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Old 04-13-2005, 07:02 AM   #1
Airhead OP
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Starting an airhead in cold weather?

Hey all--thought I'd poll the collective wisdom of the Old School board and see if anyone has any suggestions. I tend to ride in cold weather in the fall and spring...often when the temp is around 30deg. My '89 R100GS runs fine in the cold, but does not want to start. This morning it was 31deg when I left for work, and I had to go through my usual cold-starting routine, as follows:

Take the bike off the battery tender.

Turn on gas.

Crank it over with the choke on, and then, as one cylinder begins to fire, crack open the throttle until the other cylinder catches.

Once the second cylinder fires, the bike starts and idles fine. However, I have to keep the starter depressed until the second cylinder begins firing...if I let go of the starter button with just the one cylinder firing the bike will stall. Sometimes I have to keep the starter depressed for what seems an eternity...probably just 15 or 20 seconds, though .

The bike runs and idles fine in all other respects, and starts fine when the temp is above 40deg. It has new coils, battery, diode board, spark plugs, plug leads, fuel filters, tank and petcocks have been cleaned, and the carbs have been rebuilt.

My question is, is this just the way the bike is? Has anyone had any luck with other procedures, etc., when trying to get a cold airhead to start? Any mechanical problems that might be contributing that anyone can think of? The bike really seems to run fine...I'm just wondering if there are any tricks that would make it easier to start cold.

Thanks!
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:18 AM   #2
TEXASYETI
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I found if I keep my bike in a climate controlled building at a constant 72,5 degrees that it tends to start just fine, no matter the outside temperature.


But seriously,

Since I spend most of my time now in mississippi I ride my PD year round. My starting procedure is this:

Below 40 degree:

1.Full choke

2.little bit of throttle

3.hit the starter

4.she fires and lopes on one cylinder for a bit, i apply throttle

5.second cylinder catches I than relax the throttle hoping the gas supply form the choke takes it from there. If it stalls, go back to 2.

6.if the bike goes back to loping on one, I give more throttle and she usially will catch on two cylinders again. at that point usually the choke takes over from there and idles the bike at about 1500 - 2000

It can be a process but keeping it is the garage helps this. I've owned four R100GS's and find they all have their own starting procedure. I guess if it eventually cranks then you are good to go.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:34 AM   #3
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Yeah, the touch of throttle before you touch the starter button is the key for my Airheads. That, and having a number 45 pilot jet installed (I think stock is 40).

Jon
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bckspnrcds
I found if I keep my bike in a climate controlled building at a constant 72,5 degrees that it tends to start just fine, no matter the outside temperature.
Maybe I should ask my wife if I can keep the bike in the living room...the guy who built our house had an extra wide door installed so he could store his harley there (seriously!)

I do have a garage it's just not heated...
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:41 AM   #5
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It's essentially the same process for my airhead -- full choke, catching the throttle, yadda yadda...I think you can correct it by buying an oilhead.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdiaz
Yeah, the touch of throttle before you touch the starter button is the key for my Airheads.
I think this applies mostly to non-CV carb bikes though? My understanding, from Oak, is that it is proper to keep the throttle closed on CV carb bikes until the cylinders fire...a suggestion which has, at least on my GS, been borne out by experience. If I crack the thorttle before the cylinders fire then the choke is bypassed and the bike simply floods...

Oak did a very good job of explaining starting proceedure to me for my bike, which helped considerably. I was wondering, mostly, if anyone had any tricks up their sleeve, and/or had had similar difficult cold starting with their late-model airhead...

Thanks for the responses so far! Anyone want to design an airhead block heater?
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieGS
It's essentially the same process for my airhead -- full choke, catching the throttle, yadda yadda...I think you can correct it by buying an oilhead.


No thanks...then I'd have to ask Flug if it sucked...
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieGS
It's essentially the same process for my airhead -- full choke, catching the throttle, yadda yadda...I think you can correct it by buying an oilhead.
My R1100RS started once when it was 4F outside. Stupidest ride I ever made.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdiaz
My R1100RS started once when it was 4F outside. Stupidest ride I ever made.

Jon


I went out and got caught in the snow during a winter storm warning -- but it was a balmy 21F.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead
I think this applies mostly to non-CV carb bikes though? My understanding, from Oak, is that it is proper to keep the throttle closed on CV carb bikes until the cylinders fire...a suggestion which has, at least on my GS, been borne out by experience. If I crack the thorttle before the cylinders fire then the choke is bypassed and the bike simply floods...
Yeah, I haven't had a problem with flooding. The starting drill I use came from a local mechanic who knew that I grew up on K's and Oilheads.

Jon
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:47 AM   #11
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There's an iddy biddy "starting jet" in the bowl, itself. The orafice is very small and therefore prone to getting plugged up. It's easy to check, just pull the bowls.
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieGS
I went out and got caught in the snow during a winter storm warning -- but it was a balmy 21F.
Eek. Snow makes it interesting. I've gotten caught at work in two snowstorms in Milan so far, and ridden home in them. Luckily I've had a car to drive to work the next day, but most of the local scooterists are back out there the next morning riding to work, feet extended like outriggers.

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Old 04-13-2005, 07:50 AM   #13
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Valves?

Except for my KLR, my 95 GSPD was the best cold starting bike I've ever owned. At 10 degrees it would fire right up with full choke. How many miles on your bike? It maybe time to look at the valves. Generally, lower compression makes an engine harder to start.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:02 AM   #14
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My '92 doesn't balk much at starting in cold weather - it starts pretty much the same whether it's 35 or 70 out. It does turn over more slowly when cold, especially with the Bosch starter I put in 2 years ago - that thing seems to use alot more power than the old Valeo, it turns slower and sometimes sounds like it's straining - but the bike always fires after about the same number of revolutions (about twice around I'd guess). I have pretty much the same routine as Airhead - full choke, no throttle, then tweak the throttle as soon as it fires and then I leave it idling with the throttle locked open just a tad until it starts to rev a bit, and by then I've usually got my gloves on and am ready to roll.

A few people mention their bikes running on one cylinder for a bit until the second cylinder fires, and this could indicate the choke cables are not set the same. My bike used to run real rough on choke and started kind of hard sometimes, so a few years ago when I overhauled the carbs I took special care in setting the tension of the choke cables exactly equal. I fussed with it alot, looked inside and fiddled some more; it helped my bike alot in the starting department and now it runs much more smoothly on choke.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eurobiker
There's an iddy biddy "starting jet" in the bowl, itself. The orafice is very small and therefore prone to getting plugged up. It's easy to check, just pull the bowls.
Could be, but the carbs were cleaned last year and just a week ago...plus, I would think this would make it hard to start no matter what the weather...?
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