Idle Problems... Idle Adjustment.... - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Here is what I've got so far...

Some bikes have a problem with idle quality after they get warm, this seems worse after a lot of stop and go driving in hot weather. The bike's idle may drop very low and go up and down, and some will even die and the bike needs to be restarted. Some Rocket Captains have taken their bikes into the dealer and most times the dealer reprograms the bike which helps for only a few minutes/miles and the problem comes right back. Some have had the idle stepper motor replaced which doesn't seem to help either.

At this point in time I haven't been able to find the root cause of this problem. Since this happens in both bone stock bikes and modified bikes I think we can rule out aftermarket engine modifications as the cause. Not all bikes exhibit this problem (mine doesn't) which makes me believe it may be more of an adjustment issue than a mechanical or electrical failure. This is further supported by the fact that almost all of these bikes run OK until they get very warm (complete heat soak). Electrical components like stepper motors and temp sensors usually fail completely, they don't work for awhile and then fail and then come back. I think that probably the cause of this is the fuel and ignition map letting the idle drop too far.

My solution at this time is to set up the base idle mechanically as opposed to using the Triumph scanner to set the idle. I think the fuel map is corrupt and using the scanner won't solve the problem.

Keep in mind that I worked on this on a day when the outside temp was 10 F (about - 12 C) and that my own bike doesn't exhibit this problem, so for those of you who want to try this keep in mind everything can be set back to the original specs if it fails to fix your symptoms. Also please understand that Triumph won't do this under warranty for you, it is not a Triumph Technical Service Bulletin. Also if you do this to your bike you do so at your own risk....


Please read this completely before starting any work. I would say that the skill level required to perform this adjustment would be "Advanced".

Some of the tools required are:

A quality DVOM
The Triumph service manual
An OBD II scanner
"T" pins to back probe wiring connectors
A socket set that includes 8 and 10 mm sockets
7 mm wrench
A 2.5 mm allen wrench (or key)
A T 25 torx bit
A phillips screwdriver
4 and 5 mm allen wrenches

There is a small adjustable throttle stop that we are going to adjust so the idle doesn't drop off into oblivion.

Make sure your battery is fully charged, it should be at 12.4 volts or greater with the bike not running. If it isn't, charge the battery, if that won't bring it up... replace the battery.

Go out and ride the bike, get it warm..

Remove the seat.

Remove the chrome bearclaw and lift the gas tank and place it on the propwand.

Take the 2 8mm bolts out of the coolant overflow reservoir and use some string to tie it up to the handlebars up and away from the front of the throttle bodies. Do not disconnect the rubber hose going to the radiator cap. There is an overflow hose in the top of the reservoir that you must pull out, just let it lay on top of the intake plenum.

At the rear of the throttle bodies and to the front of the frame tube there is a small triangular cover or garnish plate that has two torx screws in it, remove this cover.

Locate the primary throttle potentiometer at the rear of the throttle bodies. It has a short wiring harness with three wires under a black protective sheath that runs up to a connector. On the sensor side of this connector you will find a solid yellow wire, backpin this yellow wire with a "T" pin.

Click here for huge pic

Hook your positive lead of your DVOM to this pin.. hook the negative lead to a good metal ground (not the battery negative post).

On page 11.127 of the Triumph it says to use the Triumph scanner to "drive the primary throttle to the fully closed position" We don't have the Triumph scanner so we have to do this manually. Locate the stepper motor at the front of the throttle bodies and unplug the connector that plugs into it. It has a small tab you have to press to do this... a small pocket screwdriver is helpful. Now remove the two phillips screws that hold the stepper motor to the throttle assembly. Just let the stepper motor hang there, you do not have to remove the small cable. THIS WILL throw a check engine light later.. don't worry about it at this time.

Click here for huge pic

Pull out the fuse for the headlights. Turn on the ignition but don't try to start the bike. Blip the throttle a few times to make sure the throttle is fully released. Look at the reading on your DVOM.. it should be .6 volts +/- .02 volts. If it isn't.. you had a problem you didn't even know about :-D We will fix this later... Turn the ignition off.

Go to the front of the throttle bodies and you will find the throttle wheel that the two throttle cables attach to. If you study this assembly you will see a small set screw that is locked with a nut that has yellow paint on it. Take your 7mm wrench and break this locknut loose.

