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Discussion Starter #1
So I had an odd experience yesterday afternoon. Lets start by giving a little detail of the bikes activities earlier in the weekend. Saturday I took her out all day trail riding at an adventure park. Had a couple of spills, but nothing too terrible—though I may have tweaked my bars and/or fender ... possible the forks? Hard to say. Didn't notice anything crazy riding on the street afterwords.

Anywho, because there were some water crossings and some puddles/mud from recent rain, the bike got pretty dirty. I spent some time yesterday giving her a really nice wash, then cleaned and lubed up the chain. I let the bike sit for a while afterwords to allow the gear oil to really set in before taking her for a ride. This ride was intended to test to see if it was bars/fork/fender issues. I took the bike to a big parking lot and spent about 20-30 minutes practicing figure eights, sharp u-turns, u-turn into quick acceleration, circles turning, cornering, as well as stopping as fast as I could in as short a distance as possible at 25mph.

After that, I went back on the main road to go through a few more sections I like to ride not too far from my house. At the next like when pulling in the clutch, the engine died completely. I was unable to get it to start back up. The electric start would kick, but the motor was not turning over. I had to wave a few folks around me, then push the bike up onto the sidewalk. I like it cool for a bit, and then tried again. Same thing. Waiting a bit more, then tried again. Same thing. Yes I did check the gas :) It had plenty. I was only at 51mi on my trip meter, so should've had 30-40 more miles before I had to go to reserve anyways.

Luckily I was up on a hill, so threw the bike into 3rd gear, and bump started it—started immediately and felt good, went right back on the road then headed home immediately. Once parked, I gave it a minute, then started her back up again with the electric start. Did the same thing about 10min later. After the bike cooled, I pulled the spark plug, and it looked okay to me.

I was thinking that maybe it was because I re-jetted, but didn't adjust the idle screw at all, and maybe it was too low and just died when I pulled the clutch in; however, It hadn't done that through all the other stuff I had just put it through, and also, that doesn't really explain it not starting right back up and seemingly getting no spark. Just odd that it died while riding. Maybe water got into something when I washed it, or maybe somehow I flooded the motor? I just take the pilot jet from the stock 31 to a 34. I rode it all weekend previously though without this issue.

I guess I did have a few instances when after just starting it, it would idle for a few minutes, and then if I twisted the throttle, it would die. Then after starting it back up, no issue. I did also get stuck in the rain last weekend, and the bike got completely dumped on. It took a few tries to get the bike running properly after the rain stopped, but then didn't seem to have any issues.

Anywho, sorry for the longer write-up, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. Any thoughts on what could have caused the bike to shutdown entirely, then only restart from a bump? Overheat? Thanks all!
 

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If you have a lead acid battery in there, you may have lost some fluid during the “dumps”. It does sound like a weak battery, where it has enough for a spark, or to turn over the motor, but not for both

First thing to do would be to check the fluid levels in the battery – after that, it could be a number of things given that A: it’s had a few knocks, and B: you hit it with a hose

I’ve said this before – there is absolutely nothing to indicate these bikes need cleaning in the manual …..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you have a lead acid battery in there, you may have lost some fluid during the “dumps”. It does sound like a weak battery, where it has enough for a spark, or to turn over the motor, but not for both

First thing to do would be to check the fluid levels in the battery – after that, it could be a number of things given that A: it’s had a few knocks, and B: you hit it with a hose

I’ve said this before – there is absolutely nothing to indicate these bikes need cleaning in the manual …..
Well, I like getting it cleaned up personally ;)

I do have the stock led/acid battery, and it was down for a while on my first drop on a larger hill, so batter leak is certainly possible. Those also we're the ONLY times the bike has been down whilst off-roading either ;)

Still seems odd that the low battery would cause the bike to die mid ride, but to be fair, I ultimately know nothing :)
 

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It not starting with the electric, but immediately starting on a bumpstart is a classic sign of low voltage/bad battery. The starter pulls the voltage down too low and the spark is weak/none. If you had a kicker, it'd probably be the same deal- fire right up on a kick, but not with the motor.

