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What to Look for When Your Motorcycle Won't Start | The Allstate Blog

3 Things to Look for When Your Motorcycle Won’t Start

February 4, 2019 You're ready to hit the road on your motorcycle. It's a beautiful day, you've got a tank full of gas, your helmet and leathers on, and your afternoon is free and clear. You get on your bike to fire up the engine and ... nothing. Just that sinking feeling. You… Allstate
motorcycle start button

You’re ready to hit the road on your motorcycle. It’s a beautiful day, you’ve got a tank full of gas, your helmet and leathers on, and your afternoon is free and clear. You get on your bike to fire up the engine and … nothing. Just that sinking feeling. You try again and again, but your motorcycle just won’t start.

Though annoying, it’s not an uncommon problem. Fortunately, motorcycle enthusiast Matthew Bochnak has a few tips to help you identify the source of problem and repair it successfully.

Watch more videos by Matt at and YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hey what’s up everyone, it’s Matt from In today’s video, I want to show you how to diagnose a non-running motorcycle. I know how frustrating it may be when you go to hit the start button and the engine cranks over and over and it never fires up. So I’m here to show you three basic things you need to check in order to get your engine back up and running.

Before we begin, I do want to mention that if you are unsure or uncomfortable with any of these repairs mentioned in this video, please seek professional help and have it repaired properly. Now if you are going to tackle this yourself, make sure you are wearing the proper safety equipment. I always wear safety glasses and gloves. Make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby. It is also a good idea to have the service manual for your model so you can look up certain specifications.

Alright, so the first check I perform on any non running motorcycle is a compression check. Without adequate compression, an engine will not run. Now if you don’t own this tool, simply head over to your auto parts store and they may have a free loaner tool program. If you want to add to your tool collection, a compression tester can be had for about $40. Here is a quick tip: make sure you buy one that comes with 10 mm, 12 mm, and 14 mm adapters. This way it will cover a wide range of models. Normally, a compression test is performed on a hot engine, but since the engine won’t even run, a cold test is perfectly fine. Begin by removing the spark plug cap and spark plug.

Next, screw in the hose nice and snug, and hook up the gauge. With the throttle wide open, go ahead and crank the engine over until the needle on the gauge stops climbing. Now it’s time to analyze the results. Record the reading and compare to what is in your service manual. An engine will require at least 100-120 psi of compression to run. If the test shows under 100 psi, or even worse 0 psi, then there is something seriously wrong with the engine. You will need to repeat the test on each cylinder that your engine has. Leave the spark plug uninstalled as we discuss the section.

Let’s move on to the second thing that an engine needs to run, and that is a nice healthy spark in order to ignite the air/fuel mixture. Reinstall the spark plug into the cap, and ground it to the engine. Find a position where the spark plug lies in place. Avoid hanging on to the wire to avoid getting shocked. Make sure the ignition is on and crank the engine over. You should see a nice big blue spark. If you don’t see any spark, then there is an ignition problem that needs to be addressed. Go ahead and install a brand new spark plug, since it is possible that your old plug may have become fouled.

Now let’s talk about the third thing that is needed, and that is a fuel/air mixture. Remove the air filter and air box if needed to gain access to the intake tract. Take starting fluid and spray a small amount directly into the carburetors. Try and start the engine, it should run for a few seconds. If the engine only runs for a few seconds on starting fluid, then there is a fuel delivery problem that needs to be taken care of.

Alright, well I hope you enjoyed that video. If you’d like to see more of my videos, head over to how to motorcycle repair dot com, or check out my YouTube channel, MatthewMCrepair. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. Just remember if you are unsure of anything discussed in this video, seek professional help. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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