Does your bike often breakdown?

This article is about the weak cranking and sudden stopping of engines that can occur on any bike if it is not in continuous use or if you have gone on some long vacation. After you get on your bike after a long time and it doesn’t start is like a nightmare and it can make your mechanic really happy. Just like all bike enthusiasts, the break down of bike made me restless and sleepless. So, I am sharing my experience and how we can save ourselves from being fooled by the mechanics.

One of the bikes that I own is Yamaha Fazer (military edition-2014). I have ridden the motorcycle for about 26,000 kilometers as of now. In the first year itself, the odometer read 17,000+ kilometers. Yamaha Fazer has been a great companion and I love the bike. Absolutely no complaints, as long as it was in continuous use and regular servicing at an interval of 4000 kilometers. When I started working in August 2015, I was out of Maharashtra mostly and didn’t get to ride any of my motorcycles for months. So, Fazer remained in shed for about 2 months, untouched. My dad would start it once in a while. I went on small rides in these 2 years. But, all of a sudden, the bike started giving me headache to an extent that I felt like getting rid of the bike. The bike once started would go at great speed smoothly but when I slowed down or braked, the bike tend to stall and it felt as if the engine is getting killed. It often stopped in traffic and refused to crank. That took a toll on the battery too.

Now, if you approach a mechanic with these issues, the most common answer he will give with a wide grin on his face is – “Service karna padega… bahut petrol piya hai aapka bike.. 600 servicing ka lagega aur 700-800 parts ka pakad lo… battery badla toh aur 1200 lagega…” For every damn repair work, i seriously don’t know why they want to open the carburetor! Its like performing an open heart surgery for cough! All in all the bill will cross Rs 3500 for absolutely lame problem. Firstly, always remember, opening up the carburetor is absolutely not required and mechanics charge atleast Rs 300-400 to waste time! It should be the last thing to do, that too if your air filter and air box are way too dirty or damaged. Second trick is to fool you into thinking that the clutch plate is beyond repairing. Do not fall into the trap.

The main reasons for such breakdown or poor performance are:

  • Bad state of air filter.
  • Dirty air box.
  • Disturbed air-fuel setting.
  • Impure grade/adulterated petrol.
  • Problematic spark plug.
  • Dust in the carburetor (worst case).

I was very curious in knowing why the bike which performed brilliantly suddenly lost all of its performance. So I worked on all the above points step-wise, I got a new ‘stock’ air filter from Yamaha, cleaned the air box and carburetor by myself, got the air-fuel setting and fuel tank checked by a mechanic and tried to use a spare spark plug. I changed the oil filter & oil (Motul 15W50 5100) and even installed a magnetic filter to ensure that metal dust does not enter the carburetor. Trust me, doing these checks yourself will save you both time and money. But then inspite of doing all these, the bike was still not upto the mark. It stopped abruptly at times. I was unable to understand. What could have possibly gone wrong?

Now this is something every Yamaha bike owner should remember. When a bike stays in the shed/parking for a considerable duration, everything remains in good condition except the battery, spark plug and the spark plug holder. When you crank the bike after a long time, the battery is already low resulting in slow or no ignition on button start and the spark plug tends to build a lot of carbon deposition around it. The accumulation of this carbon layer creates hindrance for the continuous ignition of the engine. It acts as a barrier for spark plug to do its job. I had started inspecting the bike again and just as a trial and error, I checked the spark plug holder which had turned completely black with thick black powder surrounding it. There is a very simple solution to this problem. Use a spark plug cleaning solution which is can be bought both from local shops as well as online and clean the spark plug as well as the holder. Doing so, my bike cranked in the first go and now it works as good as it used to. Not many have encountered the spark plug holder issues, but people who are out of station have a good chance of facing this issue.

So here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Clean the air box.
  • Clean or replace the air filter with stock air filter only for commuter or small displacement motorcycles.
  • Reset air-fuel ratio.
  • Clean spark plug and sparkplug holder.
  • Check battery charge.
  • If above mentioned steps fail, dismantle and clean the carburetor.
  • If this also fails, inspect the clutch plate.
  • Last resort, visit authorized mechanic and get overall check up.

Hope, now the cranking trouble is never a major headache for you guys. Happy Riding!!

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