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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 1981 honda xl185s. I recently bought it and it is my first motorcycle. When I bought it, it wasn't running. After cleaning the carb and putting new gas in it fired right up. It was starting first kick every time for about a month. The other day, I took it out for a couple 5-10 mile rides and it seemed to be working just fine. I had the idle adjusted perfectly, I did not notice and dead spots in performance. I drove it to work, about halfway through the day, I started it up to show a coworker. It started up and ran just fine. I turned it off and there were no weird sounds or anything. When I went to start it up to drive home, it would not start. After about a half hour of tweaking and trying different things, it fired up and I kept it running for about 6 blocks. It backfired and died. From then on, I haven't been able to get it running.
I replaced the spark plug just for good measure. It has fresh high octane gas in it. Gas is at least getting to the float bowl, but I am not sure it is getting to the plug. when I take the plug out, there is no sign of moisture on it. I have compression and good spark. I have taken the carb off and cleaned it out. There are no signs of any build up or debris in the carb at all. Both jets are totally clean and you can see a perfect circle of light through them.

The xl185s does not require a battery to run, only to operate the lighting system and horn.

one more thing to mention, the brand new petcock does not seem to be stopping the fuel from flowing into the carb when in the off position. My first thought was that the heat caused enough pressure in the tank to push gas down into the carb and possibly the cylinder. however, there is no gas on the plug when i kick it over. there is no visible sign of gas in the oil either. the vent cap seems to be working properly.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Remove the air filter and spray a small amount of starting fluid into the intake and see if it starts...if it does, then dies after the starting fluid burns off, you have a fuel issue.

Starting fluid is volatile, so go lightly. If it starts, you can keep it running by spraying light bursts every few seconds or whenever you can tell it's about to die.

If starting fluid gets it running, I would drank the tank and carbs, run fresh gas through them both, then put it all back together with a little more fresh gas and go from there.

If the gas cap doesn't lock, some jerk could have poured pop or whatever into the tank while you were at work...see it a hundred times...and the result is what you describe...motor runs for a bit, then dies and won't start...sugar is a big engine killer...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
it doesn't fire up when i spray carb cleaner in the intake. I don't have starter fluid to try it, but i have heard that spraying either can damage motorcycle engines.

It could be that someone tampered with my bike while i was at work. I noticed when i got the bike back home that the temporary plate had been stolen too. I will try to drain it and fill it with fresh gas.

When you say that sugar is an engine killer, what do you mean? Are you saying that will cause the engine to not start or that it can damage it?
 

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Carb cleaner will burn, but not like starting fluid (SF)...If you spray a bunch of carb cleaner in the engine, it will die...SF is like Nitrous; spray a bunch in and boom!...that's why you have to go lightly...if you spray half a can in the engine and ignite, you'll have one nice fire ball out the pipes...that's why I say go easy...just a light (1/2 second) spray then try to start and light bursts to keep it running to see if it will take off on it's own with the gas.

From Scratch:

1. Pull out a spark plug, put the wire on and make sure the threaded part is touching metal somewhere...not near the hole.

If you have spark, then we have a fuel issue. No spark, then you need to figure out why.

2. If you have a spark, go with the SF sprayed into the intake...it will start, believe me...unless the timing is way off.

3. If it starts with SF, then empty the tank, replace the fuel filter, flush the lines, and drain the carbs (you may have to disassemble to clean, but not yet).

"Engine Killer" I just mean it will clog up the system...the engine will start, run for a bit, then run rough, then die and no go from there.

Sounds like someone was messing with your bike..if the gas cap doesn't lock, I'd bet someone poured something in.

Also, check all your hoses...maybe they pulled off or slit a vacuum line..that will drive you nuts with weird performance.
 
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