1. Dismiss Notice
  2. Hey Facebook people... We've created a group for XS650.com members to connect. Check it out!
    Dismiss Notice

Ever run your bike outa gas?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Mailman, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. David Toll

    David Toll Reliving my youth?

    After years of riding dirt bikes, my first road bike was a '77 Ducati Desmo 500 - the one with the motor that always reminded me of a Kawasaki KH500. The Duke was a nightmare of unreliability with a nasty tendency to seize up if the fluid levels weren't checked religiously. The electrical system was a joke and liable to burn connectors out in any sort of bad weather. Still, it was a parallel twin Ducati and it was cheap at the time.
    Met a gorgeous student at uni whom I really wanted to impress so I invited her for a day trip to Byron Bay. The Ducati had the rise at the back of the seat that kept her close, the summer's day was brilliant, the traffic on the single lane arterial was light and the Ducati sounded like a Duke. It was going to be a great day.
    Lunch at the Beach Hotel, a swim in the sea and a lazy ride home through the Tomewin ranges. Disaster struck on a valley stretch and the Ducati simply died and coasted to the side of the road - sugar cane fields all round, no shade and 38*C.
    "What's wrong?" she asked.
    "Nothing serious," I quiffed.
    Two and a half hours later I had checked the tank and lines, drained and tapped the carburettors, traced the electrics, cleaned the plugs, shook out the air filters and was sitting on the verge in a dank sweat and a foul mood not improved by the fact that every truck that went by tooted at my companion.
    "Tolly?" the object of my lust spoke up while gazing at the bars.
    "Not now Andrea," I barked.
    "But, Tolly?" she offered with more conviction.
    "Look Andrea, I'm trying to think. If I can't get this fu*#ing Italian pile of sh*t running, we'll have to hitch a ride out of here." (Which would have been no problem for her!).
    She dropped into a sullen silence while I considered my options. Pissing her off was not really one of them so I relented...
    "Sorry gorgeous, what is it?"
    She pointed at the handlebars. "Why is this "OFF" thingy pushed in?"
    I staggered to the bike, inspected the kill switch which I must have nudged while adjusting my glove, corrected its position, fired the 500 up, collected the disassembled pieces, headed to the Cabarita Hotel and took a room for the night. Ah! The romance of motorcycling!! Andrea outlasted the Ducati. Nothing was ever said about Ducati kill switches.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
  2. GLJ

    GLJ Never go faster than your guardian angle can fly. Top Contributor

    All's well that end well. Some endings are better than others.:)
    MaxPete, Jim, lakeview and 3 others like this.
  3. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Haha! David that’s a great story! One you can laugh about now, but I can only imagine your frustration at the moment! :laugh2:
    GLJ, MaxPete, Jim and 2 others like this.
  4. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Indeed, but it sounds as though his frustration was only temporary. ;)
    Paul Sutton, Mailman, GLJ and 4 others like this.
  5. motormike

    motormike XS650 Junkie XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Back in my " peanut " tank days.... (XS 650) sputtered to a stop a few times...last time I ran out... several yrs ago..I had my 77', punched to a 750..cafe'... head'd to the road races in Brainard. Had done this many times..gas up in the north metro... head to the rack... back roads... lots of fun... certain stretches I really haul'd azz..fun fun fun.....switch to reserve along the way.. and make it to the track... Then one day.. about 20 miles from the track...out in the boonies… " DETOUR " ahead... and the detour headed east.... and continued to head east..... I'm so screwed..... Sur nuf…. cough cough.... coast coast… I'm a pedestrian…. I push the rig a short distance to a mailbox.. then the walk down the gravel driveway.. with a frick'n farm dog. with attitude. bark'n and snap'n at my heels... Farmer Bob bent me over.... a gallon of go juice.. $5.oo...Yikers…
  6. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    At least you found a Farmer Bob! For me if I get stranded out in the desert, it’s nothin but coyotes and lizards around! :laugh2: Sometimes no cell service.
  7. Tomterrific

    Tomterrific XS650 Junkie

    A friend keeps a camp fuel bottle of gas strapped to his bike. It is only a quart or so but it would be welcomed if out of gas. He has never used it as far as I know.

    I also use 100 miles as a fuel gauge. Funny enough, when I got my SR500 running I was on the freeway at my exit when the bike ran out of fuel at 96 miles. There was reserve and I was fine but now I have the big Mikuni needle jet reduced and she runs better.

    Thanks Griz,
  8. Raymondo

    Raymondo XS650 rider, fettler, setting out on a journey XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I love all these stories, it's the real-world side of riding a motorbike.

    I've run out a few times, years ago when I was young and impecunious. More recently had a few worrying moments. Example, few years ago, taking a Buell X1 Lightning from the Scottish Borders to Maz in Duckenfield for some work. He's the recognised guru for Buells. So I was on the M6 motorway in Lancashire. Morning rush hour by now. Fuel light came on sooner than I expected. Had just gone past the services, of course, and not too sure how far the next ones were. Carried on along the M6, wondering how many miles left in the tank. That sinking feeling. You really don't want to stop on the hard shoulder. Coming to some random junction, nerve failed me and I pulled off. Stopped at a roundabout, tried finding someone who might know where the nearest petrol station was. It's amazing how thin on the ground pedestrians are at that time of morning. Somebody told me where they thought there was a station, so I rode there. But it had closed, probably years before. Asked somebody in a shop if they knew where there was a filling station. Yes, along that road, not far, just along the road, but they couldn't give me a distance. Concerned about running dry with an FI system - I shouldn't have worried really - I walked. It turned out to be about 2 miles. Oh well, I was gonna be late for Maz. The filling station was real old skool, couple of pumps, wooden office and a dear old gent. No, he didn't have a plastic petrol can to sell me. But he could lend me his own metal tin, Provided you bring it back! Filled the can, got a lift on the way back to the bike - young guy in a van saw me carrying a helmet and a petrol tin and put 2&2 together.

