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Honda Spada wouldn't start: has anyone (in Brunswick, Vic) got a voltage meter and/or charger?

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by samtastic, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. #1 samtastic, Oct 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    hello fellow Netriders!

    This time yesterday, i was a very grumpy netrider. But now it's my 21st and Im feeling a little happier (i got my bike started).

    here is a little background info on my bike: Honda Spada VT250(J) purchased in August. 1990, 34,000km. She seems to be in good condition (that's coming from a mechanic who owns an old VT250F). Having said that, I haven't got her maintenance history and judging by the state of her oil (filthy - im waiting for an O-ring, then im going to change it) and the state of the brake fluid (it had started to crystallise in the rear brake tube - didn't look like it had been changed in about 10 years)...she might not have been given the attention she deserved in the past. As i said though, when running, she sounds and feels great - smooth and responsive.

    So on the weekend of the 26th/27th September I took her to the mechanics to give her some love. I had the brakes drained and the valve clearances checked. Although the rear brake fluid was almost-solid, the valves weren't too bad; "a little tight on the intakes" (from memory).

    OK, here is the tale:

    Last Thursday (the 1st Oct) after work (about 10pm) I had trouble getting my Honda Spada VT250 (1990, 34,000km) to start. The engine turned over fine, but it didn't seem to want to fire. Anyway, i got it started after a couple of attempts, put it down to a cold engine, and rode home.

    Over the weekend the problem seemed to get worse. I noticed that cold starting it was particularly troublesome (I was using choke - either half or full, depending on whether or not it had been a while since I'd last started her, but even this didn't seem to always help... also, if it wasn't particularly cold weather, i'd try without the choke at first).

    This is the procedure I follow to start my bike: kick up sidestand, turn key in ignition, check kill switch, apply choke (if it's cold) - either half of full, apply about 1cm of throttle, then hold the start button for a sec. This worked for me for the previous month (only had my spada since August) without any problems : )

    Once the problems started, i seemed to notice that if i managed to get her going, and warm her up, i would be able to get her started easier.... however, as the weekend progressed, it got harder and harder to start her.

    Monday morning: could not get her to start at all *insert the grumpy netrider*

    she would turn over as per usual, but just would not fire.

    My first thoughts were perhaps that I had mucked up the carby or fuel intake or something similar. Since having her, I've run her out of petrol twice (accidentally the first time, and the second time to test out the mileage per tank). Perhaps in doing this, i sucked 19-years-worth (since 1990) of sediment, from the fuel tank, into the engine.

    So i spent much of monday and tuesday trying to work out what could be wrong. and trying to get her going. I havne't got a spark plug spanner, so i haven't checked them. But I also thought: if it were the plugs, surely she wouldn't run so smoothly once started? Correct me if im wrong, but the plugs fire after every compression of the engine, right?

    I dug out the manual and attempted to pull the carby out also. but i wasn't sure on how disconnect the throttle and choke cables. So i didn't complete that little project (and im not sure i'd have the confidence to dismantle the carby - PS, what do you clean it with?).

    Anyway, as i kept trying to start her, i noticed that she was turning slower and slower.... suggesting that i was running the battery flat.

    Since reading this thread: https://netrider.net.au/forums/showthread.php?t=104644 ("Engine cranks but will not start - Honda VTR 250") and this one https://netrider.net.au/forums/showthread.php?t=96148&highlight=kill+switch&page=4 ("Honda CBR250RR wont start - full scenario")... and then seeing this video "How to bump start a motorcycle" [media=youtube]PXl3RnBWbE0[/media] .... I began thinking that perhaps my problem was/is with the battery.

    Perhaps the battery is a little old and is losing charge. It's still able to power the lights and horn, but doesn't quite have the umph to get the motor going. So i push started my bike and got her going this morning! Wooo! (happy birthday to me).

    So.... before I run out and buy a new battery, are there any fellow Netriders in the Brunswick area who have a voltage meter and/or a battery charger? Im happy to ride over your way (maybe not today, as I imagine some heavy drinking shall take place this arvo). Perhaps tomorrow or soon?

