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Q: What do I do if I drown my bike?

A: What you do depends on how much water your engine has ingested. Here's some tips that might help. When first trying to see if the engine will start, kick the engine over SLOWLY and without much pressure on the kickstart. If the engine has swallowed a lot of water and the combustion chamber is filled, kicking the engine hard can cause hydraulic lock (water is not compressible) and bend the connecting rod.
If the engine has only ingested a little water, you can remove the sparkplug and kickstart some of the moisture out. Be sure to ALWAYS replace the sparkplug in the cap and properly ground it to the engine or frame and be sure it will not ignite any fumes before kicking the engine over. Dry the plug (a Bic lighter sometimes works or use a new one) and put it back in. Squeeze the water out of the air cleaner foam and a few squirts of WD40 into the intake will act as starting fluid. WD40 is a great two-stroke starting fluid (we use it to start racing jetskis that have the chokes removed for better air flow) but I don't recommend using regular ether starting fluid for a two-stroke under any circumstances. The small aerosol cans are great to carry in a fanny pack.

If the engine has ingested a lot of water you will need to drain the crankcase by turning the bike upside down. Before doing that however, check to see if your bike has a crankcase drainplug (my TY350 has two, one on the bottom of the crankcase and one on the side) as you may be able to evacuate the case without upending the bike. You will also need to drain the carb float bowl, clean out the airbox and squeeze any water out of the air cleaner.

Don't forget to later drain and change the crankcase oil as the vent tube will probably suck up a considerable amount of water. It's also a good idea to drain the gastank too.

To help waterproof your bike 1.) vent the flywheel sidecase by adding a fitting and running a plastic tube up under the gastank. Cold water hitting the sidecase creates a vacuum condition (remember your physics?) and water is sucked past any leak in the electric's sealing system 2.) clean and liberally spray the stator plate area with a good electrical water dispersant product (WD40 works for this too) 3.) take all electrical connectors apart, clean, squirt some dielectric tune-up grease (available at any auto parts store) into the connector and reassemble 4.) if necessary, tape the airbox in a way that helps to keep water from being ingested 5.) use fresh fuel that is less likely to have water condensation in it 6.) use a waterproof foam filter oil (some are affected by water).

I?ve drowned bikes before and found that perseverance is your best tool to get it started again.
Professional tuner and 'Trials Competition' writer Jon Stoodley has very kindly stepped up to the plate to answer your questions. If you're having problems, or need some advice just send an email to Jon. If it's something that could be useful to others, we'll post it on the site.
This article originally appeared in 'Trials Competition', and was reproduced with permission.
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