Stranded at work with my XS650... damn


Been Around the Block
I need some quick help...

Rode in to work this morning and everything was going smooth untill the last mile or so... I noticed my idle got lumpy and irreggular, and the lights started to flicker. The bike would stall... Then all my lights were back and very bright again when the engine wasn't running.

I'd kickstart it, and the lights would start flickering right away and maintaining idle was a problem. Gradually got worse untill it finally died for good inside the parking lot. All electricals seem fine when the engine isn't running, my headlight is bright ect. I tried to kickstart it again when in the parking lot and she would not go. My lights would flicker off as I was kicking and no encouraging sounds from the exhaust.

Built this bike from scratch but I'm lost at to what the hell is going on.... Rotor problem maybe but my battery is obviously topped up!! If my coil fails when hot, would it really affect all my lights? Doesn't it also draw juice when the engine isn't running?

Any ideas would be most appreciated so I can ride home tonight :'(

Bike is an 1980 XS650 w/ PAMCO ignition
Sounds like it may be a recharging issue. If the engine is pulling more draw on the battery than the alternator is putting out, then it will die. A simple test would be to hook a battery charger or some jumper cables up to it, and see if it runs fine while being charged. If that doesn't work, then it is something else.
Sounds like maybe the voltage regulator/rectifier has failed and is feeding AC voltage into your electrical system.

To get home, disconnect the wires coming from the alternator into the regulator. You might have to disconnect the voltage regulator from the battery side, too, but maybe not. Unplug your headlight bulb to conserve power, and ride home on battery power alone. Don't dawdle. Your battery won't take you very far. If you are stopped at a light, don't hold your brakes on. The brake lamp will drain your battery pretty quickly.
That's what it seems like, because my battery is topped up and everything is fine until the engine starts turning... I might just unplug one of the stator brushes, that should stop any power coming out of the rotor and easy enough to undo...

Thanks for the feedback guys, I'll give this a shot.
This is embarassing...

Went back to the parking lot on my lunch break... No lights at all, no action when I turn the ignition on. Turns out the negative battery terminal vibrated itself off during my ride and the negative cable had bent over time just enough to rest on the terminal. When the engine was running it was moving around because of the vibration, when the engine was stopped it would lay still and make the connection again. Just a simple matter of attaching the ground again, I'm sure I can steal a screw from work somewhere...

I'm amazed I got a good mile in traffic without the battery terminal in place.

I knew these bikes vibrated but wow... To loosen the terminal screw and turn it all the way of of the thread ;D
That's not as bad as the guy that got me out of bed at 10:30 PM to come get his bike with my trailer.

He was out of gas.
Yup! Been there done that......just last night. Ran out of gas and hoofed me and the bike home for 3 miles in the dark.
I had my points cover off, tank off, and was in the process of taking the float bowls off just trying to find the problem when I realised that I hadnt turned the fuel on.

Just wait till the vibrations start eating your licence plate. Im gonna need a new one by next year. XS650s are the best.
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