Starter motor blues

The Ducati ST2 has been a strange starter since the day that I bought it. When the starter button was pressed there was a 1 to 2 second delay before anything happened at the starter motor. I had changed the battery on the bike from the almost new lead acid to a gel for other reasons and that had made no difference. I fitted a voltmeter to the bike to make sure that it was charging at all times and it was. The thing was that I did not trust it!

My wifes BMW F800ST was also playing up in that it was very sluggish to start despite a newish battery, and that would sometimes not start at all. Because of this she had started using the ST2 and found that she preferred it to the BMW. So the F800ST will be put up for sale.

While I had the BMW up on the ramp I removed the starter motor from the front of the engine, just two bolts and a power lead. On stripping it I found that the surface of the commutator (the copper bit where the brushes touch) was a bit black rather than copper coloured. A quick rub over with some very fine wet and dry, then a wipe with acetone to clean it had it looking like copper again. After refitting it (5 minute job) the bike sprang into life with a weak battery. It would probably now start on a watch battery!

That got me thinking about the ST2. The only problem is that the lower fairings have to come off, the left hand engine casing has to be removed and the flywheel has to come off just to remove the starter! Someone at Ducati needs a new job. I found that instead of all that work, I could get to the back of the starter from the right side of the bike and with the use of some bent 8mm spanners, I could remove the rear plate with the brushes on it. The commutator stays hanging on the bike, but there is enough room to clean it up in the same away as I had the BMW. It took quite a while to refit everything as it was not designed to come apart like that.

The ST2 was on the ramp, but I pressed the button anyway, I would not normally start a bike that is over a meter of the ground on a ramp, but it was just pure music. A mere touch of the button had the motor burbling away through the sweet sounding GPR exhausts. 30 seconds later my wife was at the garage door with a cup of tea for me and a huge smile at the sound of what has become her bike.

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