Starting an Airone

Is there any special technique for starting an Airone single? Mine is somewhat reluctant to get going, seems happy enough once running though.

There will almost certainly be a technique, although as I don’t have an Airone I can’t tell you what it is.
When I did the VMCC Vintage Training Day last year, I rode a 500 single BSA. The old chap who owned it wanted everybody to have a go at starting it before they rode it. I managed it after 6 or 7 goes, but my younger, fitter brother couldn’t do it at all. The old chap did it for him with virtually no effort. His technique was:

  • hold the decompressor open
  • push the kickstart until the piston is at the bottom (by feel), and then go a shade further
  • close the decompressor and re-set the kickstart
  • smoothly push the kickstart down all the way i.e. don’t ‘kick’ it over

This was for a hot start, so I think it needed a bit of throttle too. And the advance/retard lever in the right place.

I also have never had an Italian of that vintage but my first bike was a BSA M21 (600cc sidevalve) and I have kickstarted a fair few including Panthers and Vincent Rapide and numerous Bsa’s. The starting procedure is basically what Ranton has written, flood the carb, set the choke (if cold) and retard the ignition a touch, leave the throttle alone and give it a firm swing on the kickstart lever, not a jab or stamp (and if all’s well and the stars and planets are in the right alignment, and you’re wearing your lucky socks it should cough and splutter into some semblance of running (joking!)) it should fire up fairly easily. They’re all different though so keep practicing, best done with no witnesses or the little swine will refuse to start no matter what you do :laughing:

Yes…the number of attempts is linked to the number of onlookers…

My Airone always starts easily, and the method is simple. Flood the carb, choke on, find compression, and kick.
I have found that if I have not used the bike for a few weeks it may take a few extra kicks. I have been told that this is probably because oil has collected in the bottom of the engine and is preventing the crank from spinning freely. If I start the bike regularly it will always start first or second kick, no matter how cold it is.

I assume this is a manual advance retard. make sure it is fully retarded (Close to top dead centre) before attempting to start.
My Bonnie can be a pain to start occasionally, I find if it hasn’t started after a few kicks, turn the choke and fuel off, hold the throttle wide open and give it a couple more kicks. That often gets it going.
Every engine seems to have its own technique, it just takes a while to find whats best for your particular bike.


Also, i use a Champion L82C spark plug. My bike seems to like that.

Mine was a terrible starter. It also burnt a lot of oil. The winter strip down revealed it had the wrong piston fitted and the cylinder head was cracked. Amazing it ran at all really. Now reassembled with all the correct bits it starts third kick and ticks over after a minute or so warming up. The drill is to tickle the carb (only turn on one fuel tap), set the ignition to full retard and close the air lever. With the throttle just open, three kicks will do it. As soon as it fires up, advance the ignition slightly and move the air lever to half way. It helps to free off the clutch before doing any of this, otherwise trying to put it in gear may result in stalling and a forced repetition. And I use NGK BP6ES plugs.

My recently delivered Airone won’t start at all!

The lack of any fuel in the float bowl is probably related to the problem. I seem to have a set of special fuel economy taps, they just won’t let more than a tiny dribble through.

The tank has been off and the taps blown through with an air line, but the levers had to be a little off centre, and I wasn’t impressed with the flow. I think the tap seals my be incompatible with modern fuel. Time for a new set I think, along with a non botched (and re-chromed) balance pipe and dodgy home made filter.

Don@t forget a magneto will not like a spark gap over 25thou like modern ignitions. You will find 18thou will work much better.