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Bike died on a trail, had to pull it back with paracord...

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While I was out yesterday my bike (XR650L) died going up a hill, I gave it throttle and it just died down.  I tried to start it back up and it wouldn't, had to be pulled back to the truck.  This is the second time it died for mysterious reasons and it only happens when I have been out brapping for a good while.

Looking for opinions on what might be wrong.

Observations:

  1. Pulled the spark plug, the ground electrode was white, but the center electrode clean and no discoloration.  I see good strong (painful) spark :).
    1. Used a new plug and same results while I was out on the trail, it wouldn't start.
  2. The bike at one point was running rich when WOT so I dropped 1 main jet size, re-tested it and came back with a clean no discoloration plug after a long ride.
    1. When this failure happened, I was riding 1600ft above where I rode before to test, shouldn't that have made it richer?  Why the white electrode then O.o
  3. When on the trail usually letting it sit for a while gets it to start back up, but it will die again very quickly unless you let it warm up, then it runs until a long hill again.
  4. I thought maybe my safeties bypass had an issue but it does not.  I made a switch for when I want them bypassed, they are quite annoying, but tested it all with voltmeter and no issues.
  5. The CDI tested good and I made sure every ground was clean and firmly contacted.
  6. I tested all the other electrical components I could think of like the stator etc... even heated my ignition coil to operating temperature and it tested fine (tested fine cold too).
  7. I currently have the battery getting charged up, will see if perhaps I'm not generating enough juice to keep it charged or something (perhaps its just dead).

Since this only seems to start happening while on a hill gassing it, a friend suggested that the 650L just wasn't made for such abuse.  I'm far from the best rider and I do rely, probably too much, on that lovely torque.  I do spend lots of time at WOT and in fairness this has only happened when we ride at a trail listed as expert on our trail map with lots of hill climb... I prefer to think it is a malfunction with the bike though, rather than its overall capability.  Maybe what he said has just got to my head :(.  Never had this issue with the 600R or 450F.

 

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I can certainly say it is not a capability issue. I used to spend a lot of time doing full-throttle 2nd-gear sand hill climbs in the summer.

Up. Down. Up. Down.  Over and over. Oil at 300F.

When it dies, what is done to get it going again? Just sitting? If so, how long?

If the tank is getting low and the hills are steep, it could be just not enough fuel 'pressure' to keep the carb filled. Don't forget the non-reserve pickup is above the bottom of the tank (when the tank is horizontal).

Could be as simple as gas cap not venting enough.

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Regularly, it sits for about 10-15 minutes and it starts right up again no problem.  This last time it died and just would not start again.

Tank was over half full, and it is the acerbis monstrous tank that holds about 5 gallons.

I wondered about the gas cap, but i took the breather hose off and flexed the tank a bit, air travel going in and out.

  • Battery is charging at the moment, will test once off work.
  • I will get it good and hot again and run some more electrical tests assuming it starts with the battery charged...
  • I am going to move the fuel screw out a bit with the plug tip having been white.

It is probably completely unrelated but I have a CB919 that had a similar problem and swapping out the plugs for nice iridium's and only running mid grade fuel solved it for me (just obviously not on dirt :) ).

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The symptoms do seem more pulse-generator than CDI.

The bike will run fine on just the battery or just the stator, the ignition is 12v.

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Well bad news is.... When I was being pulled back to the truck, I managed to lose the key....

Currently searching for the spare but having no luck.  It can't be that hard to bypass but I'd prefer not to.  If I am lucky enough to find it I'll need copies made lol.

I will get the pulse generator out after I have some time with the key to actually test things.  A bike made 23 years ago, I'm actually impressed these issues are just now surfacing...

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I think honda will make a new one, not sure what ID/proof of ownership required.

I think there's a serial number on the lock cyl?

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On 5/25/2017 at 10:09 AM, XR650L_Dave said:

The symptoms do seem more pulse-generator than CDI.

The bike will run fine on just the battery or just the stator, the ignition is 12v.

Okay so I called the dealer and they can't make a key for my bike given the age (or they didn't want to.. they seemed hesitant to say no lol).  I managed to find the spare finally and tried getting 3 copies made but they botched all 3...  Time to take them back and try again.

I quoted you above Dave because if I read this right, as long as the pulse generator is in good shape, a strong battery will get it running, right?  I charged the battery up, tested it good.  Let is sit overnight, tested in the morning and was holding great.  Turned it over and while it cranks, there is definitely no ignition of that fuel happening.

Forgive the novice names please lol: The pulse generator is inside the right side of the case with the cable coming out (leads to that metal fin), and to test it I should disconnect it and use a voltmeter to measure the voltage as it is cranking?  I will look through my Clymers manual to see if it has a minimum voltage it should read.

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Yeah pulse gen is off the crank under the clutch cover on the right. Disconnect at connector and check resistance cold, then hot, not cranking. You just want to see it's 400-600 ohms or so, not 1000 or so.

The big 'tell' is that it's quite different cold and hot.

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Alright, I've finally had the time to replace the pulse generator and it's bad news...  IT DIDN'T FIX IT!!!

 

I have a spare CDI, and a spare ignition coil...  Going to swap them out one by one to see if I can get it running again.  Sure is heart breaking :(

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Smack the back of the old CDI with a screwdriver handle,,,all over the back,,if it fires you know the issue,,and there is a CDI repair thread on the front page of our forum...

 

B

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Read the CDI repair thread, tried smacking it but nothing happened.

Going to pull the tank off, check spark, replace the coil if there's no spark, then the CDI.

If there is spark I'm going to strap it into my pickup and have my wife drive while I ride it in the back...  So at least I can say I still ride it :D

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check for fire.....then you gotta check your kill switch next,,disassemble and clean and regrease,,check your grounds on top of the airbox,,pull that bolt and clean the frame to bare metal,grease and reassemble the ground wires there..

if it still has no spark then the pulse generator is your next suspect...

 

I have seen a bunch of people replace the ignition coil and I don`t think one ever fixed the issue,,you can ohm it out,,it`ll fail that test almost guaranteed,,so will the new one:lol:

 

B

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I've replaced the pulse generator, and gone through the kill switch while putting on some new higher handle bars.

It seems I'm running out of options :facepalm:

+cleaned the ground real good.

Edited by Robert1Stock

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One that will really cheese you off if you find it late, bad plug cap, wire loose in plug cap, or bad resistor in plug cap.

On bikes with a removable plug wire at the coil, coming loose there is a rare classic.

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Just found what is probably the issue.  Another break in the wiring harness going to the CDI.

Looks like new harnesses are 250 bucks.  That's way passed my price range so I'll be heading over to pickup some proper colored wire and probably a new soldering tip.

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Does anyone know where I can buy the little metal pins inside the male connector side that goes into the CDI?  Radio Shack is all closed here and Fry's electronics didn't have it.  Not sure what to type in Amazon to get the right ones :/

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My budget is about 15 bucks sadly.  Spent the rest on a pulse generator and honda genuine CDI :(

 

I ordered what looks like the same connector & gauge wire (stranded) on amazon, but it is for a smaller bike.  Shouldn't matter if the plug and gauge is the same though.

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