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  #1  
Old 4th October 2006
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Default No Power and Bike Won't Start Problems

I've been seeing a lot of threads recently about bikes with no power and bike won't start. Then the poster goes on to describe that the turn the key on and the lights come on, but when they hit the starter, they hear a click and then nothing. No starter. Sometimes even the lights go dead after this. I thought I'd make a sticky that gives some troubleshooting pointers (and possibly a solution) to these problems.

First, check all battery connections to make sure that they are tight and clean. This means the connections at the battery, frame (negative), and starter (positive). Also, give the cables a tug to make sure that they don't pull out of their connections due to the cable being broke under the insulation.

Next, check the fuses and ckt breaker which is located behind the triangle cover to the rear of the battery (may be different on 04 and up bikes).

Lastly, have the battery load tested. Many of the auto parts stores can do this for you.


If anyone has anything to add to this list. Please feel free to post.
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Old 4th October 2006
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GREAT post Doc.

People (myself included) are too inclined to jump the shark on these sorts of problems.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS test electrical problems logically.

If the bike won't start - what are the symptoms

1. NO POWER AT ALL - there are only a few things that can do this and it's all in the Battery and the wires that connect the battery (cables) and lastly the switch that turns it all on (Ignition) and any relays or fuses that enables.

2. POWER TO THE LIGHTS, but NOT at the starter - now you've got different symptoms, troubleshoot accordingly.

But the first step is ALWAYS the battery cables.

Kev
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Old 4th October 2006
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Like KevM says, test logically. I would add, start with the easy stuff first. Look for the obvious, like corrosion, a connector hanging loose or a broken wire. Don't just start replacing stuff unless you've looked at everything else. You can typically narrow things down to just one or two items if you attack the problem logically.

Schematic wiring diagrams, (for those who can read them) are invaluable.
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Old 4th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by torxster
Schematic wiring diagrams, (for those who can read them) are invaluable.
A lot of people are scared of diagrams.

But there is no reason to be.

Don't look at the whole thing and try to understand it, you'll drive yourself nuts.

Look at the little tiny pieces.

Remember a circuit ONLY works when it is complete (when it makes a circle, from the positive side of the power source, through a load and back to the negative side of the power source).

The load is anything that does work, a motor, a relay coil, a light etc.

The negative side of the circuit may be a ground (a common attachment point like the motor or frame, that connects to the negative side of the battery).

So when trying to read a wiring diagram, sit down with a photocopy of it and some highlighters, then trace the circuit in question until you can see the whole circle.

Then look for places it might be broken and check each one.
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Old 15th May 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M View Post
Remember a circuit ONLY works when it is complete (when it makes a circle, from the positive side of the power source, through a load and back to the negative side of the power source).

.
this statement is slightly misleading. common ground is required not a perfect loop.
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Old 4th October 2006
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Just thought of another example:

If you hit the start button and you get this horrible clicking noise, have your battery load tested BEFORE you blame the starter. Happened to me in June. Thought I had a bad starter, but after the load test, determined that the battery was bad.
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Old 4th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc
Just thought of another example:

If you hit the start button and you get this horrible clicking noise, have your battery load tested BEFORE you blame the starter. Happened to me in June. Thought I had a bad starter, but after the load test, determined that the battery was bad.

Great example, and even then, it could also have been the cables, with excessive corrosion or a loose connection causing resistance in the circuit to shoot to a point where not enough amperage was avaialble to engage the solenoid and crank the motor.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M
Great example, and even then, it could also have been the cables, with excessive corrosion or a loose connection causing resistance in the circuit to shoot to a point where not enough amperage was avaialble to engage the solenoid and crank the motor.
Yep. That's the first thing I checked. Then, I called my Indy and told him what was happening, and he said bring me your battery (of course, I took him the whole bike to go ahead and do the conversion). The rest is history.
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Old 26th November 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc View Post
Yep. That's the first thing I checked. Then, I called my Indy and told him what was happening, and he said bring me your battery (of course, I took him the whole bike to go ahead and do the conversion). The rest is history.
Additional point on loose/corroded battery and or cable connections. When operating with above the battery voltage is drawn down by the resultant resistance creating weak starts (as well as dim lighting without engine running and charging system operating) Often the engine WILL start and everything seems normal because the load is on the alternator.
However, the battery connection resistance will drop the charging voltage below battery available voltage - and you guessed it - the battery will not get charged or be insufficiently charged. Then comes the day when there just isn't enough current available to crank the engine and you wind up buying a new battery although all you really need is to check, clean and retighten the connections.
Good Luck
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I have been deployed for the past 7 months and my bike has been sitting in the garage that whole time. My wife has been starting the bike once a week but, last month, she mistakenly changed the gear to 1st without holding the clutch and the bike died. After that, the bike won't start. The next day, the bike has no power what so ever. She turned the ignition switch and the lights do not turn on. I will test the battery but I hope I don't have to replace the sprag clutch!
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