Click here for huge pic

Back this locknut off a few turns and insert the 2.5 mm allen wrench into the setscrew. You can get to it easily by going under the secondary throttle potentiometer. DO NOT loosen or remove the secondary throttle potentiometer. Hook the OBD II scanner up to the bike. Put the headlamp fuse back in. I would lower the tank at this point. Start the bike and let it run until the cooling fans kick on. After the fan turns off screw the setscrew in until you have about a 850 RPM idle displayed on the OBD II scanner. If you don't have a scanner you will have to use the inaccurate tach on the bike. I set mine at 850 RPM's, you have to decide if this is too high or low for your tastes. I wouldn't go below 750 RPM's... the idle quality seems to get very weak below 800 RPM's and that is what we are trying to fix. At 850 RPM's it really is healthy... it thumps in your chest.. (I have the cat bypass and Mad Dogs). Once you are set where you like it tighten the lock nut and see if the idle stayed where you wanted it, if not, reset it. FYI.. I turned my setscrew in about 3 turns.

Now we have to reset the primary throttle potentiometer which is at the rear of the throttle bodies. Turn the bike off, pull out the headlamp fuse. Loosen the Torx screw on the primary throttle potentiometer. Turn the ignition on but don't start the bike. Turn the primary throttle potentiometer until you get a reading of .6 volts +/- .02. Blip the throttle to make sure the throttle is completely closed and you can repeat the .6 volt reading. Tighten the Torx screw and make sure you still have .6 volts

Remove the "T" pin from the wiring harness.

Re install the stepper motor and plug in the stepper motor connector. You will have a OBD II error code 505 for "Idle circuit malfunction", clear the code at this time. If you don't have a scanner refer to page 11.27 of the shop manual which states the light will go out after three running cycles and clear itself completely after 40. A running cycle usually means going from cold to hot, so it may take a few days for the light to go out.

Turn the bike off, reinstall the headlight fuse. Reinstall everything else (The coolant bottle, the bear claw, the garnish piece, secure the gas tank, reinstall the seat.)

Let the bike cool completely (overnight). Perform the 12 minute tune.

Go out and ride it and see if the idle is where you want it, if not repeat the above as needed. (I never said it would be easy :-D )


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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 02:45 PM
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Now THAT is a worthwhile post!
Kudos to you for taking the time and effort to deal with a problem that has plagued the R3 since release, and then provide guidance for the rest of us.
It beats going to the dealer and being told "the scanner says everyting is right", without solving the problem.

Thank you.

My bike has been plagued by that "weak idle" problem...sometimes it idles great, others it drops low and indicates it might stall. I've just learned how to work with it, and found when coming to a stop, if I completely close the throttle before pulling in the clutch, and give the system a "moment" to adjust, when I clutch rpm falls to a decent idle. Throttle off/clutch at the same time seems more apt to result in a low-idle condition.
I've lived with it for almost two years because I don't have a great deal of faith in dealers for figuring out anything beyond removing and adding parts (not even that really), but I'm going to follow your instructions and see how it works out.

Again, thanks for sharing this most useful information.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-19-2006, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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I hope it fixes your symptoms... You might be the first Guinea Pig so to speak. Since I did this in freezing cold weather I wasn't able to go test ride the bike after performing this. Hopefully the idle will stay where I put it and not creep up. I think that the base idle may be controlled in part by injector pulse and ignition timing so it should stay put. Since you have this problem and you are in a warmer climate than I am it will be interesting to see how this works out. Just take good notes on how your particular bike is set up before the adjustment and you can always put things back to original specs if you have to.

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-20-2006, 02:33 PM
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-23-2006, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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Just a small update...

I was able to get out for a short ride (temp in the low 50's F) and my idle stayed right where I put it... at 850 RPM's after the bike warmed up. It didn't surge or creep up as the engine got warmer. I'll let you know how it behaves when we get some really warm weather.


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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-23-2006, 11:31 AM
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Excellent article! I too have the minor idle problem. 90% of the time it's a good idle with a little hunting (although the tach indicates 5-600 rpm, I chalked that up too inaccurate tach). Now and then it will drop down a 100 rpm so the tach indicates 400 rpm hunting to 500 and back. The engines sounds like it's going to die any moment (and I'm sure the bearings etc aren't liking it). When this happens, I help it with the throttle.

Two questions:

I did a search but nothing came up (including this thread) when I searched for 12 minute tune. I thought I read in another thread that this is simply a 12minute idle session. Is that correct?

