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Old 14 Aug 2011
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Quick help please....

Looking at a 1986 XT600 Yamaha but WORRIED about the lack of an elec starter. THe seller of course says its never been an issue, 1 or 2 kicks. I am later 50's and weight 148 lbs, what you say??????

please rush reply to burrpenick 'at' gmail DOT cOm

PS: Does the battery need to have a charge for it to start with the kicker?????
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Old 14 Aug 2011
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My 1984 (43F) is still a bitch to start cold, but starts first kick when warm if I apply choke (therefore there is still something in the primary carb that I haven't bottomed out yet).

(1 kick only counts when you have kicked it over to find TDC - an average of 3 strokes of the kicker).

Have a look on YouTube - search on "XT600 kick start" and you will find out how easy it is to start a a well set up XT600. Including people that weigh lots less than you. Here is a good example

The automatic decompressor plus the ignition circuit make it much easier than old fashioned kick start bikes. And the ignition circuit prevents kick backs too, so don't worry about getting chucked over the handlebars.

The ignition circuit is independant of the charging circuit - they have separate coils on the stator. So, the battery has no influence on how well it starts.

Good luck.
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Old 15 Aug 2011
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A frank and honest answer must be -

If you are hessitant and nervous then FORGET IT.

Any BIG thumper (single cylinder) trailee is never going to be easy to kick start.

I have a friend who broke his ankle trying to kickstart a Honda XR650.

The older we get the less likely we are able to deal with things like this. My advice is therefore "look at getting a late XT600E which ONLY has an electric start".

I'm a 47 year old biker with a knackered back. I wouldn't even attempt to kick start my Honda XBR anymore. My XT's are both electric start only.

All the very best.
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

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Old 23 Aug 2011
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Really surprised this one didn't generate more comments. Or perhaps you all agree with my frank advice? lol....

Then again, what's the point of posting a question if you never intend to reply to the answers (or thank others for taking the time to reply). Takes all sorts I guess...
Triumph Bonneville 800 (2004), Yamaha XT600E (1999), Honda XBR500 (1986).

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Old 24 Aug 2011
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Electric start all the way.

+1 for electric start.

Just need to keep the battery serviced and charged.
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Old 24 Aug 2011
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I bought a kickstart only XR600 Honda when I was in my mid 40's and 15+ yrs later I still have it. I've kickstarted that bike under just about every condition imaginable from hub deep in sand in the Sahara to hub deep in snow in the Alps, in torrential rain, in freezing cold, on the start line at Silverstone, in bogs and, worst of all, at the head of traffic queues in London when it stalls at lights. My considered opinion is that kickstarting a 600 single, particularly a trailie where the kickstart is likely to be high off the ground, sucks!

If you've ever had a small 2-smoke kicking it over is easy - just fold out the lever and kick. You can even do it sitting on the bike. There is a knack to getting a 600 single going- even with the autolinkage between the decompressor and the kickstart. The piston has to be in exactly the right place, the kick has to be of the right type and you have to be in the right part of the carburation cycle. Get any of those wrong and you're going nowhere - unless it's over the handlebars when it kicks back (usually when you do a half hearted kick).

Don't underestimate the amount of physical effort needed. It's one thing to start it up in two kicks on a sunny summer day when you're dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. It's quite another to do it on freezing winter morning when you're cocooned in multiple layers of clothing and you can't bend your knee enough even to reach the kickstart never mind move it. And I won't even mention the balancing act required to fire it up on a diesel covered off camber filling station forecourt. At times like that it's easier to give any local kids a small amount of money to push start you.

My advice - make sure if it's supposed to have an electric start that it does - and that it works. Any cost or weight saving will be more than compensated for in sweat and wailing and knashing of teeth very quickly.
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Old 25 Aug 2011
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I agree with the sentiments above. I've owned several 600-650 dual sports some kick start only and some electric. Once you get the technique right kicking over a 600/650 is usually OK and quite satisfying and impresses your friends. But the important word is usually - you always get the occasional day where the fuel is off, or you do it too half heartedly the first few times and wet the plug or it just doesn't like the weather or....these moments are usually combined with you being in a hurry, feeling sick, stuck in traffic...then kick starts on big singles absolutely suck.

If you can, get one with electric start - you won't regret it in the long run. Ideally on a travel bike have both which is what my old KLR650 has - electric for convenience, kick as backup (although unless your travelling to remote areas you can usually manage to jump start a bike from a friendly car or do a push start using locals so again a kick starter is more nice to have and not really essential).

Good luck with the bike hunt.

back on the road again

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Old 25 Aug 2011
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Kick start...........just say no.......had the pain and displeasure of a kick start and now I have electric I ll never go back. I am trying to rebuild an 86 tenere back from kick to electric,if it does not work i will put the kickstart engine back in and sell as is!
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Old 25 Aug 2011
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Without a doubt, an electric start is far easier. I've never known a starter to give problems on an XT600E. Mine never did. Just put a good battery in and look after it. If you're worried, get a magic button.

I've owned plenty of kick start bikes as well as the infamous XR650R ankle breaker mentioned earlier.

If you can't kick your bike over in 2-3 good kicks from COLD then you have a bad set up.. PERIOD !!

My XR650 took ten kicks when I bought her, by increasing the small pilot and playing with the jet screw it boomed into life in ONE kick... ALWAYS !!

The big bikes have auto decompression levers or sometimes it's automatic. If you learn to the use it properly (its not hard to learn), it's makes a huge difference.

Obviously, kicking over a big single in a pair of trainers/walking boots is asking for a bruised shin. These bikes are designed to be kicked while wearing motocross tyre footwear. Wearing these boots makes kicking over VERY VERY easy indeed, especially on a warm engine.

Still, if I was going overland then I'd want the button for simple convenience.
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