    PS sorry i stopped PMing you Dtwo... I've been getting an error message the last two days:

    "Method Not Implemented

    POST to /forums/private.php not supported.
    Apache Server at netrider.net.au Port 80"

    PPS Dtwo and i have been discussing this the last few days, his suggestion was that "...the tune is off, since getting the carbs balanced and the valves done."

    Now that i've got her running again, i could take her to a mechanic. But first i'd like to check/charge/change the battery and see if that helps
  2. Hey sam,

    Happy 21st (y)

    I'm sorry to hear your problem is continuing, I'd assumed you'd managed to sort it out.

    I think the low battery probably has more to do with your efforts to get it started than being the problem itself (assuming it's been turning over briskly during your attempts), from what you described you have been giving the battery a workout lately :)

    I think sediment (although it wouldn't be running all the great when you did get it started if this is the main problem) or mechanic has buggered something up if it were starting reliably before the valve/carby work.

    At least with roll starting you have an alternative :) ....lol
  3. If there's an auto shop or a garage with mechanic nearby, maybe you could take the battery there to have it checked/charged. Last month, after around 2 1/2 years mine died (the battery that is) on the Spada, was a pain in the arse having to push start it each morning for a fortnight. Tried charging it up, still had to push start it though and then took it to a local bike shop where it was confirmed it was no more. New battery, no problems, and now off to its new owner tomorrow.

    Ps, Happy Frigging 21st.:birthday:

  4. thanks guys : )
    Everything 2 Wheels is close to me, perhaps i'll see if they can help out.

    As for the mechanic messing something up, if he had, wouldn't the problem have started straight away? The problem didn't seem to start until four days later. He gave me the impression he knew what he was doing.... but you could be right.

    Will have to get the battery checked then report back (all post 21st celebrations of course).
  5. Oh, I had the impression it was pretty soon after the mechanic worked on the bike......

    Back to the sediment idea I guess,

    The battery will be pretty tired now, if it's of unknown age and you have drained it heavily, chances are, you have shortened it's life dramatically and it won't hold a good charge anymore.
  6. An update:

    I replaced the battery today. This has improved things a little but she's taking longer to fire than she did when I first got her. Also, I just got home from work (10:30pm, Thursday - it's now been a week since the problem started)... I couldn't get her started after work, to push start her (had a work mate kindly offer to push me while I let the clutch out).

    However, once I got home and shut the engine off, I was able to start her up again ok (again, not as easily as when I first got her).

    Tried to change the oil today. But i cannot get the drainage bolt loosened. Tried WD40. Still can't get it.

    Tomorrow Im going to head to InTryre (they're open on Sundays til 2pm and are near me) and see if I can get someone to loosen them for me, get a spark plug spanner, a new set of plugs and perhaps an air filter element.

    What exactly does the air filter (not the oil filter) do? Could this affect starting her up? I know i need to change my current air filter element, and my oil is filthy.

    Is it possible the starter motor is on its last legs? What would that sound like?
    If so, will a bunch of different start motors fit in a spada? (ie will a CB250's suffice? sure I could track one down at a wreckers)

    If it were the carbie, would that affect how she rode once started too? (because she's riding smoothly... my only problem is with starting her)

    Tomorrow I plan to take some photos for you all, and a video too - so you can see/hear the problem. I'd like to try and work out where abouts the problem is before I start bringing a mechanic into the equation (or it's something simple, do it myself).

    it's nice to be riding (if unreliably) again : )
  7. well it seems I've got my problem sorted. On sunday i headed to InTyre motorcylces (Nicholson St, North Fitzroy - can recommend them strongly! Andrew, the mechanic who looked after me - and the owner too, i think - is a champion. clearly a man in love with motorbikes) and had the oil and filter changed (i could not get the drainage bolt loose... at all) and the spark plugs changed.

    i told him the whole sad story and he recommended i change to either Caltex or BP premium 95... and never Shell (which I later realised, I had filled up with on the thursday that it all started)... and Dtwo, he also thinks she could be badly tuned... I'll get him to have a look when I've got some more cash.

