The good news- I decided to give it one last go. Took the carbs off, cleaned everything (but I can't say it looked too bad, blasted the jets and passages, put it all together, 3 count tickle, 3 kicks key out, 2 kicks key in, and success!

What's more, it continued to start with one or two kicks!

But here's the asterisk. Huge oil leak from the riders right base gasket, and I think I know why. Flat bottom on the cylinder, and I'm using the metal gasket. The other side has the ridges, so it's oil tight. I guess I have to get the paper gasket...

Thanks to everyone with the advice!