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Hard to Start or Hard Starting Drill

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Hi everyone first post. I am adding this as I see this is a very popular topic and I received a lot of help by searching the title key words. This is best read by someone who has difficulty starting their bike or if you wish to learn by my experiences.

I bought an XR400 last week. Went to see it on a very cold 8 degree celsius night where the bike was in the back of a truck. I arrived minutes after the fellow did at our meeting place to look the bike over and he showed me how to kick it over using the decrompression lever to get just past tdc and then wail on. Everything worked a-ok but bike was warm and he had a couples of minutes to warm it up before I arrived. Went the next night to pick the bike up it was in the back. Drove my truck around to the loading ramp and as I got out of my truck 1 min after him getting the bike I heard it start up and he rode it out into the back of my truck. We cinched it down and I was off to XR heaven. My first Honda after all these years and this simple reliable design was going to be awesome.

Got home from work the next night, right into the garage choke on, a couple of slow kicks with the decom lever found tdc hard kick nothing. Try again and again and again, half choke , no choke eventually back to full choke, never making the mistake to twist throttle(remember this from my previous brands of 4-strokes that I always managed to kick over). NOTHING. Not even a pitiful attempt at starting. Easily 200 kicks later convinced it must be flooded. I'll come back tomorrow.

Next day spend afternoon reading everything I can on the net about starting these things and realise maybe this thing wasn't what I was looking for. I don't have time to waste with starting nonsense. I come to a consencus of all the drills I read which I was going to try first(although there is a counter clockwise knob turn thing that I still don't really unserstand. Turn it clockwise to raise idle speed slightly). Here we go. Nothing. Ok try again. NOthing. Again NOTHING!!!! &%$#@!!!!! I swear to god 500 kicks later I am completely drenched I have been out there for a hour, I would rip anyone who talks to me head off (thank god its late at night and nobody is around :banghead: and I hate this bike more than anything in the world. Plus I pull my aching foot out of my boot to see blood on the bottom of my foot thru my sock. This bike has gone to war with me and I haven't even had a chance to abuse it. Score:Bike=1 Owner=0

Next day. Try to read more about possible causes, valve adjustment, filter, carb you name it. No use trying to start today my leg and foot hurt way too much. But this bike started up when I went to see it and pick it up by this guy half my size and I wailed on the kickstart so freaking hard I was sure it was going to break it in half or bust the peg off. Wanted to check the plug but used bike and no plug tool where I'm at. I did read something about running the bike for a very short time and shutting down could foul the plug, so I'll put in a new one.

2 days later still not liking the bike(or the plug access for that matter as I have to grind an already small specialty tool down even further to get that plug to turn, we are talking paper thin here, and watch for crud in the recess) and the black sooty looking plug does make a nice spark when tested but seeing as I have new one I'll put it in instead. Starting drill from the net, kick, kick kick , third hard kick and she fires up and I play with the knob to get idle speed back down. I'm in heaven.

The moral of this story is that your(or my) bike will not start if it is not in the proper state of tune to do so. I must have kicked I estimate about 700 times(including slow or fast decom kicks) over 2 days. I could have kicked another 700 and it would not have started. The mechanical condition is priority and paramount to the bike being able to start. Start with the easy stuff first( like the plug). I was contemplating carb work, timing issues when all it was, was the plug(although either of those other jobs may have been easier than extracting the plug HAHA Bad job here Honda).

In the end the bike always starts first kick since I got it going. So for those of you who may be new or up at 2 a.m. trying to get your bike going here is my drill.

1.Gas on.

2.Choke up to fully open/on

3.2 clockwise turns of black knob. These turns are the amount my fingers will twist it and not complete turns. I am not sure how much it really turns.

4.Hold decompression lever and kill switch and kick trough 10 times. Nice and easy kicks don't burn your energy here.

5.Let go of decom lever and kick until kickstart gets really hard and you can't push through any more(not full hard kick)

6.Grab decom lever and ever so slightly kick just past that hard spot(not all the way down!) and bring the kick back up to the top.

