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✔ Article reviewed by Ethan Orenstein. Bringing motorcycles back from the dead since 2013. Learn More.

How to Start a Motorcycle That Has Been Sitting

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If you’re in search of a challenge or a good deal, chances are that you’ve ended up with a motorcycle that has been sitting for a while.

This is typically in situations such as:

  • Classic motorcycles in need of restoration.
  • Barn finds with no title.
  • When the previous owner has passed away or simply parked the bike and stopped ridding.

These types of motorcycles can come in all sorts of conditions – from a little dusty after sitting in the back of a shed to rusty and dirty after being left outside.

Both ends of the “sitting” motorcycle spectrum probably have one thing in common – they’re not currently running.

For a beginner, a non-running motorcycle that has been sitting for a while might seem a little intimidated, however, getting it running again shouldn’t be too hard – assuming there is no major damage.

Continue reading to learn how to start a motorcycle that has been sitting for a few years to a few decades.

Choosing a Non-Running Motorcycle as a Project Bike

If you’ve stumbled across an ad for a non-running motorcycle or a bike that has been sitting for a number of years, you can typically get the bike for a cheaper price.

Depending on the type of bike you’ve found, a bike that has been sitting may be one of the best project motorcycles you can start with.

Before you start tearing down the bike and even cleaning it much, you’ll want to get it started again to assess what work actually needs to be done and whether or not you’ll need to get into the engine.

Assuming there is no major damage and no water or debris have been its way into the crankcase, getting it started again shouldn’t be too hard.

Starting a Motorcycle that’s Been Sitting

Getting any bike that has been sitting for a few months to a few years to a few decades follows the same basic process.

Starting a motorcycle that has been sitting can add an extra layer of challenge to your project.

Remember, for a motorcycle engine to run it simply needs: compression, fuel/air, and a spark.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to get it running again:

After that, it’s time to start it up!

If it runs, great – it’s time to bring it back to its former glory.

If not, take a systems approach to identify why its not. If it won’t start, some things to check include:

Next Steps After You Get it Started

After you get the bike running again, the rest of the restoration can begin, in most cases this will include:

Find more tips about getting started on a motorcycle restoration project and more here at MotorcycleZombies.com!

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Content Editor: Ethan Orenstein

Ethan is not just any motorcycle enthusiast. With a decade of experience riding, maintaining, and restoring a range of motorcycles, Ethan brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Many of the tips and tricks shared on this site are born from hours spent wrenching on personal bikes. Paired with his experience as a journalist covering DMV & insurance topics, MotorcycleZombies.com is a must-visit site for any home-mechanic. Every article has been carefully reviewed and edited to ensure accuracy, authenticity, and simplicity - all to help bring your bike back from the dead and onto the road.

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