Partzilla Live Q&A with John Talley – November 19, 2021

John Talley returns for another edition of Partzilla Live Q&A, answering your motorcycle and ATV repair questions.

Motorcycle electrical/starting problem questions were popular in this edition. Check out some excerpts from Partzilla’s latest live Q&A session below, and tune into our YouTube and Facebook channels every Friday at 3pm Eastern for the next edition. 

Partzilla Live Q&A with John Talley 11-19-21

Partzilla Live Q&A Highlights – Motorcycle Electrical/Starting Problems

I recently bought a Honda VTX 1300. I let it sit for a few weeks and then it didn’t start. When I went to ride, it cranked a little slow but wouldn’t start. All the lights went out and I got smoke from the battery. The positive terminal on the battery had melted. I put in a new battery and it still won’t start. Any ideas?

John Talley: Something put a really heavy load on that battery, beyond what it could deliver. I’m wondering a couple of different things. First of all, you said the bike sat for a while, but where did it sit? I’m thinking maybe a critter had access to it and did some damage to the wiring. You put in a new battery and it won’t start at all, so I wonder, I guess it’s possible that just by sitting that the starter has failed. It’s unusual for a starter to fail just because it’s sitting still. But depending on what environment it’s in, maybe it got wet, and if it’s in a coastal salt air environment, I guess I could see that. I would probably look at the starter first, but frying a battery like that tells me you have a resistance level that is way too low. So in other words, it’s a direct short either A. in your cabling or B. in the starter itself.   

Why does a motorcycle battery charge have an amp range for the batteries they charge? I don't mean charger output, but battery amps. 

John Talley: Typically that tells you how hard your charger has to work. And as that amperage comes down, it’s coming back to an equilibrium or a charged state. So if you flip it on and it’s reading 15 amps, it’s working hard. When it gets down to zero, that means the battery’s charged. 

Would a 2007 Yamaha R6 start but not idle if the timing is off? 

John Talley: I guess it’s possible. That timing is so critical in these performance bikes that if it was off, chances are you’re going to bend a valve. I mean, if you’re off a tooth in either direction, you’re in trouble with that one, so I don’t think that would be the reason it doesn’t idle. It’s easy to check, just pull your inspection caps and bring it around to top dead center and see what the timing marks tell you. I’m sure I went through that process on our Yamaha R6 rebuild, so check that playlist out.  

Want to see more live repair questions answered? See all of Partzilla’s Live Q&A sessions here.  

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