    Since then, I've managed to get her started first time, every time : )


    thanks for your input guys. and def recommend InTyre Motorcycles... they're open 7 days too ; )
  8. Glad to hear you're making some progress, there's nothing worse than not being able to trust your bike......
  9. spoke to soon! couldn't get her started yesterday (it was chilly and wet)... tried for a good hour (push starting included). Think i started to flatten the battery. So gave in, threw the battery on the charger overnight and tried again this morning.

    I got her started.... i had the choke about 3/4 engaged, gave her a bit of throttle, but then when i let her down to idle she cut out. could this be just because the engine hadn't warmed up yet? or a tuning issue perhaps?

    so then i couldn't get her to start again. eventually got her to roll start. gave her some revs and kept it going. i then adjusted the idle so that she now idles at about 1700rpm (the manual recommends 1300rpm).... but that way i can close the throttle and she won't die on me.

    probably wont get too many opportunities to take her to the mechanic this weekend (a 21st tonight and the Maya festival on Saturday)... but i think ill pop into InTyre again early next week and see how much (roughly) it would cost to get her tuned... im pretty sure i can't afford it right now anyway : (

    bring on the warm weather! she seems much easier to start when the temperature is better.
  10. PS

    quick question:

    apart from consuming more fuel, will running the idle high have any detrimental effects on my bike?
  11. What grade of oil is in it? I've noticed with my wife's spada that it doesn't like to start if the oil is thicker than spec. Just doesn't seem to have the power to keep it running until the oil warms up a bit.
  12. Your carbies are running too rich and you are slowly fouling plugs. The new plugs cleared it up for a while, but now it is back.

    Get the carbies serviced, cleaned, float height set and balanced. Then you will need to have the idle screw set properly.
  13. How much is this likely to set one back? I'm getting some plug fouling and also considering replacing the horridly scratched exhaust on my girl. I'm just up the road from Everything 2 Wheels too, it turns out. Valve clearances need fixing too. Anyone have any comments/reports on them?
  14. mine has been behaving herself lately : )

    i think the warmer weather has made a difference.

    regarding oil, im pretty sure im using the right type.

    when the colder seasons approach again, i'll look into getting the carbie checked and the valves done. I recommend McIntyre motorcycles on Nicholson St. Those guys are great. Everything 2 Wheels looks pretty good too.

    Good luck with it. Let me know how much it sets you back (will give me an idea of how much to save)
  15. Just a bit of encouragement here.....

    Spadas are not temperamental bikes, they should start without any hassle when in tune and healthy (not clapped out)........regardless of the weather, brand or type of fuel, oil (assuming it has some), position of the moon, mood of the rider, horoscope.......etc

    I would expect a service involving checking/adjustment of valve clearances, carbie balancing/adjustment/cleaning etc to be at least $400-500 (probably more, at some expensive places) at most mechanics as it can be labour intensive compared to your usual change fluids/check style normal service and could cost more depending on what problems are discovered in the process.
  16. has been a while between posts:

    should let everyone know that my problem was down to dirty carbies.

    got her serviced at Intyre Motorcycles about 12 months back and all has been well since

    : )

    so if anyone is going through a similar problem, can recommend having the carbies looked at.
  17. Literally it filters the air. It traps the dust and any other particles in the air, stopping them from getting into your engine, which if they did would increase engine wear.

    If your air filter is old/dirty then it will be harder for air to pass through. This will affect your mixture, effectively making it richer. This can contribute to starting difficulties.

    If in doubt replace the filter. If it's a reusable filter clean it.

    All the idle stop does is increase the throttle. While you are riding on throttle it should have no effect since you should have the throttle open past the throttle stop point anyway.

    When you idle it will simply be like revving the bike slightly and won't do much harm and won't use much more fuel. Running richer will use more fuel.

    However under braking with the clutch not engaged the engine will be trying to run harder. No biggie but be aware.

    However, increasing idle is only playing with the symptoms. Get the bike checked out properly.

  18. cheers mate.
    got her sorted last year. just came back to let people know what the problem was (in case another newbie comes along with a similar problem)