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Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Bike won't start (intermittent)
« on: March 29, 2014, 04:58:58 AM »
This is the second time now I've taken the Transalp out for a ride and it won't start (mid-ride, of course).

The specs:
2009 Honda Transalp
18,000km
stock everything

The situation:
Bike starts right up in the garage (two out of the last two times at least)
Ride for a while, stopping the engine with the kill switch (as I've done for every bike I've owned)
Do whatever (fill up, take a photo) and try to start the bike - no go.

The battery is strong and the bike turns over and over, but won't catch. After a while (10, 20 minutes?) and a few repeated tries, the bike will eventually kick right over like nothing was ever wrong.

- The bike would not bump start (coasted down a mountain road for a mile before I ran out of mountain)
- The battery is strong
- Played with the side stand, clutch, neutral, kill switch, knowing that they could be weak points.

Odd note on the first time this happened: I had 3 (out of 6) bars of fuel when I stopped. When I tried to start the bike again it showed only one. After the bike eventually started it was back up to three. I had to stop again before getting home that day for fuel and after filling up, the bike kicked right over on the first try.


The only thing this bike is "known" for is a weak CDI, but apparently the newer bikes (ie, mine) don't have this problem. So we're thinking spark... but what triggers the spark?


Any suggestions are appreciated, as my weekend ride is now squashed due to this failure. Please note that we have limited tools and no "official" space to work on the bike, so any tinkering has to be fairly small-scale. Otherwise it's going to the shop  :crazy:
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 01:57:54 PM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2014, 06:36:22 AM »
I had a motorcycle once that was hard to start when the engine was hot.  Is it overheating??? 

Just a thought. 

Offline Stormcrow

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2014, 07:28:48 AM »
My first thought is a bad ignition coil or coils. There was some discussion of this on .net here (albeit for an earlier version of the Transalp):
 
http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php?topic=74331.0

It is not unheard of for bad coils to cause a failure to start when hot, then function after cooling off.
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Offline coucours grad

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2014, 10:46:20 AM »
need to do alittle troubleshooting....


Is it spark or is it fuel....


Get one of those Ghetto spark plug lights, hook it up and go for a ride.When it messes up you'll have an answer.


I've had fueling problems that acted the same way too.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2014, 10:51:19 AM »
Yes, but if the coils won't start the bike when hot, how would they keep the bike running when hot?

DD, you said the fuel gauge was only showing one bar when it wouldn't start, is it possible the bike is positioned so that you'd need to be in reserve? That would explain the low fuel, then after repositioning, it's back to 3 bars.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 11:07:05 AM »
I would seriously have the battery load tested..and make sure the connections are clean and tight...
Batteries and connections (ground issues) can cause some really strange issues.  It worth looking at, doesn't cost anything and using a process of elimination, would take that that out of the steps.
Also do you have a meter and can verify voltage output of the charging system? Step 2.. ;)

Offline Mr. Whippy

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2014, 11:19:02 AM »
Is this bike fuel injected or carbed? On carbed vehicles, no start hot can be related to vapor lock.

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2014, 12:30:28 PM »
Can you get to the spark plug without removing too much?
If so, when the bike does not start, remove the spark plug wire from one of the plugs and put another spark plug in its place. lay the plug on the engine (ground it) then crank away and watch the plug. If there is spark you know it's a fuel problem and if no spark well you know what is missing.
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Offline Scratch

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2014, 12:35:13 PM »
Not sure how relevant this is, but my GL1800 would do that on occasion - just crank and crank while out during a ride but refuse to start, until it had sat for awhile - and the problem turned out to be the 'ignition pulse generator'.

Offline mxvet57

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2014, 02:12:48 PM »
Not sure how relevant this is, but my GL1800 would do that on occasion - just crank and crank while out during a ride but refuse to start, until it had sat for awhile - and the problem turned out to be the 'ignition pulse generator'.


 :withstupid:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2014, 03:26:13 PM »
Not sure how relevant this is, but my GL1800 would do that on occasion - just crank and crank while out during a ride but refuse to start, until it had sat for awhile - and the problem turned out to be the 'ignition pulse generator'.

I had thae same problem-but it turned out to be the coils.
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Offline Max Wedge

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2014, 04:05:27 PM »
Yes, but if the coils won't start the bike when hot, how would they keep the bike running when hot?

Heat soak. When the cooling system is off, the temp will rise. Try this on your car, after fully warmed up (especially when hot outside) turn the car off but keep the gauges running. Sometimes you can notice this if you stop for 5 minutes and go to restart the vehicle and the temp gauge will spike, but quickly return to normal when the cooling system is running again.

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Offline PatM

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2014, 05:03:18 PM »
Not sure how relevant this is, but my GL1800 would do that on occasion - just crank and crank while out during a ride but refuse to start, until it had sat for awhile - and the problem turned out to be the 'ignition pulse generator'.


