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I have a 2000 Ninja 500R that has issues starting in cold weather. Below about 40 degrees outside, the bike will take upwards of 10 minutes to get running. Usually the bike will start running after a very loud backfire and having held the starter down for an extended period of time. All other times that I have tried starting the bike, it starts right up. I don't like having to keep the starter motor running for such a long time and I am worried about burning it out. I also hear a loud clicking/pinging noise coming from the engine when I try and start it. I am going to take a closer look at it this weekend. I was planning on checking the spark plugs to see if they are being fouled (not too sure what to look for here) and I was going to check my air filter. If anyone has any other ideas about things I should look for I would appreciate it.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the bike is stock.
 

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I would suspect that dirty carbs could be part of your problem. If you are comfortable taking them off the bike and cleaning them then I woulda attack that problem soon.
 

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the "fun" guy
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Water in fuel and carbs?

Dirty fuel filter/s?

Spark plugs fouled?

Check your manual?

If there's old fuel in the tank then get it out and drain the bowls on the carbs and see if you have water in the fuel. Once you've gotten all of the fuel out.....fill up with fresh fuel from a reputable station. If it fires and runs you've found the problem.
 

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You could try something like Silkolene Pro FST in with your petrol and see if that makes any difference.
Or you could just use some rags and put them either side of the carbs when you park up for the night
 
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