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Motorcycle problems usually stem from how it is used: either rigorously or lightly. However, regardless of how often you use your bike, it is just as possible for it to develop issues due to technical malfunctions that prevent you from getting it up and running. Some of these malfunctions, such as not being able to start the motorcycle, can be a result of something as simple as dropping your bike on the ground.
How do you fix a bike that won’t start after it’s been dropped? First, you’ll need to determine which component(s) of the motorcycle received damage after it fell that could now be causing the start function to fail; this could be anything from clutch damage to a cracked engine case.
To figure out the root cause of starter failure, you’ll need to examine three main parts: the fuel tank, the compression, and the ignition systems. From there, you will need to apply the right solution to repair the damage and get your motorcycle going again. The remainder of this article will outline what you should do if your bike no longer starts after it has been dropped.
I Dropped My Bike, and Now it Won’t Start
When you drop your motorcycle, either on accident or as a result of someone else knocking it over, there are many ways in which it can receive damage. Many times, this damage is only cosmetic—you may see a couple of scuffs where it made contact with the ground or pavement. However, in some cases, a working component of the bike may be broken or altered in a way that prevents it from starting correctly.
The question many bike owners have is this: how do you figure out what’s preventing the bike from starting?
How to Determine the Cause of Starter Failure
There are several reasons why a bike will not start, some of which being a combination of different factors. For example, a dead battery doesn’t stop working without an external factor affecting it—such as parasitic draining, or battery discharge.
However, starting problems can stem from three to four different categories: fuel problems, compression, and ignition systems. A fourth category to consider is electrical systems, which usually only applies to bikes that use a switch ignition rather than keys.
There are four approaches you can use to figure out what exactly is preventing your bike from starting:
1. Get to Know Your Bike’s Starting Process
You’re probably already used to how your bike works, but it’s important to understand the mechanical processes involved in getting it to start in the first place to figure out what is wrong. This may mean dusting off the user manual or doing some research to figure out which components your specific make and model requires to start correctly.
Most bikes require the clutch and gears to be in a specific position to turn on, so start there. For example, some newer bikes will only start when the clutch is held in. The overall issue could be that the clutch has shifted after the motorcycle was dropped.
When it comes to gear position, most bikes need to be put in neutral before they can begin to function. So, if the clutch is not the issue, check the gears next.
2. Check the Fuel Tank and Flow System
If a bike is dropped or falls over hard enough, its fuel system could see the damage, too; this may be the result of the clutch or other component bending and running through the engine case. There are a few ways to check if there are fuel tank issues:
The first way only requires you to check the motorcycle’s fuel gauge. If you notice that there’s significantly less fuel than you remember being in the tank, it is possible that the fuel started leaking out after the bike was dropped.
Then, remove the cover of the fuel tank and shake the bike while listening for the sound of liquid moving around. If you don’t hear a lot of fuel, knowing that you should have a good amount in your tank, there is likely a fuel leak. However, if you do hear a significant amount of fuel, it could also be that your fuel gauge was dislodged during the fall and is no longer accurate.
If a leak is not evident, the next step is to check the texture of the fuel by pouring some of it into a small container. To do this, you will have to loosen the float-bowl drain screw in your bike to empty a little bit of the gas. Once the fuel is in the container, examine it for signs of water (you’ll see oil droplets in this case), dirt, or any other particles.
If it appears that the fuel has water or other debris mixed in, that means you will need to replace the fuel in the bike with clean fuel; the particles that may have gotten into it from a fall on dirt or gravel are not combustive, and therefore could prevent the bike from starting.
3. Check the Ignition System
The ignition system includes the fuse, plug, kickstand safety switch, and clutch/starter interlock switch. If any of these components see the damage after the bike has been dropped, this could lead to starter problems.
First, check the ignition switch, plug caps, kill switch, and kickstand safety switches for any signs of water. If any of these parts are drenched (maybe the bike fell into a large puddle or during a heavy rainstorm), the bike will likely not start until they are clean and dry.
Another cause of a faulty start could be a damaged or blown fuse. Remove the fuse and check if it is soaked with fuel; if so, clear the residue off with a clean rag and put it back in place. If the bike still does not start, try replacing the existing fuse with another with the same power capacity and then try starting the motorcycle again.*
*Note: If the bike starts and the fuse burns out again, this could be a sign of a faulty electrical system. At this point, you may need to book an appointment with a mechanic to get it repaired.
A Note on Fixing Starter Issues
Before inspecting your bike for causes of a starter issue, it is good to have the following tools on hand:
These basic items will allow you to observe, remove, and replace different components of your motorcycle with ease.
In addition, if you are not familiar with the different parts of your motorcycle, it is highly recommended that you refer to a user manual to get your bearings or talk to a mechanic to avoid causing more damage.
If you drop your bike, it is very important to inspect it thoroughly so you can see the extent of any damage; this will help you later on if your motorcycle decides to quit starting up, as you will be able to better pinpoint potential causes of the problem in relation to a recent fall or drop.
If you do find that your bike is experiencing starting issues after recently dropping it, the above methods will help you determine which component of your bike is hindering the starting process. Although many of these causes can easily be fixed with a couple of simple tools, it is recommended that you take the bike to a mechanic or repair shop if a solution is far beyond what you’re comfortable doing.