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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2004 Ninja 500R that I ride a lot (i.e. it has over 24k miles on it). Recently, wet weather and other obligations forced me off the bike for just over 3 weeks. This morning, I went out to crank it and ride to work, but it would not start. After quite a few attempts to start it, the battery ran down.

My main concern is whether or not the gas may have become stale. I use Chevron Supreme. How long will gasoline keep?
 

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Novice Tank Roller
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Gas should have been fine for that period of time. I would guess carbs or fuel pump weakness before looking specifically at gas. I know my 01 1500 Classic takes a bit more cranking than it used to when I start it after sitting for a long period. I always just attributed it to the carb needing attention, but I have not given it any yet as it's not enough to be a nuisence.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, NCDave! I pulled the battery, topped off the cells, and set it up to charge. I'll re-install the battery and give it a try late tonight or tomorrow morning.
 

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Navy Vet Search & Rescue
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You might try putting the petcock on prime for a few seconds to make sure the carbs have fuel if it is a carb model. Could have had some loss/evaporation.
 

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Navy Vet Search & Rescue
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Thanks Tina, that was a long tough 10 days but we got so much work done it was well worth it and my brother really appreciated it.
 

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Thanks Tina, that was a long tough 10 days but we got so much work done it was well worth it and my brother really appreciated it.
It's nice to have helpful people here. I can't help everyone, but I would like to. :p
 

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The ex500 doesn't have a prime setting. What I've done is "prime" it by using the starter for five seconds and then letting it rest for 15 seconds repeatedly until it finally starts. Others have said to just lay on the starter until it starts. I think in about three weeks' time, if your bike is in a dry place, the fuel is evaporating out of the bowls. Also, I don't know if this applies to the ex500, but I know a person with a 250 who noted that her battery is losing its charge despite starting it regularly, but not riding it. I think you actually need to build rpms before the alternator will start charging the battery, FWIW. Good luck.
 

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Yet another 800 Bobber...
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I know a person with a 250 who noted that her battery is losing its charge despite starting it regularly, but not riding it.
I would say her battery is losing it's charge because of starting the bike regularly but not riding it. She will also build up carbon in the cylinders by doing this :cool:
 

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The Cruising Gunsmith
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To address the question of stale fuel...

Fuel goes bad in relation to time, temperature & quantity.
Just about everyone knows that fuel gets old.
High temperatures speed up the degradation of it as well .
(one of the advantages of underground storage is that the Earth keeps the fuel cool).
Also, smaller quatities go stale sooner than larger quantities.

On my 81 KZ650 in hot n nasty ole' Houston I have proven time & time again that the fuel in the carbs can go bad during the hot months within a couple of weeks (while the fuel in the tank is fine). JMK.
Interesting, I didn't know that. I'll bet it's because the carb bowls have a vent that's open to the atmosphere and lets in plenty of air to speed the oxidation process. The gas tank has a whole lot of fuel and only a tiny little vent hole in the gas cap.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update

After servicing the battery, I attempted to start the bike again. It was a little chilly outside, so I tried the choke at several positions. After 3 long cranks with no results, I decided to have it towed.

Once they got it to the shop, it started right up! I'm not sure what happened. Maybe the ride to the shop loosened something up. At any rate, the mechanic asked when I'd last had the valves adjusted and I told him never. With 24k+ miles on the bike he suggested I have the valves adjusted and the plugs changed. So, I left it with him. If all goes well, I'll have the it back by Friday.

Also, I usually leave the fuel petcock in the "ON" position. The mechanic suggested that I turn off the fuel when I park it. Perhaps that was some of the problem, too.
 

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The Cruising Gunsmith
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After servicing the battery, I attempted to start the bike again. It was a little chilly outside, so I tried the choke at several positions. After 3 long cranks with no results, I decided to have it towed.

