Transalp electrics

Over the last couple of weeks, I decided to work on the Transalp in an attempt to find out why I was getting ‘drop-out’ at certain times on what I think was the front cylinder.

As with all these things, Pandora’s box was opened and a few other gremlins were located and not all currently fixed.

As I’d found out on North Uist with damp, cold conditions the bike would get cylinder drop out. On my KTM Adventure, this is down to carb icing and the factory recalls/mods have added electric heaters to rectify it (sort of).

The early XL600V’s like my VH don’t have any carb heating, but I wasn’t convinced of this and after reading through the Transalp Forums I though it could be electrical, or with the carbs needing a service.

No Spark (1)

Put the bike into the shed and decided to give it a service and also started to check the wiring. After looking at a couple of connectors, cleaning them contact spray and 1600 grade wet-and-dry, I found that I’d got no spark. I went back through the connectors I’d just cleaned and the connector from the alternator to the reg/rectifier (3 yellow wires) seemed to be the culprit and after 20 minutes or so, had got a spark back. Seemed to justify continuing to go through the electrics


Decided to run through and check the plugs and whilst the rear cylinder plugs were slightly black, indicating running rich, the front plugs had slightly white tips, ie running lean. I’d changed the plugs 2500 miles earlier, but not too bad.

Front cylinder spark plug

I decided to remote the air duct and carbs, mainly to check the inlet rubbers, but also cleaned the choke at the same time. Decided not to disassemble the carbs at this point. The intet rubbers were fine, but the air duct round the front cylinder carb had cracked around the connector for the carb mouth, so fixed that with some impact adhesive.

Air Filter

I’d bought a K&N Air Filter having read about the positive effects on fuel consumption and the running rich syndrome that my Transalp, like a lot ot others, suffers from. At £32 including postage it wasn’t too bad, and the supplier on ebay, ybfilters was very good.

Carb Balancing

The carbs were balanced once warm, though I notice the front carb was running weaker when cold and when the choke was out; Therefore may need to re-visit the choke mechanism on the front carb.

Carb balancing

Heated Grips

I also decided to fit a pair of Motrax heated grips, as I’d never had a bike with them before. Anyway took about 90 minutes to fit and took the supply from the ignition feed, therefore solving the problem of running the battery down if I left them on.

There a lot of wire and the connectors from the grips and the control box to the fuse box and then to the battery all seemed to be in the wrong place; that is just behind the headstock. Anyway all sorted and they seemed to work well

No Spark [2

I ran the bike up in the workshop whilst balancing the carbs and after putting the bodywork on, decided to take it on a short test run round the lanes from the house. Unfortunately about a mile from the house, it just stopped, which what initially looked like a recurrence of the electrical problem (above). With the assistance of a neighbour out walking his dog managed to push the bike up the hill to the house.

Basically, the starter motor will turn, there are lights and other electrics, but there’s no spark at the plugs.

Back in the shed, checked the connector and seemed ok, but still no spark at the rear cylinder, left-hand plug. Checked the front right plug also, and no spark their either. Then started to do some more systematic checks:
– using the fuse holder for ignition (Fuse D on the Haynes wiring diagram) checked the continuity to the RH CDI unit (black-white cable) and this was ok
– checked the continuity for both the alternator->rectifier connector block and for the rectifier -> ignition blocks and seemed ok
– the neutral switch has been intermittent since I’ve had it and works only sometimes if the bike is warm and on the sidestand (?). I guess this is why i have to depress the clutch to start, even when the bike is in neutral (?). Checked and removed the switch and it does seems knackered (ie no continuity to ground with neutral engaged)
– stripped and cleaned the kill switch. Interesting, I’d notice before, with “kill” selected, the starter motor will still turn, rather than killing all the electrics.

So a puzzling problem, which will have to wait till Thursday as I’ve got to France for work (not by bike this time). At one point during the run through, I did have no electrics, but this was in turn due to a loose connector by the headstock for the live feed (red wire) from the ignition.

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