VALKFAQ's

Frequently asked questions

What is hydrolock?


Hydrolock is a term describing when a cylinder fills with fuel. The fuel typically comes in when a float valve sticks open, often from dirt, and/or the stock petcock might be leaking through the diaphragm. The end result is the engine is "locked" up (aka hydrolocked). Because the starter motor is very strong the end result is a tooth breaks off the starter gear, which requires major surgery to repair. Many people get into the habit of just bumping the starter button to be sure it doesn't go clunk. If you suspect it's hydrolocked you can pull the spark plugs and crank it to force out the gasoline but be careful of flying, flammable liquid! It typically only affects the left side cylinders due to the lean on the sidestand. See below for Dave Wilder's explaination and recommendations. Also, click on the Wilder menu at the top of the page for complete details about Dave's carb rebuilds. 1. What is a hydrolock in an engine? This is when any liquid fills the void on top of a piston. Liquids can’t be compressed, which locks the piston from being able to reach the top of it’s stroke. This is, unfortunately, a fairly common problem with an aging Valkyrie. What happens is gasoline gets into a cylinder by either (a) leaking past a float valve, or (b) leaking down the vacuum tube from the petcock to cylinder #6. When the owner hits the starter button, the engine locks up. Typically they will try again. Don’t! Or worse yet, hook up jumper cables or a battery charger to get a little more power. Really, really don’t do that! 2. So, what can happen if I get a hydrolock? Several things can happen, and you are not going to like any of them.
(a) The connecting rod to that cylinder can get bent. That’s a major overhaul to replace.
(b) More likely, the starter motor will shear off a tooth or two on the driven gear. Not the gear on the end of the starter motor shaft, the gear in the transmission that it turns. Now you get to remove the engine, take the back cover off, replace that gear, and put it all back. Oh joy.
(c) There are actually 2 gears in the transmission that can get damaged. Your starter is strong enough to break teeth off both of them. It’s no extra labor to do the 2 gears, just more cost for parts. 3. Is there a way to avoid all this damage if I get a hydrolock? Yes. (a) If you ever get ready to start the engine and smell gasoline, find the source of that smell before trying to start it. Frequently it will be a leak at the fuel rail o-rings, which doesn’t cause a hydrolock. It does mean you need some viton o-rings to permanently fix that problem though.
(b) Let’s say you smell gas and there is fuel leaking out of one of the rubber hoses that go from one side of the carbs to the metal crossmember at the back of the carbs. Those hoses terminate by simply sticking through a hole in the bottom of the crossmember. They connect to your air rail, which is an air vent for the carbs. But the air rail is near the top inside the carb, which is actually higher than the intake manifold tube. By the time gas gets high enough to run out the air rail, it is already filling a cylinder with gas. 4. I got lucky and discovered a fuel problem before pushing the start button. Or I pushed it and the engine didn’t turn freely like it is supposed to do. What sounld I do next, if continuing to try to start the engine is not what I should do? This is an easy answer. (a) Remove all 6 spark plugs. Pull your spark plug wires away from the spark plug holes. Now turn your switch on and spin the starter. It is advisable to do this outside, because a hydrolocked cylinder will blast liquid fuel 20 feet or more. It will tell you which cylinder has the problem.
(b) Fix the problem and change the oil before starting the engine. If gas has flooded a cylinder, you also have gas mixed with your oil. That’s not good. 5. Isn’t the vacuum-operated petcock supposed to stop this from happening? Yes it is. But it’s about 20 years old, has 2 diaphragms inside it, and those rubber parts have been exposed to fuel with ethanol in it. It can’t last forever, and there are 2 ways for it to fail: (a) It starts allowing gas to pass towards the carburetors, even when the engine is not running. Maybe even if the selector knob is turned to off. These things don’t last forever.
(b) It gets a slow leak in the diaphragms. The diaphragm closest to the vacuum nipple moves back and forth a lot when the engine is running, but the inner one just barely moves and does so slowly.
- It is the inner one that is exposed to ethanol and gas, so it gets brittle. If it starts leaking, there is a weep hole in the center metal cover that is supposed to let the gas out, and alert you to a problem because you will smell gas. For some reason that weep hole attracts bugs that pack it with mud, lay their eggs, and then cap it off with more mud. It gets stopped up. One guy had a very slow gas leak there and “fixed it” with JB Weld. Another thing not to do.
- The outer diaphragm, that moves so much, can develop a pinhole over time. If it were a major tear, the diaphragm would close and the engine would run out of gas. And that can happen, but more likely it will be a pinhole that develops. Then the inner diaphragm suddenly starts moving a lot due to the vacuum impulses from that intake. It is stiff and brittle from age and ethanol, so it tears. If the weep hole is plugged up, you now have a leak down the vacuum line. If you cut it off to eat lunch and get back to riding in 30 minutes, you will never know. But if you park it for a while, you will have a hydrolock on #6 cylinder when you return to the bike. I repaired a hydrolock for a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune (1 hour away) a few years ago. His Valkyrie hydrolocked on #6. When I pulled the vacuum line off, it was damp with gasoline. I let it hang and we timed the drips. It would drip 1 drop every 11 minutes, whether the petcock was switched on or off. 6. I have read that people fix this problem by taking the OEM petcock off and replacing it with a Pingel one. Is that a good idea? Some people say yes, I say no. The Pingel is expensive, but it does get you away from having a vacuum-operated petcock. If you also add a Dan-marc electric fuel shutoff at the same time, it is a viable option. But the valve is hard to get to, and when you need to switch to reserve, you will be reaching way under the gas tank to get to it. Also, while the OEM fuel filter is very good, the one on top of the Pingel petcock is more of a strainer than a filter. Stuff gets past it, so now you need an inline fuel filter. There is a better option. Convert your OEM petcock to manual, put in a new OEM fuel filter, and add a Dan-marc electric fuel cutoff valve. I’ll sell you the part to convert it to manual for $10 (postage included). Just send $10 by PayPal to davidswilder@yahoo.com and email me your mailing address. Or I will convert it to manual for free while I have your carbs. 7. I’ve never heard of a Gold Wing having a hydrolock, and I’ve ridden Gold Wings for 30 years. The Valkyrie is based on a GL1500 engine but GL1500s don’t hydrolock. Why is that? Easy, the Gold Wings, from the GL1000 forward, have the gas tank mounted under the seat and use a fuel pump. Gravity feed won’t work for them because the carbs are in front of the gas tank instead of under it. If you have a leaky float valve, but the fuel pump isn’t supplying more gas, how can it hydrolock? It can’t. 8. You just mentioned float valves. Even if my Valkyrie’s petcock is leaking gas down the fuel line, for whatever reason, shouldn’t the float valves stop the flow of fuel? Absolutely, yes but your float valves can fail and they are about 20 years old! Also, it doesn’t take much of a piece of debris to block a float valve open enough to seep gas by. With such a good filter on top of the OEM petcock, it can still get trash into the fuel supply. Think tiny pieces of black rubber from the inner petcock diaphragm breaking down. Or tiny pieces from the inside of a failing fuel line. Debris happens. 9. This is horrible! So there’s no way to completely “hydrolock-proof” my beautiful, classic, Valkyrie?! I might as well sell it because now I’m afraid that a hydrolock will destroy my engine, or do so much damage that fixing it will be more expensive than buying another one. Not so fast, I didn’t say you can’t hydrolock-proof your Valkyrie. Here’s all you have to do:
(a) Convert your OEM petcock to manual function only with a new Viton rubber gasket, available only from me. Or make your own if you can.
(b) Replace all 97 rubber pieces in those 6 carbs with Viton rubber ones (yes, I counted them).
(c) Install a Dan-Marc Electric Fuel Valve as low as possible directly between the fuel rails with a T on the outlet side heading straight into the fuel rails. This greatly limits the volume of fuel available to cause a hydrolock in the event of a leaky float valve at some time in the future. After doing the above steps, you never have to switch your petcock to “off” except when you remove the gas tank. Just use it to switch between “on” and “res”. The Dan-marc will cut off the fuel flow for you every time you switch the key off. And there won’t be a vacuum line from the petcock to intake #6. Problem solved. Enjoy the ride!




