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Motorcycle Repair/1988 Honda Shadow VLX600 - carburetor question


I know I am a noob as far as motorcycle maintenance repairs go, but I am doing my best to understand. Previously on this forum I asked about my bike (1988 Honda shadow vlx600) having issues starting in the cold weather. I got a response ( stating that I may need to drain my carbs via drain screws? Does this require removal of the carbs or can it be done with them in place? Is this something you would suggest I attempt to do myself, or should I take it to a dealer? I only have this issue when starting the bike for the first time each day. Afterwards, when i come home in the afternoon, it starts right up and stays running. I would really like to find out what's going on and how I can fix it. Thanks for your time.

Hi Vincent,

Hondas have always been a bit sticky about running in the cold
but there are a few things that might affect it.

On the bottom of the carbs there is a drain screw which is not
hard to remove or loosen to drain the float bowl.
It is the lowest screw on the carb and goes in sideways.
It may have a small rubber oring on it so watch that if you remove it.
to drain the fuel.

On the carbs you will also see the place the choke cables go in.
The cable is black and the choke plungers are plastic.
If you are careful you can unscrew them and pull the choke
plunger out. Get some carb cleaner and blow some into
the holes the choke plungers were in. Watch out for back spray.

Many bike carbs are set lean for emissions so it might help
to have someone adjust the idle pilot fuel screws out a bit.
They are in the carbs near the front and are sometimes covered
with a lead plug. This has to be carefully removed and then the
idle fuel can be richened. the screw often goes up from the bottom
of the carb so is hard to see.

A search online may find pictures "removing the idle screw plug"

Using the stock air filter and filter box and exhaust system helps,
if any of that has been modified you may have trouble.

Another thing that can affect cold starts is a low quality battery
or a weak battery. The ignitions do not respond well to low voltage
and sometimes even cut out while cranking if the battery is not
in tip-top condition. You might clean the terminals and connectors
on any starting or ignitions parts with a quality
electronic spray like deoxit or mg chemicals.
This is often underestimated by owners but bikes that
are over 20 years old can have many poor electrical contacts
due to corrosion. Often electrical parts just need cleaning
to gain the edge for cold starts.

Keep the engine as warm as possible, a light bulb under the crankcase
would even help to warm the oil a bit which really helps.
You could try some lighter grade oil like a 5W-30 for cold weather.

Getting the oil moving really helps as well as just having clean fuel and carbs.
If your bike's compression is low that might also have some effect
so keeping the valve clearance correct is another bonus.


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Wayne S.


Licensed Motorcycle Mechanic, Knowledge of motorcycles from 1960 up, Japanese, British and most other brand motorcycle repairs.


Worked for Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki British: Triumph, Norton, BSA Other: Most Scooters and Mo-Peds

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