Question about 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

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96 883 sportster with 3000 miles only. Will run only with enrichment knob pulled out when i throttle up it wants to die and spits fuel out carb and pre ignites in carb ran well when was stored not run since 5 years

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Carbureted Harleys that will only run with the enrichment knob pulled out require a partial disassembly as the slow jet is most like clogged and/or the entire carburetor and fuel system needs to be cleaned &serviced.

Posted on Aug 09, 2010


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My 04 harley night train keeps fouling plugs left and right i richened the mixture with a 52 pilot jet. ran fine for awhile then fouled again could this be an electrical problem?

A #52 pilot is a bit on the rich side in my opinion. I usually use either a #48 or a #50 but each machine is a bit different and your location effects it as well. I wouldn't think an electical problem is the cause or you'd notice erratic engine performance prior to the plugs fouling such as misfiring, coughing or spitting back through the carb. How long are you running the enricher when cold starting the engine? This is the biggest reason I see for fouling plugs. People will start the engine with the enricher and allow the engine to run while they put their riding gear on, sometimes five minutes at full enrichement. This will foul the plugs quickly. The enricher uses a different fuel circuit than the normal running operation uses. It draws fuel directly from the float bowl and it's a very rich mixture. Try starting the bike with the enricher and once you can keep the engine running with the throttle, turn the enricher off. Use the throttle tension knob underneath the throttle to hold the throttle open enough to keep the engine running until it warms up.

Good Luck

Sep 03, 2011 | Harley Davidson FXSTB Night Train...

2 Answers

2003 sportster is havin a real hard time starting in the mornings, backfires sometimes while trying

not sure what you have tried but here are a few things that could be the cause

bad or fouled plugs
bad plug cables (sometimes you can't tell by just looking at them)
plug gap too close or too wide
bad battery
damaged wire or loose connection at battery or coils
water or dirt in fuel system
fuel vent system plugged. (best to see a dealer for this)

hope this helps

Aug 22, 2011 | Harley Davidson Bullet 500 Deluxe...

1 Answer

98 Sportster 883. starts & w/ choke, won't take throttle or choke off w/o stalling. Bike sat for a long time (years). Used Gumout to clean carb b4 pulling tank, cleaning & put fresh fuel -...

No, nothing else to check. You need to completely disassemble the carb and clean it out. When gasoline left in the float bowl evaporated, it left behind the gummy additives that the refinery puts in the gasoline. This mess has clogged the jets and small passageways in the carb. The reason it runs with the "choke" out is that it is not a real "choke" but rather an "enricher circuit". It has it's own air passageway and fuel metering "jet" in the float bowl.

Good Luck

Aug 01, 2011 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

2 Answers

94 1340 with a mikuni carb that has recenly been rebuilt it will only stay running with the choke pulled. Give it gas it dies let go of the choke it dies. I need to know where to start looking .

I'd start looking at whoever rebuilt the carb. To begin with, this is not the original carb that came on the bike. It came with a Keihin CV type carb. But the symptoms you are describing sound like you are not getting any fuel through the slow speed circuit. The choke you are talking about is actually an enricher circuit if the Mikuni is a Screamin' Eagle carb or one of the flat side carbs made for a Harley-Davidson engine. The enricher circuit has it's own fuel metering system. It mixes fuel and air that the engine runs on when the engine is cold. The mixture is very rich as well. But when you crack the throttle the least bit, the air that the engine draws in comes in through the main venturi instead of the enricher circuit. If there is no fuel or not enough fuel in that air stream, the mixture is too lean for the engine to run and it dies. If the carb had not been "rebuilt", I'd say that the jets were stopped up or that the accelerator pump is not working.

Good Luck

Jun 17, 2011 | Harley Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide...

1 Answer


The only thing that I can guess is happening is the engine is spitting back while you're trying to start the engine. This ignites any gasoline that is in the carb or throttle body and the flame is burning you air filter. The thing to do is to continue to turn the engine. This sucks the flame into the engine. It won't hurt anything because after all, you are trying to start a fire in the engine.

If your bike equipped with a carb, pull the enricher out, milk the throttle about twice, turn the ignition switch on, and then push the start button while leaving the throttle completely closed. This is very important, leave the throttle closed. This is how an enricher circuit works. If you crack the throttle open even the slightest bit, the air is drawn through the carb instead of the enricher circuit and this causes the spit back in the carb. It will do the same thing with fuel injection. Start the bike with the throttle completely closed. It should fire and go to a high idle with the enricher out or with a fuel injected engine.

