DR 650 Cold start ?

I am fairly new to the world of big thumpers.I have a 91 DR 650 s with kick start only.I am buggered if I can start it from cold.Any tips. The bike runs well and I can start when warm.Its really frustrating as I am left looking for a hill to try and bump it!! :naughty:

I have a 93 DR 650 and know exactly what you mean. I use the following technique:

Turn fuel tap to PRIME position, this way the carb will fill with fuel, for 10 seconds then back to ON.

Using the kick-start, bring the engine to Top Dead Centre.

Pull the choke to half setting (I guess this will be a suck it and see procedure for you until you find the best position).

Do not under any circumstances touch the throttle.

Pull in the decompression lever and kick for all you are worth.

When undoubtedly it fails to start the first time, bring the engine back to TDC and repeat from here. I usually get it to start by the third or fourth attempt.

Happy kicking!!

I also have a '91 DR650 and you're right, the thing can be a bear to start when it's cold.

The starting routine is: full choke, pull in the decomp lever, push the kickstarter down until the lever pops out and then kick for all you're worth! Eventually you'll hear a pop or it'll kick back a bit and then a few kicks later it will start. When I ride in the winter, this ritual can take so long that I'm too tired to ride once it's started. In warmer weather, mine usually starts first or second kick no matter how long it's been sitting.

Stale gas in the float bowl can be a problem if the bike has been sitting and the stock jetting also makes the situation worse. Most manufacturers jet the bikes slightly lean to meet the emissions requirements. Then, the buyer puts in a new exhaust pipe ("it's louder so it must be faster") and maybe opens up the airbox and makes it even worse. On a big four stroke, changing the exhaust won't really get you much unless you also open up the breathing, and opening up the breathing without re-jetting will get you nothing.

I've done alot of work on mine, new exhaust, new handlebars, new rear fender, new footpegs, new airfilter, remove the snorkel, modified carb and an entire season of getting the jetting right. As I said, I still have trouble starting it in the winter but once it's going, it'll wheelie right off of idle, no clutch. I bought it new in '92 (hey, that rhymes!) and, although I thought it was gutless at first, it's alot more fun now.


Hi Gaz,thanks for the tip I will try your technique tomorrow morning when my leg has recovered! and ill be sure to let you know.How long have you had your bike? anything else I should look for.Mine has aprox 10,000 miles and was stored for the last year,I did clean out fuel system and replaced battery other than that I love it.There are some great trails here in canada.I am a transplant from the u.k where I had a KLR 650 But no where great to ride off road.Thanks again,Chris.

Thanks Randy will let you know how I go tomorrow when my leg has rested !

My bike is completley stock,no mods and plenty of power for me now.Do suggest any of the mods really make a difference if so which? thanks again, Chris.

P.s I even looked at installing a starter e.t.c bugger the wieght I wont have to push it,Any way the starter alone was nearly five hundred bucks! ouch.

Chris, I don't know if I'd go to the trouble of installing a starter. As I mentioned, mine is a pain to start in cold weather but it's fine for the other two weeks of the year. Just kidding. The changes I made had a huge effect on the bike, it's alot more fun. I ride mostly in and around Toronto so there's not alot of trails, although I have done snowmobile trails without the snow, they can be fairly rough (wet logs laid over a swamp crossing are fun on a 400 pound bike).

The first thing I did was go one tooth down on the countershaft sprocket. Next was the biggest comfort change, switching to Renthal Honda CR-bend bars. I hated the rear fender so on went the Acerbis, looks much better. Then I sent the carb to someone in California (I'd need to look it up, I can't remember who) and they bored the carb and put a mainjet in that I can actually see through (it's big). The carb went back on, along with a Supertrapp can on the exhaust pipe and a Twin-air filter (the snorkel got punted in the process) and then came several months of plug chops while I got the jetting dialed in.

The last bit of work was installing Gold Valves in the front suspension, which is a bit of work but also made a big difference. One of these days I really need to do the rear shock, it's crap. I'd also like to get rid of the battery and put in a battery eliminator instead but so far I've been unable to get it to work.

