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2011 DL650A with 70k on the clock.

No prior electrical work done to the bike -- I say "electrical" because I did the SV650 cam upgrade and valve adjustment when bike had 64k on it. It started good, no issues, so buttoned it back up and all was well.

Here in CA it has been getting cold lately....for CA, it's been very cold, upper 40's, low 50's...not sure if its related, but still. This issue has been ongoing for about....two weeks? Three weeks? Basically for about 1000 miles ago.

Put key in, turn, all lights and accessories turn on. Flick kill switch, fuel pump runs. Pull clutch and hit starter, light shuts off but no crank.

Thought maybe a bad kickstand switch, so I pull it up and do it again. Same thing.

Release clutch and pull it again, same thing. Flick kill switch and put it back, sometimes fuel pump runs, sometimes it doesn't. I thought maybe this was the issue, so open it up and clean it real good and put it back together.

Starts good....then next day later does the same exact thing. Did percussive maintenance on the kill switch, sometimes work, sometimes doesn't.

If I keep playing with the clutch, turn key off and on, put up and down kickstand multiple times, sometimes that does the trick and it cranks and starts again. Sometimes it doesn't, and I keep playing with kill switch on and off until I hear the fuel pump running. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes if I pull the clutch up and then in, it works.

To make a long winded post short....I have basically gone about it completely unscientifically and now am more lost than ever. Is it the clutch switch? Is it the kickstand switch? Is it the entire killswitch assembly? If I play with all three, eventually I can get it started and all is well.

But I get the feeling that I'm on borrowed time. There will be a time where I'll be 200 miles from home and it'll die for good, and knowing my luck, I'll be at the bottom of a hill and it'll be basically impossible for me to push start it.

What should I do to finally narrow it down? I have the clutch switch and kill switch on my shopping cart, but I really would like to know how to narrow it down without wasting money. Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope!
 

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I had an old car where the starter engine had some burned contacts so sometimes it would not kick in. It was random and I would hit the starter with a small hammer to make it change its mind. I was a poor student at the time but finally bought a new starter which fixed the issue.
 

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From what you describe, either the starter brushes or starter solenoid is bad. Starter brushes are replaceable items. A 12v test light or multimeter can be used to troubleshoot both or they can sometimes can be narrowed down by holding in on the starter button and giving the starter or solenoid a light tap to jar it back to life.
 

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A few years ago, my bike started showing the same symptom, without being highly repeatable. Somehow, (perhaps motivated by desperation), I discovered that if I pulled the clutch lever upward while pulling it back, the bike would start every time. And if I pulled it downward and back, it would never start.


You may want to see if that is the situation with your bike.


BTW, I never fixed the "problem". Instead, I consider it an unreliable anti-theft device.
 

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2011 DL650A with 70k on the clock.....edited......To make a long winded post short....I have basically gone about it completely unscientifically and now am more lost than ever. Is it the clutch switch? Is it the kickstand switch? Is it the entire killswitch assembly? If I play with all three, eventually I can get it started and all is well............................edited again
Most likely it is the starter switch. The strom has a screwy starter switch that kills the lights when you hit the starter. This creates a large current across the starter switch. Look up threads on this forum (the best one by Black Lab) that details how to clean the starter switch contacts. You might consider putting the headlights on a separate relay to protect the switch. I just cleaned the starter switch on mine and it was fine.

Word of caution - I have made this repair to 3 stroms now. All at about your mileage. It requires patience and paying attention to how the switch comes apart. Take photos, go slow, do it somewhere where you can find the pieces if you drop any (springs may fly out). It is a free repair that just requires a little attention to detail. Hide your hammer before you start.
 

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Google "Automotive Voltage Drop Test".
If you master voltage drop testing, you can rule your electrical world.
All you need is an inexpensive multimeter.
What you are doing is putting the meter in a low-voltage scale, and placing the negative and positive leads on both sides of a connector, switch, splice, eyelet to ground, terminal to battery, relay, etc. Youre looking for voltage going through the meter instead of going through the intended circuit path. 0.1V-.2V drop may not be enough to stop a circuit from functioning all the time, but it IS an indication of high-resistance contacts in a switch, a loose or high-resistance to ground, a battery terminal or cable issue, you name it that could be intermittent.
Voltage drop testing sure beats spending time, effort, and $$$ on parts hoping to somehow stumble upon a fix.
Unless of course, that is what you want to do.
 

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I do not see a likelihood that the starter switch is at fault here. Problems with that switch generally are with the contacts which are made to handle and interrupt headlight current, not the contacts which energize the starter relay. (That switch does not carry the starter motor current!)

An intermittent problem was described. The starter switch uses a sliding spring contact style. That kind of contact is unlikely to fail in an intermittent way. This does not rule out the possibility, but for me this consideration would put it nearer the end of things to check than the other possibilities mentioned above.
 

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When you guys are done going round in circles, search for what I suggested on this forum and see what you find.