As suggested check the water level in the battery and add distilled water if needed (or better yet, put a sealed battery in there). Once you do that, fire it up again and put a voltmeter across the battery with the engine at fast idle. Use the choke or just crank the idle up temporairly, or have someone hold the throttle for you. You're looking for 14+ volts. Low voltage, caused by not charging, can certainly have the motor crap out mid ride. If you're only seeing in the 12v range (or less), there is a problem with the bike's charging circuit and you are literally running out of electricity, which has more or less the same effect of running out of fuel. That said, I'd be surprised if you had an issue with the stator or rectifier on such a new bike, TW's aren't really known for issues with those either.

I'd also drain the carb bowl into a clean, clear container and check for water. If any got into the fuel system it settles to the bottom of the bowl. There's a handy drain screw for this purpose. Rain or washing should not cause this, mine has been rained on and sank up to the seat and I never had issues with water getting into the fuel. Water in fuel often manifests as a "lean" condition as water displaces the fuel. If you find water in the carb bowl, I would remove and drain the tank completely, blow it out and let dry completely before refilling with fresh gas.

While I don't think it's the issue, I would also remove the fuel screw plug and give it at least another 1/2 turn open given the 34 pilot. It not wanting to take throttle when starting is an indication of a lean condition- it's just barely idling, as soon as you open the throttle- which is an air control, not fuel- it goes too lean and flames out. Once the engine warms up more it may run better. Try pulling the choke a little, if suddenly it revs better, your pilot circuit is still too lean.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It not starting with the electric, but immediately starting on a bumpstart is a classic sign of low voltage/bad battery. The starter pulls the voltage down too low and the spark is weak/none. If you had a kicker, it'd probably be the same deal- fire right up on a kick, but not with the motor.

As suggested check the water level in the battery and add distilled water if needed (or better yet, put a sealed battery in there). Once you do that, fire it up again and put a voltmeter across the battery with the engine at fast idle. Use the choke or just crank the idle up temporairly, or have someone hold the throttle for you. You're looking for 14+ volts. Low voltage, caused by not charging, can certainly have the motor crap out mid ride. If you're only seeing in the 12v range (or less), there is a problem with the bike's charging circuit and you are literally running out of electricity, which has more or less the same effect of running out of fuel. That said, I'd be surprised if you had an issue with the stator or rectifier on such a new bike, TW's aren't really known for issues with those either.

I'd also drain the carb bowl into a clean, clear container and check for water. If any got into the fuel system it settles to the bottom of the bowl. There's a handy drain screw for this purpose. Rain or washing should not cause this, mine has been rained on and sank up to the seat and I never had issues with water getting into the fuel. Water in fuel often manifests as a "lean" condition as water displaces the fuel. If you find water in the carb bowl, I would remove and drain the tank completely, blow it out and let dry completely before refilling with fresh gas.

While I don't think it's the issue, I would also remove the fuel screw plug and give it at least another 1/2 turn open given the 34 pilot. It not wanting to take throttle when starting is an indication of a lean condition- it's just barely idling, as soon as you open the throttle- which is an air control, not fuel- it goes too lean and flames out. Once the engine warms up more it may run better. Try pulling the choke a little, if suddenly it revs better, your pilot circuit is still too lean.
Thanks. I should be able to look into the battery issue later this week. I had already adjusted the fuel screw out previously. It's currently at 2.25x turns. I honestly don't think it's water, as that particular problem was something I noticed previous to this weekend, and it was only right after I started it—which a pretty light turn of the throttle. Once it warms for a bit, it does just fine, and the idle sounds decent in all cases IMO (also something I wasn't dealing with consistently). I'll be sure and note all of that though just in case I continue to experience issues.
 

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You could have gotten a bit of water in the carb when it got rained on, or when you washed the bike.
Water will sink in gasoline and form small or large(r) discreet "beads". Water & gas don't like each other and won't mix.
The gas bead will just lay there or roll around if the bike moves.
It can then be drawn into an orifice when the bike is trying to start or after it's running. It can block the passage way...no gas, no start, no run, no love!
It might clear itself, stay blocked, or just run intermittently.