Why won't my Valkyrie start when it's cold?


If it’s really cold and it’s not starting or won’t stay running, push down on the “choke” until it’s all the way down...and then throw your whole body weight into it until you think it’s going to break. NOW it’s working (and it’s not really a choke, it’s a fuel enrichment thingy).




Why does my Valkyrie scream when accelerating, especially around 45?


Because of the Valkyrie's power, Honda used straight cut gears and they're pretty noisy. It just adds to the visceral feeling of raw power the Valkyrie gives you. It all goes away at highway speeds.




Why is it hard to shift from 1st to 2nd gear?


Just put a little up pressure on the shifter before you engage the clutch to shift into 2nd and it’ll be smooth as silk. A lot of people us a Shifter Buddy (https://www.facebook.com/groups/474127493287210/)
or a Jersey shifter bracket (https://jerseymcproducts.bigcartel.com/)
This is because they stabilize the shifter which also helps the shifter seal last longer. The seal is prone to failure due to the stock shifter design and is really the only source of possible oil leaks on a Valkyrie.




Why does it sound like marbles are loose in the engine when you’re idling in neutral and let the clutch out?


It's all got to do with straight-cut gears and spinning clutch pieces parts but it's normal. Turn up the music!




What is de-smogging?


De-smogged bikes have no performance gains or fuel economy gains, just eliminates a lot of unnecessary parts and future problems with vacuum leaks. Looks a lot cleaner too.