Good Luck

May 13, 2011 | 2011 Harley Davidson FLSTC Heritage...

1 Answer

Replace my enrichment cable 883 sportster i haave to remove carb.

Yes, you must remove the carb to change the cable. Right where the cable goes into the carb, there is a plastic nut deal that screws into the carb. Take the air filter off, take the enricher cable out of it's holder on the left side of the bike, disconnect the throttle and idle cables and the fuel lines, and the carb just pulls right out of the manifold. Use a 14mm wrench to take the cable out. You'll have to take the spring and plunger off of your old cable and put it on the new cable. I'd put a new manifold seal, rubber seal on the manifold where the carb plugs in, if I were you. They have a tendency to create a vacuum leak after they've been run a while and you pull the carb out. They don't cost that much.

Good Luck

May 01, 2011 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

2 Answers

Bike runs great. until it warms up then it backfires and spits and sputters

It sounds like a fuel problem. Next time it starts doing this, take the air filter cover and the air filter off. Leave the air filter backing plate on the engine and go for a ride. If it runs better, the carb is too rich. If it runs worse, the carb is too lean. They are usually jetted very lean from the factory to meet EPA standards.

If the bike is fuel injected, the dealer will have to change that as it's not owner servicable.

If you run it too long with the enricher on when it's cold, it will foul the spark plugs. The enricher is way rich. I usually only run the enricher long enough to get the warm enough to run while holding the throttle open or using the throttle lock. Don't run the enricher any longer than necessary. Put in a new set of plugs that try that. Big Twins are bad about the enricher fouling the plugs, Sportsters are the king of fouled plugs when using the enricher. When you purchase spark plugs, just buy the Autolite 4164 plugs. They run as well as anything out there and don't cost nearly as much.

Good Luck

Aug 23, 2010 | 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

I have a 1996 883 HD XL will start but then dies out.if I crank on and of the throttle I can keep it running. But when I stop it dies out.could this be something plugged in the Carb,or vacuum...

Yes, it could be either something plugged in the carb or vacuum leaks. If the bike has been sitting for over three months, it's probably the jets are plugged in the carb. You'll need to pull the carb and go through it. Use that pressurized carb cleaner to clean out the jets and all passageways in the carb.

Make sure you put a new carb to intake seal on the intake before you put the carb back on. Also, check the hose that comes off the backside of the carb. It supplies vacuum to two things, the VOES switch up between the tanks and the vacuum operated fuel petcock. Make sure the hose has not cracked or come loose from either of these. I at least one occasion, I found the vacuum operated petcock to be leaking air. The bike would not idle. It would run but would pop and spit back through the carb. I had to take it out of the tank, disassemble it, and reassemble. After that, it worked but I don't know for how long. I suggest replacing the vacuum operated petcocks with manually operated petcocks. I've only seen one leak air but I've seen lots of them leave riders stranded with full fuel tanks but no fuel in the carb. They will malfunction and leave you stranded.

Feb 20, 2010 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883...

1 Answer

I think I have bad fuel in the carburetor. How do I get it out? It will crank but cut out as soon as I try the throttle.

Regrettably, there is no drain plug on the float bowl of the carburator. Most late model Sportsters are very cold natured due to their extremely lean jetting from the factory. To get the old fuel out of the carb, first either drain the fuel tank or add fresh fuel to the fuel in the tank unless it's really bad. If it's that bad, drain the tank.

Put the enricher on and start the engine. Allow the engine to run with the enricher on until it warms up. Then, you should be able to turn the enricher off and the bike should continue to run.

The only other way to get the old fuel out of the float bowl is to remove the float bowl with the carb on the engine or remove the carb from the engine and turn it on it's side to drain the old fuel out. I wouldn't recommend removing the float bowl unless you're familiar with how it comes off and goes back on. I'd try to "run the fuel out" first. If you need help with removing the float bowl, either repost here or send me a message directly at Good Luck!

Oct 24, 2009 | 2002 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883

1 Answer

Carb spittin out fuel when using throttle

change the air filter they spit oil out of the breather tubes that are connected to the rocker boxes when the air filter gets dirty the air pressure lowers on the cleaner side of the carb and then the fuel wants to go to the lower pressure making it come oput of the airfilter side

May 18, 2009 | 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

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