Members Rides

2008 500 Classic

Members Rides

NField Gear

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
May 30, 2016, 09:33:50 am

Login with username, password and session length


Author Topic: Mechanics of the electric start process  (Read 545 times)


  • Scooter
  • **
  • Posts: 50
  • Karma: 0
Mechanics of the electric start process
« on: May 06, 2014, 11:15:08 am »
Just yesterday I had my first breakdown. It was a beautiful coincidence of problems, but I'll save the details for later. Long story short, the bike wouldn't start, and I couldn't kick start it. Now I have some questions.

I'm curious as to what is going on in my bike when I turn the ignition. I hear a whirring noise for a few seconds, the engine check light is on, then I can start my bike. I assumed it was just the engine priming some fuel, or building compression for the electric start... but I wanted to know for sure.

Does the auto decompressor make it easier to kickstart? I've gotten the infamous ticking, and read that it's nothing to worry about. I've never had trouble kickstarting my bike in more than 3 kicks tops... but I just about herniated myself trying and failing to start it yesterday.

So I started getting the aforementioned ticking noise about 50 miles ago. I read up on it, and the overwhelmingly common response was "auto decompressor, answer: remove it or buy louder pipes :)"

So I ignored it. Now, I've always had a problem with the bike stalling out at idle until it gets warmed up, which can take a good 30 minutes of riding. I noticed after the ticking started that it seemed to stall out easier than normal (usually I just flip on the quick choke at red lights).

So yesterday I'm sitting at a light and it stops suddenly (usually there is more warning as the bike idles lower and lower). Naturally it does this the moment the light turns green, so I wave the honking cagers around me as I pull the bike to the side. Electric start does nothing, no control lights either. Also, my low fuel light turned on at the end of the previous ride, so I slosh the tank... should be plenty left at the rate this bike sips. I kick it a dozen times, nothing. So I walk the bike to a parking lot.

Luckily I am 100' away from a garage. They agree to jump start the bike. Since the guy can't get to the negative terminal with his jump start kit, he puts the contact on the frame, and puts the positive to the starter (a new trick for me). It tries to start, but doesn't quite get there. Out of reflex impulse, I hit the start button and it starts up (maybe I got a quick charge?) I thank him and begin riding home, trying to keep the RPMs high at stops.

Well no such luck... it stalls again on the highway frontage road at a light, and I walk the 1/8th mile to the nearest parking lot. I call my neighbor for a rescue, since he is a veteran biker and an electrical engineer as well. In the mean time, I kick until I can't kick no more. Occasionally after breaks, when I flip the switch, the control lights come on, and I get a click when I hit the button (NOTE: no whirring noise prepping the engine that I mentioned before.) I assume the battery is dead, and it's getting a little charge from the kicks.

He arrives, and tries the starter trick. No success, and I didn't get a quick charge like before, so the starter button doesn't work either. He hooks the positive to my battery and the negative to the frame (another new trick!), and I can start it! I turn it off, unhook the battery... it starts again!? He recommends I get gas. I do, and it starts AGAIN without help. I get home, and he recommends to let it sit, then try to start it before I go to bed... should tell me if the battery is dead. I do, it starts (CRAP, that would be an easy fix).

Wow, thanks for sticking with the story so far. Anyway, after talking to my neighbor, and my venerable manager (who keeps a '64 Bonneville in tip top), I believe it may be the battery, or the starter relay/solenoid.

So, as I said, a beautiful coincidence of problems that robbed me of the one time having an electric start AND a kick start would have been a life saver. :)


  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,594
  • Karma: 0
Re: Mechanics of the electric start process
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 12:23:38 pm »
     The technical term for people that run the gas low and/or depend on "mileage" is... pedestrian. Get gas, charge the battery, and make sure all electrical connections are tight. Check charging afterwards. With the alternator system you have everything runs off the battery (including spark), and the charging system charges the battery. If it is a charging issue, when the battery gets low you will lose spark. You can't kick start it if there is no spark.
     The whirring noise is the fuel pump spooling up to pressurize the FI system. It's normal. The decompressor is to ease kick starting. Sometimes they clack at low RPM such as at a cold start up. If it is a regular thing when warm, the idle is set too low. I have seen ZERO mechanical issues with the decompressor unit. But a lot of people are really worried about it. Just turn the idle up a hair and leave it alone.


  • Bulleteer
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Karma: 0
Re: Mechanics of the electric start process
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 12:34:48 pm »
had some similar incidents happen to me. Turned out to be the side stand down sensor. removed it and have had no starting or stalling issue's since.
"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."
Honda cx 500 custom - stolen
Honda 450 twin - traded up
Honda 650 nighthawk - blown up
Honda Goldwing 77- restored/ traded up
Bmw F650gs - sold to buy
2013 RE G5 Deluxe- last bike?


  • Scooter
  • **
  • Posts: 88
  • Karma: 0
  • 2012 C5 Military Special
Re: Mechanics of the electric start process
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2014, 04:06:09 pm »
I also had an intermittent starting problem with only 187 miles on the C5. Turns out that the side stand switch was not opening and closing the circuit properly and when I turned the key on I had no power to the EFI or anything. I corrected the problem by grinding some metal off the crown of the side stand. Most folks just disconnect the switch.

Another starting problem I encountered was the starter would turn over the engine, but it did not catch. Cracking the throttle just a bit at start corrected that.

The most helpful correction I made was installing the NGK BPR6EIX Iridium spark plug. Bike starts faster even in cooler temps and runs smoother.

I hope this helps.
2012 Royal Enfield C5 Military
2009 H-D Road Glide FLTR
2003 Triumph Bonneville T100
2000 H-D Electra Glide
1980 H-D FXS Low Rider
1979 H-D XLS Roadster
1978 Triumph Bonneville
1969 BSA Lightning
1966 BSA Lightning


  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,792
  • Karma: 2
  • "But it's a dry heat here in Arizona
Re: Mechanics of the electric start process
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2014, 04:42:38 pm »
I suspect the battery charge is too low and the idle speed is too low.
These things can cause the engine to die, fail to crank and the auto-decompression device to make noise.

These fuel injected UCE powered RE's cannot idle as slowly as the older Iron Barrel and AVL Lean Burn engines without causing all of the above problems.

To increase the idle speed, turn the large brass slotted screw that is hidden down in the bottom of a hole in the top of the throttle body counterclockwise.
Do not try to adjust any of the screws/linkages on the outside of the throttle body.  They do not adjust the idle speed and if they are messed with, the only way to get them readjusted is to take the motorcycle to a authorized dealers mechanic.
2011 G5 Deluxe
1999 Miata 10th Anniversary


  • Grand Gearhead
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,095
  • Karma: 0
Re: Mechanics of the electric start process
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2014, 05:09:43 pm »
 Sounds like stuffed battery. Regardless of the fact the lights are working etc..it won't start the bike and will tick tick tick. Nothing will work right with a stuffed battery as Vince said. When the stock batteries go, they go fast. Re UCE owners seem to think that if lights etc are working then the battery is ok. Get a GOOD battery. NEW. The UCE is solid and this problem should be simple case of new battery. Also check the terminals. Mine broke off one terminal soon after the bike was new.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 05:17:29 pm by Sectorsteve »