On the return trip from one of our recent rides, my bike started to give me some problems. As we were riding along, the bike started to choke and sputter, then it backfired a few times. I was losing power, so I pulled over to the side of the road where the engine sounded like it was falling apart. Oh! Oh!, call Mo-Tow . . . but I was surprised when I tried to start it up again and it started and made no noise. The bike continued to run very well for the next 30 miles till we got to lunch.
After lunch, we had gone no more than three miles when it happened again, only this time, I geared down, revved the engine and it cleared itself, only to run great the rest of the way home.
Having promised to loan the bike to some guests coming over from the UK, I didn't have the time to look into the problem myself, so to Simi Valley Cycle it went with the anticipation of a big labor bill for trying to find an intermittent problem.
When they called me and told me the bike was ready, I was surprised. The anticipation of my engine falling apart was nothing more than a crudded-up check valve in the fuel breather line, a problem which I had advised numerous other Virago owners about through my web site "Problems and Fixes" page. However, when it happened to me, I didn't even think to check it.
The mechanic explained that it is caused by filling the tank too full . . . above the breather tube in the tank. Some fuel then runs down the breather tube, settling in the check valve just before the carbon canister under the seat. The fuel evaporates and leaves a sludge build-up until it gums up the check valve and doesn't allow it to let air into the tank, thereby starving the carbs, causing the engine to run rough and sound like it's falling apart.
A simple fix, but one which does not come to mind too quickly when you're miles from home and thinking about calling the tow truck.
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Note: This Tech Article was created from the VOC site data.(Virago Owners Club)