Yes, the starter switch goes to a solenoid (basically a relay) and the starter motor current comes from the solenoid. That is not the issue. The starter switch has a second set of contacts inside it. When you push it, the contacts open on the headlight circuit and close on the starter. The switch carries the full headlight circuit amperage (and where many install a relay to correct this design error) which is too many amps for the contacts and with time a deposit of carbon fouling will build up on one side of the contacts. Remember, I have done this 3 times, I have an ink pen eraser to buff the contacts in my toolbox for this repair now.

One way to test the switch, have the bike ready to start. Instead of pushing the start button all the way in until it bottoms out, push it part way in and put some side load on the button (wiggle button) just before you sense it is going to bottom out. If the starter kicks....you have the problem. When this issue starts, and it is common, the starter will kick a fraction then quit as button goes through its travel.

OR I COULD BE COMPLETELY WRONG
 

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The starter switch can fail in an intermittent way, particularly when it's dirty and then gets wet. The plate on the spring hangs up, and doesn't sit flat against the contact block. With 70k on the bike it's the first thing I would check after cleaning the battery contacts and making sure they're tight.

One way to test the switch, have the bike ready to start. Instead of pushing the start button all the way in until it bottoms out, push it part way in and put some side load on the button (wiggle button) just before you sense it is going to bottom out. If the starter kicks....you have the problem. When this issue starts, and it is common, the starter will kick a fraction then quit as button goes through its travel.
^ This is a good test as well. Sometimes you can free up that contact by pressing in the button with a fingernail and letting it snap back out into place.

In cases where it doesn't start, does the relay click when you press the button? If it clicks solidly but doesn't crank, the problem is somewhere between the starter relay, the starter, and ground - most likely the starter brushes worn out. If it doesn't click, it could be the solenoid, a safety switch, the killswitch, ignition switch or some other gremlin. If you hear a sound like a buzzing popping or fast sequence of clicks, look at the battery and its terminals.

In order of likelihood, I would be eyeing the battery terminals, starter switch, clutch safety, killswitch. I've seen all but the killswitch fail on both my bike and a friend's bike. I also had the starter fail, but it gave more warning in the form of some hesitation and grinding noises.

It's pretty easy to jump the clutch safety as a test, see
(skip to 1:20).
 

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ST...youre not wrong.
But I have to ask you, technician-to-engineer: When did DIAGNOSING become a 4-letter word?

Not sure how to answer this question.

I will take a stab though. If I had never heard of the issue the OP described, I would start systematically working my way through the standard checks. Nothing wrong with that. However, a benefit of me hanging around on a brand specific site since I bought my first Strom, for over 9 years now, is you remember common issues. And, sure enough my bike and 2 buddies had the same symptoms and fix. So, in that instance, I cheat and try what has worked in the past.

I did not figure this out. Black Lab did. My bike had the exact same symptoms. Rather than start chasing geese, I tried what the forum recommended.

Everybody is free to go about repairing stuff in their own way.
 

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Understood, ST. And certainly true.
But for myself, I'd rather diagnose and repair/replace exactly what the root cause is, possibly discover other suspect items along the way, an save myself time, effort and money in the process.
I look at it this way: If you had a bike problem armed with nothing more than a shop manual and basic tools with no internet or outside help, could you find the problem?
 

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Another simple test that saved me time was to put a multi meter on the start cable where it attaches to the starter motor, secured the clutch lever with an elastic strap to the bar and checked the voltage at the starter motor with a number of start button presses. Sure enough corrosion at the starter motor/cable connection was the culprit and saved a lot of unnecessary clutch/side stand switch testing as voltage at the top of the starter cable showed consistent start voltage.
 

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Another simple test that saved me time was to put a multi meter on the start cable where it attaches to the starter motor, secured the clutch lever with an elastic strap to the bar and checked the voltage at the starter motor with a number of start button presses. Sure enough corrosion at the starter motor/cable connection was the culprit and saved a lot of unnecessary clutch/side stand switch testing as voltage at the top of the starter cable showed consistent start voltage.


And that, right there, is the essence of a voltage drop test. Had his positive meter lead been on the battery positive terminal, and the negative meter lead been on the starter motor cable terminal, the difference in available starter motor voltage would have been shown in the meter's display during crank, no measuring needed. Many here already own a voltmeter. Why not use it to your advantage?
 

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Understood, ST. And certainly true.
But for myself, I'd rather diagnose and repair/replace exactly what the root cause is, possibly discover other suspect items along the way, an save myself time, effort and money in the process.
I look at it this way: If you had a bike problem armed with nothing more than a shop manual and basic tools with no internet or outside help, could you find the problem?
To answer your final question first - without the manual, maybe? With the manual, yes? I buy a manual for everything on day 1 and put it in the bathroom for study......yes I am THAT guy. As for the internet, I have gotten good advice and bad, to use the net correctly you need to have a good BS filter. That said, I always consult with the net, the collective knowledge and the time others have taken to do tutorials.....like our friend Black lab, are huge time savers.


