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.
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:
- Drain and change the oil and oil filter.
- Drain and change the old gas in the tank and the carbs.
- Clean the carbs, if necessary.
- Charge or replace the motorcycle battery.
- Perform a standard tune up to check the spark plug gap, ignition timing and valve clearance.
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:
- Check the simple things like the ignition key position, the kill switch, etc.
- Compression test or leak down test.
- Test the battery, ignition coils, and spark plugs.
- Check wires and grounds, and clean the motorcycle’s electrical connections.
- Check if the engine is seized.
- Ensure the carbs are cleaned and synchronized, if you haven’t already.
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:
- New tires.
- Cleaning and detailing the bike.
- Painting the bike.
- Replacing or upgrading parts as necessary.
Find more tips about getting started on a motorcycle restoration project and more here at MotorcycleZombies.com!