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Whether or not it's low on oil should have little bearing on carburetion problems, which is what you're describing.

But don't forget to check (and change!) that oil...........
 

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I just thought it was strange to see the problem in such a specific incident
"I just got an old 1983 XS400R"

I didn't.

"Runs good - daily rider (when I parked it)" are words I've heard often...........
 

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You'll have to ask mscuddy if he knows specifics about this particular bike (and he probably does!), but it might be a carb-synchronization issue, or some spooge in a jet or bleed hole, or simply a quirk of this particular model - it IS an early-'80s moto, after all!
 
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