Winter riding problems in the northeast - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Winter riding problems in the northeast

Hello fellow VN750 riders. I have an '05 and like to ride all year round. This is my first winter with the bike and I'm a concerned that it might not be a good bike for the cold winters. Since I live in an overcrowded city, there's no garage space so the bike stays outside all the time. After a couple days of bitter cold (dropping down into the single digits), I haven't been able to start my bike. Two things -

1. Is it safe to assume the battery might need to be charged? It turns over, but it doesn't seem to have enough juice to get the engine going. I'm planning on charging it tomorrow.

2. There is no coolant, it appears to be completely empty. Could this be part of the problem. I will search the forum for the right kind and refill that tomorrow as well.

3. Anything I can do to avoid this is the future. As I mentioned above, I like to ride year round and would like to to get through the winter without anymore problems.

What do you think? I don't have a lot of mechanical experience, so I appreciate any thoughts. Thanks in advance.

John
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 05:51 AM
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No bike is a good bike for snow and ice and you should keep off the road in those conditions. Afer all, there are some guys who won't ride if it rains.

Buy a cover for the bike - even though the bike is outside it will still make a big difference.

It sounds like you have a standard lead/acid battery and I assume when you say the temp is in single digits you mean farenheit - which will be well below freezing. Perhaps the battery has enough power to turn the engine over but not enough left for the spark. Get a gel battery - they are much better and they have been well discussed here. You might also be getting condensation inside the cylinders which won't help.

The VN750 can be a temperamental starter and the charging system is not the best. Living in a crowded city I wonder how often and for how long you get up the necessary revs for the system to charge the battery properly. The bike likes a good long run once in a while. If you use it just as a commuter, you might be better off with an ER500 - they are totally bomb proof, the petrol lasts forever and they have a high performance. They just don't quite have the looks.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Simon. A couple of things. The battery is a gel battery, I put it in last summer. The ER500 looks like the perfect bike, but I don't think they make it in the states. Plus, I like a cruiser and I like driving my girlfriend around. Not sure if she would like riding on the dual sport or if it has enough power. I live in NYC, but I'm pretty sure I do get enough high rev action, I ride mostly on the peripheral highways. Plus, I see a lot of other mid-range cruisers around the city. Does that change anything?

John
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 10:26 AM
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John, if ...er, when...you get your bike started again, put a voltmeter on the battery and keep an eye on your voltage as the rpms go up. Our charging systems don't put out enough juice to charge the battery until we're at 2500 or more rpm (or about that). So gauge your driving patterns on that - if you're in stop-and-go traffic, you'll probably run your battery down (and your r/r and stator in the summertime, if it's hot out). If you're out on peripheral roads where you can keep your speed up, you're probably fine. There have been a couple of threads recently on installing a voltmeter on these bikes to keep an eye on 'em - it's really a cost-effective idea and it takes the guesswork out of it.

Are you checking the reservoir for coolant or the hoses themselves? Just wondering how low "out" is.

C
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Cindy,

Thanks for the encouragement!! I'm just looking at the reservoir, there's no liquid showing in the window. I'm not sure about the hoses, I'll have to figure out how to check them.

The voltmeter sounds like a good idea, I'll have to figure out how to hook it up. These small tasks are intimidating for someone with little mechanical experience, but I always seem to figure it out.

Also, does cold weather really suck the charge out of a battery?

John
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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Since you arent riding right now, no harm pulling your battery and have it tested at AutoZone, O'Riely's (instert favorite auto parts supplier here) for Cold Cranking Amps.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 11:30 AM
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Yes cold weather does reduce the starting power, and also a heavy oil makes for a stiffer and harder turnover... You didn't say what viscosity oil you were using, so maybe a thinner oil in your cold winter climate would help, if you are using a 10w-40 would it help to go to something like a 5w-40 such as 5w-40 Rotella T synthetic, for maybe a better cold turn over ?? Just some thoughts, and also I find it hard to see the coolant level in the window, so I check mine with a clean dry small 1/8" wooden dowel pin then hold it outside at the same level to compare it to the window slot... Others may have better answers than me... But maybe you will find something useful from this... It is supposed to hit 72 here today so I am going to get a bit of oil stir & recharge in on mine today...
Have a good one...Old Dog...
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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We're getting nice weather as well. Nothing in the 70's, but close to 60. I was very sad I couldn't ride into work this morning. Really, the winters here are mild. There's usually one big snow storm and a short period of cold weather, but it doesn't last. I don't ride on snow or ice, but I can still ride just about every day.

I'll recharge the battery, check my fluids, and see what happens. I had a honda rebel before this, which seemed easier to wrench on. But, I wanted a bigger bike and the VN750 appeared. The bikers I respect had good things to say about it and I like the community (and the price was right!!!).

I appreciate any other suggestions if you have any. I'll try to take the best care possible and deal with situations as they arise.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-08-2008, 04:45 AM
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Can only suggest that to start the bike you put jump leads on the battery and connect to another bike. If you use a car, just connect to its battery without the engine running as the amps are different. If its freezing hard you might be having trouble getting petrol vapour out of the carbs and wrapping the bike in a winter cover really will keep the worst of it out.
If I was taking my girlfriend out I wouldn't use an ER500 either and the overwhelming visual appeal of a v twin cruiser is the reason I never bought one myself. but they are OK as a second bike to get you around. Good luck
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