 :withstupid:

 :withstupid: Too

Go for the easy (cheap) first. Check all grounds. Check the fuel filter if easily accessible.

Unless it's a plugged up fuel filter, which I doubt, a fuel problem would be an expensive problem in a Transalp. It's a fuel injected bike. That would be a problem with a relay, electronics unit or a fuel pump.

I would look at the coils or other electronics as the cause of the problem.
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Offline JReazor

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2014, 08:31:50 PM »
I just skimmed the responses so I apologize if this has been suggested.

Could it be vapor lock in the fuel line? Have you tried opening the gas cap to see if it will burp when this is happening?

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2014, 12:19:02 PM »
Thanks for the replies everyone!

We took our weekend trip anyway, using the train instead of the bikes  :redface:

I have the service manual on pdf so I'll have to see if I can find out where the battery, spark plugs and coil are  :facepalm: (this is no KLR, that's for sure!). We'll go for the easy fixes, of course - we just what sure what they would be. I'll check in again a couple of days after we get a chance to check things out  :thumbsup:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2014, 12:46:46 PM »
Hi Colleen what you're describing is exactly what my trans-alp was doing when I was fixing it up. I wouldn't start or it would die on me on a ride. It's a known problem with the fuel petcock I would replace or use a rebuild kit. This is a known problem with the trans alp they go bad fast. I would also check the fuel filter. One other problem with the alp is a neutral safety switch located just above the front sprocket it is a single green wire the gets coded in Greece from the chain and the chain oil. Try these I think your bike be running a lot better more stable.
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Offline chornbe

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2014, 01:21:20 PM »
I'm with scratch. Pulse or cdi.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2014, 02:17:27 PM »
Hi Colleen what you're describing is exactly what my trans-alp was doing when I was fixing it up. I wouldn't start or it would die on me on a ride.
Except that the bike runs like a top and has never given me any problems once it is running.

It's a known problem with the fuel petcock I would replace or use a rebuild kit. This is a known problem with the trans alp they go bad fast.
It's a 2009 - to the best of my knowledge, there is no petcock  :redface:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2014, 05:37:38 PM »
Not sure how relevant this is, but my GL1800 would do that on occasion - just crank and crank while out during a ride but refuse to start, until it had sat for awhile - and the problem turned out to be the 'ignition pulse generator'.


 :withstupid:


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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2014, 09:27:19 PM »
My first thought is a bad ignition coil or coils. There was some discussion of this on .net here (albeit for an earlier version of the Transalp):
 
http://www.sport-touring.net/forums/index.php?topic=74331.0

It is not unheard of for bad coils to cause a failure to start when hot, then function after cooling off.


I like this answer.  When you are running, the coils stay cooler due to air flow.  If the coils are located on top of the engine, you stop, heat rises straight up into them causing failure until they cool off again.   :shrug:

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2014, 12:46:08 AM »
I like this answer.  When you are running, the coils stay cooler due to air flow.  If the coils are located on top of the engine, you stop, heat rises straight up into them causing failure until they cool off again.   :shrug:

I would like this answer too, if it hadn't been for the time when I stopped only long enough to fill the tank and yet the bike started right up again (this was the on the trip when it happened for the first time). In addition, I would expect that coasting down a cold spring mountain road in an attempt to bump start it would have cooled it down considerably compared to just having it sit in one spot.

I'm just trying to give some more details as you guys give suggestions. Like I said, we won't be able to poke at the bike until tonight or Wednesday, so nothing will happen right away on this side. Unless, of course, one of you wants to come over and check it out  :popcorn:
« Last Edit: March 31, 2014, 12:56:58 AM by Mrs. DantesDame »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2014, 01:21:54 AM »
So, have you been able to produce a spark/no-spark test when the issue is present? (reading back, appears not yet)

You might need to "get prepared" for the spark test and then take a nice, scenic trip just to reproduce the condition... Such a damned terrible experiment to deal with...
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2014, 06:18:25 AM »
I like this answer.  When you are running, the coils stay cooler due to air flow.  If the coils are located on top of the engine, you stop, heat rises straight up into them causing failure until they cool off again.   :shrug:

I would like this answer too, if it hadn't been for the time when I stopped only long enough to fill the tank and yet the bike started right up again (this was the on the trip when it happened for the first time). In addition, I would expect that coasting down a cold spring mountain road in an attempt to bump start it would have cooled it down considerably compared to just having it sit in one spot.

I'm just trying to give some more details as you guys give suggestions. Like I said, we won't be able to poke at the bike until tonight or Wednesday, so nothing will happen right away on this side. Unless, of course, one of you wants to come over and check it out  :popcorn:

The spark idea - either coil or cdi/pulse unit - is still a good one. It takes WAY more power to spark while cranking than to just spark while riding down the road.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2014, 07:36:05 AM »
I would add the suggestion of you not use the kill switch for a while (I know, habits are hard to break) as that's the easiest possible source of failure you can eliminate.
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Offline PatM

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2014, 09:44:41 AM »
I would add the suggestion of you not use the kill switch for a while (I know, habits are hard to break) as that's the easiest possible source of failure you can eliminate.