7.Focus all that energy, think about that childhood bully or your boss that p*&&ed you off last week and kick like a mo-fo all the through(that means down ALL the way). Do not touch the throttle and as I read during my searches place your right hand on the crossbar or master cylinder.

This works with my bike and may not work as well with yours, but if you are having problems like I did maybe you can learn something from my experience. Good luck.

ICPREY

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The day I brought my brand new 01 xr250 home I literally wore myself out trying to get the thing started in my garage. Never did. The next day my buddy who rides a xr600 came over and started it on the SECOND kick. Bike tune does indeed play a big part in how hard it is to start but another big part is knowing how to kick it. After I figured out how to kick it I can start it within 3 kicks every single time now. And that includes after dumping it.

Your 7 part procedure is spot on ('cept I'd also include putting the bike in neutral though you can start it with clutch in also). Probably the most important of your 7 points is #7 - gotta kick all the way down. I never touch the ide knob, choke's important if the bikes not warm and decomp lever is very helpful if the bike's been dumped.

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I initially resisted using the throttle when starting my XR250, because I was also told that I should never have to do that on a 4 stroke, that it would flood the carb. Since I was having a hard time starting it without using the throttle, or turning up the idle screw, I tried some of the common mods: removing the air box snorkle, trying different jetting configurations, getting a uni air filter, and making changes to the exhaust baffle; but I was still having a hell of a time getting it started. I finally took it down to a local honda shop, ready to trade it in for another bike with an electric start. A kid working there started it up second kick. I watched him closely and noticed he hit the throttle at the bottom of the kick. I subsequently found out that turning the idle screw up is the same as giving it some throttle at the bottom of the kick, you just have to readjust the idle back down after it warms up. When finding TDC it's not necessary to kick from the top; just start halfway up and slowly kick down to where there's strong resistance. Once I find TDC and go past it with the decomp lever pulled in, I find I don't have to kick it all that hard. I just kick from the top and give it a little gas at the bottom of the kick and it starts right up. I've also found that keeping the air filter clean makes a big difference.

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1. You do not need to kick these bikes as hard as you can. After you push kick starter just past TDC with compression release then return back to very top of range then just push kick starter down. If you are doing things right it will start. If you are doing things wrong it won't start no matter how hard you kick. I am 65 years old with a total of four right ankle/knee operations and can cold start any bike I own in tennis shoes. Not bragging just trying to enlighten.

2. Idle setting is very important. You should not return idle setting to the lowest possible near stall setting after bike warms up. All XRs respond better to hot starting and low speed off idle throttle much better with idle properly set at a little higher than most newbies think is correct. And for cold starting idle setting is critical as mentioned.

3. XRs like fresh gas in the float bowl. Gas in float bowl can go bad in as little as one week. After bike has been setting for a week or more you should turn on petcock and lean bike over on its side until you get a steady stream of gas onto the floor. This will replace stale gas in carb with better gas in tank and cold starting is much easier. If you have just bought bike used then replace all gas in tank. It might be two years old.

4. Happy starting.

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Making sure the darn gas is on is always a good thing too! :banghead: I can't tell you how many times I have kicked the crap out of the dang bike only to figure out half hour later that the gas wasn't on :banghead: Duh.🤣

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the key is tuning: if you have the idle mixture set right, and the idle speed set properly, they can be HAND STARTED. i am a skinny 135 pounder and have started the 250 cold with left hand. again the key is tuning.

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The intial process of kicking the bike through with the choke on is referred to as "clearing it". The purpose of this is to pump fresh air into the motor and to purge the cylinder of an overly rich charge. Because you want as much air as possible and as little fuel as possible going into the cylinder - this is best done with the CHOKE OFF.

jeff

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I use a similar procedure to oldturtle. I don't even stuff around with kicking it through a few times like most people though. I drag the XR out of the shed after about a week or two, full choke, go to TDC, bump it past with the compression release and kick it. No buggerising around with the idle screw either. Starts 1st or 2nd kick. When it is hot it starts 97% of the time on the first kick. AND I can do this wearing thongs (Think USA guys call them flip-flops)

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OldTurtle..

