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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I got back to riding and bought a 98 XL1200C Sportster. I always wanted one. Bought it with 6k miles on it and am now pushing 7k without issues.
Here's what happened. I turned left on a 4 lane from a traffic light and blasted down the road full throttle. I shifted to second and the bike lost power and started to backfire. It seemed it wanted to run but every time I tried accelerating, even so slightly it kept backfiring and eventually rolled to a stop about a half mile down. After several attempts to start it and it stalling again I ended up maneuvering into in a utility access road that was nearby. I checked things out while I was sitting there. Oil? Fuel valve? Plug wires? Hoping it was something simple.
I got a ride home and had it towed to the house rather than the dealer since I was close to home. After it was off the truck I was able to start it and it did not sound bad. I was also able to ride it pulling a u-turn in the street and up the driveway. I said WTF and took it around a few neighborhood blocks and it seemed to drive okay, at least at these low 30~35 MPH speeds.
I'm going to try and ride it around the neighborhood again today to get a better assessment of its reliability and running condition. I started it and it seemed to start and idle normally this morning.
Meanwhile, I am asking if anyone has any idea of what might have caused or is causing this. Is it possible to over-rev this stock bike? I mean, there isn't a tach, so, it's questionable. Someone has already mentioned to me that with HD it is usually an electrical or electronic issue. Could that be a cause for something like this? The backfiring was concerning me.
I know I was being hard on it but really need to know if it is going to the dealer and what I might be telling them the problem is if it is running okay when I take it there.
Any insight is much appreciated folks.
Thanks.
 

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weird member
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I mean if it's stock, you can't over-rev it, the stock ignition module has a set maximum RPM. I mean yeah, even then you don't want to keep it at/near redline all the time, same goes for any vehicle.

There's a few simple things to check. One, check for air intake or vacuum leaks. Also, check the fuel filter... a 1998 with only 6-7,000 miles? That thing sat a lot (at least before you got it), and if it sat a lot with fuel in the tank, the tank lining could have peeled inside and now is clogging the fuel screen. Also check that the battery is good (a failing battery might still start the bike and let it idle, but otherwise has issues with running).

Beyond that, things get more involved. The carburetor could have issues (the accelerator pump is a diaphragm and spring, and if that diaphragm gets a hole or tear, you can have horrible acceleration rates... also the vacuum slide is a diaphragm and if that gets a hole or leaks, you'll have issues... or you could simply have a carb that's clogged and dirty).

And yes, it could also be an electrical issue, but let's eliminate the easier and more common causes first.

Checking for air intake leaks:
Get the bike warmed up and idling steady. Use a straw and spray either WD-40 or starter fluid on all three intake manifold seals while it's running, try not to let any of it get sucked into the air cleaner. Listen for any change in idle whenever you spray a seal (increase/decrease of idle speed, sputtering or backfiring). If the idle doesn't change, no leak on the manifold seals.
 

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1998 XL1200C
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi. Thanks for helping. I started it. It seemed okay. I drove it. Took it on the main highway by my house (about a quarter mile) and up to 65mph and it drove fine. Weird. Anyway, I'm still following your suggestions. Do I need to remove the air cleaner to reach the manifold or just spray behind it?
 

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weird member
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Hi. Thanks for helping. I started it. It seemed okay. I drove it. Took it on the main highway by my house (about a quarter mile) and up to 65mph and it drove fine. Weird. Anyway, I'm still following your suggestions. Do I need to remove the air cleaner to reach the manifold or just spray behind it?
You should be able to just spray behind it, especially with a straw.

Though it sounds like you might not have an air intake leak, but doesn't hurt to be sure. If you did have an air intake leak, especially a slight one, symptoms would get worse the hotter the bike is.

Next thing would be to check the air filter, make sure it's clean. If that's good, next would be fuel screen. After that, double check the battery cable connections and ground.

If everything looks good and it's back to running right, I suppose just keep riding unless it happens again? Sometimes diagnosing an intermittent failure of any kind can be a pita.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You should be able to just spray behind it, especially with a straw.

Though it sounds like you might not have an air intake leak, but doesn't hurt to be sure. If you did have an air intake leak, especially a slight one, symptoms would get worse the hotter the bike is.

Next thing would be to check the air filter, make sure it's clean. If that's good, next would be fuel screen. After that, double check the battery cable connections and ground.

