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Hi, I've got a 1983 XT600 34L that seems to be a bit of a problem starter, I can't find anything obvious mechanically and tried loads if variations of technique etc. for starting it but nothing gives consistent results, nearest I have come up with so far is to kick it with choke on and no throttle until it spits a bit then choke off and keep kicking (and cursing/praying) with a little throttle on but it's far from an easy starter. So any suggestions for different methods would be welcome.
It's here in this forum. Someone called it that, the holy grail. How to start an XT 600.
I have had mine for 3 years and i still can not start it on demand every time. Like a battle of wills, i do not always win.
There are things that make it easier:
You must set your decompression cable correctly. Research it.
If you have a dirty fuel tank and/or a leaky float needle or if your engine is not in a good condition, take the bus. Get the parts and fix it.
You must consider the temperature. Cold and choke you will need. How much you will learn. Mostly full choke. And NO THROTTLE. ALWAYS.
You must learn where to 'park' the crankshaft before you kick. Very important and not easy. You can listen to the clicks the decompressor makes.
Or you can find TDC at nearly the end of the kickstart stroke. Viewed from the side the lever should be at 7 o'clock and piston at top dead centre firing position.
Now release the lever to the top and calmly push down. If it does not start, kick again from the top. The engine stops in the right place, no need to find TDC.
Starting from hot is the same. Just no choke. And NO THROTTLE.
It is said that one can start and XT with the hand, and i believe it. There is no compression, taken care of by decompressor.
But not always. Sometimes i am not perceptive enough.
Cold; after 4 kicks with full choke and not started, it will be too rich and will not start.
Hot; 4 kicks (without choke) and it can be too rich and will not start.
At this point i want to walk away. Hey, it's not my bike, just trying to steal it...
Here i learned:
When failed starting cold, open the choke. Open and hold the throttle wide, gently kick the engine over a few times to dry it out. Now try starting again. If it starts you will need a little throttle to keep it going.
When failed starting hot, also open the throttle wide and gently kick the engine over 4 or 5 times to dry it out. You may want to operate the kill switch here to avoid a backfire. Now try starting again.
These steps may be repeated until you learn just what your XT is telling you and the engine starts.
It's also a great way to save that magnesium clutch cover from fracture due to booting the engine over compression.
Thanks for all that, it should keep me occupied for a while trying different things, I've definitely walked away from it a few times!
It does backfire sometimes when I have been kicking it with the choke on for a while but once it starts it runs OK, has to get warmed up before it will idle. It also backfires when I stop it using the switch on the throttle but not usually when I turn it off using the key.
I rebuilt it a few months back from a bit of a basket case and the inlet rubbers seemed OK but I will check them again, it also had a carb service kit at the same time, float needle seals etc.
Checked the inlets and the plug colour looks good so I don't think it is sucking air from somewhere it shouldn't and there is a good spark but still haven't found a starting technique that seems remotely consistent.
Have been searching other posts for info and a couple mention getting the ignition timing right but the manual I have says it is fixed, is there any way to adjust it?
Might be making some progress, took the carbs off and stripped them down again and everything seemed OK but noticed when putting them back on that the choke plunger was only coming about half way out and couldn't find any way of getting it to open fully just using the control on the bars, I have checked the 'fingers' for rough bits and put loads of grease on so can't see why it wont run to the end. I currently have a loop of wire twisted round it and hanging out over the oil cooler and it starts a lot better when this is pulled fully out. I think I can live with just pulling the bit of wire but it would be nice to get it working properly if anyone has any suggestions.
As I was told recently, have the lights switched off and don't hold the brake lever in either. With no battery, it's best to have all the current go just to the spark, that's if your bike is batteryless. Lindsay.
Didn't know you could run them without a battery, but I never have the lights on when starting. I have been holding the front brake on to lock the throttle shut but I have put a LED back light on and it only uses 100 mA.
Now that I have found the choke problem it is starting fairly consistently within about 6 kicks from cold, warm starting can still be a bit hit-or-miss.
I've got a kickstart-only TTR, didn't and don't know about the XT's which these are based on. The TTR has no battery or electrical gubbins related to electric starters. It's really only a just-roadlegal dirt bike. Lindsay.
Location: Buenos Aires,City of good sex,mate and asado!
Owning an 1985 55W when I rebuild it,had dificulties to start,and when hot most times was imposible to restart again!Tried all other stuff,carbs,valves etc ,no luck!
One day(2 month later) started to die after 10 min of riding it.
In the end the pick up coil gave up and we find it out because there was no resistance,was open!
So they rebuild that part to new and let me tell you by just thinking of starting that think comes allmost allone!
Remember the pick up comes with the stator as part!
Try to replace with a second alternator(from a friend) to try starting it.
It is getting to be a fairly reliable starter when cold now that I have found the problem with the choke control but hot starts can be a bit variable. I checked the resistances on all the windings in the generator and spark coil and they were very near the values given in the manual I have.
Starting a hot engine is way more difficult that cold, provided you have a working choke.
Cable chokes are reported as yours, maybe not so bad, many say they use a finger to pull the choke fully before kicking. A new cable correctly adjusted will help.
Note: all xt600s, ignition is independent of the battery, have a separate coil to generate power for your spark. Leave all the lights on. Will not change the intensity of the spark. Not 600es, think they are different...sorry, they ARE different
Hot starting technique i use: the engine usually stops in the correct position to kick, and starts 1st kick 9 out of 10 times. Occasionally i hit compression with 1/2 a kick and have to turn the engine. That introduces another charge of fuel/air mixture and is sometimes too rich to fire. 2 more kicks without starting and it will definitely not start. Trick is to open the throttle wide and kick the engine over gently 3 or 4 times to dry it. Opening the throttle wide pumps only air thru' the cylinder, no fuel. Now close the throttle and kick. Works for me.
Location: Buenos Aires,City of good sex,mate and asado!
In my case allways before kicking i move the piston one complete cicle untill the decompression makes that "clack".Then firmly kick and allways 1K to go!
If i try to start not doing the descript above:It could start half way compression,or it will not.Then do as you described:-)
Kicking a BIG Jap single is NEVER going to be easy or risk free.
I know someone who literally snapped their ankle trying to kick start a Honda XR650 in winter! It was a compound fracture and the ankle bone actually pierced his skin. Not nice.... Poor chap still walks with a limp. He rides a 650 Burgman scooter now and who can blame him...
'Starting a big Jap single...'
Don,t think so. Maybe a big Brit single. Don't know the Honda but have never heard such.
The XT500 needed care but the 600 has a fool-proof, no, that's wrong. A fool may get hurt in strange ways.
The decompresson system on 600 is automatic, adjustable, and works. It took me 2+ years learning to start mine on demand. Never did it ever even seem to kick back. Often backfired but that was only mixture in the silencer.
Electric start adds weight, and the 600e '90 on do not inspire. Sadly even earlier E start models had flaws.
But best is that glow of satisfaction one gets occasionally, when there are spectators and you start up 1st kick
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