Whether it starts/runs or not, you should drain the float bowl, trying to observe or catch any water in the fuel to ID the problem. Be sure to use a JIS screwdriver to avoid buggering the little drain screw at the bottom/left side of the carb. The driver in your tool kit is JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard), far superior to our Phillips system.

Actually, what I would do then (regardless of finding water, or not) is drop the float bowl to check, drain & clean it thoroughly.
Review the procedure before you start to avoid losing any parts...it's VERY easy to do!
Inspect for any dirt, crud or crap while you're in there.

Remember to check exploded parts diagrams to see where all the parts go and assembly sequences. They are on-line at Partzilla.com and a number of other suppliers of OE parts.
Even better are the pro-quality photo images of all the disassembled carb parts posted on our Forum by member jbfla. "jb" is a helluva great guy and his images & carb info are invaluable!

As a last resort, you might also remove and completely drain the tank, whether or not the carb shows water or solids.

A good "nth degree" check is this:
Get a Pyrex flat dish (cake pan) and a sheet of white paper.
Place the paper flat on a bench or table with the Pryex dish on top.
Drain into the dish.
Let it settle then look for blobs of water or specs of crap.
Check the float bowl & tank separately to isolate the source.

Good luck and have fun!

Damn, I need a beer...
 

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A good "nth degree" check is this:
Get a Pyrex flat dish (cake pan) and a sheet of white paper.
Place the paper flat on a bench or table with the Pryex dish on top.
Drain into the dish.
Let it settle then look for blobs of water or specs of crap.
Check the float bowl & tank separately to isolate the source.
.
I use a clear plastic bottle. Take a sample. then hold it up on an angle. All the water should collect in the bottom where the side of the bottle meets the bottom.
 

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Check the carb vent tube as well. If that gets plugged or restricted, it will cause stalling and rough running in general. I have a Grizzly 450 ATV that all the sudden developed a starting and stalling issues, literally overnight. I removed, disassembled, and cleaned the carb with little improvement. Finally, in one of the few instances I was able get it running, I unplugged the vent tube and it miraculously ran perfect. The culprit? A solitary bee (yes, bee!) had built a nest in the vent tube end, sealing off the vent. You may see those "bee houses" with the assortment of small tubes stacked together for sale. Well, the vent tube diameter was suitable enough, so lesson learned.

Also, there's a vent tube mod that helps prevent stalling if you do deeper water crossings.

JP
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the advice.

So far this is where I have gotten:

Last night I checked the battery levels, and it looked pretty low. See image: IMG_3718.jpeg

All channels we're at or below the "low level" marker, so definitely lost some fluid out on the trails/paths. I filled with distilled water to the "top level" line, then through the battery on a charger to be sure it was at 100%. This morning checked the static battery voltage, and it was above 12, then I fired the bike up (started right up) and checked the voltage again, and it was at 14.2. Seems like the battery is good for now (I'll likely order a new one soon). Based on the image, did the battery look low enough to cause the problem I experienced?

I haven't had a chance to ride it around yet, so if I continue to experience problems, then I'll check for water/etc. I'll likely just empty the float bowl later tonight when I get home and just check to ensure it doesn't have any water in there before riding anywhere to be safe.

Stay tuned.
 

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Yes – that battery condition is only 50% operational – hopefully you’ve caught it in time

The Gel mat batteries are a cheap option that will not leak when “upturned” – or you can go the whole hog and consider Lithium

But for now, run it and see if it holds

The other thing to consider is “where did the acid go” – hopefully down the breather pipe and exited near the swinging arm. As you hosed the bike off afterwards, there’s no harm done, but if the breather pipe was disconnected or missing, you’ll need to hose out the battery compartment …..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes – that battery condition is only 50% operational – hopefully you’ve caught it in time

The Gel mat batteries are a cheap option that will not leak when “upturned” – or you can go the whole hog and consider Lithium

But for now, run it and see if it holds

The other thing to consider is “where did the acid go” – hopefully down the breather pipe and exited near the swinging arm. As you hosed the bike off afterwards, there’s no harm done, but if the breather pipe was disconnected or missing, you’ll need to hose out the battery compartment …..
The breather hose was connected, so we should be good there, and the bike got enough of a hose down that anything else should be fine. Though I will say, after a dirty muddy day, it's near impossible to get all the dirt/sand off :)

I think we're good there though. Hopefully that was all it was and I don't have a water issue, but that's easy enough to take care of anyways... just a PITA. Thanks!
 

