Motorcycle Repair / not starting


Expert: Jack May – 9/26/2008


QUESTION: I have a 1990 Honda vtr 250. The bike will not start when it is dark out. The bike starts just fine during the daylight. It acts like it is dead when I try to start it at night and then I go out the next day and it fires right up. I am clueless as to why it won’t start at night but during the day starts up over and over again.

Headlight works just fine too.

ANSWER: Hi Robert!!

Ya know. I once had a 1980 Suzuki GS1100. When I rode it to work at 9am, the brakes were fine. When I rode it home at 7pm, the brakes were fine. But if I rode it between the hours of 11am thru 4pm, the front brakes would tend to lock and wouldn’t release.

Turned out there was air in the brake line splitter, and cuz I live in Hawaii, the sun would heat up the air in that splitter and cause the brakes to actuate. Come 4 or 5pm, the sun went down behind the buildings and the brake lines would cool off. Drove me nuts til I finally figured it out.

So why am I writing all the above? Cuz I want to establish that sometimes there are other forces at work that can cause our bikes to act up. almost like the bike has a mind of it’s own. Ok Robert, here’s what I need from you to begin to try to figure this out:

1) What part of the world do you live? (what kinds of temperatures in your area?)

2) Is the bike kept inside or outside?

3) By will not start, are you saying nothing happens when you press the starter button, or is the starter spinning the motor, but the motor won’t fire up?

Send me an update with answers to the three questions and I’ll see what I can do to help solve the problem!!

QUESTION: I live in upstate New York and it has been getting up into the hi 70s low 80s and down into the 50s and hi 40s. The bike has been kept outside since I have had it, only about 2 months. I mean that it acts like the battery is dead.

Honda VTR 250

The bike will fire up if it is jumpstarted but other than that will not start up at night.


Ok Robert. We have here an intermitant electrical problem. They can be difficult to solve.

You will need to do any troubleshooting at night, as you can’t locate the problem if the problem isn’t happening (in the daytime). The first thing I would do is remove the battery and check the fluid levels in the cells (unless it is a maintenance free type). You’ve only had the bike for two months and it is possible that the battery is borderline good. Also, make sure the battery terminals are clean and corrosion free.

If all is good with the battery, and you say the bike will start when jumped, then I would suspect that you may have a faulty starter soleniod. Although temperature variances don’t often affect these devices, it is conceivable that it can happen. You can locate the solenoid by tacing the positive battery cable. it runs directly to the solenoid.

Right next to where the battery cable attaches to the solenoid, there is another fat cable that has the same type attachment.That cable runs to the starter. The soleniod is actuated by the starter button and closes a contact which allows current to flow directly from the battery to the starter. The next time the bike won’t start, take an open ended wrench and short those two fat wires together.

Make sure the wrench touches no other metal. When you short those two terminals, the starter will spin. There may be a few sparks and crackles, but you won’t be shocked. If the bike will start by shorting the solenoid, then you need a new one. Let me know if this helped or not, cuz if not, there are more things to check.

Keep me updated Robert!!

Honda VTR 250
Honda VTR 250

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