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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a 2016 KLR today and I am having issues getting it started. I hope my problem is purely due to my own ignorance as this is my first motorcycle.

When I looked at the bike the previous owner started it for me. I noticed it didn't immediately startup and he had to fiddle around with the choke a bit to get it started. No big deal I thought because it was a little cold (55F).

Now that I have gotten it home I can't seem to get it started. Engine stop switch in the on position, alternating the choke between full and half. Turns over but just isn't firing at all. Checked for fuel flow at the petcock and fuel pours out without running the starter. I noticed the vacuum line was disconnected from the petcock and had a screw inserted in it. I have tried to start it with and without the vacuum line installed in the petcock. Nothing.

It took me a while to realize that I need to have the clutch in and a little while longer to also realize the kickstand needed to be up as well. But alas, I still can't get it to fire. It may be flooded but I doubt it as I waited a good 30 minutes the last time I tried to start it.

What's a good general checklist of things to check/try when you can't get a motorcycle to start? Is there something simple I'm missing or not considering?
 

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The simplest thing to try is
Sidestand down, neutral, clutch in, full choke, NO throttle, starter button in 5 second bursts.
 

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The simplest thing to try is
Sidestand down, neutral, clutch in, full choke, NO throttle, starter button in 5 second bursts.
I'm in full agreement with Rat here for sure.

First off, welcome to the KLR forum! When you get a chance try and locate a Clymer service manual for your KLR (I got mine from my Kawasaki dealer). One of the first things I thought of (speaking of simplest) is you may have a nasty plug in that used motorcycle. When I was collecting lawn and garden tractors and purchasing use tractors one of the first things I did while draining every fluid I could find and replacing with new manufacture fluids was to replace the plugs with the correct OEM plug and OEM gapping. Reverse engineering was a big thing for me with used lawn and garden tractors. You would be amazed at what individuals will do to cut corners on even the most basic repairs. Pull the tank off that dude and replace the plug and make sure the gapping is correct. Make sure the plug wires are in good condition and making good solid connections as well. Start there and I hope this helps.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Rat, so it doesn't matter if the kickstand is up or down? Is there not some type of safety switch there?

KBear, thanks for the advice. I have a Clymer service manual on order. If I can't get it started today I'll take your advice and start going through all the basics you mentioned. Should I also go ahead and get a carb rebuild kit and refresh the carb as well? Would this also be a good opportunity to do some carb mods like a re-jet?
 

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I'm fairly certain now that there's no spark for some reason. I tried starting fluid and I still couldn't get it to fire. I guess I'm going to take off the gas tank and start at the spark plug.
 

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Rat, so it doesn't matter if the kickstand is up or down? Is there not some type of safety switch there?
Yes, there is a safety switch on the kickstand unless the PO unhooked it. If your bike is in gear and you put the kickstand down it should stop running right away (kill switch).

KBear, thanks for the advice. I have a Clymer service manual on order. If I can't get it started today I'll take your advice and start going through all the basics you mentioned. Should I also go ahead and get a carb rebuild kit and refresh the carb as well? Would this also be a good opportunity to do some carb mods like a re-jet?
I would start slow first before getting all tangled up in upgrades. First get it running then think about re-jetting. If you can clear up the starting issue first. It may be that the carb is gummed up if that bike sat for very long. You can certainly look into that while you have the tank off. You see, if you don't drain the float bowl on the carb if you're not going to ride for awhile this can really mess up the carb. Go slow no reason to start throwing money at it if it won't help - right?
 
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Could be an enricher issue. Try "choking" the engine by stuffing a rag into the air intake will turning the engine over with the starter, if it doesn't fire up in three or four seconds then that's not likely the problem. Spark plugs rarely fail, 76,000 miles on my last one, but be sure to blow out the spark plug well with compressed air before removing the plug. Any chance of reaching out to the previous owner for assistance? The side stand safety switch can prevent starting even if in neutral and is an easy bypass. Good luck.
 

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Tim, welcome. First question, how many miles on it? Second question, what’s your level of mechanical experience? Third, what accessories are on the bike, particularly any around the engine?

Start with the basics. 1. Check for spark; and while you have the tank off, take Kbears advice and pull out the plug and inspect, clean, and check the gap. 2. If you have a good spark, squirt some starting fluid into the intake and see if it runs.

Before you do much else, buy the Clymer manual.
 

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10,600 miles. I've got a fair amount of mechanical experience on lots of different types of things just not much experience with motorcycles. I'm not aware of any aftermarket accessories.

I pulled the plug and checked for spark and that's good (plug condition didn't look bad at all). I shot some starting fluid into the cylinder and popped the plug back in and still couldn't get it to fire which seems odd to me.

I am at a higher elevation than where I bought it. Could this be a factor? Time to look at the carb?
 

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Tim, welcome. First question, how many miles on it? Second question, what’s your level of mechanical experience? Third, what accessories are on the bike, particularly any around the engine?

Start with the basics. 1. Check for spark; and while you have the tank off, take Kbears advice and pull out the plug and inspect, clean, and check the gap. 2. If you have a good spark, squirt some starting fluid into the intake and see if it runs.

