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Old 02-13-2018, 10:21 PM   #1
Blondi
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Question Eng light & immediate loss of power

2004 883 Custom sportster
Today on my way home, 3 different occurrences, concord to Vallejo (distance purposes) my bike immediatly lost power, engine skipped & there a backfire... I eased on the throttle, engine caught (67 down to 63ish) and she ran like no issues. Light turned off after backfire occured & engine kicked back in. Literally happened over 45 secs.. Which i was crossing Benicia bridge. I was very alert at that point to say the least.
I have checked the spark plugs, battery connection... I have the mechanics manual. Just not sure where i should begin.
There's a shop i took to in Sept that did a full service and my bikes in great shape.
Any guidance is appreciated. I'm great at following directions & fast learner. Any youtube videos you can suggest is also appreciated.
Thank you all!
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:00 AM   #2
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Based on the description, my first thought was the engine turning off then back on, which is why the engine light came on and backfire.

I would then look at the wiring diagrams to see what components would do this. Some things like the ignition switch, engine on/off, side stand switch, fuel flow loss and so on.

Troubleshooting is a process of elimination at times, especially chasing a issue like this......it comes and goes.......no hard failure.

You will need a multimeter to test for continuity and voltages.

Something like this, I would also be bouncing the bike around while testing.

Have fun.......
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Last edited by ontherearwheel; 02-14-2018 at 05:06 AM..
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:14 AM   #3
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Man, I had a similar problem with a GSXR recently. I removed all the aftermarket stuff and it went away, then came back. I cleaned all the oil off the connectors ( bit of a leak) and lubed every connector with silicon grease. Checked battery levels. It went away. Rode a couple track days.

Removed the body work this winter and the airbox to do a leakdown. Painted everything, put it back, it wouldn't start.

I knew removing the airbox was a clue, so I looked there. I have a Woodcraft key eliminator. It's a small wiring harness. The way it was put together, one wire pulled another loose from the plug, the pin came out of the socket. That was the problem all along.

I rerouted the wire to keep from getting pulled out, stuck it back in the plug, and now it's fixed, lol.

About 15 hours went into that.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:36 AM   #4
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It's extraordinarily unlikely that it's a mechanical problem, or an airflow problem, so that leaves fuel and spark.

It doesn't sound like a fuel problem, as those don't tend to result in a backfire (although it is possible).

I think spark is the most likely problem for this. As others have stated, check your various safety disconnects - there's almost certainly one for the kickstand, or was stock.

Or... does your letting off the throttle seem to have anything to do with it coming back on?
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:41 AM   #5
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Electrical problem.

And intermittent electrical problems are tough to pin down.

Do the 2004+ Harleys have any computerized stuff that might record fault codes?
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:56 AM   #6
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Electrical problem.

And intermittent electrical problems are tough to pin down.

Do the 2004+ Harleys have any computerized stuff that might record fault codes?
it's carb'd
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:17 AM   #7
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Which makes me realize... I wouldn't expect a carb'd bike to have any sort of engine light other than an oil light.

Have you checked your oil?
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:30 AM   #8
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The oil light will come on when the engine dies.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:21 AM   #9
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If the engine is turning but for some reason there's no combustion happening, oil pressure should still be there (and if he's at freeway speed and hasn't pulled in the clutch, the engine is turning).
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:57 PM   #10
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Ok thank you all. This morning she wouldn't start... So took seat off & cover where battery is. Noticed a wire was loose from the battery (exposed wire) & there was buildup on the wire. Used an old toothbrush & cleaned the wire along with the battery positive terminal. She started right up & i rode her to work. Had 0 issues.
Definitely going to revisit this matter this weekend and check all the wiring and connections. May buy a back-up battery just incase the one i have is going bad.
Thank you all for all the info & guidance! Loving this forum
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:33 PM   #11
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Instead of getting a "backup" battery I would recommend getting yourself a decent multi meter and a battery tender. Hooking up the bike to a battery tender will prolong the life of the battery(as long as it's not already on it's way out) and the multi meter will give you a means to test said battery as well as your charging system in general.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:03 PM   #12
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Thank you. I'll look into that for sure.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:18 AM   #13
ontherearwheel
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This is gonna be hard for some to believe........but here goes.....using a tender, I had a battery last 19 years.....no joke.

The last year tab on it was 99.

It would sit for months at a time maybe even a whole year, with being used...but it always on a tender....oh maintance free one of course.

Glad it was so simple.
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:33 AM   #14
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Ok thank you all. This morning she wouldn't start... So took seat off & cover where battery is. Noticed a wire was loose from the battery (exposed wire) & there was buildup on the wire. Used an old toothbrush & cleaned the wire along with the battery positive terminal. She started right up & i rode her to work. Had 0 issues.
Definitely going to revisit this matter this weekend and check all the wiring and connections. May buy a back-up battery just incase the one i have is going bad.
Thank you all for all the info & guidance! Loving this forum
You can also take your battery in (call the place before you go in and make sure they have a battery load tester) and have it load tested. The battery should be charged before the test. If you don't have a charger must shops will charge the battery before doing the load test.
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Old 02-16-2018, 11:37 PM   #15
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You can also take your battery in (call the place before you go in and make sure they have a battery load tester) and have it load tested. The battery should be charged before the test. If you don't have a charger must shops will charge the battery before doing the load test.
Seems simple, but it's not. If the tester is one of the newer electronic types that don't actually put a load on the battery but infer battery health electronically, don't bother. They are notoriously inaccurate and give false positives. You want a tester that actually puts a resistive load on the battery. And it has to be the correct load for the battery size. One designed only for car size batteries wont give a proper reading. And charging must be done at the correct amperage. Again, car or truck chargers may damage a motorcycle battery. Finally, don't test immediately after removing the battery from a charger. Wait at least 2 hours.
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