What Does It Mean When My Motorcycle Turns Over But Won’t Start?

What could be worse than getting ready to take your bike out for a spin only to realize that it won’t start? You were all ready to hop on the bike and enjoy the wind in your hair, but now you can’t even get it to turn on. There aren’t many more aggravating situations than when your motorcycle turns over but wont start, except maybe when it rains on the day you were planning to enjoy a beautiful ride. Instead of storming off full of rage, you can take a second to calm down and try to remedy the problem yourself. If you know enough about your motorcycle to perform some basic maintenance you should be able to fix the issue or at least find where the problem is coming from.

What Does It Mean When My Motorcycle Turns Over But Won't Start

What Does It Mean When My Motorcycle Turns Over But Won’t Start

3 things your motorcycle needs

On a basic level, there are only three things that you bike needs to run. Those three things are a spark, fuel/air mixture, and compression. Without one of those components you won’t be able to take your bike out for a joy ride any time soon. Knowing that those are the important factors, we can break each one down and put our detective hat on to find and hopefully solve the issue.

Check the ignition

When you turn your key in the ignition it delivers the spark the engine needs to turn on. If your motorcycle is turning over but won’t start it could be a problem with the ignition. There may be something causing it to not create the spark that it needs to ignite the fuel. First, make sure that you’re actually doing all the right things. Not to sound condescending, but it can be easy to overlook a simple detail, like making sure the kickstand is up, and then get frustrated when your bike isn’t working. It’s like when you lose your glasses and search everywhere for them only to realize ten minutes later that they’re on your head. So make sure the key is turned to “Start”, the kickstand is up, and any other specific details your bike may require to actually start.

If you’ve checked all of those things and it’s still not working then you can move on. If the ignition isn’t causing a spark, the next logical place to check are the spark plugs. You can test your spark plugs by taking them out of the cylinder head and then plugging them back into the plug cap. Then get a metal item, hold the plug up to it and try to start the engine. If it’s working normally you’ll see a spark. If you don’t see a spark or if it’s not a very big spark coming out of the plug then that’s your issue. Replace the spark plugs and see if the motorcycle will turn on normally.

Look for fuel issues

If that didn’t fix the problem, then you can move onto the fuel/air mix of your bike. If the fuel and air mixture isn’t right then the engine definitely won’t start. Make sure that the bike has gas in the tank and that the fuel petcock is set to “On” or “Reserve”. If there’s fuel in the tank but you haven’t used the bike in a long time, it could be because the fuel needs to be changed. Old fuel can actually breakdown in the tank and stop working. Try draining out the old fuel and replacing it and see if the bike will start.

If it still doesn’t, you can check the fuel filters and fuel lines. If the fuel filters are clogged it may not allow enough gas, or no gas at all, to get through to the carburetors. Make sure the filters aren’t clogged and check the lines to see if they have become dried out. Or if you have a clogged vent tube it may not be letting the gas flow through the system properly. Or it could that your engine is flooded. If that’s the case, you can un-flood it by removing the spark plugs, turning off the choke and turning the engine over until the gas dissipates.

Test the compression

If any of the cylinders on your bike have little or no compression, the bike wont start. This is definitely a more serious issue than some of the others that may cause your bike to turn over but not to start. Without enough compression in the cylinders, the fuel won’t be able to ignite. In order to test this you’ll need a compression tester. If you test it and find out that the compression is low, fixing this issue is more costly and time consuming. At that point you should probably have a mechanic take a look at it.

Test the battery

Maybe the battery is running out, you should recharge or replace them with best motorcycle battery, maybe it can help.

What to do when my motorcycle turns over but wont start?

If you find the issue and feel comfortable resolving it yourself then it’s any easy fix. Some issues may have simple solutions while others aren’t so straightforward. If you find the issue but don’t feel like you can fix it, take it to a mechanic. You should also probably take it to a mechanic if you’ve tried everything but still can’t find the issue.


There’s not much that’s more exciting than getting your riding gear on and getting ready to fire up your bike to take it out for a spin. But all that excitement can quickly turn to rage when you go to start it and it won’t turn on. There are several different reasons why this could be happening and it’s important to figure out why. It may be one or a combination of multiple factors that are causing an issue with igniting the engine.  Although it’s frustrating to have this happen when you wanted to go for a ride, it’s something that you should be able to diagnose and fix with some good detective work. Follow the steps to find the problem and you’ll soon be on your way to being able to ride your bike again.

Ronald Bounds

My name is Ronald D. Bounds, founder and editor in chief here at The Rider Base. We are enthusiastic about speed and travel. This website is built to share the information for rider. We help you to choose motorcycle accessories for yourself without much time.

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