Once they got it to the shop, it started right up! I'm not sure what happened. Maybe the ride to the shop loosened something up. At any rate, the mechanic asked when I'd last had the valves adjusted and I told him never. With 24k+ miles on the bike he suggested I have the valves adjusted and the plugs changed. So, I left it with him. If all goes well, I'll have the it back by Friday.

Also, I usually leave the fuel petcock in the "ON" position. The mechanic suggested that I turn off the fuel when I park it. Perhaps that was some of the problem, too.
That can cause the bowls to flood if the needle valves and seats are not perfect, and the flooding makes it really hard to start.... been there, seen that.
 

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I would guess that your three long cranks got enough fuel in the system to start it on the next try. It takes awhile to get fuel to the engine if the fuel between the tank and the engine has evaporated. The owners manual doesn't really advise that you turn the petcock to the "off" position unless you're servicing the bike or storing it. Anyway, it sounds like a good opportunity to get some service done on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I would guess that your three long cranks got enough fuel in the system to start it on the next try. It takes awhile to get fuel to the engine if the fuel between the tank and the engine has evaporated. The owners manual doesn't really advise that you turn the petcock to the "off" position unless you're servicing the bike or storing it. Anyway, it sounds like a good opportunity to get some service done on it.
When I first got the bike, it stopped on me while I was on the interstate. It took me a minute to realize that I just needed to switch over to the reserve tank, but once I did, it did take a while to get fuel back in the carbs.

Also, I don't remember seeing anything in the owner's manual about turning the fuel off either unless for service or storage. That's why I haven't done it in the past. I don't think it will be a big deal to do. I still go through the FINE-C (Fuel, Ignition, Neutral, Engine Cutoff - Choke) process when starting even though it's been over 3 years since I took the MSF course.
 

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You might also make sure that you cover your bike when not riding, to make sure water doesn't get into the tank when it's raining. I know, a 2004 bike shouldn't have issues like that, but I had problems with water in the tank in an older EX500.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You might also make sure that you cover your bike when not riding, to make sure water doesn't get into the tank when it's raining. I know, a 2004 bike shouldn't have issues like that, but I had problems with water in the tank in an older EX500.
Thanks for the tip lilredridingliz, but (thankfully) my bike has its own slot in the garage. The only time it sees rain is if I happen to get caught out in it on accident.
 

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Navy Vet Search & Rescue
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The owners manual doesn't really advise that you turn the petcock to the "off" position unless you're servicing the bike or storing it.
I'm not sure what year/model manual you are looking at but the vacuum petcock that Kawasaki puts on the majority of it's bikes does exactly that when the engine is not running. The vacuum operated valve in the petcock will close when it doesn't have vacuum to it so I'd guess from that fact that they think it's a good idea to have the fuel off when the bikes not running.
 

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The Cruising Gunsmith
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I'm not sure what year/model manual you are looking at but the vacuum petcock that Kawasaki puts on the majority of it's bikes does exactly that when the engine is not running. The vacuum operated valve in the petcock will close when it doesn't have vacuum to it so I'd guess from that fact that they think it's a good idea to have the fuel off when the bikes not running.
For those of us without that vacuum valve, that puddle of gas on the floor will advise you to be sure to turn the petcock to OFF when you are parking it. Gravity always tries to have it's way. If the float needles and seats are PERFECTLY smooth and round, the float will cut the fuel flow off well enough to probably prevent overflow.... probably is the key word. It's stil a metal-to-metal fit, and gravity is still pushing the gas downward so there will be some seepage.

If the needle/jet seat fit isn't perfect (over time the brass oxidizes and the needle faces get slightly less smooth) the gas seeps faster and your wife starts complaining about that gas smell in the garage.

I actually take the needles out periodically and polish the faces using a hand drill and poliching compound. I use a Q-tip and polish on the brass seat. Even so, my rule of thimb is that if the bike is getting parked in the garage, the gas must be shut off. During the day (while I am running around), I leave it ON.

I have no problem at all restarting. Just turn it on, riase the bike upright and wait ten seconds... gravity will always have it's way.;)
 
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