'86 VT500 - Hard to start - SOLVED - Honda Shadow Forums : Shadow Motorcycle Forum

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Old 06-08-2010, 11:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default '86 VT500 - Hard to start - SOLVED

Bought my '86 VT500 a few months ago. It's always been a bit hard to start, even if I'm starting it every morning.

I haven't been on the bike in a week since I've been traveling for work, and this morning, it didn't want to start, and while trying to start it, the battery died.

So, it's pretty clear that the existing battery doesn't have a ton of life left in it, if it can be run down quickly.

But the hard starting is a pain. I try giving it a few pumps of gas, and a little choke and try to start it, like the previous owner told me. It cranks and cranks and cranks. After a few times, it will usually sputter like it's going to start, then die out. Usually a few cranks after that point, it will start.

Any suggestions on how to diagnose this?
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: '86 VT500 - Hard to start

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Originally Posted by Croz
Any suggestions on how to diagnose this?
More choke; less "pumps"; hands off the throttle until it fires.

Carb cleaner in with the gas.

Plugs if they have very many miles on them.

Charge the battery fully with an external charger and then check the charging voltage in the bike. If the battery is more than 3 years old, you probably should replace it.

Bike batteries generally don't have a lot of reserve capacity. It is not unusual for them to get drained after only 4 or 5 cranks of 5-10 seconds each.
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Test or toss the battery. That's probably your main problem. The electronic ignition on these bikes HAVE to have a full 12+ volts to work at peak performance, otherwise it either won't start or be a PITA to start.

Also, check the notorious "three yellow wires" stator connector. If it's not charging properly, it's not firing properly.

As was said, hands off the throttle when starting, all that will do is flood it.

+1 on the new plugs, NGK DPR8EA9 is the proper plug for that bike I believe. You'll either need the factory tool kit plug wrench or a Craftsman 12 point 18mm deep socket, most others are too thick-walled to do the inset plugs.

If you're lucky, you can run some Seafoam or Berryman's B-12 through it and help clear the rest up. If not, rebuilding the carbs is not that big of an ordeal, as long as you're thorough and don't overlook something like I did.....repeatedly.

I think proper voltage will help the most, but your carbs may need cleaning too. I can tell you right now that after taking care of the low speed jets (severely clogged) on my '83, I can walk out there right now and barely bump the starter and it starts, without even using the choke. Plus, my charging system is cranking out plenty of juice for the battery and ignition since I soldered those yellow wires.
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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OK, that's good info, and plenty to check. I put it on the charger after it wouldn't start this morning, and went home at lunch to get the bike because it's just that kind of day.

It started right up, first touch of the starter button.

But there was one other thing I did a little differently. This bike is pretty hard for me, and more experienced riders who have tried, to find neutral. I normally start it in first, with the clutch in. When I've started it with the clutch in, it moves very slightly forward when it first starts to turn over, like the clutch is still slightly out.

Today, I took the extra time to make sure it's in neutral when I tried to start it.

I'm thinking it's either the batter/carbs/3-yellow-wires issue everyone has brought up, or it has trouble starting because it's trying, even slightly to drive the rear wheel.

I'm going to try, over the next couple of days, to start it in gear and neutral to see if that could be part of the problem.

Or am I just being a dumb newbie?
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The VT500C hates to start with a partially dead battery. Try this:

Hook up jumper cables to your car, car off. Choke on full, bike in neutral, try to start. If it starts right away, your battery is dying. Replace it. If it still continues to not start then continue trouble shooting.

The VT500C is a very reliable bike, with few issues with starting. You do need a good battery or it'll crank but not start, until the battery dies. Once started you need to ride for at least 20 minutes to replenish the charge you used to start the bike.

FYI Scorpion makes an AGM battery for the VT500C. I've heard it is really good and fits the bike really well.
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Old 06-08-2010, 04:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Heh, remember that your bike has 4 spark plugs!

A while ago (a few years) a person picked up a VT500, changed the plugs and was still having trouble. Someone brought up that changing the first three are easy, but the last one is a pain. The original poster came back with, "That's four! Where are the other two?"

The choke on these bikes is disabled when you give it throttle, so like already mentioned, keep your hand off the throttle until the engine fires.

if your bike has an accelerator pump (some do, some don't in the Honda world), twisting the throttle before you start it can actually flood the thing.

Aside for that, all the other advice I could give has already been given.

--Justin
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Old 06-08-2010, 04:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Croz
Or am I just being a dumb newbie?
Well.....

All wet clutches will drag some when cold.
That may be PART of your problem but it is not THE problem.
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Old 06-08-2010, 04:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy Rider 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Croz
Or am I just being a dumb newbie?
Well.....

All wet clutches will drag some when cold.
That may be PART of your problem but it is not THE problem.
Cool. I don't mind being a dumb newbie when it means that I don't have to have a lot of clutch work done!

I'm going to chase the battery and plugs side of things.
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Old 06-08-2010, 05:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Croz
This bike is pretty hard for me, and more experienced riders who have tried, to find neutral. I normally start it in first, with the clutch in. When I've started it with the clutch in, it moves very slightly forward when it first starts to turn over, like the clutch is still slightly out.
Your clutch isnt adjusted properly. adjust it so it engages a little further out from the bar and it should go into neutral much easier.
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A wet clutch will glue itself together overnight.

Inside the clutch are a half dozen or so steel plates with the clutch friction disks between them. Engine oil sloshes around these plates when the engine is running. Then the engine sits for a while the springs of the clutch squeeze the plates together and overnight they squish all the oil out. This sort of glues the plates together.

If you have two pieces of glass, put a few drops of water on one and plop the other one on top of it. Apply some gently pressure, and then try to separate the two plates using a lifting (not sliding) motion. You'll see how easily two flat surfaces can bond in the presence of a little liquid and pressure. Your clutch plates are slightly porous, compounding the effect.

A little lurch when trying to break the clutch plates free is very normal.

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