I recently acquired small 'maintenance' SunDec digital tach. The XR250 manual says that idle should be 1300 +/- 100, so with my new tach I've been trying to keep the idle in that range. Is that about where you set yours at? Even after I think I've got the bike warmed up enough and the idle set at around 1300, it seems to change, usually it ends up at around 1400+, the longer I ride, so I end up adjusting it back down. Do you or any of the other XR owners find the idle changes +100 or more while riding?

Also, I'm wondering how the gas goes stale quicker in the float bowl than in the gas tank...not trying to be a smart ass...it might even be a dumb question... but just wondering.

Thanks

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OldTurtle..

.... the idle set at around 1300, it seems to change....

.... how the gas goes stale quicker in the float bowl than in the gas tank...

I have never set my idle with a tach. I just experiment until I get it right for me. I like idle high enough so that hot starting is just a hands off easy push and so that throttle roll on in low gears has no stutter. When you get it set just right you don't even need to increase idle for cold starting with choke. The idle speed will slowly increase as you ride but just try to avoid temptation to keep turning it down.

I first learned about priming float bowl with fresh gas in an article by Larry Rosseler on 4-stroke starting tips and this has made a major difference for me. I believe the reason the gasoline in float bowl gets stale so fast is somehow related to the surface area of the liquid, the small volume of liquid, and the size of the float bowl vent all compared to the gasoline in the tank. I'm not sure about the physics or chemistry of exactly what is happening. I am just very sure that it works. My daughter bought a new XR200 in 1988 and kept it stored in my garage. Every time she wanted to go riding which was only about every 4 months or so at that time I had one heck of a tough time getting it started. I always had to kick it 30 or more times then install new plug and finally it would start. Larry Rosseler solved all that hassle for me. Now the bikes can set 6 months or more and still start right up with no plug fouling by priming float bowl.

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It's not that hard to start your bike. Here's what I do to start my 99 xr400

1. Turn on gas

2. Turn choke on full

3. Kick the engine up to TDC

4. Crack the throttle open quickly 2 times

5. Do not hold throttle open

6. Give it a good solid kick, but not too wimpy (helps to throw your weight in to it)

7. Should start within 3 kicks, mine does.

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Schuon

What kind of carb do you have on your bike? Is it a pumper carb? If not, then what affect does

4. Crack the throttle open quickly 2 times
have? :banghead:

Thanks

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Stock carb. Helps my bike start better. It works. Doesn't flood mine out.

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i could be wrong here, but i was under the assumption that stock carbs need the engine to be running in order to draw gas? in which case, your cracking the throttle with the engine off (and no vacuum) does very little. now if it were a pumper carb, well.... you'd be waiting a couple days to start it.

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i am having a hard time starting my GF's XR250. it's a 2002 and we just bought it a month ago or so. we've had about three rides on it. it starts, but not easily, if it's warm out. last weekend it was in the 50's and we could not start it. she's a noob, so i had to have another fellow hop on the bike and i towed him with the XR400 (which starts like a champ every time). we did bump start it. tonight it was in the 60's and i did get it started, but it wasn't easy. i turned the gas off and was going to give it a few minutes when i decided to give it one last go.

forgot to turn the gas back on and she fired right up. coincidence or is this thing too rich to start easily? when we bought the bike it was owned by a junior racer-kid. (he sold this but kepy his new yz250f). he had a loud pipe, uni air filter, re-jetted carb, snorkle removed.

well, we like quiet bikes, so i put the stock exhaust back on, replaced the original jets (he kept EVERYTHING he ever replaced or took off this thing) and put the snorkle back in.

is it possible i need to rip that snorkle out again? he said he didn't change the fuel screw, it was stock position. i tried starting it full choke, half choke, no choke. and last weekend after about 70 kicks i held it wide open thinking it must certainly be flooded. nothing helped. today i turned the gas OFF and it fired first kick. odd, innit? i'm thinking it was coincidence. there was still fuel in the tube from the petcock to the carb, right?

we're riding tomorrow morning and i'm filled with trepidation.

matt

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