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Old 05-23-2010, 10:43 AM
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yooucan2 yooucan2 is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 40
Sporadic Starting issue

Hello All,

I have had some issues with my bike starting lately. If I have not ridden my bike in a few days, it usually takes a few tries to start her up, that is not the problem. Lately, it will turn over the first time or so, then it stops cranking and all I here when I push the starter button is a faint click. I am assuming this is a starter motor problem, but was wondering if it may be the solenoid or the relay that is causing the problem.

What do you guys think?

81 XS1100 Special
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:58 AM
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MrOzz MrOzz is offline
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How the voltage on the battery? Mine did that at first. Replaced the battery, no more issues. Have you also checked to make sure the battery is charging properly when the bike is running?


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1980 XS 1100SG
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Slip Streamer Turbo Windshield
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:52 PM
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mxmikie mxmikie is offline
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dirty ignition switch
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:50 PM
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CatatonicBug CatatonicBug is offline
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It is most definitely electrical. However, it can be tricky finding the exact spot. As mentioned, you can diassemble the ignition switch and clean the contacts. Also be sure to check all the ground connections, and the battery. Also check on the starter button assembly, and make sure the right controls are clean and can fully ground to the handlebars (the starter circuit requires a ground through the handlebars). There are probably a few other things, but that's what I can think of right now.
1980 XS850SG - Sold
1981 XS1100LH Midnight Special (Sold) - purchased 9/29/08
Fully Vetterized and Dynojet Kit added, Heated Grips, Truck-Lite LED headlight, Accel Coils, Irridium plugs, TKAT Fork Brace, XS850LH Final Drive & Black SS Brake lines from Chacal.
Here's my web page devoted to my bike! XS/XJ User's Manuals there, and the XJ1100 Service Manual and both XS1100 Service manuals (free download!).

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Old 05-27-2010, 08:38 PM
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yooucan2 yooucan2 is offline
Join Date: May 2008
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Posts: 40

I have replaced my battery with a new one and have made sure the battery connections are clean and making good contact. I am still having the same problem. It usually turns over on the first try, but my bike rarely starts on the first try unless it is already warmed up. Then when I try again, I just hear a slight click and I see the lights in the speedo dim slightly. This will happen 15-30 times and may or may not turn over again. The other day I had to push start it at the gas station when it did not start. I don't have a volt meter and would not know how to use one if I did. I know one thing, it sure is frustrating having almost 2 weeks off for vacation and having great weather at the same time, but not being able to ride my bike for fear of being stranded. I need to get this figured out fast.

81 XS1100 Special
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:49 PM
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perurider perurider is offline
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Mine did this when I first brought it back, it was the fuse all the way to the right in the fb, the top fuse holder was broke, but was wedged in a way you couldnt see that it was broken.
'79 XS 1100F
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:22 PM
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bikerphil bikerphil is offline
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Had a similar problem once. Turned out it was corrosion on the cable AT the starter, under the plastic cover, the only connection on the whole bike I didn't clean.

79F - owned since '89 - FJ fork mod, solo seat mod, Dyna 3Ω's, Kerker, 14MM M/C (152K miles)
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:11 AM
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petejw petejw is offline
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when it does it again,
with the ignition on, get a large
screw driver and short out the 2 large nuts(studs)
on the solenoid, if it starts easier the problem
is in the switch or its wirings, if it still does the same
thing then its more than likely the starter motor.

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08 gen2 hayabusa

former owner
1981 xs1100 RH (aus) (5N5)
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Old 05-28-2010, 07:34 AM
BigRed BigRed is offline
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Might also be a good idea to check your ground connections at the voltage regulator under the tank. It's a finned aluminum block bolted to the frame. Take the ground wires off, file them clean, make sure that there's clean contact between the back of the voltage regulator and the frame. Then bolt it all back on real tight and see if that helps. I had a similar problem with some very minor corrosion there... my bike would crank, but it wouldn't fire.

Have you checked the fluid level in your battery? A new battery can go dry really quickly if your bike is overcharging. To know if it's charging correctly, you'll need a voltage meter, and voltage meters are really easy to use. Go buy a cheap one (I just got one at Harbor freight for about $4... haven't used it yet). If there aren't good enough instructions with the meter, post a picture of it, and we'll get you sorted out. It's best if you get a "digital multi meter" (DMM). You'll want it to be able to read DC voltage in the 20V range, and resistance (Ohms). An "auto-ranging" meter is best, but not necessary if cost is a factor.

Good luck!
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:09 AM
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DGXSER DGXSER is offline
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First of all, it is NEVER a bad idea to go through all the ground straps and the voltage regulator and clean, clean, clean, and the positive ones at the solenoid and the starter as well.

Secondly, I would do as stated and when it happens again, short across the high voltage cables at the solenoid and see what you get. Also, put a voltage meter on the battery when you do it, the dimming lights could mean you have a short to ground somewhere in the starting circuit.
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81 XS1100 Special - Humpty Dumpty
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Old 06-03-2010, 06:48 AM
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yooucan2 yooucan2 is offline
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Thanks for giving me some direction to go on. I will try all your suggestions and let you know what the problem was once I get it sorted out.
81 XS1100 Special
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Old 06-03-2010, 07:28 AM
randy randy is offline
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A commonly overlooked area is the starter mounting to the engine. The starter gets it's ground at the mounting bolts. To clean, the starter must be removed, the engine case and starter case wire brushed. I went as far as to add a seperate ground wire from the battery to one of the starter mounting bolts.
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:37 AM
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Ivan Ivan is offline
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If you don't have a volt meter or the knowledge to use one, then find someone who has both, and pay them. With out those tools, you might as well ask for a haircut through the forum. Sorry, but if you have no way to tell what those electrons are doing, you're going to end up replacing a lot of unnecessay parts, such as the money already spent on a battery, which didn't fix the problem. You could end up with a new solenoid, starter, wires and still have the problem. You'll be money ahead to find someone to troubleshoot it for you, even if its a buddy who works for beer.
Ich habe dich nicht gefragt.
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