If everything looks good and it's back to running right, I suppose just keep riding unless it happens again? Sometimes diagnosing an intermittent failure of any kind can be a pita.
Okay Sir, I will check those things out, and in that order. And I will continue to ride it in hopes I don't get stranded again. I'll take it a bit easier with it for a while. 😁

The bike was abnormally in a fantastic condition when I got it from this guy. Oil is clean, the inside of the tank looked tremendously clean, etc. He had told me his riding was limited to 5 or 10 miles, 4 or 5 times a month (during the Summer). he said he didn't take many long rides on it. He also mentioned that he used fuel system cleaner now and then, changed filters regularly and used fuel stabilizer during any storage periods. He did admit he had spilled it and had it repaired once before.
My plan was to get some riding out of it then get it all checked out in the Spring at the dealer near me. My main concerns are the hoses and tires. Things like that. I have no idea how old any of this stuff is, or what is original and what has been replaced.
I'll try and post a pic here. Not sure if it will work or not, but. Looks like it may work...

Tire Wheel Fuel tank Automotive fuel system Automotive tire


Tire Plant Fuel tank Wheel Vehicle


If I encounter any repeat issues, I will probably take it to the shop and get all this stuff checked out early. Nice Softail by the way. Good work.

Beat to you,
Lyndon
 

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here is a good picture and explanation of the codes and the dangers of old tires.

 
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1998 XL1200C
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
here is a good picture and explanation of the codes and the dangers of old tires.

Hey Jim,

Thanks. All you guys have been very informative in helping me get some insight with this. Now I know I am looking for on the tires. Hopefully, a 4 digit tire code, and... hopefully with the last 2 digits in the teens. Parking it is one thing, but I didn't buy it to park it. LOL
I'm sure it will get figured out eventually. I got so sick of repairing cars that I have a minimal interest in taking motor vehicles apart anymore. After all pita transmission, and heads I've done I finally said I just don't feel like doing this anymore. I'll try to assess it, but I think I'm going to let the dealer service department handle most of the work on this stuff. Besides, I really am not equipped for a bike repair or have the space to do these things. I haven't even purchased a lift or stand for it yet. And dealers have all the proper equipment and knowledge in getting it running correctly.
I'm just going to be the "cash cow" I suppose.
Thanks for all the helpful information guys.

Best to all,
Lyndon
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Why take it to the dealer? There is bound to be a good independent shop near you.
I can't say that I am aware of any place around that works on bikes, let alone a hog. I could check into it. The Harley dealer is 3 1/2 miles from me. I'm sure they have all the know-how and experience it takes to fix things right and not screw things up doing it.. I don't have the tools. Yet...
I don't even have a way to stand it up straight without sitting on it. A lift would be nice when I can get around to buying one. Space to work on it would be nice too. I've grown so sick and tired of working on cars that I don't really have the motivation either. I'm sure I could do things myself, but...
On another note: back to the tires. Does anyone know if the date codes can be removed from the tires? I went to check mine and it looks like a couple of posts sticking out of the rubber that may have held tags where the codes should be but what could have been a tag is missing. And if that is true, was it legal for someone to sell it that way or have removed the alleged tags? That sounds a little fishy to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It isn't a "tag", it is a code imprinted into the tire itself.
Oh yeah. I see that now with a little elbow grease and an old toothbrush I got it cleaned out. But it doesn't make me feel any better. The front wheel looks to be 287 and the rear a 267. Since the bike is a '98, these tires were made in 1997 and are the original tires that came with the bike. Crap! I guess I am pricing tires too now. Oh well, I was going to do it in the Spring anyway.
 

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I can't say that I am aware of any place around that works on bikes, let alone a hog. I could check into it. The Harley dealer is 3 1/2 miles from me. I'm sure they have all the know-how and experience it takes to fix things right and not screw things up doing it.. I don't have the tools. Yet...
I don't even have a way to stand it up straight without sitting on it. A lift would be nice when I can get around to buying one. Space to work on it would be nice too. I've grown so sick and tired of working on cars that I don't really have the motivation either. I'm sure I could do things myself, but...
On another note: back to the tires. Does anyone know if the date codes can be removed from the tires? I went to check mine and it looks like a couple of posts sticking out of the rubber that may have held tags where the codes should be but what could have been a tag is missing. And if that is true, was it legal for someone to sell it that way or have removed the alleged tags? That sounds a little fishy to me.
Its imprinted into the sidewall, keep looking. That said, being an older year bike and no real reason to believe otherwise, just plan on getting new tires. You have a dealership 3 miles away, have them check and replace if you can't find it. You want to ride.
 