Before you do much else, buy the Clymer manual.
10,600 miles. I've got a fair amount of mechanical experience on lots of different types of things just not much experience with motorcycles. I'm not aware of any aftermarket accessories.

I pulled the plug and checked for spark and that's good (plug condition didn't look bad at all). I shot some starting fluid into the cylinder and popped the plug back in and still couldn't get it to fire which seems odd to me.

I am at a higher elevation than where I bought it. Could this be a factor? Time to look at the carb?
 

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Spark, compression, and a combustible mixture oughta work.

Sounds like the PO converted to a manually-activated (vs. vacuum-activated) petcock; hence the plugged vacuum line.

Not clear to me whether you actually SAW spark, or merely examined spark plug.

With spark and starting fluid, you oughta get at least a couple of hits. Is the PO accessible to you for assistance?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Spark, compression, and a combustible mixture oughta work.

Sounds like the PO converted to a manually-activated (vs. vacuum-activated) petcock; hence the plugged vacuum line.

Not clear to me whether you actually SAW spark, or merely examined spark plug.

With spark and starting fluid, you oughta get at least a couple of hits. Is the PO accessible to you for assistance?
There is a visible spark. Tried starting fluid in the cylinder and still can't get it to fire. The plug was wet when pulling it back out but I don't think it's really possible to flood an engine with only 1 or 2 shots of starting fluid.

On the spark side of things, it was a dull orange spark instead of a bright blue one. I had a similar problem with an old chevy pick-up where it had spark but looked weak. I replaced the ignition control module and the pickup fired right up. Could this be a similar issue? CDI maybe?
 

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With 10,600 miles I doubt it’s the igniter module or the coil, but couls fail more Frequently than the igniter module.

But before you start throwing parts at the problem, pull the plug out again and crank it through a few times to make sure any excess gas in the cylinder is blown out. While you have the plug out, put the wire back on the plug and hold it against the engine and crank to see the spark across the spark plug gap. Let us know what it looks like.

Then put the plug back in. Then give a short squirt of starting fluid into the vacuum nipple on the front of the carb. That way it gets drawn into the cylinder and well mixed. Let us know what happens.
 

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10,600 miles. I've got a fair amount of mechanical experience on lots of different types of things just not much experience with motorcycles. I'm not aware of any aftermarket accessories.

I pulled the plug and checked for spark and that's good (plug condition didn't look bad at all). I shot some starting fluid into the cylinder and popped the plug back in and still couldn't get it to fire which seems odd to me.

I am at a higher elevation than where I bought it. Could this be a factor? Time to look at the carb?
You can just squirt the ether into the airbox. Leave the door off. Don't squirt right at the filter, there will be enough in there to suck through the filter and start it.
 

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Tim_16KLR - Did you happen to put an eyeball on any of the fuses to make sure they're in tact? If not glance at them to make sure. Also make sure they're pushed in solid. I've had loose fuses create headaches for me on other motors before regarding starting issues (not on my KLR specifically).
 

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There is a visible spark. Tried starting fluid in the cylinder and still can't get it to fire. The plug was wet when pulling it back out but I don't think it's really possible to flood an engine with only 1 or 2 shots of starting fluid.

On the spark side of things, it was a dull orange spark instead of a bright blue one. I had a similar problem with an old chevy pick-up where it had spark but looked weak. I replaced the ignition control module and the pickup fired right up. Could this be a similar issue? CDI maybe?
I hope the spark plug pocket was 100% clean before removing the spark plug?

The BIGGEST single Error that many owners make when attempting to start many motorcycles with this type of carburetor is Opening the Throttle. DON'T even touch it. If you open the throttle even a little bit it leans out the cold start mixture. It is not a choke plate carburetor, but rather an enrichener jet system.

Normal starting procedure. Gas on. Key on. Full cold start lever, even at 70F! Use your RH Index finger to push & HOLD the starter button for at least 5 full seconds. None of this tap, tap, tap crap! CRANK IT!

If it doesn't start, LET go of the starter button. Count to 10 to allow the gasoline to vaporize. CRANK it again. If the valve tappets are Not too snug from lack of maintenance or improperly serviced air filter, it will probably fire right up.
Sounds to me like the original owner even needed this advise. ;)
 
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I was having similar issues starting my bike. My issue ended up being the side stand switch. I bypassed the side stand switch and also the clutch switch and my problem was solved. I also had an issue just last week where my bike stalled while out for a ride. I'd had a similar issue with my 04 KLR and it ended up being the petcock. I got the Raptor petcock and installed that, and another problem solved. On my 04 KLR I found that if I switched it to reserve fuel once again flowed and the bike started right up. Just for kicks I'd try to switch to reserve and try to start the bike again, its the easiest and quickest and may help. In my case, on my 04, I was 50 miles from home and in the middle of a National Forest, no cell service and not another soul insight. I had stopped for a quick break and when I tried to restart the bike it just cranked and cranked and would not fire. I took the tank off, checked everything I could think of and nothing. Finally I thought why not try reserve, and yes, it fired and I was on my way. None of these may be your issue but it doesn't hurt to check, they are simple and take no time at all.
 
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