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Discussion Starter #1
I purchased my Chieftain in July 2014. I love my bike and the ride is second to none!
During the cooler mornings when i start my bike the bike hesitates and seems as if the battery is weak! Do i need to install a trickle charge and leave it on continuously? The battery gauge shows the level as 14.3V when it does start.
 

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I don't suppose it could hurt, but if you are using your bike at least every few days, there shouldn't be a need for a trickle charge.
Thanks for your input Dan. I would agree with you, however this is the first bike that has ever reacted this way. Think i will do a once over the battery cables just to ensure proper contact. I know the owners manual notes disconnecting the battery if not starting/ using the bike within an identified timeframe. If anyone out there has experienced this same thing, i woul appreciate further opinions.
Punkus13
 

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Howdy Punkus13,
From Kevin Cameron's article on the Thunder Stroke 111 in the May 2013 issue of Cycle World magazine, "... centrifugal exhaust-valve lifters in each exhaust cam assure assure quick achievement of starting momentum."

I have noticed the slight hesitation you describe between pressing the starter button and the engine beginning to crank, in fact, its as if when you press the button an automatic chain of events is set in motion. You can press the button and release it and after a slight hesitation the engine cranks. I'm not precisely sure how "centrifugal exhaust-valve lifters" work, but I would guess that it is a compression release device that slightly lifts the exhaust valves off of their seats when the engine is at rest to make spinning a large displacement high-compression engine over easier on the starter motor, which seems very small for the job its being asked to do. It may just be that it takes a moment for the starter motor to generate enough torque to overcome the resistance of cold oil, not unlike the hesitation you see with the old Prestolite starter system that H-D used to employ. I'm awaiting the arrival of my official Indian Service Manual and it is something I intend to look up when it gets here. It seems to work differently from any other electric-start motorcycle I've ever encountered. I'm still trying to figure out the very sophisticated electronics on this bike.
--- Randall
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the info Randall. Makes sense due to the high compression. I plan to explore this further and please advise if you find anything further!
Ride safe!
Punkus13
 

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I purchased my Chieftain in July 2014. I love my bike and the ride is second to none!
During the cooler mornings when i start my bike the bike hesitates and seems as if the battery is weak! Do i need to install a trickle charge and leave it on continuously? The battery gauge shows the level as 14.3V when it does start.
I'll relate my cold weather starting issues, 2014 Chieftan. Last Aug., temps in the mid 40's. Starter would stall out when piston came up on compression stroke. Wait about five seconds, try again, engine turned over slow and bike started. Took to dealer. They did a load test on the battery and found a bad cell. Battery replaced under warranty.

Fast forward to Oct. of last year. Went on a trip. Morning temps were 35 to 40 deg. F. Same problem reared its ugly head. Starter would quit cranking when piston came up on power stroke. Wait five seconds, try again and bike would start, but engine turned over slow. Took bike to dealer. They leave bike overnight outside in unheated storage area. Next morning, temp is 48 deg F. Tech notes same problem I had. Said battery is fine, no diagnostic codes. They are at a loss for what is causing the problem.

I have battery tender pigtails hooked up to the battery and normally plug in the battery tender if bike sits for longer than five days. Battery connections are tight. Bike is presently at dealership for winter storage. Sure hope they have it figured out when spring rolls around and riding season starts. This starting issue has been a disappointment along with the poor quality paint.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Murf i found that if the day was warm no starting issues. However every cooler day( plus 2 or less) the exact same thing would happen. I did not go to my dealer. I was hoping it was as Randall had noted in his responce. My Chieftain is stored in my cold storage shed. No heat. The battery i carefully removed( not to touch ECM) and is in my house periodically on trickle charger.
The battery while in the bike always displayed 14.3V. So i am also at a loss for ideas. Still have a few weeks until our Canadian weather changes and allows me to get back in the saddle. Lets keep each other and our forum family advised if we learn anything new!
Ride safe
 

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Murf i found that if the day was warm no starting issues. However every cooler day( plus 2 or less) the exact same thing would happen. I did not go to my dealer. I was hoping it was as Randall had noted in his responce. My Chieftain is stored in my cold storage shed. No heat. The battery i carefully removed( not to touch ECM) and is in my house periodically on trickle charger.
The battery while in the bike always displayed 14.3V. So i am also at a loss for ideas. Still have a few weeks until our Canadian weather changes and allows me to get back in the saddle. Lets keep each other and our forum family advised if we learn anything new!
Ride safe
Same here. If temp is 50 deg F and above, or engine is warm, no starting issues.

The hesitation Randall noted is when the bike is being started by pressing the power button which activates the power, then pressing and releasing the starter switch. There is a some hesitation. The starter then will engage and crank the engine till it starts but it won't crank beyond three seconds if the engine doesn't start.