Kill switches have been known to fail but the engine wouldn't turn over. I understand from Mrs D's first post that it does. Or does it?
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2014, 09:47:54 AM »
Alright!  Our very own, in-house version of "Stump the Chumps".
We'll be waiting breathlessly for the solution to the mystery.  :popcorn:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2014, 09:51:39 AM »
Alright!  Our very own, in-house version of "Stump the Chumps".
We'll be waiting breathlessly for the solution to the mystery.  :popcorn:
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A trip to Switzerland.  (at your own expense)
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2014, 10:19:41 AM »
Cold solder joint in the CDI circuit that opens after a heat soak? DAMHIK.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #28 on: March 31, 2014, 11:00:09 AM »
Have you tried turning off and back on again?

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #29 on: March 31, 2014, 11:04:00 AM »
Kill switches have been known to fail but the engine wouldn't turn over. I understand from Mrs D's first post that it does. Or does it?
It will always turn over. The actual "catching" is the tricky part.


Have you tried turning off and back on again?
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #30 on: March 31, 2014, 02:59:43 PM »
I would add the suggestion of you not use the kill switch for a while (I know, habits are hard to break) as that's the easiest possible source of failure you can eliminate.

Kill switches have been known to fail but the engine wouldn't turn over. I understand from Mrs D's first post that it does. Or does it?
I've had bikes that would turn over when the kill switch is in 'kill'. Sprint for sure, other's I can't recall which.  I don't consider it a good design.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2014, 04:09:03 PM »
Get a Velosolex?
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2014, 04:26:04 PM »
I would add the suggestion of you not use the kill switch for a while (I know, habits are hard to break) as that's the easiest possible source of failure you can eliminate.

This -- if nothing else, it will remove the switch from the list of potential causes.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2014, 04:40:55 PM »
When the problem occurs check, fuel, air, spark, compression. Figure out which one is missing.  8)  I would start with removing a plug wire and connected a new spark plug (just carry one along, no need to remove the installed units) to it. Try to start and check for spark.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2014, 09:03:31 PM »
Is it plugged in?

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2014, 10:30:48 PM »
It's a Honda not a Zero.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2014, 10:52:16 PM »
It's a Honda not a Zero.

If it were a Honda, it WOULDN'T be broken!   :blbl:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2014, 05:54:21 AM »
I would add the suggestion of you not use the kill switch for a while (I know, habits are hard to break) as that's the easiest possible source of failure you can eliminate.

Kill switches have been known to fail but the engine wouldn't turn over. I understand from Mrs D's first post that it does. Or does it?
I've had bikes that would turn over when the kill switch is in 'kill'. Sprint for sure, other's I can't recall which.  I don't consider it a good design.

My Suzuki kill button did the same thing to me a couple of times. I took it apart and resembled it. Haven't had the problem since. If it had reoccurred, I would have replaced it.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2014, 08:19:21 AM »
I pulled the seat and side plastics off today to check the battery and connections. We didn't find anything suspect. Not really having the ambition nor the space to do much more, we walked over to the dealership where I bought the bike and I gave the guy some shit about my "reliable Honda" having trouble  :naughty: (he's the one who encouraged me NOT to get a BMW because they "break down all of the time" - I should have listened to my gut and bought a BMW anyway).

ANYWAY... the point is that I'm going to drop the bike off, but not until after Easter. So the mystery will remain a mystery for a while longer  :redface:
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Offline kneescrubber

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2014, 03:02:32 PM »
I love mysteries. Fodder for your next book?  ;D
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #40 on: April 26, 2014, 04:15:54 AM »
Mystery (theoretically) solved!

I let the shop do all of the electrical sniffing and snooping and after checking it all over, it came down to a dirty kill switch.


Frustrating because if I'd had my old garage this is probably something that we could have easily fixed. Oh well - its done and it is time to go riding  :thumbsup:
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Offline kneescrubber

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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #41 on: April 26, 2014, 08:13:27 AM »
Glad it wasn't something major.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #42 on: April 26, 2014, 09:36:53 AM »
Glad it's fixed!  Did anyone call that? 
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2014, 09:43:37 AM »
Glad it's fixed!  Did anyone call that?

It was mentioned as one of many possibilities.


The bike is still for sale though  :bigsmile:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2014, 01:39:14 PM »
Velosolex.  :gerg:
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2014, 08:09:35 PM »
So i guess there won't be any book.
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Re: Bike won't start (intermittent)
« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2014, 01:37:15 PM »
There might be a book, but it won't be about the Honda  8)
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