ABR’s resident expert of all things two-wheeled answers your questions.


Hi Dave,

Since the hot weather started, I’ve noticed a strong smell of petrol from my bike. It’s an early 2001 Honda XL1000V Varadero. I’m a bit concerned as I’m off for a two-week tour of France soon.



Hi Rory,

In the hot weather, petrol, being a liquid, will expand and gas off, so what you’re smelling could be a full tank gassing off out of the overflow. By releasing the fuel cap, you may hear a hiss, a sign of pressure build up in tank. Check the fuel cap is venting properly as it’s designed to do so and not be blocked. 

If that’s not the case then you have a bit of investigating to do, which will require a strip down to thoroughly check everything associated with the fuel system. A workshop manual will help here, Haynes do great manuals for most bikes and they’re well written to help the home mechanic. Have a good read of this first to familiarise yourself with the system on your bike. 

The first step is to remove the fuel tank as this will give you access to most things. With modern petrol additives, if there is a leak somewhere it will usually be indicated by an obvious brownish staining. Have a good look around the system before dismantling. The seals in the fuel tap can give up over time, if that’s leaking, it’s a sealed unit and will need replacing. 

Varaderos of this age will have carburettors fitted. The problem could be the needle jet in the float chamber is not seating correctly. A new part shouldn’t be too expensive, and it’s just a bit of a fiddle to strip and fit.

Next, check all the fuel lines, they can harden with age and split, a length of good quality tubing, designed for petrol systems, can be easily purchased, then change all the piping to new. 

The fuel pump that supplies the carbs could be past it as well. There are much better-quality aftermarket pumps available now, look for a Facet or similar to replace. It’s an easy job and will give a far better and more reliable supply. 

It may all seem a bit daunting, but just go about it in a methodical way and the problem should reveal itself. If you get stuck just send me an email ([email protected]) and I’ll try to help more.

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