Bike will not run, assistance required

I am having a bit of a problem with my 1000s and I think another opinion or two would help. I’ll give you the whole story so far.
Had to go a message this morning and took the 1000s, the bike ran great until starting on the motorway home which would have been about 15 miles into my journey.
It seemed to lose power and then pick up a wee bit, like it needed to go onto reserve, I put it onto reserve and it did pick up a bit, so I headed for petrol.
It started ok after getting petrol but a couple of miles from home it started losing power again quite dramatically, also I thought I heard some noises from underneath the tank / front of engine area.
It started to conk out whilst going up a hill and I noticed a fair bit of light smoke coming from both exhausts, (there is a collector/crossover box on bike), anyway got it home and it was reluctant to start, if it did there was a good bit of white smoke and the occasional spit back through pipes; also I noticed some of the same smoke coming out of the airbox, and one of the cylinders when I took the plugs out.
I took out the plugs and they were starting to go black , not too wet, so I changed them for another pair, tried to start it and it was very difficult, it did run eventually and smoked quite a bit but it wouldn’t react to the throttle and died in a couple of seconds, I then took the new plugs out and they were very wet with petrol.
I tried for a spark holding the plugs to the heads and got a spark on both sides, not brilliant though, so I tried another set of plugs and the spark was much the same, also tried opening the points , again got a spark from both.

For some reason I seem to be leaning towards possible ignition side problem rather than carbs, seeing as I am getting wet plugs, but then again, I am also getting a spark from 3 different sets of plugs.
Could it be the condensors?

I am also going to check the points gap, timing, valve clearances etc.

In a nutshell , it’s very difficult to fire up, won’t idle and dies quickly, won’t react to throttle, getting spark on both sides but wondering if the spark could be better.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems, or have an idea of what it could be causing it and also a cure!!!

Any help would be gratefully appreciated, no matter how small as I’m meant to be heading up the west coast of Scotland on Wednesday.

Thanks in anticipation


Condensors can cause this as can a loose earth.

Pop the float bowls off check if they have any crap in them, Annies Virago suffered with residues in them red “grit” very fine looked like fine black flakes that proved to be from the fuel pipes.

This was, as far as I can figure caused by the ethanol content breaking down the fuel pipes, new viton ones and a good clean of the carbs sorted it. Easy stuff first, the fuel tank tiny breather hole can also get gummed up to check that run the bike, when it dies open the fuel filler if it picks up that is the culprit.

Sparking on both sides but poorly would point to a poor connection that effects both sides.
As you are still on points and both sides have seperate earths:-
Check your 12v +ve as it feeds the first coil then crosses to the 2nd.
Also the +ve feeds throught the ignition switch (if you haven’t put a relay in place), check this coming out of the switch. If you have a relay in place replace it temporarily with your horn etc relay.
Check main -ve connection under the battery tray.
Check all your battery connections are clean and tight.

Do each check one at a time and replace back to origonal each time it fails to show the fault.
Take your time, electrics are simple really.iandunmore2012-08-30 15:46:14

Update, Just tried to fire it up again, checked the spark on both plugs, put plugs in cylinder heads, tried to start it , nothing!, not even a cough, took plugs out both soaking wet.
Did the float bowl check and they were clean.
Never thought of the relays Ian, will check them.

Did you put deisel in by mistake? Check your receipt.Chris750s2012-08-30 16:21:52

Did you not read the first post where the problem happened before I put petrol/diesel in?
Here Chris, you might have a point??? , only joking definitely petrolrbt15482012-08-30 16:44:33

ok but its worth checking, I had a friend who did that, it smelt like a marine engine, but backfired through the carbs as you described. Just read your original post again, whoops!

Just seen on the other post

crap fuel again.

my t5 had got blocked fuel taps and stuck accelerator pumps

get the taps out and flush the tank through, then strip the acc pumps and clean them , check they move freely

I would say its water in the fuel only got in the carbs when you went onto reserve as its at the bottom of tank,drain carbs,had it on a bmw drove me nuts till i found it simples


Hi Chris, not a problem, but I checked my receipt just in case…def. petrol, could be an age thing!!!. I took what you said on board and had another look at what was in the float bowls… water!!!, so I drained some petrol into a bucket, one seems to have bought a portion of the North Sea along with my petrol… is that what they mean by an “additive”?
It looks as though I have got contaminated petrol.

I’ll drain it off, let the tank breathe overnight, flush through the carbs and get some new petrol in a container tomorrow and hopefully that will cure it.
However before doing the bowl check I did what Ian suggested and gave all my connections and earths a good clean and some of them needed it.

As I said hopefully new petrol will cure it, we’ll see tomorrow.
Thanks to all

Sometimes it is the simplest thing first, …water in fuel tho’ … that is NOT the first thing you think of is it?

What ignition system have you got?
Just because you get a spark when the plug is laying on the cyl. head does not always mean you get a spark under full compression.

Am running the standard points set up, 1990 model reg 'd in 1992

Sounds like condensors. They;re so cheap always worth keeping a spare set just to substitute.

Nah he’s got water in it! See above That’ll do it

Sparks never look marvellous in daylight when you’re trying to check them out

Just as a mention, stuff like this for old fuel systems and ethanol in petrol:

Update; Emptied the tank last night and let it sit and let any remains evaporate overnight, did the same with the carbs and laid the jets etc. out to dry and gave tham a blast of cleaner this morning. Put the tank in the car went to the petrol station and put petrol in the tank, I could have just used a container but I wanted to put a good bit in.
Cleaned plugs and the connections I had removed prior to deciding, with all your help, that it may be contaminated fuel.

Checked the bike had a spark, then put it all together and after a few prods of the button and opening and closing the choke it fired with a few spits and bangs and a fair bit of smoke. Intially it wouldn’t run with the choke off but after holding the throttle slightly open with the choke off it did run with the smoke dissapating after a wee while.

Before stripping the carbs down I took a note of the number of turns of the idle screw on each carb so I set them back to where they were before the strip down, so that gives me a starting point when I tune them in properly later today, ( if it stops bucketing down so I can get out!).
It is ticking over quite nicely as it is, but a wee bit high, but I’ll correct that later.
I went out about half an hour after the initial fire up and it’s starting without any hesitation, so hopefully it is sorted.

A big thanks to everybody who took the time to reply and impart their knowledge, I had a bit of a chuckle to myself when I found myself heading for my bike jacket pocket to check my receipt on Chris’s suggestion that I may have put diesel in… the smallest seed of doubt???
Anyway cheers for all the help!

Glad its back up and running

It may be worth checking your filler cap to ensure water is not getting into the tank other than contaminated fuel also worth taking reciept and contaminated fuel back to petrol station others may have had problems, If you are in the AA or RAC worth letting them know as they will be the ones called to vehicles stuck.

Glad you got it sorted, valid point about filler cap (?)