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How to Diagnose and Fix Common Problems with Motorcycles

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Motorcycles look cool and are a blast to ride, but they're also machines that require maintenance and regular upkeep to keep them running smoothly. You can expect to encounter a few issues from time to time, as you keep riding your bike for newer adventures. Fortunately, the problems you might encounter are usually small, simple fixes that almost any rider can tackle with ease. With proper care and routine inspections, your bike will continue running smoothly for years.

Here are ten common motorcycle problems and how you can fix them:




Flat Tires

Tires are the only part of your bike in contact with the road. The condition of your tires directly impacts your handling, braking performance and mileage.  To say that they are important and should be looked after is an understatement. 

With the exception of riding over something sharp, a lot of issues that may cause your tires to deflate over time are preventable with proper care. Before heading out on long rides, check for cracks in the tyre wall, bald spots or places that are bulging. Any of the above can lead to what is called a "Tyre Blowout", which can be disastrous, to say the least. If you notice that your tread is nearly worn out, get your tires replaced immediately. Riding on bald tyres will not increase the chances of a puncture but will also have a drastic impact on the levels of grip when riding in bad weather. 

Pro Tips:

  • Check your tire pressure frequently and especially before you head out on long rides. 

  • Always carry a puncture repair kit and a compact tyre inflator. That way, you are not left stranded in the middle of anywhere in the event of a flat tyre.

Battery Issues

Issues with the battery are probably one of the most common problems with motorcycles. A majority of the motorcycles, with the exception of a few recent and expensive ones, use Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries. Unlike the newer Lithium Ion batteries, lead Acid batteries are finicky things. Improper grounding and the cold can have a severe effect on its life and performance.

Lead acid batteries also do not hold charge when left unused for long durations.  Lead acid batteries have a typical lifespan of 2-3 years. Batteries used on motorcycles are not deep cycle batteries, which in layperson's terms means that they do not like to be drained regularly. The key to extending their life span is to make sure that the vehicle is used regularly. Even if you don't intend to ride, you should run your bike for a few minutes at least once a week to keep your battery topped up. 

Pro Tips: 

  • If you know you will not use your bike for an extended period, disconnect the battery terminals. 

  • If you have an intelligent battery charger, leave your battery hooked to it. The trickle charge will keep your battery in good working order until you put it back into your motorcycle. 

Poor Performance Delayed Throttle Response or Backfiring

If you have a carbureted bike, all the above issues will be a result of the carburettor not working as it should. The primary task of a carburettor is to mix air and fuel in the perfect ratio needed for combustion and feed it to the engine. The root cause can be a bad gasket, vacuum leaks, a busted float valve or clogged jets. Carburettors, just like every other mechanical component, need regular maintenance. The rubber gaskets tend to harden over time and crack and should be replaced as per the service manual. 

If your engine is running rich (an unusual amount of white smoke comes from the exhaust), it means that the engine is not getting enough air. It is probably the cause of a clogged jet, and it can be easily fixed by spraying a good amount of carb cleaner and letting it sit for some time. 

Pro Tips:

  • Get your carburettor cleaned and replace parts as per the schedule recommended by the manufacturer.

  • Do not ignore any carb-related issues; they can cause irreparable damage to your motorcycle engine. 

Poor Braking Performance and Weird Noises Under Braking

If you notice a drop in your braking performance, it could be because of one of the following factors: 

  • Worn Brake Pads

  • Low brake fluid levels

  • Cracks in the brake lines or the Master Cylinder 

Low Brake fluid levels are probably the easiest to diagnose and fix. You just have to get the brake fluid recommended by the manufacturer and top up the brake reservoirs.  

If this does not fix the issue, check to see if there is any fluid leaking from the master cylinder or the brake lines. If you notice no leaks, the culprit is probably worn-out brake pads.  If your brakes are squealing under braking, that is another tell-tale sign that your brake pads are almost at the end of their lifespan and should be replaced immediately.  

Your Engine Is Running Hotter than Usual

Your motorcycle engine should settle down to its normal operating temperature after running for a few minutes. If you notice that your engine is running hotter than usual, it could be down to one of the below issues.

  • If you have an oil-cooled or a liquid-cooled motorcycle, check if your engine has sufficient engine oil or coolant in the coolant reservoir. If not, address this immediately.

  • The next thing to check is your tyres. If your tyres are under-inflated, they will drastically increase the rolling resistance of your motorcycle and will make the engine work harder, thus making it run hotter. 

  • If you notice a rise in temperature and white smoke coming out of your exhaust, your engine is running rich. You should get your carburettor checked before it causes irreplaceable damage. 

  • Check if your brakes are working well. Brakes should reset to their original position when you let go of the brake levers; sometimes, they get stuck midway and remain partially engaged. This puts a tremendous strain on both your engine and the components of the braking system of your motorcycle. Address this issue immediately. 

Pro Tip:

  • If you notice your engine running hotter than usual, stop and let it cool down immediately. If the engine gets too hot, it can seize. There is no coming back from that.

A Loose or Rattling Chain

The chain is the primary link between the engine and the wheels; you are not going anywhere without one. Motorcycle chains are durable but need to be maintained properly. They tend to get loose over time and need to be tightened periodically. If your chain isn't getting enough tension, it will start to slip and eventually break. This can cause a lot of damage to your bike. You want your chain to be tight enough that it doesn't slip, but not so tight that it's too difficult to shift gears.

You should clean and lubricate your chain regularly. The manufacturer would have a recommended schedule for the same, which can be found in the owner's manual. Chain maintenance should be taken seriously. A broken chain can jam the sprocket, which will jam the wheel. This can make you lose control in a fraction of a second and lead to major injuries. 

Summing it Up

Every machine will have issues at some point. Motorcycle riders will occasionally encounter problems, but many of these can be avoided with basic maintenance and an occasional visual inspection. If you own a bike or are thinking about purchasing one, being aware of these issues can help ensure you don't run into them as frequently and can enjoy your motorcycle rides rather than spending more time fixing them. If you are a passionate motorcyclist, then it's obvious that you should love your motorcycle dearly. ACKO has great two-wheeler insurance plans to make sure that you are covered financially in case you encounter any unexpected issues down the line. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some common questions about common problems with bikes and their solutions.


I have experienced a recent drop in mileage. What could be the reasons?

A recent drop in mileage could be caused by low tyre pressures or issues with your brakes which may be causing extra drag.

I have trouble starting my bike on cold days. Why does this happen?

Colder temperatures make the oil viscous making it difficult to circulate oil in the engine. This makes it harder to crank it initially. Make sure you are using the right engine oil for the climate you live in. Another reason is that air becomes denser when it's cooler; this affects the air-fuel mixture. This is why you use a choke to start the engine on cold days. A choke blocks the airflow a bit, thus restoring the air-fuel balance. Run the engine with the choke on for about a minute, then turn it off. Your bike should run smoothly now.

I can hear the starter motor turn, but the engine does not fire up. What could be wrong?

The motorcycle engine needs air, fuel and a spark to work. Check your carburettor and your spark plugs. One of them will either need to be cleaned or replaced. 

Nothing happens when I try to start my bike.

If you do not hear the starter motor trying to crank the engine, it means you have a dead battery, and it will have to be replaced. If you hear a ticking noise, but the starter motor is still not turning, it's probably a burnt relay that needs to be replaced.

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