Can you recommend an economical OBD scanner?



PS for informational purposes: I have the 06 in fast black with TOR and no cat (put on by the dealer prior to putting the bike in the showroom). The tech that did the 500 mi check confirmed it's the 54 map that he put in when they changed the pipes.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-23-2006, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Jim...

12 minute tune goes like this: Start the bike and don't touch the throttle. Let it idle until the cooling fans come on. Without touching the throttle let it idle a further 12 minutes. This restarts the engine management adaptation of the ECM. Page 11.133 of the factory service manual.

For an OBD II scanner... I would just call around to several of your local auto parts stores and get some prices for an entry level scanner... not a code reader. Make sure they understand that you want to be able to view live data. These things are a universal technology and I'm not sure that one brand is better than the other. Its probably going to run in the neighborhood of $150 to $250USD. If you don't really have anything else to use it on I would try to beg, borrow, or steal one... you may be able to rent one from an auto parts store, or even borrow one if you leave a deposit.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-25-2006, 09:53 AM
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God, I almost hate to post this but there is a very good chance that there is a much easier fix for the idle problem!!

I had this problem last summer. Every once and a while, the idle would "hunt" all over the place! On some occasions, the bike would actually die if I didn't manually feed in a little throttle. No fun in heavy traffic where, of course, it happened once. BTW, the idle was dying right from the beginning of the ride, long before I got into the traffic. It also happened other times on open roads with the temp in the 70's. I saw no relation to temperature at all.

The idle is controlled by the ECM thru the idle speed stepper motor located just in front of the throttle bodies. Since the ECM is a computer and computers have a nasty habit of going insane for no reason apparent to us mere mortals, the programming might just be the culprit.

I took the bike back to my dealer (Hermy's) and had them reprogram the ECM's idle speed setting. This involves popping the seat off and attaching the controller that every dealer has. Took about 5 minutes. That was early last August and, after several thousand miles, the problem hasn't reared it's ugly head! Admittedly, this was an intermittent problem and could happen again but I'm really starting to think that this was the solution. My dealer had one other bike with the same problem, did the same fix and, as far as I know, that ended it as well.

This is a very simple and quick shot at a cure. You might want to give it a try before going to a lot of trouble. My dealer didn't think of charging me for the re-tune and no other responsible dealer should either.

Cogito ergo equito


[ This message was edited by: TBAbob on 2006-02-25 08:59 ]
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-25-2006, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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That may be good advice...

I said:

My solution at this time is to set up the base idle mechanically as opposed to using the Triumph scanner to set the idle. I think the fuel map is corrupt and using the scanner won't solve the problem.
The reason I said that is because some people have already tried to fix it by using the Triumph scanner to adjust the idle RPM's as you have suggested. If you have the "idle problem" and you are near a Triumph dealer, I think it would be wise to exhaust all options that your Triumph dealer can come up with, but if nothing works, then reset the base idle mechanically as I described.

This is a bizzare intermittant problem that not every bike has, and whatever fixes it is a good thing, right??

As I stated... I don't know what causes this problem, but I wanted to try and come up with a fix that a "Harry Homeowner" style of mechanic could do. I know it is a little involved but you have to reset the primary throttle potentiometer which complicates matters as you can see. :-D

If... some of you are able to fix this problem by simply adjusting the base idle with the Triumph scanner... please let us know!! I'm all about doing things the easy way!!!

Thanks Bob!!

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 08:50 AM
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Well it hit me also, and yeah back to the dealer, drop off the bike, they reprogrammed it and put in a new map, started up and ran fine on the way home. Next time out same thing happened. starts fine and after 10 minutes will not idle and
Took it back to dealer and they now need the bike for a few hours to run some diagnositics so they can send the info to Triumph before Triumph will authorize replacing the stepper motor.
The problem i have is having to keep going back to dealer, dropping off bike, picking it up and it aint fixed.
AND, you read here that the stepper motor wont fix it anyway, so now what? Guess we got to play there game but i dont like it.
I also asked them about adjusting the idle screw as mentioned above, and they said it is not supposed to be touched and will screw up the rest of the tune. So not sure what to do at this point.
I think you guys may be on to something with this modification but it seems a little complicated for a normal person to do, plus if the dealer sees it, more whinning from them about doing stuff you shouldnt be doing.
What to do what to do..???

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