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I think you probably found the issue. 14.2v with the bike running is perfectly fine. If you're going to be off-roading the bike and most likely dropping it, I'd get a sealed battery sooner than later.

Lithium batteries used to be $$$$ but they've considerably come down in price over the last couple years. The name brands are like $150 or so, and decent quality aftermarket can be had in the $70-80 range- or about what a quality AGM costs. I have a Motobatt lithium in my Beta, think it was like $80 and it's been working great, and I'd used their AGM batteries in the past and always had good life out of them. It spins over so strong the starter is about as fast as the normal idle. My TW came to me with a fairly new sealed Yuasa and it's still going fine, easily cranking over even with the high compression piston. When it starts wearing out I'll probably replace it with a lithium, why not.

The creme de la creme of sealed motorcycle batteries are Odyssey. These aren't cheap, but they last forever and have considerably more CCA than normal for their size. My Vmax came to me with one that was already going on 5 years old. Figuring it must be on death's door, I kept an eye out for slow cranking or anything else. Always started strong, on a bike that was notorious for slow cranking or not starting if the battery wasn't in tip top shape. It was still in the bike 3 years later when I sold it, now being almost 8 years old and having at least 50k miles of use.

Avoid the $20-$30 no name batteries that are all over ebay/amazon. I've used a handful of these in the past and if you get a year out of them that's a lot. I remember seeing a video where they tested a bunch of cheap batteries and most had nowhere near the advertised CCA rating either. I guess if you need a quick fix for a cheap bike they have a purpose, I've put them in a few cheapo "flip" bikes I just got running again to re-sell and I wanted to keep the investment to a minimum.
 

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When you change batteries, I'd highly recommend a name brand name Lithium. Mine is Lithium ION and I am totally impressed with it!

A bonus is that it is 6lbs. lighter than the crappy OE wet cell it replaced. My bike is on an aggressive weight loss program and that battery is the single largest weight saver, so far.

I hear even better things about the Lithium Iron batteries, but know very little about them.

If you think you might have battery acid corrosion anywhere, or any of it is trapped anywhere, you could hit it everywhere with a heavy dusting of baking soda. After a while, blow it out with an air-hose.
The soda won't harm anything.

EDIT: As a 2nd choice to the more expensive Lithium, I would have used an AGM. They are also leak-proof. I've gotten 7-8 years out of a couple of them. But they lived on an appropriate trickle charger.
 

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Just out of curiosity I looked up a battery from Odyssey for my Piaggio BV350 Scooter. Wow, over 200 bucks, and it sounds like I might need their special charger??? An Additional 100+ buckaroo's. I wonder if that is necessary?

I think you probably found the issue. 14.2v with the bike running is perfectly fine. If you're going to be off-roading the bike and most likely dropping it, I'd get a sealed battery sooner than later.

Lithium batteries used to be $$$$ but they've considerably come down in price over the last couple years. The name brands are like $150 or so, and decent quality aftermarket can be had in the $70-80 range- or about what a quality AGM costs. I have a Motobatt lithium in my Beta, think it was like $80 and it's been working great, and I'd used their AGM batteries in the past and always had good life out of them. It spins over so strong the starter is about as fast as the normal idle. My TW came to me with a fairly new sealed Yuasa and it's still going fine, easily cranking over even with the high compression piston. When it starts wearing out I'll probably replace it with a lithium, why not.