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Hi everyone. I got back to riding and bought a 98 XL1200C Sportster. I always wanted one. Bought it with 6k miles on it and am now pushing 7k without issues.
Here's what happened. I turned left on a 4 lane from a traffic light and blasted down the road full throttle. I shifted to second and the bike lost power and started to backfire. It seemed it wanted to run but every time I tried accelerating, even so slightly it kept backfiring and eventually rolled to a stop about a half mile down. After several attempts to start it and it stalling again I ended up maneuvering into in a utility access road that was nearby. I checked things out while I was sitting there. Oil? Fuel valve? Plug wires? Hoping it was something simple.
I got a ride home and had it towed to the house rather than the dealer since I was close to home. After it was off the truck I was able to start it and it did not sound bad. I was also able to ride it pulling a u-turn in the street and up the driveway. I said WTF and took it around a few neighborhood blocks and it seemed to drive okay, at least at these low 30~35 MPH speeds.
I'm going to try and ride it around the neighborhood again today to get a better assessment of its reliability and running condition. I started it and it seemed to start and idle normally this morning.
Meanwhile, I am asking if anyone has any idea of what might have caused or is causing this. Is it possible to over-rev this stock bike? I mean, there isn't a tach, so, it's questionable. Someone has already mentioned to me that with HD it is usually an electrical or electronic issue. Could that be a cause for something like this? The backfiring was concerning me.
I know I was being hard on it but really need to know if it is going to the dealer and what I might be telling them the problem is if it is running okay when I take it there.
Any insight is much appreciated folks.
Thanks.
trying too figure out how to reply// sounds to me, that you might have what is called , floating a valve, where driving too hign or high speed (high rpm) will actually collapse one or more of the valves, its when the oil is forced out of valve which causes a lot of problems including your problem// some times the valve will build oil back up in it just setting, or running at low rpm, if there's any knocking from push rods shut it down an take it to shop my thought is all about 46 years of wrenching.
 

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Hi everyone. I got back to riding and bought a 98 XL1200C Sportster. I always wanted one. Bought it with 6k miles on it and am now pushing 7k without issues.
Here's what happened. I turned left on a 4 lane from a traffic light and blasted down the road full throttle. I shifted to second and the bike lost power and started to backfire. It seemed it wanted to run but every time I tried accelerating, even so slightly it kept backfiring and eventually rolled to a stop about a half mile down. After several attempts to start it and it stalling again I ended up maneuvering into in a utility access road that was nearby. I checked things out while I was sitting there. Oil? Fuel valve? Plug wires? Hoping it was something simple.
I got a ride home and had it towed to the house rather than the dealer since I was close to home. After it was off the truck I was able to start it and it did not sound bad. I was also able to ride it pulling a u-turn in the street and up the driveway. I said WTF and took it around a few neighborhood blocks and it seemed to drive okay, at least at these low 30~35 MPH speeds.
I'm going to try and ride it around the neighborhood again today to get a better assessment of its reliability and running condition. I started it and it seemed to start and idle normally this morning.
Meanwhile, I am asking if anyone has any idea of what might have caused or is causing this. Is it possible to over-rev this stock bike? I mean, there isn't a tach, so, it's questionable. Someone has already mentioned to me that with HD it is usually an electrical or electronic issue. Could that be a cause for something like this? The backfiring was concerning me.
I know I was being hard on it but really need to know if it is going to the dealer and what I might be telling them the problem is if it is running okay when I take it there.
Any insight is much appreciated folks.
Thanks.
I had a similar problem several years ago. After a lot of investigation, it turned out that there was enough crap in the tank that when bike wasn't running, debris in tank would settle to the bottom and filter would not be clogged. After riding the bike a short while, the filter would start to clog again and carb was deprived fuel. Shortly after stopping the clogged filter debris would drain back into tank. Simple answer. Replace filter and I would drain tank and have it cleaned out. Hopefully this is the only problem. Good luck.
 

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there's no oil in the valves. You could have over revved it and bent a valve though.
 
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