August 2004 - Vol 6, No.
V-Star 1100 Starter 101
Van Buskirk, ISRA #8627
Michelle Mack, ISRA #8627
This article is for those concerned
about their starter motor and starter clutch on their V-Star 1100
scoots. We welcome any comments or corrections to keep this article
accurate and timely.
The V-Star 1100's motor is a time-tested
highly dependable mill, derived from Yamaha's venerable Virago line
of bikes (the Virago 1100 to be exact). The Virago was Japan's first
attempt to answer Harley Davidson in creating a custom/chopper look
in a V-twin power plant. For a brief history of the Virago, go to:
Today, only the Virago 250 is made.
In 1998, Yamaha began to phase out the Viragos and launched the
V-Star line with the Virago 535 engine being bored out to 650 and
the Virago 1100 providing the motor for the larger V-Star. For some
early reviews of the (then) new V-stars, go to:
Incidentally, this is why you have
an oil filter relocation issue on the 1100 V-Stars and not the 650s.
This is a design issue that is driven by the two different Virago
engines, placement of the exhaust, and placement of the floorboards
to that low fatboy look we all love in the V-Stars.
Finally, while Viragos did have various
starter issues over the years, most related to separation within
the starter motor itself.
The V-Star 1100 Motor/Starter
We have not been on the ISRA forum
since the beginning, so We can't tell you the date that the starter
issue first surfaced, but it must have been in 2000. By 2001, folks
were documenting and suggesting possible fixes. Joe Conway's early
diagnosis is still perfectly valid today:
We think what happened initially is
some folks got confused as to what the real culprit was in regards
to the bent starter bolts. The reason they bend is from the motor
kicking back. When is does kick back all that force goes directly
back to the starter motor spinning it backwards. That's what is
twisting the bolts. We could take the starter and put in a stronger
pin to hold the casing straight, but then we think we'll see more
of the gear shearing off the starter motor. We think there is absolutely
nothing wrong with the starter motor itself, just the fact that
it is gettinng tourqed bacwards with a good amount of force that
it wasn't intended to take. This timing kick back issue is also
what is ruining the the oneway starter clucth. At least thats the
way we see it.:)
Posted 12/11/2002 8:22 am
Joe and others spent a lot of time
dealing with the cam timing chain being several teeth off in some
bikes. Some adjusted their chain in hopes of preventing the kickback
that was causing "twisted starter bolt" disease. Meanwhile,
Dave Benson was busy at work dissecting starters!!! (See Dave's
work at http://people.delphiforums.com/dadbenny/.)
Additionally, a poll was started to try to assess the extent of
Reaction and Yamaha's Position
As folks noticed their front starter
motor bolts twisting, some devised ways to lock in the internal
starter plate, treating the symptom rather than the disease. Others
replaced the starter motor, only to have it fail again. Yamaha did
redesign the starter motor to include a "torque limiter"
to accept the kickback and not develop damage, at least to the starter
motor. This new starter motor was standard for 2003 and superceded
the old starter motor for all retrofits on earlier motors. Yamaha
put out a technical update
in 2003. It is important to read and follow the starting procedure
contained in it.
The line from MamaYama was (and is)
that the new starter design was for "customer convenience"
and that customers were causing the damage by improper starting,
settings, or even buying "bad" gas. Meanwhile, starter
motors and starter clutches continued to fail and more work was
done to see what could be done to fix them and prevent the failure.
Starter Motor and Starter Clutch Repair
Replacing the starter motor (the can-looking
thing hanging off the lower front of your engine) is easy (aside
from the cost!!!).
Putting on a new one is just as easy. However,
there is no guarantee that replacing an older starter motor with a
new one will prevent further kickback from eventually destroying the
starter clutch (which is located inside your left side crankcase cover).
Joe Conway (again) and Texas Sage have done superb write-ups that
show the damage and how to replace the starter clutch parts:
- Disconnect your battery.
- Disconnect the connecting wire from the starter
- Unbolt the two small bolts holding it on your
- Pull the starter end out of the inside of the
left side crankcase.
Lately, the electronically inclined
have been checking and adjusting their TPS (throttle position sensor)
located on the carburetor, and some say this has improved startup
and shutdown, eliminating the dreaded "clunk" that is
the sound of kickback.
This, as well as further starter research
and possible fixes, continues to be of high priority as we now have
first reports of 2003 and 2004 starter motors and clutches beginning
We hope this gives you a good grounding
in the issue of the V-Star starter motor and starter clutch. From
what we can tell, this is the only true mechanical defect of this
bike. It is a pain, but also from what we can tell it has affected
no more than 15 percent of the V-Star 1100s produced.
There are many, many folks who have
contributed to the understanding of this issue through literally
thousands of posts, and there is no way to thank everyone individually.
In addition to the ISRA forum, we highly recommend Mark Garetz's
www.vstar1100.com site as a good
place to get assistance on your V-Star. But speaking for ourselves,
if it wasn't for the advice and knowledge of our forum friends,
we could not lay down the thousands of miles of rubber we do each
year in safety and in understanding our scoots.
Ride Safely and Ride it Hard!!!!!!
Big Boo (Gary Van Buskirk) and Boo