    Filled up properly when I took the can back. Set off to join the motorway again with renewed faith in human nature.

    Oh, and Maz was late as well - turned up the same time I did. LOL.
  9. David Toll

    David Toll Reliving my youth?

    The mind is a funny thing. As Raymondo says, when fuel is low, we experience that "sinking feeling". A near empty tank makes us timid and vulnerable - the hand gently probes the throttle and we constantly search out neutral to coast downhill, if we have to pass, we do it "carefully" and the ear fixates on the engine in anticipation of that dreaded hiccup. Fill her up and Shazam!! You're standing on the bow of the Titanic with your arms spread. Once drove 50 km on the reserve light coming into Mt Isa in a Daihatsu 4WD. The Isa is in the Gulf country and man, it's isolated, hot and unkind to fools. Possibly the most stressful 30 odd mins of my life!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  10. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge, is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Ya jus' had to go there dintcha'... :rolleyes:
    Worked at a place where we did major overhauls on helicopters. Had to deliver a fresh Hiller H-12 to Tampa Fla. Hiller.jpg

    Fuel gauge was inop and a new sensor was waiting at our destination... hence, I was along for the ride so's I could fix it before handing over the keys.
    We were about 50-75 mi. from Tampa and headwinds were much worse than forecast. We decided not to push it and diverted to a little airport about 10 mi. away. No sooner did we turn and get a visual on the airport.... and the mighty Lycoming HO-540 got deathly quiet. Below us was nothing but swamp and forest.... with a railroad track running right through it to a town about 2 mi. away. We were about 6-800 AGL... no way. Pilot made a textbook perfect autorotation... straddling the tracks. It gets better. Tracks were shiny... means trains pass by. :yikes: I hoofed it into town, bought a 5 gal. can and hoofed it back... pant pant...
    Mighty Lycoming roared to life and we were off. Turned back south and I could see a train just coming into the town I got gas at.

    We both swore an oath to never speak of it again. Course... that was a long long time ago.
  11. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    You got the winner so far Jim!

    On the later XS650 petcocks with the combo screen reserve pipe.
    82hs 014.jpg
    That whole assembly can loosen and flop off if it isn't tight in the petcock, so if you are all happy thinking: man I'm getting really good mileage, past 150 and haven't even hit reserve yet. You might be surprised when you switch to (NO) reserve.
    Hint if they don't seat tight I cut some shims from pop can and tighten up the fit.
  12. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Geeezzz - that would require a change of pants....
  13. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Dang Jim! That had to be an unbelievable experience! :yikes:

    The first time I rebuilt a set of petcocks that were specific left and right hand units, I accidentally switched the flip levers from one petcock to the other. They are not the same! They are left and rights and if you mix them up, you are not drawing gas from the pipe you think you are.
    That is, when the lever is in the on position, you’re actually drawing from the short reserve pipe. Giving the same results Gary just described.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  14. thuban

    thuban Horse Scratcher Top Contributor

    That David has a way with words. I think the only thing he left out was a butt real light on the seat and just tippy toeing the pegs.
  15. thuban

    thuban Horse Scratcher Top Contributor

    The first time I rebuilt a set of petcocks that were specific left and right hand units, I accidentally switched the flip levers from one petcock to the other. They are not the same! They are left and rights and if you mix them up, you are not drawing gas from the pipe you think you are.
    That is, when the lever is in the on position, you’re actually drawing from the short reserve pipe. Giving the same results Gary just described.
    View attachment 159208 [/QUOTE]

    Hummm. When I refinished my tank I put on new petcocks. Left, right, I don't know but it was a pair and they would only go on one way with the connection pipe pointed in the right direction, to the rear. But, they indicate exactly backwards from the 750 Honda. On the sixfiddy, the tail of the lever points to correct orientation. On the Honda, the "point" end of the lever indicates. I checked them with air before I put them on so I know they are right. But then again, at my age, even after I've double checked myself, Later I'm wondering if I did it right? Sorry I haven't been here much lately. Did I say I hate Doctors?
  16. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yeah the after market left, right petcocks do NOT have different levers, resulting in one forward, one back, for OFF a PITA 'specially if you have OEM petcocks on other bikes in the stable...
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
    MaxPete, Paul Sutton, Mailman and 2 others like this.
  17. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Mailman,
    The one time I ran my XS650 sidecar rig out of gas I was deliberately waiting to go onto reserve to determine how far the rig would go.
    Watching the odometer's mileage and thinking "that's further than I'd hoped" when it needed to be switched to reserve.
    After switching to reserve and finding the reserve gas was already gone I dumped in my 2 gallon jerrycan and drove home to investigate.
    Found that the gas taps in-tank filters had fallen out.
    And who knows when that happened, eh? There's no symptoms if the tank is kept topped up.​
  18. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Yup. Several times

    Don't wanna talk about it.

    With that history, and knowing my deepening senility, I knew I had to do something...

  19. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    2M , that might just be the ONLY 50 year old motorcycle with a fuel gauge! ;)
  20. ReycleBill

    ReycleBill Part Time Tyrannicide XS650.com Supporter

Share This Page