900 SS starting

I’ve been a biker for over 40 years and I feel a bit dumb asking for basic advice.
I have just purchased a special with a 900 SS engine.
The battery has been replaced but I still have trouble starting the bike (only two successes)
I follow the procedure in the manual - depress the ticklers 4 or 5 times, no throttle,hefty kicks…
On one occasion couldn’t restart with hot engine.
What am I doing wrong?
I know these can be fickle. I had a MHR once but it wasn’t recalcitrant like this machine.
I will be grateful for any advice.

Hi Russel,

It sounds to me like the idle/mixture settings are out*, you should also check the timing, 32 degrees BTC was standard back in the day but retarding it too as much as 28 degrees might help these days, hot/tuned motors back in the day (with better fuel) worked very well being advanced to 34 degrees.
You shouldn’t press the “Tickler” button several times (I don’t care what any manual says! You aren’t consulting a Haynes manual are you? The best place for one of them is the nearest bin), this only results in a hole being worn in the top of the floats, rather you should just hold down the button until fuel floods out from the carb’s.
I start my Bevel 900SS by 1st giving it enough kicks to free off the clutch (pull in the clutch lever and kick “Hard” until it frees off), turn on the fuel, tickle the carbs (as above), kick it over 2 or 3 times to draw some fuel into the motor, ease the motor up onto compression, turn on the ignition switch/key and then give it a healthy kick…
This procedure works 9.9 times out of 10 for me.
I’ve owned my “Old nail” for 35 years now covering well over 130,000 miles on it, having bought it new in '79.

*The thing to remember here is that settings that worked looooong ago no longer work anymore, as the fuel these days isn’t like/anywhere as good as the pump fuel was back in the day.

Steve R

Hello Russel.
I’ve had my Darmah for 30+ years too so this is how I start mine…(yes I know I’ve got an electric start)
Mine’s never any trouble to start
Depending on how warm it is…

Cold day, full tank - Press ticklers count to 5 let go 2 twists on the throttle, hit the button and get ready to catch it.
Cold day, emptyish tank - Press ticklers count to 7 let go 2 twists on the throttle, hit the button and get ready to catch it.

Warm day - 2 twists on the throttle, hit the button and get ready to catch it.

Very warm day - Just hit the button.

A few other things to check:
Ignition pick-ups have they been changed at all, if not they’re probably just down to the bare wires can cause problems?
Are the accelerator pumps working OK (don’t look down the carb bore when you try them, you’ll get an eyefull of petrol I know!)?
Are the rubbers between the carb manifold and the engine OK they do have tendency to split?
Are the tickler buttons acting on the floats, does petrol gush out of the carbs when they are held down for more than 7 secs (how did Ducati get away with selling a bike in 1982 where you had to cover your gloves and the engine with petrol every time the bike was started! :astonished: )?
Are the petrol filters all clean, there are ones in the tank on the petrol taps (I think) and ones under the banjos on the carbs, also take the float bowls off and make sure that the nut/bowl holding the float bowl of isn’t clogged with stuff, it can clog the main jet.


Thanks for your responses.
Started the bike yesterday following the recommended procedure then I stalled it and couldn’t restart it hot (it had idled for a while)
Restarted later but it kicked back a few times (two pairs of torn trousers now)
I’ll check the timing and maybe retard it a little if necessary.
Thanks again, Russell

Thanks for your help.
I’ve had some success with your techniques but I will take the bike back to the supplier to get it checked over.
They are specialists with bevel Dukes so I’m sure all will soon be sorted (me and/or the bike)