What is "darkside"?


"Going darkside" is the practice of using a car tire on the back of the Valkyrie. Promoters and detractors are very passionate about this practice and will argue endlessly over the merits and pitfalls. We won't go into a discussion about it here but suffice it to say many riders do it and have put on millions of miles with no ill effects. A Valkyrie with a car tire on back can scrape pegs in the turns with no loss of traction and many claim it handles better in rain and unpaved roads plus you can put double, triple or better the number of miles before needing to be replaced. Car tires with more rounded sidewalls work the best. Do your own research and talk to other riders before deciding. Would you put a car tire on a racing bike and hit the track? Probably not. Does it make sense on a heavy cruiser with comparatively limited lean angles? Your call. There is an interesting video on YouTube of a darkside Valkyrie running the Tail of the Dragon (beginning at Deals Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line). See it here. Another practice is going "double darkside" but rather than a car tire on the front a rear motorcycle tire is used. Rear tires have deeper tread so you get more miles before needing replacement. Riders typically reverse the rotation of the tire when going from back to front.




What kind of oil should I use?


Valkyries do require oil but they don't use it like some brands :-). The discussion about what kind of oil to use and how often to change it with regards to Valkyries has sparked heated and lengthly debates for years. Amsoil, Mobil 1, Rotella, etc. are all great oils and every oil has it followers although they do vary in price. Some claim their bikes run cooler, shift smoother, are quieter, etc. with different oils but there is no common denominator with regards to the oil brand. A straight weight oil isn't recommended due to the clutches so something like 5-40W or 15-40W is best depending on if you're in a predominately hotter (15-40) or colder (5-40) climate. Most people change their oil every 5-8k miles with a new filter and to the best of anyone's knowledge no Valkyrie engine has ever failed due to the type of oil used. Conventional or synthetic, either can do the job and a regularly serviced Valkyrie can go for hundreds of thousand of miles. The main thing to look for is oil that doesn't include "friction modifiers" or are labelled "energy conserving" which can cause clutch slippage.




Why do people refer to Valkyries as Dragons?


A question often asked, why do we call our bikes "DRAGONS"?
Back on Sept. 1, 1996, the first internet site dedicated to the Honda Valkyrie, "The Valkyries' Lair," was launched. The site, built by Craig Buhl, contained the tag line, "For Those Who Ride the Dragon." Craig referred to the Valkyrie as the Dragon because of the definition of a dragon: "*Dragon (n.) A legendary fire breathing beast of great size; renowned for its immense power and ability to fly."
It just caught on and stuck, to this day we still refer to the mighty Honda Valkyrie as "The Dragon"




What's the deal with Cobra pipes and K&N air filters? How do they affect horsepower? (Answer by David Wilder, carb guru)


The Keihin CD/ CV carbs on your Valkyrie are very advanced carbs, among the best ever designed. They automatically adjust for air density (due to humidity and altitude changes) as well as load (throttle, terrain, etc.) as you ride. This is done without electronics, exhaust gas sensors, etc. The results are very similar to what electronic fuel injection accomplishes. BUT, they are most efficient at doing all this within a narrow range of parameters.
The fuel mixture is regulated by the vacuum operated slide and needle assembly, controlled by sensor ports adjacent to but not inside of the air horns (aluminum parts at the top of each carb, where the hoses from the air box attach).
Without going into a bunch of details on how this works, the simple answer is that your carbs require a certain amount of intake side resistance to operate properly. Exhaust side back pressure is also important, but the intake side is critical.
Decreasing exhaust back pressure hurts your performance some. Decreasing intake resistance (vacuum) makes a lot more of a performance decrease.
In a typical old-school hot rod, you want little exhaust back pressure and as free-flowing as possible intake. A Holley dual pumper quadrajet carburetor with this setup ensures great gobs of horsepower, but not great efficiency. This is not at all the case with your Valkyrie. The Valkyrie engine was designed for both efficiency and power, and to utilize the last highly advanced fuel management system in carburetor design. From this era on, all advances in fuel management have been in the area of fuel injection and electronics.
Opening up the flow of air by using a free flowing air filter changes the parameters for the carbs to work in. It moves them out of their most effective range and results in a net loss of horsepower and torque.
Lots of people are happy with their Valkyries using K&N filters with equally free flowing exhaust systems. Starting with a 6 cylinder engine that is geared fairly low and producing around 100 HP, then reducing that HP by 8-12%, still leaves you with a very powerful motorcycle. Plus the sound might make it seem mean. But put that modified Valkyrie on a dyno and compare it to an unmodified Valkyrie, and you will see a difference.
The story isn't just about power. It is also fuel efficiency. A stock Valkyrie (intake and exhaust) running 87 octane fuel will go farther and faster than one with a K&N filter and Cobras running 93 or higher octane.





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