Yamaha V-Max Embarrassment
A few weeks ago, I was feeling guilty about not having ridden my V-Max for a few months; actually, anxious is a better word, carbs and fuel systems gumming up is a continual problem with modern fuel in old motorcycles. Sure enough when I tried to start it, it turned over slowly with not even a hint of firing, then the battery went flat. So as the battery had given trouble before, and I had no idea of its age, I assumed, hoped more like, new battery required, and everything will be fine again.
Last Sunday first thing, acquired new battery, is put it on charge for the recommended 4 to 5 hours before fitting it into the bike. In the meantime, I go for a morning ride with the IMOC guys. The route was around the Cape Peninsula and for once it was a great ride, very little traffic and cool but dry weather. Over Ou Kaapse Weg to Kommetjie, Misty Cliffs, Scarborough we then turned right out to the Cape Point Ostrich Farm and The Hatchery restaurant where, invigorated by the cool air, we stopped in need of breakfast. The farm is almost opposite the Cape Point Nature Reserve entrance, and presumably in peak tourist season very busy, but not last Sunday, in fact the owner seemed quite surprised to see customers, especially eight of them all together. Nevertheless, and despite her making apologies for not having enough bacon, she cooked us up a fantastic breakfast buffet: bacon, ostrich steaks, scrambled eggs, sautéed potatoes, fried tomatoes, chili sauces and lots of toast and coffee, all for a very reasonable sum. Highly recommended if you are going that way and the reason for this part of the story.
Right, back home and back to the V-Max. Battery in, not quite as easy on the V-Max as most bikes, first the seat must be removed, four bolts, then the rear ignition coils must be disconnected and removed, another three connectors and two bolts. Only then can the battery be disconnected, lifted, dropped and crush finger, sworn at, then finally lifted out. New battery dropped in, reconnect everything and try starting. Disappointed, motor just turns over but again but no firing. Ok squirt some Easy Start into the airbox and it fires and runs momentarily, but does not continue, beginning to look like my worst fears are coming true. I can hear the fuel pump running but there does not seem to be any fuel reaching the carbs, disconnect the pump from the inline filter put my finger over the pipe and I can feel it sucking, but is it sucking enough? Next I give the filter a quick suck and get a mouth full of fuel vapour, more swearing, time to go inside and have a cup of tea. While having tea I read the manual about removing and checking the fuel pump and carbs, not a trivial job. Also nagging at the back on my mind is the idea that the bike has run out of petrol, although it rode into the garage and the fuel light is not on, so there must be fuel, surely. Anyway, not having any spare fuel handy, I abandon the job for the afternoon and go and fix a spotlight switch on the Himalayan.
Youth Day Thursday, after running some errands in the morning, I purchase some petrol, and I feel I need to use the word purchase, as R250 for what was just 10 litres of lawn mower fuel really is a purchase and not just a buy. Fortunately I don’t have lawns anymore, just rocks, so it’s 5 litres into the V-Max. New battery had been on charge so try starting again, lots of turning over as before, then just as I’m about give up, a small futt from the exhaust, ooh. Try again and a couple of cylinders start making more persistent futting sounds then the other two cylinders join in, and it staggers into life. Big relief.
Warm it up to a steady tick over, switch off and pour the other 5 litres of petrol plus a half litre of fuel system cleaner into the tank. On with the riding kit and up to the petrol station, wanted to see how much fuel was needed to fill right up, almost another 5 litres. Now that’s interesting, the manual states the V-Max fuel capacity as 15 litres and I’ve just put in just over 15 litres so it must have been very empty, a bit embarrassing that. So to get over my embarrassment I take the bike up the N7 and then do Ride Number 1. Nice ride, bit overcast but with the late afternoon winter sun coming in low I managed to get some nice pictures of the V-Max with a very clear Table Mountain in the distant background, picture below, or above.
Back home again over a cup of tea I read the manual to try to understand how the fuel system works and why the bike didn’t go on to reserve. After digesting the wiring diagram for twenty minutes turns out there is no actual reserve on the V-Max, its all fake.
You must remember that the V-Max came up in 1986 where the norm was still that the fuel tank sat on top of motor and the carbs where gravity fed through a simple fuel tap and when the main tank ran dry the bike started spluttering and you simple reached down and switched the tap to reserve to get the last few litres in the tank. With high V-Max motor the fuel tank is down under the seat necessitating a pump to bring the fuel up to the carbs, there is no fuel tap. So to simulate the same sort of low fuel warning, Yamaha designed a system whereby a low fuel sensor turns on a low fuel light and at the same time sends a signal to the fuel pump relay to switch off the pump within 30 seconds, the reserve fuel switch on the handlebars overrides this signal. So if the rider spots the fuel light straight away and switches to reserve the bike just carries on, if he doesn’t spot the light the pump stops and hence so does the motor, creating an out of fuel situation, he then switches to reserve and restarts. Either way the bike has warned the rider that there are only 3 litres of fuel left.
All very clever except my low fuel sensor doesn’t appear to be working, so I must have run the bike completely out of fuel just as I entered my garage, some might say that was lucky, I’m not so sure. ~BoB