So I didn't get a chance to ride my bike for a few weeks, and then when I went out to the garage a few days before Daytona Biketoberfest to start the bike and make sure it was road ready (because I'd planned to ride down with my Chrome Divas), it wouldn't start. After looking for all the obvious problems, I described the issue to the Divas and several of them suggested I probably needed to charge the battery. I went to the shop near my house (not the Harley dealership, whose employees always treat me with respect and try to earn my business -- someday I plan to move up to a Harley and give it to them . . . ) and bought a battery tender. At this visit, like so many others to this particular shop, everyone ignored me when I walked in (despite the fact that there are always more employees than customers). I approached one of the employees and asked him about battery tenders. After several interruptions where he talked to another employee about this and that, he showed me two and recommended the larger (and more expensive) one. When I asked why, he had no good answer other than the smaller one can get hot. Hmm. I bought the smaller one. It worked fine. My battery did need charging, but I realized, once I charged it, it needed charging because I had run it down trying to start the dang bike so many times.
So, battery problem solved, but the bike still wouldn't start. It's a relatively new bike (I bought it new in Fall '08) and it doesn't have many miles on it. I ride it often, but to Daytona and back is the farthest I've ridden in one trip. So I really didn't think my problem could be anything major, something I couldn't solve on my own with a little research.
I did some searching on the internet for others who owned the same bike and had similar problems. Turns out, my problem was probably the fuel. It had sat too long, and with the new, high percent ethanol fuel, the fuel will go bad faster and can clog the system and the carbs. The solution, based on everything I read, seemed to be something called Seafoam, a type of fuel stabilizer/cleaner. I decided to give it a try.
I went back to the same shop this past weekend (despite my dislike of this place, it's where I bought the bike before I knew better, and it's the closest place around) and asked about Seafoam. They showed me a comparable product which they said worked better. I explained my problem to them, and at least three of the guys standing behind the counter insisted that I would have to bring the bike in to have the carbs cleaned, that the Seafoam-like product only works as a preventative. I asked how long this would take and how much it would cost. Three hours to clean, and another to put the bike back together. Hmm. I'd have to check with the service department to get a cost quote, they said. I didn't need to. I could guess what four hours labor would cost me, plus the cost of towing my bike in, since I don't have a trailer yet.
So I took my Seafoam-like product home and decided to try it anyway. Based on everything I'd read, it was worth a shot.
I added the appropriate amount to my fuel, gave it about an hour, and then tried to start my bike.
Yep, the bike started, and it's been running fine ever since.
Guess what else?
My visit to that particular shop was my last.