A Helpful Guide On How To Start A Motorcycle That’s Been Sitting

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Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon to let a motorcycle sit longer than it should without using it. It’s something most motorcycle owners have done. However, there are others who leave their motorcycles alone for many years. If you encounter a motorcycle that’s been in this situation, you may wonder if you’ll be able to even revive it.

Luckily, motorcycles are a lot less complex than cars, so it’s absolutely possible to revive a motorcycle that’s been sitting anywhere between a few months to 20 years.

So, how do you start a motorcycle that’s been sitting? To start a motorcycle that has been sitting, you’ll first need to charge/change the battery. Next you’ll need to change the oil, replace the gas, and examine the carburetor and jets to make sure they’re not clogged. Once these are done, you can start the bike.

Your motorcycle might not start even after you have checked all the items. While it can be frustrating, it’s usually only a matter of a few attempts to get the bike to start. I’ve compiled a detailed guide that can assist you in getting your motorcycle to start after it’s been sitting for a while.

How To Start A Motorcycle That’s Been Sitting

A motorcycle that has been sitting for 20 years is in a different condition compared to a motorcycle that’s been sitting for just a few months. These are the steps that you must take to get your motorcycle moving again, regardless of how long it has been sitting.

The first thing you’ll need to do is charge or change the battery. Check when the battery’s expiration date is. If it’s close to or long past the expiration date, you’ll simply need to buy a new one. If a motorcycle has been sitting for years, you’ll definitely need to get a new battery; you don’t want to use one that’s been sitting dormant for years.

Once you get the new battery hooked up, the next thing you’ll need to do is change the oil. Even if your motorcycle has been in storage for only a few months do not forget to change the oil. in fact it ages a lot faster when it’s not being used.

The oil may be a bit rusty and wet if the motorcycle has been in storage for a long time. You might even feel a little satisfied to get all that oil out of your motorcycle. You may need another oil change if the motorcycle has been sitting for more than a few weeks to remove any rust particles.

The next thing you’ll need to do is completely empty the gas tank and fuel lines and put in new gas. Gas can become gelled up over time which is probably what has happened with this motorcycle you’re working with. This will clog up a lot of elements on the bike, so you’ll probably need to replace the fuel lines and add a fuel filter in the fuel line.

Clogged carburetors can have devastating consequences for motorcycles that use old gas. The jets inside a carburetor are incredibly small, so it’s very easy for them to get clogged.

I have years of experience in restoring motorcycles. A dirty carburetor is the most common reason a motorcycle won’t start.so this is probably the main reason your motorcycle isn’t starting.

Remove any accumulated dirt and grime from the carburetor. It’s a good idea to get a carburetor rebuilding kit so you can replace some of the screws and gaskets. The instructions included in rebuilding kits make it much easier to assemble.

To really clean the carburetor, I recommend an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners will get any build up that’s developed in places you can’t see or reach on the carburetor and yields excellent results.

You may also want to get new tires at this time. Tires that have been sitting for some time will likely have flat spots and cracks, making them unusable.

If you still can’t get the motorcycle to start after going through this list, there may be a few underlying issues especially if the motorcycle was sitting for a few years.

It’s actually pretty common for water to get inside the engine and rust the pistons into place. It’s annoying when this happens, but it is fixable. You can first try to pour lubricant down the spark plug holes. Then wait for the pistons time to absorb the lubricant. To remove any rust from the pistons, you can manually crank the engine using the flywheel.

If the lubricant or manually turning the flywheel doesn’t get the pistons to move, this is the point you’ll need to take it in to a mechanic to examine a possible engine seizure caused by something other than rust. For more information on how to determine if your motorcycle’s engine has been seized, click here

A complete restoration is a great option when you are trying to start a motorcycle. I have an entire video series that can walk you through the step-by-step process on how to do this that includes tips and tricks you won’t find anywhere else. This video will cover everything, from body work and electrical to disassembly and rebuilding carbs. Click here for more info if you’re interested in building your dream motorcycle!

What happens to a Motorcycle if it is left seated for too long

You may notice cosmetic problems if you see a motorcycle that’s been sitting too long. Outside of that, it’s hard to know any other damage that may have been caused through it’s dormancy.

If you’re wanting to get a motorcycle started that’s been sitting for a while, it really helps to know what has happened to the motorcycle so you know better how to get it started.

There are many things you can do to damage a motorcycle when it sits.

Motorcycle gas tanks are subject to the relentless sun’s relentless beam. The paint underneath starts to fade once the UV rays have eaten through the clear coating. Check out my article to see what else the sun can do for a motorcycle.

Gaskets and seals look a lot like rubber bands. It lasts longer the more you use it. The seals and gaskets last longer when they are heated and expanded by riding a motorcycle. Without this heat and expansion, seals and gaseskets can become fragile and brittle.

Motorcycle batteries can rapidly drain from constant temperature fluctuations and parasitic drain. Once a battery loses so much voltage, it’s incapable of getting a 100% charge.

The most dangerous and common problem with a motorcycle sitting for too long is condensation and moisture. It can cause rust, sometimes requiring the replacement of entire parts. A motorcycle can also be damaged by sitting on its side. Click here to learn more.

How to store a motorcycle long-term

After starting and reviving a motorcycle that has been sitting, you’ll probably never want to have to go through it again. There are many steps you can take that will prevent your motorcycle from going back to its original condition.

A motorcycle needs to be started about once a month to keep it’s elements in check and burn off any condensation that may have snuck it’s way inside.

If riding or attending to your motorcycle every month isn’t possible, you’ll need to properly prepare it for storage. This includes changing the oil, lowering the pressure in the tires, and taking out the battery, hooking it up, or using a battery tender.

You’ll also need to top off the gas and add a stabilizer to the gas to prevent the gas from gelling up. To ensure that the stabilizer is circulating through the entire fuel system, make sure you run the motorcycle for at least a few minutes.

Lastly, don’t forget to put a good cover on it, even if it’s parked in the garage or shed. The cover will prevent a lot of moisture and condensation from getting inside places it shouldn’t.

How long is too long for a motorcycle to sit?

It is important that a motorcycle not sit for more than a month without either starting it or properly preparing the bike for storage. It should be driven every other month, except when it is not being stored properly.

A common question is whether a motorcycle can be repaired after it has sat too long. There’s really no solid answer for this as this all completely depends on where the motorcycle has been sitting and the type of climate it was sitting in. It also depends a lot on how much time and money you’re willing to invest in it to get it fixed up.

Over a dozen bikes have been restored by me, and more than half of them were bikes that had been parked in fields for many years. I have yet to encounter a motorcycle that wasn’t fixable.

Similar Question

Is it possible for a motorcycle to be towed without a trailer? A motorcycle can be towed without the use of a trailer. In fact, it’s completely possible to tow a motorcycle with a car. These methods include attaching a tow doll or motorcycle carrier to a truck or SUV. See more information I’ve written about this by clicking here.

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