cold starting an XR400

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Aug 6, 2003
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#1
It must be some kind of four stroke ritual, but this thing takes at least 30 very hard kicks to start when cold, once warm, one easy kick is all it takes. The bike is completely stock, new plug, clean filter. I follow the manual's cold starting instructions explicitly, and it doesn't want to start. Once she finally fires, it won't idle unless i constantly blip the throttle until it warms up. Ambient air temperature doesn't seem to make any difference. Please help me, my legs can't take much more!
 
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#2
Um, i'm not trying to be a smart @$$, but are you using full choke?
I have an old 500R that is a bit of a pain to get going cuz the choke cable is a bit snickety.
On the other hand i have an '02 650R that is sssoooo easy to get going it makes me wonder why anyone would want a magic button.
From the way you describe it, it sounds like the choke isnt functioning correctly.
If your not familiar with carbs, i'd take it to your friendly neighborhood Honda dealer for repair.
 
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#3
When I am starting mine cold I always turn the fuel screw (Black knob above choke) a few turns to the right and that seems to help until it warms up. Once it is warm and the idle is running fast you can adjust it back down to a decent idle speed.
You may want to check and adjust the jetting to you altitude.
Good luck!
 

Patman

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#4
Here's my proceedure, it works really well for me.

1. Choke on full
2. Idle screw turned in 1/3 to 1/2 turns
3. Compression release in and 10 easy kicks
4. Compression release off
5. Find TDC
6. Return starter to top of travel
7. Solid kick through with NO throttle.

I will kick it up to 4 or 5 times before I repeat steps 3 thru 7 again.
 

XRpredator

AssClown SuperPowers
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#6
Mine's kinda like Patmans --
  1. turn on gas and full choke
  2. lay bike over until gas runs out overflow (filling the float bowl)
  3. turn up idle
  4. pull in the decomp and kick a couple times
  5. kick thru slow until finding TDC
  6. bring back to top and then kick thru healthy (agreed, no throttle)
  7. do 5 and 6 again until starts

I think a lot of people have trouble 'cause they kick it like a 2 stroke. Your leg will feel like it's gonna fall off if you keep doing that. Trust me, I remember it well from before I figgered it out.
 

junkjeeps

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#8
I agree with Patman. That's how I do it.

Mark
 
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#9
I've found my XR400 is easily flooded when cold. If mine doesn't start by the second or third kick, I clear it and start over. (Throttle wide open while kicking it through a few times.)
 
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#10
Thanks for all the advice!

The idle screw adjustment seems to be the critical step in cold firing this beast. 1/2 a turn, and she fires up on the second kick.

Once the snow falls, I'm stripping down the carb and cleaning everything, but until then, this works great!

Thanks again.
 
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#11
1) Petcock on.
2) Full choke.
3) Closed throttle. Grab front brake with fingers to assure it's closed.
4) Pull decomp lever and hold it while kicking ten times.
5) Find TDC.
6) Release lever and kick thru like you MEAN it.
7) Bike should start in 1-3 kicks.

It's rare that mine takes more than three kicks.

I've never had to adjust my fuel screw to start mine. If you have to you're probably jetted too lean to start with.
 
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#12
My XR400 is easier to start now that I have it jetted richer. I have used the drill but now I just use the choke if its chilly, turn up the screw a little, snap the throttle 1x get it to tdc and kick. When I first had the bike I went through a period of trying to start it like a 2 stroke. Anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of kicking for the first few days and then I stumbled upon the drill. I've had buddies try to borrow the bike and not be able to start it.
 
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#13
Hi guys, I'm new here, found this thread interesting. I just got a 2002 XR400 and it starts great all the time. For cold I use full chocke and it starts within three kicks......evertime. Hot it starts first kick most of the time. It is cold blooded during a cold start and takes a few seconds befor it will take much throttle. Maybe I'm just lucky? Pete

Oh yeah, I forgot, it will only start like I said above when I mount it from the right side. If you mount up form the left I have to follow a "ritiual"!