My wife rides a 2002 V-Star 1100 Custom, for which I do the routine maintenance. Overall, the bike has been pretty low-maintenance, other than a recurring problem with the carbs that has me at my wit's end. The issue appears to be specific to this bike, so I'm hoping that folks here with more V-Star specific experience can offer some advice.
Briefly, for context, this bike required nothing but scheduled maintenance (oil, plugs, inspections) for the first few years of its life. In 2010, I had trouble getting it running in the Spring, so I took it to our local shop for service. The tech said that the carbs needed to be cleaned, he cleaned them, and it ran great afterwards.
Over the course of the next few years, virtually every small engine we had fell victim to the same issue. From our mower, to snowblower, to chainsaw, to pressure washer, to my bike (1995 Shadow 1100), their carbs suddenly, mysteriously, all needed cleaning. As I came to learn, our state had recently phased in E10 gasoline, which causes the carbs to varnish much more quickly. So, I changed my fuel preservative, stepped up my maintenance routines, and became somewhat of a carburetor expert through the school of hard knocks.
Nowadays, our entire fleet runs fine - with the exception of the V-Star.
I'm to the point that I'm cleaning the V-Star carbs twice a year. Sometimes it won't idle. Sometimes it stumbles off the line. Sometimes it sputters at open throttle. From year-to-year it's never exactly the same problem, but it's inevitably the result of some gunk in one of the carbs, and the issue gets resolved with about 6 hours of wrenching on her bike and inhaling carcinogenic carb cleaner fumes.
My questions are:
- Does anyone else have ethanol-related carburetor problems that are more severe on their V-Star than on other motors?
- What can I do throughout the year, and especially over the Winter, to keep from having to clean the carbs so frequently?
Being early Spring here in New England, I just put the batteries in the bikes, topped off the tires, did some basic inspections, and fired them up. Predictably, the Shadow runs fine and the V-Star won't idle (but runs well with any amount of throttle). Last Fall, I did the same thing to winterize both bikes (and all of our small engines):
- Add a long-term storage dose of marine Sta-Bil and fill the tank
- Ride for a few miles to get the treated fuel into the whole fuel system
- With the motor running, turned off the fuel petcock and let the bike idle until it stopped
I also removed the battery and did some other stuff, but that's it for the fuel system. This procedure seems to work fine for most of our engines but, for whatever reason, the V-Star is especially sensitive to gunky carbs.
This has been going on for 5 years now, and it's driving me nuts. If I had the money, I'd sell this bike and buy a fuel injected one, just to preserve my sanity. That's not a realistic option, though, so I'm hoping that someone with more knowledge of the V-Star can suggest a solution that will keep this one clean and running well without its annual (and sometimes semi-annual) carb overhaul.
Thank you, in advance, for your suggestions.