Getting the bike back together and I'm having a hard time with getting it started


XS400 Member
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Denver, CO
Hi guys,

I'm picking back up on this project as I've been busy the last 9 months or so with a new business.

I received a bike mostly in boxes but with a title from a friend for free. I'm at the point now where I have a few issues I'm having a hard time thinking through.

I can get the bike to turn over but only if I jump the solenoid. It will turn over all day but I get nothing from the engine. I've been using a bit of starter fluid and I'm not getting any response. The coils have voltage on the two terminals on top. All four are the same voltage. I would assume since I have voltage at the coil I have spark. Could this not be the case? I have the tank off so a nice supply of fresh gas is not there. Thoughts?

I'm in Broomfield CO if there's any locals that would be willing to give a gander.

Having voltage to the coils is only the beginning. You need the points or TCI module (you didn't provide enough info!) working correctly to get spark. I'd recommend reading the service manual and following the testing and troubleshooting procedure for the ignition.

If you provide more info about your bike, we can offer better suggestions. Year, model, engine type, ignition type, etc. We shouldn't assume that what you have assembled is what originally shipped from the factory...
Ok I'll look into the manual.

It's an 81 xs400 and I don't really know anything else specific. I will get a little further into the electrical. Now that the battery is charged and in good shape it'll be easier to work on. I was having that issue previously but am much better now.
Hey, I'm in Denver if you need help. If you have to jump the solenoid there's a wiring connection issue or the starter button housing isn't grounded like it needs to be.

As far as checking for spark, pop the plugs out and use some wire wrapped around the plug threads to ground them, put the leads back on, and get the starter going. You should easily see some sparks jumping the gap. Make sure the plugs are grounded as it's typically bad for ignitor units to push juice through without the plugs grounded. If no spark is present, make sure the 'engine run' switch is in the correct position. If you have spark, the wires to the coils may need to be switched as they will be way out of timing otherwise.

Lastly if you have spark, and the timing is correct, then you have a fuel issue and evaluating carbs are the next item on the list. Best of luck!