I think we are looking at this problem through different color sunglasses.:nerd:

I have a feeling from your years at Mazda, that certain cars had certain issues. When these cars came in with symptoms you had seen before, I suspect you went directly to the item your "experience" told you was a likely cause. If your "experience" solution proved wrong, then you started diagnosing....that's all.

The beauty of a forum is we have a collective "experience". So, I did not bother to describe how to troubleshoot. As I said, I could be wrong....I know this from history. Then I would get my multi-meter and start scratching my head.

My goal was to give a man a fish, you were teaching him to fish.

I took your advice and googled voltage drop testing. Google is great, there were some videos that described the theory and process much better than what I received in more formal training. Good stuff.

P.S. - as an aside. I am curious if you believe that testing coolant by checking the pH or the electrical potential is witchcraft or not? I have been doing it, not sure how strongly I agree with it yet.

Second - Are you a synthetic oil fan?

There - that should give us something to discuss >:)when I get back from dusting off the Tenere. The sun is out in KY today and it will be in the 50's.
 

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... That kind of contact is unlikely to fail in an intermittent way. This does not rule out the possibility, but for me this consideration would put it nearer the end of things to check than the other possibilities mentioned above.
It is exactly what failed on my 2006 DL650, albeit with somewhere around 90,000 to 100,000 miles on it. The symptoms were identical.

The last thing to fail was the Clutch switch itself. Bypassing it (temporarily) is easy and will indicate if the is the direction to look.

One other thing that is often overlooked and happened on both my 2012 DL650 and my Wife's 2009 Gladius. That is the actual clutch lever not fully activating the clutch switch. I had seen it happen several times with different reasons. One was a bike having fallen over causing the lever to get bent a bit. The bend stopped the lever from fully depressing and that stopped the clutch switch from activating properly. Another was a worn out pivot for the clutch lever. This also stopped the switch from activating fully. I think there was also one lever where the tab that activates the switch was worn a bit and that also didn't activate the clutch switch. There was also a case of something getting caught that stopped the lever from fully depressing all the time but I don't recall what it was.

In the above cases the starting was intermittent. More likely if the clutch switch was squeezed harder than normal iirc but not always then either.

Clutch switches, side stand switches and starter switches are much easier to work with than starter motors so I would suggest ruling those out before digging into the starter itself.

..Tom
 

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ST, I appreciate your reply.
Yes, certain cars had certain issues. And for that there were technical service bulletins describing the problem, the cause, and the recommended(authorized) repair. But the beginning of the repair always began by advising to carry out normal diagnosis 1st. Just a few simple steps to verify there wasnt another cause for the problem.
Many times following just the "repair/replace" portion of the bulletin didnt take care of the problem, in which case more advanced diagnostic steps had to be taken.
If you follow all the steps in a sequential diagnostic path and the problem still remains, the sentence "Replace with known good part" always appears at the end. Not at the beginning.

As for coolant checking, I know that voltmeter testing works, but on the job I used BG coolant testing strips. Dipped into the coolant, the strip, very similar to a litmus paper strip, would change color on a scale depending on the acidity of the coolant. Quick, and accurate.

I believe in using synth oil in engines for which it is recommended. With cars, where the push is on for greater fuel efficiency, many(Mazda, for sure) is recommending 0w-20 oil. Tolerances are tighter, and the use of a higher viscosity oi can affect the variable valve timing operation. Thing is, 0w-20 IS synthetic, so it's a moot point.
It just so happens that I'm ordering a new car today--a '19 Mazda CX-5 Signature--and with its turbo system and Skyactive engine, 0w-20 is the recommended oil, and for sure that is what this car will get.
With bikes, I use Honda GN-4 10w-40, but the deal is I change oil in my bikes every 3K miles with filter. The shifting and clutch operation in my '14Vstrom1000, 2K ZRX1100, and '81 Hon CB750K is superb, and the cam lobes( a high wear point in an engine) in the ZRX and 750 look as new. At 7K miles on the Vstrom I havent had the occasion to remove the valve covers.
Oil use discussions are like discussions about religion or politics, and I REALLY dont want to go down that road. I posted my thoughts, yours may vary, and nothing wrong with either.
 

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Sounds like we have similar tastes.

I use GN-4 in my dirt bike and ATV (both are Hondas). Synthetics in everything else. We only have 1 new car that gets 5W-20, the other 2 get 5W-30.

Back to the test strips. Do you extend the change intervals on the coolant based on your testing, which is what I do, or do you still change the coolant every 2-3 years?

While I am mooching free advice, how about auto trannies? I have never flushed either of mine and they are due. I am thinking about just doing a fluid change and getting what I can out. Maybe do 2 changes within 5,000 miles or so. Neither auto I have is stressed and both of them have clean and proper smelling fluid. A Camry and a 4Runner, both V-6s and both at 100,000 miles.
 
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