Triumph Scrambler out of fuel breakdown
My Scrambler

How to avoid a motorbike breakdown

While modern motorcycles are much more reliable than they used to be, you can still be inconvenienced by a breakdown.

And when you have a motorcycle breakdown, it is not always easy to get back on the road.

In a car, you can carry emergency gear that can get you going again.

However, not all motorcycles have the luggage capacity to carry emergency gear.

Here are six steps you can take to ensure you are not left stranded by the side of the road.

  1. Join a 24-hour roadside assistance program. Your motorcycle manufacturer may have a service, or your state’s auto club, or try the National Motorcycle Alliance (NMA) not-for-profit roadside assistance service.
  2. Three out of every five callouts for broken-down motorcycles are for tyre problems, according to roadside assistance sources. So take the time before riding to check your tyres for pressure and wear. You can also pack a puncture repair kit. Some are quite compact. However, those with tubed tyres will also need to carry tyre levers.

    tyre pressures breakdown
    Rocky Creek Designs MotoPressor tyre gauge
  3. Check your battery before heading off. The NMA says the second biggest reason for callouts is a flat battery, a problem that even sidelined Bruce Springsteen. Battery testers are cheap and a trickle charger is a good idea if your bike is unused for more than a few weeks. There are also cheap and compact battery chargers you can pack on your bike. You should also learn how to jump-start your motorcycle, just in case.

    BuzzTech Multi-Function Jump Starter start breakdown
    BuzzTech Multi-Function Jump Starter comes with a host of connectors
  4. The third most common cause of a callout is running out of fuel. Learn how much range your bike is capable of and monitor it with your trip meter. Don’t rely on the fuel gauge as they can be inaccurate.
  5. If your bike won’t start, check that you haven’t forgotten something simple like the kill switch, fuel tap (or petcock valve) or that the kickstand is still down. Some modern bikes have an immobiliser key fob and if its battery is flat it can prevent the bike from starting. Carry a spare key fob battery.

    fuel gauges breakdown
    Old-school petcock
  6. If it still won’t start, check the spark plugs if they are easily accessible. A dirty spark plug can easily be cleaned if you have a small piece of sandpaper packed under your seat. You’ll also need to pack a spark plug spanner.
  • Do you have any other tips to avoid a breakdown? Leave your comments below.
  1. put an amp/volt meter on your bike Regulator and stator failure are a big cause of getting stuck yet very few manufacturers put any warning light /gauge on

  2. Mark, I have been looking for a good quality tyre repair kit for use with my bike, I do carry a small pump when I ride but trying to find a decent kit isn’t so straightforward. I have been considering a Slime Tyre repair kit from SuperCheap Auto which sells for $33.49 but am not sure if it will do the job. Any suggestions?

  3. Regarding a tip. When the bike won’t start, I ask the rider what was the last thing they did to their bike, eg “I removed the seat to…..” or “ I had the tank off to…..” then return to that bit of maintenance and give it good visual inspection, chances are you have disturbed some critical wiring or forgotten to tighten something up, e.g. battery terminals.

      1. A c-clamp will break the bead…also the “dynaplug” pro works great for plugging holes, it takes up no storage room, I have one and already gave it the road test along with my micro-start battery pack and mini air compressor, these things go with me for every long road trip.
        The “slime” wont allow you to put a patch on the inside of the tire, it wont stick…

        1. The MotionPro BeadPro will break the bead on any tire and the Baja No Pinch tool makes it easy to put tires back on. I always ride with both, they are lite enough and you can role them up in a tool role. I always carry them on the bike along with tire plugs and a spare tube (just take one of the largest dia rim it will work on smaller rims ) plus tools to pull the wheel off.

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