Hopefully we will have a nice March like we did a couple of years ago when it was in the high 70's on St. Pat's day and the snow was gone and early rains washed all the sand and salt off the roads. Lots of bike were on the road including me.
 

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I leave my battery installed and the bike in a non heated garage. It's on a battery tender only when I am out of town for more than a few days.
Probably the coldest temperature that I will ride in is mid to high 30's. I've never experienced the starting problems described here.
 

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Morning Folks,
We've been experiencing some cold mornings here in the Chihuahuan Desert (by our standards) and the Chieftain definitely spins over slower as the temperatures drop. The coldest morning I've seen lately, at 6:30 AM with 33 F showing on the dash thermometer readout in my unheated shed, the engine turned over once and stopped. I hit the button again and it cranked, slowly, and started. I think it must be caused by cold oil causing drag on the moving parts. Once the bike has been started and warmed up it cranks right up all day long.
--- Randall
 

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I leave my battery installed and the bike in a non heated garage. It's on a battery tender only when I am out of town for more than a few days.
Probably the coldest temperature that I will ride in is mid to high 30's. I've never experienced the starting problems described here.
Morning Folks,
We've been experiencing some cold mornings here in the Chihuahuan Desert (by our standards) and the Chieftain definitely spins over slower as the temperatures drop. The coldest morning I've seen lately, at 6:30 AM with 33 F showing on the dash thermometer readout in my unheated shed, the engine turned over once and stopped. I hit the button again and it cranked, slowly, and started. I think it must be caused by cold oil causing drag on the moving parts. Once the bike has been started and warmed up it cranks right up all day long.
--- Randall
Question for both of you. Do you pull the clutch lever in, i.e. disengage the clutch before starting the bike in "cold" weather?
 

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Question for both of you. Do you pull the clutch lever in, i.e. disengage the clutch before starting the bike in "cold" weather?
Nope. On the first start of the day, I am usually standing beside the bike and put all my gear on after it starts. That gives it a minute or two to get the oil moving a bit before I take off.
 

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Question for both of you. Do you pull the clutch lever in, i.e. disengage the clutch before starting the bike in "cold" weather?
I park the bike in 1st gear, and usually start it in gear while holding the clutch. When it didn't spin up during the cold morning start I mentioned above, I shifted into neutral before hitting the button again (which I should have mentioned). It spun over more freely in neutral, suggesting that the drag of cold oil contributes to the problem, and also probably causes the hard up-shifts from 1st to 2nd that I've experienced and others have reported on the first up-shift on a cold bike. The starter sprang clutch acts on the crankshaft and via the primary gear drive to the clutch hub, which runs in engine oil.
--- Randall
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I always start my Chieftain in neutral. Kickstand down. Never have i pulled in the clutch prior to starting. Gives me time to secure up my lid, jacket and gloves.
 

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Nope. On the first start of the day, I am usually standing beside the bike and put all my gear on after it starts. That gives it a minute or two to get the oil moving a bit before I take off.
I park the bike in 1st gear, and usually start it in gear while holding the clutch. When it didn't spin up during the cold morning start I mentioned above, I shifted into neutral before hitting the button again (which I should have mentioned). It spun over more freely in neutral, suggesting that the drag of cold oil contributes to the problem, and also probably causes the hard up-shifts from 1st to 2nd that I've experienced and others have reported on the first up-shift on a cold bike. The starter sprang clutch acts on the crankshaft and via the primary gear drive to the clutch hub, which runs in engine oil.
--- Randall
Reason I ask is; If you follow the starting procedure in the owners manual, it says to shift into neutral and disengage the clutch. The one thing I haven't been doing is disengaging the clutch when starting the bike regardless wha the ambient temperature was. Talked to the service mgr at the dealership. He said bike should turn over easier in colder weather with the clutch disengaged when starting.

When cold, the tranny definitely shifts harder going from first to second.
 

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Reason I ask is; If you follow the starting procedure in the owners manual, it says to shift into neutral and disengage the clutch. The one thing I haven't been doing is disengaging the clutch when starting the bike regardless wha the ambient temperature was. Talked to the service mgr at the dealership. He said bike should turn over easier in colder weather with the clutch disengaged when starting.
I'll try that and report back.
--- Randall
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Guess i should read my manual once the weather cooperates. I cant really see disengaging the clutch making a difference to start the bike. However i will review and see what i find.
 

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Good morning,
I've followed the owner's manual procedure (transmission in neutral/clutch lever pulled) for the past two mornings, 41 F and 33 F. There is less drag with the clutch lever pulled, but I can't tell that having it neutral makes any difference. Even with the lever pulled it still turns sluggishly on cold mornings. Spins fine once the oil has warmed up.
--- Randall
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks Randall. I still have about 12 weeks before i can even attempt to try this. I will keep you posted!
 
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