When the weather becomes better and it’s time to bring out your motorcycle from storage, the excitement to go riding is real. However, your motorcycle may not start and that could be a major buzzkill.
Many of you may wonder why this happens. You can do these things if your motorcycle is not starting after staying at one place for a very long time:
- Check the Killswitch
- Check the Gasoline
- Check the Clutch
- Try the Kickstart
- Check Fuel Valve Position
- Plunger Switch
- Check Battery Status
- Check Spark Plugs and Ignition System
- Check the Fuel Injection System
- Check the Fuel Supply
- Check the Intake and Exhaust
- Consult Professional Help
Motorcycles are machines that are designed for constant use in steady temperature ranges. They are not meant to be stored and can break down due to long periods of inactivity. Read on if you want to know more about these above-mentioned tips in detail.
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What to do when bike is not starting after a long time?
Machines are designed for regular use. They do not cope well with long periods of inactivity. Motorcycles are no different. Poor weather conditions or other minor issues with the motorcycle may prevent you from riding for extended periods of time.
When it is time to resume riding, the bike will encounter the major problem of not starting. This is normal, but if attention is not paid to the various probable causes, you could end up with an even bigger problem that will need you to take your bike to a garage. This often will result in a hefty bill that you will not be happy to pay.
If you are looking to avoid this costly repair job, here are a few simple tips from our end that will help you get your motorcycle up and running!
Check the Killswitch
The killswitch is used to shut the engine off without turning off the ignition system. This is very helpful for short stops at a traffic signal or in standstill traffic. However, the killswitch prevents the rider from starting the engine when it is engaged.
Turning off the killswitch is the simple solution to bring your motorcycle back to life. The killswitch can even catch experienced riders off guard and make them feel very silly when they discover it. Checking the killswitch must be amongst the first things you should check if your motorcycle has issues while starting.
Check the Gasoline
Most riders top up their gasoline before putting the bike into storage. This is done to prevent moisture from accumulating on the walls of the fuel tank, which leads to rusting. However, the gasoline severely degrades over long periods.
This involves the evaporation of volatile components like ethanol. When you start the bike again, the fuel components are not in the right ratios and could thus lead to improper ignition. This will prevent the bike from starting as a result.
Another issue could be with the use of fuel stabilizers. Stabilizers are used to preserve the fuel stored in the tanks. However, these stabilizers have a certain period beyond which they render the fuel unusable.
In the above-mentioned cases, the ideal solution would be to drain the tank and have the tank cleaned to ensure the old gasoline is completely removed. Top up the tank with fresh gasoline after you allow the tank to dry. This prevents moisture from contaminating the fuel.
The last and most obvious reason why your motorcycle may not start is that there isn’t enough gas in the tank. Topping up your gas is all you’ll need to get your motorcycle going in this case.
Check the Clutch
Amateur riders may forget to engage the clutch while starting the bike. Some bikes require the use of the clutch to start the bike even when the bike is in neutral. However, over long periods of storage, the clutch switch may disengage. In these cases, riders may have to reset the clutch by pumping it repeatedly till they feel the clutch engage.
If not, there may be damage to the clutch switch and a replacement will be the only solution. However, clutch disengagement can also mean an issue with the clutch plate that may need professional assistance to rectify the issue.
Try the Kickstart
Most motorbikes come with a kick start that allows you to start the engine without using the electrical systems. It is the most rudimentary, yet the most effective way to start an engine. On using the kick start, the crankshaft rotates, effectively bringing the engine core back to life.
This will also free up the clutch if they got stick to one another, and it also moves the engine oil inside the engine bay. Try multiple free kicks on the kickstart and you are highly likely to get your motorcycle to start. If it doesn’t, your motorcycle could have other issues that we help you identify in the coming tips.
Check Fuel Valve Position
The fuel valve on your motorcycle controls the flow of gasoline to your engine. When your motorcycle is not in use for a while, it is recommended to shut off the fuel supply to protect the fuel lines.
Occasionally, riders tend to forget to turn the fuel valve to the ON position. This results in the engine being starved of fuel, which could prevent the engine from starting. Once the fuel valve is in the ON position, it will take a few free kicks to get the engine sufficient fuel to be able to start.
The plunger switch is connected to a sensor that is located on the side stand. A modern-day safety feature, it ensures that the ignition system does not get activated until the side stand has been retracted.
This is to prevent riders from losing control of the bike due to the stand throwing them off balance while riding.
