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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Honda Shadow: Problem at startup.

I have a 96 Honda Shadow VLX 600, and I am having a problem when I start the bike up. Maybe someone can help.

Let me say at the start that I am a new rider, and I have never worked on engines, so my knowledge base is a bit limited. Here is what is happening.

When I got the bike, all was fine. As part of the start up process, I would open the choke to let the engine warm up, and it started like a charm. That is after I replaced the battery. After about three weeks of this, I was riding and I lost power going up a hill in third gear. I pulled off the road, fiddled with some things, choke in, choke out, turn off the starter, turn on the starter, and it started up again. Off I went. I got about 100 ft, and again it conked out.

I coasted into a gas station, and some motorcycle guys were there. It turns out I had been running with the choke in too much, and I had bogged down the spark plugs. I became much more mindful of putting the choke back in.

A few days ago (and two months later) I could not get the bike to start. I pulled the spark plugs and they seemed kind of dirty, so I replaced them. Started like a charm. I went out for a ride, and all seemed well.

The next day, I started out for an appointment. I opened the choke, and after about five minutes, I closed the choke, and started riding. About ten minutes later, I started to lose power. Again I pulled off the road, fiddled, and got it started. I turned around and jumped into my car.

Thinking that the past mishap with the choke had created some other gunk in various lines, I bought some fuel cleaner, and added it to the half full tank. I then filled up, and went on a rise to flush the system. It went fine. Two days later I went to start it up, and after having the choke open for about five minutes, it conked out. It then had a hard time starting.

So the question is: What is going on? On a related note, how long should it take to warm up the bike? Is five minutes enough, or should I leave the choke open for more time. I am concerned about my initial mis-step, so maybe I am over compensating. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 12:48 PM
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suggest you replace the plugs with same as the ones fitted - new ones!
change the air filter/cleaner element as well.

is there any misfiring at all when it loses power??
can you smell petrol fumes - like unburnt fuel?

what does the oil look like on the dipstick?? is it just oil or does it have a milky grey look to it?
wondering if you've lost a cylinder head gasket if it's losing power when warm???

might be something & nothing.

when you start the bike with choke, it will idle faster than usual.
after a few minutes running, ease the choke back in until the bike ticks over nice and even at 800 - 1000 or whatever your normal idle speed is.

if you blip the throttle it should respond straight away and rev up.
if it splutters or hesitates, it's still cold.

not always a good idea to ride with the choke on - on multi carb engines, the choke doesnt always richen the mixture on each cylinder, so you will get uneven lumpy running.

try replacing the plugs and filters, if it's stillnot right, might be best to take it to a shop and get it serviced, or have a chat with an experienced biker neighbour who might be able to help & save you some $$
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2009, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the repsponse.

The new plugs are identical to the old ones, so that is done. The oil looks like oil, and is not milky grey. I will go ahead and replace the air filter as you suggest.

There is no pop or sputter when it loses power. It just "fades". There have been "pops" in the past, but not so much since I started limiting my use of the choke, and I went to a higher gradefuel. I am now using the highest octane fuel.

The bike runs fine after the loss of power. It feels like a clog somewhere, but I have no way to back that up.

Thanks again. It is great to have access to all this knowledge.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-09-2009, 02:52 PM
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I choek for a max of 60-90 seconds. In my owner's manual it says to minimzie use of the choke as much as possible. I just rev it a little bit but th eonyl really good way to warm up an engin eis to use it. So I start out slow and easy for the first 5 minutes so the engine can warm whil eI am riding withotu undue strain. Usuall yin less than 5 minutes I am rolling like normal.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-09-2009, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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I have now added fuel cleaner and fuel stabilizer, and it is running like a charm. i have started it up three times in the last 2 days, run the choke fo ra few minutes,and closed it with no fade out.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-10-2009, 08:17 PM
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I am new to riding as well and am no mechanic BUT choking the engine for 5 minutes every time you start up in the morning is not good - you are probably messing up your plugs in no time; hence the reason it fires up when the new plugs go in.

I, like Heavy Metal Flyer, choke it for about 45 sec - 1 min depending if it's cold out or not. Then I just throttle a little bit till it's runnin smooth and let it warm up a few minutes while I put my helmet on, check my bags, etc.
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