Why does my motorcycle not start when I try to start it

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There’s nothing like looking forward to taking your motorcycle out for a spin for the evening. You take your motorcycle out, insert the key and attempt to turn it on, but instead you hear that annoying clicking sound.

Those clicking noises can ruin someone’s day pretty quickly. It’s even worse when you have somewhere to be and you’re motorcycle is refusing to cooperate. This situation can make it difficult to know what to do.

Why is my motorcycle not starting when I try to turn it on? Three reasons your motorcycle doesn’t start properly are the main ones. A dead battery is the most common reason. Bad starters could also be the reason. The third reason your motorcycle is clicking, although less common, could be a seized motor.

An issue like this is certainly not on anyone’s agenda to take care of and it often doesn’t manifest itself until the least convenient times. I have ran into this problem many times myself through the motorcycles I’ve owned these past few years. This is how I found the solution to clicking problems when starting my motorcycle.

The Reason Your Motorcycle Does Not Start When You Try to Start It

Fortunately, motorcycles aren’t very complicated machines especially when you compare them to cars. You can run a few tests to determine the cause of your motorcycle not starting when it starts.

A dead battery is the most likely reason why your motorcycle is not clicking. Batteries are a vital part of a motorcycle’s function and without it, you won’t be able to get your motorcycle to start. A motorcycle isn’t very fun if you can’t get it started.

A motorcycle battery must have 12.6 volts to be fully charged. 12.4 volts are considered 75% charged, 12.2 a 50% charge and so forth. To get your motorcycle started, you need at least 12.2 Volts or 50% of your battery. If it’s any lower than that, you likely won’t be able to get it started at all, thus you hear the clicking sound.

The starter motor and solenoid are the two main parts of every motorcycle starter. The solenoid is made up of a magnet that when turned turns the key will release a small gear which the magnet polarizes. This gear turns, which then rotates the engine’s flywheel.

If the battery has run out, the magnet will attempt to magnetically attach the gear. This is why you hear the clicking sound. If the battery doesn’t give enough power, that magnet doesn’t have enough power to turn the flywheel of the engine.

After you have resolved your battery problem, The starter is the most common culprit.. The magnetization is powered by the battery, while the starter directs the functioning of each component in the beginning process. The starter assists the magnet with the polarizing process.

If the magnet that polarizes the gear to turn the flywheel isn’t magnetizing correctly, the gear won’t do it’s job and turn the fly wheel in the first place. This will result in the clicking sound.

A possible seized engine is the third most frequent, but less likely to be the culprit than the first two. Engine seizes are when the components within the engine become locked up and the crankshaft cannot turn the bearings. Parts such as piston rings, rod bearings and piston rings are responsible for this. It can become too hot to essentially weld together.

The flywheel is not turning and the clicking sound indicates that it has seized. Although the battery might be providing enough power to the magnet to allow the flywheel to turn, there is an inexorable amount of pressure that makes it impossible to turn.

How to fix a clicking motorcycle when you try to start it

You can easily fix two of the possible causes of your motorcycle clicking in your garage. YouTube will help you to fix your problem quickly.

You should charge your battery if you suspect that it is the problem. Charging a motorcycle battery can take anywhere between 8 – 20 hours. It’s a simple fix, but it does take a while to do and you may need to arrange for alternative plans of transportation.

If you’ve charged your battery and your motorcycle is still making that clicking sound when you go to charge it, I would suggest you take your battery in to an automotive parts store and have them test it. Even if you test the voltage on a battery and it says 12.6 volts (a full charge), that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s enough current in the battery to get the motorcycle started.

You can check the battery’s current by taking it to an auto parts shop. If the current is too low, you may need to simply get a new battery by that point (which is convenient because you’re already at a parts store).

If the battery isn’t the problem, the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure your engine isn’t seized. Because testing the starter is much easier than testing the battery, I recommend that you first check the engine and the battery.

A kick starter engine can be used to detect if an engine is stuck. The kick pedal won’t move because of the engine’s components. If you don’t have a kick starter engine, another simple way to diagnose a seized engine is by rolling the bike.

You’ll need to put the motorcycle in the highest gear (usually 4th or 5th gear) and roll it forward. You could have a stuck engine if the tires are rigid and don’t roll. Your engine will still work if they roll. See my article to learn more about a seized engine for a motorcycle.

The starter is responsible for your motorcycle’s clicking if it is not a bad battery or a seized motor. There are ways to fix a motorcycle starter but that should be a task for people who know what they’re doing. I recommend that you replace your starter.

What Are These Problems?

Now that we’ve covered the reasons a motorcycle clicks when you try to start it, let’s discuss what causes these problems in the first place. These problems can be prevented by understanding their causes.

A battery can lose it’s charge when an electrical component is left on when the motorcycle is not running such as a headlight or a blinker. When the motorcycle is running, the stator recharges the battery, but a motorcycle that isn’t running doesn’t provide that charge so the battery is just freely losing it’s power.

There’s also a phenomenon called parasitic drain. This happens when the wires are not properly grounded and causes the battery to gradually lose its power without you realizing. In addition, if you don’t properly winterize your motorcycle, the battery can potentially freeze and lose most of it’s capabilities. Learn more about what happens if a motorcycle’s battery freezes.

The majority of motorcycle starters go bad due to age. Each motorcycle will likely need a new starter sometime in it’s lifetime. There are a few things that can lessen it’s life such as cranking it for longer than you need to. It can cause the electrical connections to melt and overheat.

An engine for a motorcycle can get stuck and cause issues when it lacks lubrication, overheats, or has rusty rust inside. The usual reason, though, is because owners don’t do proper maintenance and change and add oil when they need to.

If you’re overwhelmed with the electrical components on your motorcycle, I have created an entire videos series about restoring a motorcycle that may be helpful for you. This video series covers electrical problems as well as how to fix other difficult-to-tackle parts like body work and carb rebuilds. Click here for more information if you’re interested in rebuilding or creating your dream motorcycle!

How to Prevent Clicking

As I mentioned, the annoying clicking sound you hear when you try to start your bike is very annoying. Here are some tips to stop it happening.

Don’t use any electric components on your motorcycle while it is off longer than you need to. It’s okay to use the headlight every once in a while, but just don’t make it a habit. Also make sure to connect your battery to a battery tender if it’s going to be a while until your next ride. This is especially important when winterizing. You can click here to read my article about how to keep your motorcycle safe and sound for long periods of time.

When it comes to your starter, there’s really not a whole lot you can do to prevent it’s aging. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you don’t constantly crank it longer than you need to when starting your motorcycle. That’ll make it go out sooner than normal.

Routine oil changes are the most important thing that you can do to your engine. Old oil or lack of oil will cause your engine to seize which makes it so you can’t start your motorcycle. Make sure you keep track of your oil change and that the oil is appropriate for your motorcycle.

Similar Questions

What if my motorcycle doesn’t make any noise when I try to start it? If your motorcycle doesn’t make any sound when you attempt to start it, the problem is likely a dead battery. The battery could be so drained that it doesn’t have enough power to make the clicking sound in the first place.

How long does it take for gasoline to go bad on a motorcycle? In 30 days, unstabilized gas can cause a motorcycle to go bad. Oxygen can eventually change the chemical composition of gas, leading to varnish and gum deposits. If gas has been stored for more than six months, it should be thrown away. After 6-12 months, stabilized gas should be stopped being used. For more information, see my article.

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