The creme de la creme of sealed motorcycle batteries are Odyssey. These aren't cheap, but they last forever and have considerably more CCA than normal for their size. My Vmax came to me with one that was already going on 5 years old. Figuring it must be on death's door, I kept an eye out for slow cranking or anything else. Always started strong, on a bike that was notorious for slow cranking or not starting if the battery wasn't in tip top shape. It was still in the bike 3 years later when I sold it, now being almost 8 years old and having at least 50k miles of use.

Avoid the $20-$30 no name batteries that are all over ebay/amazon. I've used a handful of these in the past and if you get a year out of them that's a lot. I remember seeing a video where they tested a bunch of cheap batteries and most had nowhere near the advertised CCA rating either. I guess if you need a quick fix for a cheap bike they have a purpose, I've put them in a few cheapo "flip" bikes I just got running again to re-sell and I wanted to keep the investment to a minimum.
 

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The only thing you need to worry about is if your lead acid charger just does its own thing, or whether or not you can turn some functions off

Lithium likes to be slow charged, to allow that charge to gently seep into the battery. Think of it like a zippo, where you can squirt a drop into the bottom, and then try to light a dry wick as it hasn’t got through yet. Lithium cells take it from the top, and it slowly sinks down from there

Now look at the old style lead acid charger, which will simply chuck as much into it as it “thinks” it needs, often way in excess of the recommended charge rate – but if it goes into “de-sulphate” mode, you really have a problem, as the high voltage charge will kill the Lithium battery

I use a NOCO Genius charger, which you can put it to “Lithium mode” to begin with (it does all types of batteries), and I know that it will be fine. The one with the smallest charge rate is fine for motorbikes, it’s the NOCO Genius G1100

But yeah – it’s necessary. Even if you have a modern lead acid charger that you can disable de-sulphate, you’ll still need it to go straight to trickle charge, or you put the battery at risk – and yes, they cost $100 +
 

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I just checked for the hell of it, and the battery my Vmax took (an Odyssey PC680) is currently $130 on Amazon. I never heard anywhere (or used myself) they need any sort of special chargers. In fact, I don't seem to remember ever having to manually charge mine. In the winters I'd just unhook the negative cable and 5 months later I'd hook it back up and the bike would fire up like I ran it 5 minutes ago. Odyssey may have a lithium product line now, but the one I used was a sealed lead acid battery. I don't know if it was a gel or AGM or what.

When it comes to lithium, I've seen mixed things. Some companies claim you can only charge them with of course, the special charger they'd also like to sell you. But your motorcycle is not a "special charger", it outputs 14.4v in a "dumb" fashion, just supplies as much current as the battery will accept. So if the ONLY safe way to charge the battery was via a special voltage, special process charger, they would not be suitable for use in any vehicle that was not specifically designed for them. Which none are, which would seriously limit your market. Some newer KTM dirt bikes come with lithium batteries from the factory, and there were no changes made to the charging system compared to models that came with lead-acids. The charging circuitry in contained within the battery. All but the cheapest and frankly dangerous lithium batteries have a built in management system to regulate charging and balance the cells, as well as usually protecting against over and under charging.
 

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Precisely – a motorcycle stator will only produce a given output, which the Lithium battery manages – whereas a lead acid charger produces a range of limits, some of which are harmful to the battery. Unless you can control the output of a charger, it can fry the battery

So you “CAN” use the old style charger, but only with a lot of care and caution. The day you forget to check the settings is the day your bike possibly catches fire

On a ride, there is a voltage regulator in the circuit. On charge, you are naked ….
 

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Another "mod" to consider.
On all of my bikes, I wire a handlebar switch into the HI beam circuit of the headlight. This way, when I am starting it, I can flick the factory switch to HI beam, but turn OFF my handlebar switch so that ALL of the battery-power goes to turning the starter.
This won't affect the LOW beam at all, so you'll still have to option of using that circuit for your DRL's...if you remember to switch to LOW after starting.

If you have a battery issue while riding, this also serves to isolate the battery for running the engine instead of powering the headlight.

I understand the need for daytime running lights but to have such a large current draw while you're trying to start en engine, doesn't make sense. Someone who's crafty with electronics could wire in a timing circuit that would disconnect the headlight for 30 seconds once the key is turned ON....
 
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