Retracting the side stand should allow you to start your motorcycle. However, if the bike still doesn’t go into the ignition mode, you might have to check the plunger switch for possible loose contacts.
Check Battery Status
The battery is a critical element in maintaining the electrical systems on the motorcycle. For the motorcycle to get started, the battery supplies electricity to the starter motor. However, this motor requires a rather high voltage to get the motor started.
A weak or dead battery will not be able to provide this required voltage and may thus result in your motorcycle being unable to start.
Check the battery to find out if it is weak, completely dead, or has loose connections. Loose connections at the terminals can result in an irregular voltage supply. Classic signs of a weak battery include a softer horn and reduced headlight intensity.
Weak batteries can be recharged while riding. However, a dead battery will result in your horn and headlights not working at all. This means it is time to change the battery of your motorcycle.
If your motorcycle is provided with only an electrical start, we would recommend you to get your battery checked regularly and change it when it is weak. This is to prevent your motorcycle from being inoperable when the battery completely fails.
Check Spark Plugs and Ignition System
Spark plugs are the components in the engine that provide the heat required for the combustion of fuel. The spark plug electrodes get worn out due to the vaporization of the molecules of the electrodes.
Over long periods of time, this electrode could be worn out to the point where the spark plug gap increases and causes improper ignition of the fuel.
Signs that your spark plug is the issue include the check engine light coming on, poor fuel economy, and cylinder misfires. While starting, you may encounter a hard start. This means the fuel supply is increased due to improper vaporization, which results in a long crank rotation before the motorcycle starts.
Changing the spark plug is a relatively simple process that requires very basic tools. However, it is important to clean the spark plug threads and channels to remove the debris from the previous plugs.
Check the Fuel Injection System
Fuel injection systems provide better performance and efficiency to the motorcycle. It optimizes the fuel mixture, allowing for cleaner combustion and more power output. Fuel injection systems are very robust and do not break down easily.
However, on rare occasions, the fuel injectors may also encounter issues that prevent your engine from receiving fuel. This can result in the motorcycle not starting.
Improper Powertrain Control Module (PCM) triggering can prevent the injectors from opening at the right time. In extreme cases, the PCM itself may fail. The solution to this problem includes replacing the injector circuit fuse and the wiring to the injectors.
If these problems do not resolve your issues, it is best to seek professional assistance to prevent further damage to your fuel injection system.
Check the Fuel Supply
The fuel supply lines connect the tank to the engine and provide a path for the continuous supply of fuel. The fuel system includes a petcock, which controls the flow of the fuel and helps you switch to the reserve tank when required.
In some cases, gunk from the petrol tank accumulates on the petcock and clogs the fuel supply. Cleaning the petcock ensures the clogging is cleared and the fuel supply is restored.
In some cases, the line supplying the gasoline may develop leaks or may have completely snapped. This could be due to wear or in some extreme cases, due to insects and small animals biting open the fuel lines.
In such cases, sealing the line with duct tape offers a temporary fix to help you start your motorcycle. Getting the fuel line replaced will ensure better performance and help you improve your mileage.
Check the Intake and Exhaust
The intake provides the air required for the combustion of the fuel within the engine. Over long periods of use, dirt and debris may accumulate in the air intakes which may prevent sufficient levels of oxygen from entering the combustion chamber.
A clogged air intake is more troublesome during starting as there is no airstream for the motorcycle to obtain oxygen from. Thus, it could prevent the motorcycle from starting.
Cleaning the air filter should solve the issue in most cases. If not, you may have to replace your air filter to ensure a smooth flow of air to the engine.
The exhaust ensures the waste byproducts of the combustion process are removed efficiently. However, in colder weather conditions, the exhaust vents provide warmth and comfort to small animals and insects, which clogs the exhaust vents and the muffler.
As a result, it could cause the engine to misfire and not start. In such cases, check the tailpipes for possible clogging and clear the clogs to ensure the motorcycle starts without any further issues.
Consult Professional Help
If none of the above tips have helped you start your motorcycle, it is highly likely that your motorcycle has encountered issues that involve the intricate workings of its various systems. Tackling such issues requires professional know-how.
This means you will have to take your motorcycle to the nearest garage for a thorough inspection, which will help discover and fix the issues. Though it may seem inconvenient and expensive, a professional solution may also be a permanent fix.
This will ensure that you do not face a similar issue in the near future and you are good to go whenever, wherever.