I have a chinese ATV with an engine copied from an ~2006 Honda Foreman 400 (a very simple 1 cylinder 400cc carburetor based engine). It's an exact copy with regards to parts. However it does not start easily.

I don't even know what information to provide here to make debugging this easier.

You can see what I am talking about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5XOFfaw0OY The video shows just 10 seconds of it, the actual time it took was more like 40 minutes. It doesn't even make any promising sounds, I can just hear the starter turning and air being pumped out of the exhaust via the engine turning. The least amount of time that damn thing took to start up was 5 minutes and that was in the hottest weather in summer. In winter its like 1 hour or no luck at all.

Usually it starts when I give up, let the ATV sit there for a minute or so and then try again one last time. It starts up a few cranks after the first time I hear any promising sounds of combustion in the engine or sometimes immediately when there is combustion.

I have tried new spark plugs, a new controller, new air filter. Choking the air intake helps (it has no choke of it own). When the ATV starts, the engine will die if I do not keep the revs up. When the engine is warm, it will run for hours on end until it runs out of fuel. The ATV started up fine when it was brand new in 2007, but the amount of time it takes to start the damn thing has slowly grown over the years.

At some point the battery of the ATV was not enough (they kept dying on me), so I now use a dead battery as a terminal of sorts and start the atv with jumper cables and a large car battery. After the ATV has started, I remove the cables and let it run from its own generator.

1 Answer 1


Since choking helps, I would think it's carburetion. A classic problem with motorcycle carburetors is that the idle circuit gets plugged up. If that's the case they usually don't idle or run very well at low throttle openings. How does it idle and run at low throttle openings after it's warmed up?

I'd try spraying carburetor cleaner and blowing out the idle jet passages with compressed air. Typically you can screw in the idle jet mixture screw all the way and count the number of turns, usually about 1 and a half. Then unscrew it fully, there may be a spring and an o-ring, don't loose those. With the idle screw out spray carburetor cleaner in the hole, let it sit a few minutes, and then blow out with compressed air. Then reinsert the adjuster, screw it in all the way, and then back out the same number of turns as it was originally.

A bike whose ignition it too far advanced will also be hard to start.

  • the ignition system is very basic on this ATV.
    – allanlaal
    Oct 10, 2015 at 15:46
  • The throttle can be constantly applied via a screw touching the throttle lever in the handlebar. If I would loosen the screw completely, so there is no throtte - the ATV would die. Does this mean its the same idle-mixture issue?
    – allanlaal
    Oct 10, 2015 at 15:49

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