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5 Reasons Your Motorcycle Won’t Start & Goes to the Shop

“My motorcycle won’t start!” Ask the phone-jockey of your local motorcycle shop or dealership how many times a day they hear those words.  While motorcycles are as different from one another as their riders are, there are some common trends as to why your motorcycle isn’t starting or isn’t working properly. Mechanics share their insight on what the most common reasons are for motorcycle problems (why your motorcycle won’t start) and how to avoid these hiccups from happening.

The going rate for a good motorcycle mechanic can cost you around $90/hour. Don’t wait to learn the hard way, read on to see the most common reasons motorcycles end up in the shop, as written by a guy who worked in one for a few years and had the chance to ask his mechanics on staff.

1) The Crash

Assuming you’ve survived, congratulations! Shops see a lot of bikes come in from accidents. The good riders figure out what went wrong and what they could’ve done differently, but there are some riders, the not good riders, who will just keep on coming back, accident after accident.

For tips on how to avoid “The Crash” read these posts: motorcycle safety tips and safety tips for scooters and small motorcycles.

2) Neglect

You wouldn’t leave your lover all alone outside the house for days, weeks, or even months (shame on you). Don’t be surprised when you try to start your motorcycle after doing this and she won’t get turned on. Neglect, better known as DMS (Deprived Motorcycle Syndrome) is very real, and a common problem for a seasonal vehicle like motorcycles. Your battery can drain until it dies (buy a battery charger!). Your fuel can begin to go bad, corrode the inside of your gas tank, and clog up your fuel lines. Your brake callipers can seize up. You can find your chain and your once polished and chromed metals now spotted with rust. Your tires can dry and develop flat spots. Etc. etc.

A neglected motorcycle can have multiple problems causing it not to start or run properly. That means a lot labour time for diagnostics and repair.

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3) User Error

There’s nothing mechanics hate more than fixing someone else’s mess. What’s worse is when the customer was originally quoted for the work, decided to do it him or herself, couldn’t, and is now being quoted twice as much because the mechanic needs to spend time figuring out and undoing whatever the customer has done. If you don’t know what you’re doing, leave it to someone who does. You put your life on your motorcycle, taking it to a professional could save you more than just your money.

Sergeant Hartman4) The Generals

General Wear’n’Tear and General Maintenance can be mean sons of guns, but as the old saying goes: no guts, no glory. Luckily for the riders who take this post to heart, the generals may just be the only time you find your motorcycle in a shop. Sooner or later we all need to pay the piper.

More good news: you can always do some easy maintenance yourself. Why not start with oil changes?

5) Lemons

My coworker thinks everything he buys is a lemon, but mechanics don’t believe in lemons very much these days. A lot of quality control goes into the manufacturing processes of any reputable motorcycle brand. Institutions such as Transport Canada have guidelines and policies, and ensure recall notices are sent out to protect consumers. If every vehicle you’ve bought has been a lemon, the only common denominator is you.

If you still think you have a lemon it may be time to revisit the previous four points and try to figure out why your bike isn’t starting or where things went wrong. Lemons are a fruit, or maybe a vegetable, but probably not a motorcycle.

Like having money in your pocket? Read Save Money While Riding a Motorcycle.

Hopefully this will keep your money in your pocket and your motorcycle out of the shop, unless you feel the need to do a few upgrades of course.

So tell me, were the mechanics right? What was your motorcycle last in the shop for?

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?


  1. Well, the only thing anyone, outside of machine shop work or welding, has done on mine is when Dave Campos assembled and trued my flywheels, $50, so I’m not a regular MC shop patron, but I will say this, seriously, when you’ve done all you can to get it started, when all else fails, change your spark plugs. *** EDITORS NOTE: Dave Campos is a long time drag racer and Bonneville Salt Flats pilot, he held the LSR aboard the Easyrider’s Streamliner, at 322MPH for several years. *** edit

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