The bike is somewhat louder but not too excessive (I think) and much more responsive. Like I said, if I give the throttle a blip around 2000 rpm or so and give a little tug on the bars, it'll wheelie, which the stock bike would not do.

I had a chance to try someone else's '91 DR650 with only the exhaust pipe change and it was awful. The owner thought it was great but it ran very poorly.

If you're going to be in the Toronto area, let me know, you're welcome to try my DR650. Maybe I'll have the trials bike working by then too (a '78 TY250).


Hi Randy,you were absolutley correct.It was a warm spring day here and I parked my bike in the sun for 20 mins.Three heavy kicks and she fired up,it was a very happy moment for me.Took the bike on some logging trails up to the snow line just to try it off road.What a heavy brute but lots of power.

Thanks for all your support,think I will save the starter money and buy some better all terrain tyres.One thing though if you have time.The bike snatches almost like a missfire when cruising at higher rpm.Feels like its starved of fuel.I checked the plugs they are white in the middle and sooty on outsude of electrode.Should I bother adjusting jets (if poss)or just replace with different.The mikuni carb is stock and so is the exhaust.I did remove the air box cover as a suggestion from another thread. :naughty:

Thanks for the help.My bike doesn't have a prime setting but the half choke thing did make a difference.It was a nice warm day today so that was a big help too.Anyway I did start the bike and took it for a spin up to the snow line of the mountains. It gave me some confidence for the next cold day we get and it won't start!

Thanks again for your advice.Chris. :naughty:


I never removed the airbox cover, just the snorkel. The problem with making adjustments to the intake is that it can have a huge effect on the carb jetting, more so than modifying the exhaust.

If you're getting a white plug then you're running lean. Did you check the plug after the ride or do a "plug chop". What you need to do is get out onto a highway and run the bike at the speed where the misfire happens for around 10 or 15 minutes, and then kill the motor, coast to a stop and pull the plug to check the colour.

It's been close to 10 years since I re-jetted mine but I think the top of the throttle range is handled by the needle valve, which sticks out of the bottom of the carb slide. You can loosen the clamps that hold the carb and spin the carb so that you can get the top off (I think). Remove the slide and the spring and you should see the top of the needle with a circlip on top. Remove the circlip and move it down (closer to the bottom) one notch. This should make the very top of the range richer.

Of course, this is assuming I remember any of this correctly. That part of the range was also the last part that I had trouble with. It would sputter when I hit the throttle hard above 100 kph.


Chris, I forgot to mention that I'm using Pirelli MT21s on mine, street legal knobbies. They're a bit noisy at 120 kph but they're more fun offroad.

Today my 7 year old son and I went for a spin around Mississauga along the Queensway near Etobicoke Creek. After booting it along the Queensway at close to 80 kph we crossed the ravine, rode over the curb and the sidewalk and headed into the ravine. I then turned around, headed back up the hill kinda quick, across the hydro right-of-way, over the sidewalk and back onto the street. I then turned to my son and said, "you couldn't do that on some fancy crotch rocket!"


A Dynojet kit http://shop.thumpertalk.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=WB_19-3138 Would be recomended for the starting, and for the high speed sputtering. It will help you set the fuel/air too.

The E starter, you could check cycle salvage yards. I don't know how many parts you need for it. There are many electric engine warmers from back in the day when lots of cars needed them to start, on cold mornings. Even an electric blanket (in good condition) could get you by the winter.

Chris, I kept a log of everything I did as I modified my bike. I you're interested and don't mind waiting while I find the stuff, I could give you the settings I used. The only thing that might be tricky is finding out the new mainjet size, although I could probably get that as well by using some wire-size drill bits.

My jetting may not work exactly as is for you because of the difference in elevation 'though.

The Dynojet kit is probably easier but without the airbox and exhaust mods, I doubt you would get anymore usable horsepower out of it. If you're happy with the performance of the bike so far, I would try playing with the jetting you have before spending the money on the kit.


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