1982 Honda XL500R: Kickstarter Won't Move

5 replies to this topic
  • frankenduro

Posted April 15, 2006 - 08:53 AM


I tried to start my 1982 Honda XL500R this morning, and the kickstarter wouldn't move. Usually, I can push the kickstarter through a whole cycle when cold without releasing compression, but I pulled the decompression lever handle and, just to make sure, moved the decompression lever on the engine itself, yet the kickstarter still wouldn't move. I checked the oil, and the Rotella synthetic 5W-40 with about five hours/150 miles on it was right in the middle of the normal range of the dipstick. The engine was running fine before I parked the bike in the garage a few days ago (although it fell over on its left side after I shut off the engine). I pushed it out of and back into the garage, so it's definitely in neutral (and the neutral light is on).

For the last 20 miles or so, I've noticed what seems to be some sort of possible fuel delivery or mixture problem. Twice, while pulling away from a stop sign, the engine has died and been difficult to restart. I suppose it's possible the mixture was running a bit lean. Cylinder head temperature is usually in the 400-450F range when measured with a non-contact infrared thermometer, but I haven't measured it in the last 20 miles.

I'm trying to develop a troubleshooting flowchart/plan of action. First, I'm thinking of pushing the bike to the top of a hill, putting it in first gear and trying to bump start it down the hill. If that doesn't loosen things up or provide any useful observations, I think I'd drain the oil, pull the right crankcase cover and remove the oil strainer (which the XL500R has in lieu of an oil filter) to see if it's plugged up and to clean it (I haven't cleaned it since I got the bike 800 miles ago, so I have no idea of its condition). I'd probably then pull the rocker cover and look at the camshaft journals since I've never looked at them before and to check for evidence of oil starvation. I'd probably then pull the cylinder head and take a look at the piston and cylinder walls. Before I bought the bike, someone stripped out a couple of the rocker cover bolts, so if I get the cylinder head off, I'd probably take the engine apart to the point where I could install heli-coils for the bolts. Right now, a little oil leaks out around the heads of the stripped bolts, but it's easier to add a little oil than tear apart the engine, so I haven't bothered with the heli-coils yet.

Are there any other things I should do or try before any of those steps? (It's been a long time since my three-week summer school course in small engine repair in high school.)

  • gnarly sprockets

Posted April 15, 2006 - 10:44 AM


If you're going to bump start in, do it in 4th gear. It's not as important what the speed the engine turns over as how mant times it does it and it will roll farther in a higher gear. Can you back the bike up with it in forth? Backing it up while in gear will get the engine off the compression stroke and lessen the chance the rear wheel will lock up when you bump start it. If it won't back up in gear, something's not good.

  • brichter

Posted April 15, 2006 - 07:58 PM


If the engine won't turn, and the bike has fallen over and spent time on it's side, make sure the cylinder isn't full of oil by removing the spark plug and trying to kick it over.

Oil in the cylinder will make it lock.

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  • frankenduro

Posted April 16, 2006 - 03:34 AM


While the kickstarter wouldn't move, I was able to shift between neutral and first, but not up to second. I shifted to first and pushed the bike backward, which freed things up a little. Then, I shifted to fifth and moved the bike back and forth. With either the clutch in or the bike in neutral, I was able to push the kickstarter, but I heard a gritty, scratching sound when I did that, so I didn't attempt to start the engine. After several pushes of the kickstarter, it again binds up. I drained the oil and noticed submillimeter metal flakes in it. I removed the right crankcase cover and pulled the oil strainer screen. It had only a few bits of debris on it, which I removed. I don't see any obvious damage, but I don't know what to look for specifically. I imagine some metal flakes are either wedging the piston in the cylinder or binding some gears when the kickstarter won't move.

It seems I have two problems: (1) removing the metal bits, and (2) finding the source of the metal bits and fixing it. Does the presence of small metal flakes necessitate engine disassembly, or can I flush them out with engine oil, parts cleaner, air, etc.? What should be my new plan of action based on the new information?

  • LotsOfBikes

Posted April 16, 2006 - 04:12 AM


The metal flakes are not uncommon, and not likely related to your kick starter problem.

You might have a kickstarter ratchet problem. Maybe since the bike is so old, or sat so long, pieces could have corroded or rusted.

Now before you go an take your engine out to take the right case off, make sure you can get the gasket sets for an engine overhaul. You may also need some special tools to put the kick starter parts back together properly.

It may even be worth your time to take it to a Honda dealer and have them fix it. $800 later, it'll be as good as new. $$ :thumbsup:

  • douglassaayman

Posted December 01, 2010 - 10:28 AM


hi, wonder if you could help me... my xl500r has a huge problem starting i dont know if its the CDI or plug... the plug sparks but very slight when i put the plug in my 200cc electric start and test it, it sparks lank.. i to had the kick starter problem, my casing had cracked close to the recoil spring... i grownd the shaft down and made a copper sleeve/ bush its working 100's my little mod ;-) another thing my decomp switch on the kick start has broke so i converted it to the decomp leaver on the handle bars now dose it matter if i kick it when the switch is open and will it fire like that? if any one has a workshop manual for me to upload would be awsom thanx...


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