles after the lockup/back tire skid. I'm crossing my fingers that it is not a major failure.


Let me be the first to say it... doohickey failed. Drain the oil and look for bits.
 

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Hitting the starter button and all you get is a "clicking" sound? Sounds like you have an electrical connection problem. Since you put in a new battery this past spring, I would go back and check all of the battery connections first, remember check the simple stuff first. Make sure you clean and reattach both ends of the cables. Also make sure the water level in the battery is full as well, KLRs are notorious for boiling away water. Just because the battery was new this last spring do not assume it is still good. Sometimes batteries will sit on store selves for months before being sold. If, after you check all connections, you still get nothing but a "click", by pass your battery by connecting the bikes' cables to your car battery via jumper cables. If the bike starts you have found the problem. The fact that it ran normally after a brief shut off suggests to me that it is either fuel or an intermittent electrical problem. Now that there is not enough juice to turn over the engine, I would suspect electrical. As others have mentioned, check the side stand switch. It has been a headache for riders since it was invented.

Good luck, Greg
 

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Let me be the first to say it... doohickey failed. Drain the oil and look for bits.
I'm kind of leaning this way too, the rear wheel locking while going down the highway is definitely something mechanical locking up. If it was the doohickey hopefully it didn't do too much damage... Might have jammed something up with the starter gears causing the no crank situation. Fingers crossed!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
After some rather lengthy troubleshooting, I whittled it down to the starter relay and plan to visit the parts store tomorrow. Items checked along the way... doohickey is still in tact (recently replaced), neutral switch, clutch relay, side stand switch. No visible mechanical demage inside the left side engine cover.

I hope this solves the problem, otherwise it looks like the starter may be bad. Will report back my findings.
 

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After some rather lengthy troubleshooting, I whittled it down to the starter relay and plan to visit the parts store tomorrow. Items checked along the way... doohickey is still in tact (recently replaced), neutral switch, clutch relay, side stand switch. No visible mechanical demage inside the left side engine cover.

I hope this solves the problem, otherwise it looks like the starter may be bad. Will report back my findings.
Hopefully that's all it was. Seems strange though, the symptoms and the lockup that you reported don't jive with a failure of the starter. I'm guessing that the bike push starts and runs fine now?
 

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Hopefully that's all it was. Seems strange though, the symptoms and the lockup that you reported don't jive with a failure of the starter. I'm guessing that the bike push starts and runs fine now?

Yea why did the back tire lock up? I would be concerned...
 

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Hopefully that's all it was. Seems strange though, the symptoms and the lockup that you reported don't jive with a failure of the starter. I'm guessing that the bike push starts and runs fine now?
You seem to dismiss the occurrence of the engine and rear wheel locking up. Help me out and explain why this has become a non-issue in regards to the current condition.
 

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You seem to dismiss the occurrence of the engine and rear wheel locking up. Help me out and explain why this has become a non-issue in regards to the current condition.
Nope, I'm not dismissing the lockup... What I said was that the symptoms he described (engine stall, wheel lockup) don't jive with a starter problem. That's why I would like to know if he can push start the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the concern, the engine lockup is still puzzling to me. The bike ran fine after the lockup on the way home (2 miles). When I removed the left side engine cover I was expecting to see some broken parts and scratches ... no signs of anything wrong, including the doohickey being still intact.

I tried push starting the bike, got the wheel to turn the engine (4th gear), however, was not successful in getting the engine to roar to life. Maybe I should try again. I sure would hate to find out it is ring or piston damage, but it can't be ruled out at this time.

With the time I had remaining last night, I focused on troubleshooting the electrical system --- since the starter only clicks when the button is pressed. I found the starter relay to be faulty. My assumption is that if I can get the engine to turn over using the starter, then it's one piece of the puzzle solved and move on to the next "hurdle".
 

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Nope, I'm not dismissing the lockup... What I said was that the symptoms he described (engine stall, wheel lockup) don't jive with a starter problem. That's why I would like to know if he can push start the bike.
Please accept my apology 650stew! I meant that for the OP! Your comments need no attention from me, you do fine all on your own!
 
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