Electrical Issues – 1983 GL1100 Aspencade

The bike will not start even after the battery has been completly charged; however, I am able to jump start the bike with a car battery.  I am currently having the battery checked to see if there are any problems with it.

However, I ran an Ohms test on the bike putting the meter on the + and – on the battery wires (Note:  Battery not installed) and the meter showed something pulling power.

I then removed the fuses in the fuse panel located in the top compartment storage tray, one by one, to see if anything from there could be pulling power and was still pulling power.

I think it may be the ignition switch, was wondering if there was easy way to test this without tearing off the cowling and instrument panel.  Also any other suggestions on what it may be and how to test them.

Any help would be appreciated.


Hi TJ,

Common problem on old rides. I’ve experienced this same issue many times and had different causes.

First and foremost – just because a battery is fully charged doesn’t mean it’s any good. What does the voltage drop to across the battery terminals as soon as you hit the starter button?

Second – it’s never a bad idea to pull the cowling to inspect the condition of everything. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve found in places where they shouldn’t be!

A common cause of this problem is a bad ground. It sounds like you are reasonably sure of the ignition being the culprit, but before that I always start from the bigger parts and work my way down the food chain. I would very closely inspect the ground cable from the battery to the frame. Then inspect the main positive cable as well.

I had a very frustrating case of this symptom on my Yamaha Venture (Yamaha’s Goldwing competitor). I cleaned and re-cleaned every connection on the bike and the problem persisted. Eventually I cut open the sheath over the main ground cable and found that the wires inside were extremely corroded. The terminals on both ends were in great shape, but the damage was hidden. The bike would crank, but wouldn’t start unless jumped. This was a direct result of storing a bike with the battery connected. I replaced the cable and the problem was instantly solved.

If everything so far checks out then I would go ahead and pull off some plastic to inspect. I would disconnect every connection and clean them thoroughly. Chances are they haven’t been cleaned recently (or ever). I have sometimes found that I simply have a connection work loose, which can cause all sorts of intermittent problems.

Make sure all your hot and cold leads are routed away from open metal surfaces and the little rubber boots over the connections aren’t worn from vibration and rubbing.

First – check your battery. An old battery can cause all sorts of problems. In most of my bikes, I just run a cheap battery and replace it annually.

Let me know how it goes. Cheers.

The battery is being charged and checked at Autozone, I have to wait until tomorrow for the results, since the battery is a slow charge and takes over 5 hours.

If I am getting an Ohms reading with the  positive probe on the main positive cable and the ground probe on different  parts of the bike indicate a short somewhere and not a ground issue?  Note:  Bike is completely turned off.

Also, if I remove the ignition switch and the Ohms test comes out not showing any pull would this indicate that the switch is bad / needs a good cleaning or would it indicate something else.

Something I just thought about.  The reason I suspect the Ignition Switch is that I have a bar on the back of the bike that lights up with the running lights ( I call the X-mas Lights).  I recently had to have those fixed, while doing so I noticed that when the ignition switch was turned all the way to the right the lights would not come on; however, if I backed off on the key just a little the lights would come on.

Is your ignition switch serviceable? I’m not sure what style is used on the Goldwings. Some Japanese ignitions can be opened up by removing a couple bolts and the contacts can be inspected and cleaned. Other models are sealed units that just need to be replaced.

Either way – sounds like you need to dig out the ignition and inspect it. I would stick my voltmeter into the ignition pigtails and watch for voltage coming in/out on the correct wires as the key turns.

Evan Fell

1 comment

  1. actually this is true, the bike does not start in gear unless the kikcstand is up and the clutch is pulled in. Thing is though, the way I have it set up I can turn the ignition on with my alarm pager and I can then press the starter button I hear the sound like the engine wants ? to stat, but it won’t I need to bypass the kawasaki safe guards to make it start, but then it might start in gear?


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