When you think of Italian motorcycles, Ducati is often the name that springs to mind.
They’re well known for their wide range of models although they remain a premium and performance-oriented brand.
Like any bike, Ducati’s aren’t immune from starting issues from time to time.
If you’re Ducati won’t start, you’ve come to the right place…
The most common reasons a Ducati motorcycle won’t start are faulty crankshaft position sensors, failing fuel pump, blown fuses, burnt-out spark plugs, a faulty starter or charging system components. Other possibilities include expired batteries, poor connections, or faulty sensors.
Ducati Won’t Start
Listed below are the most common reasons why a Ducati won’t start:
The crankshaft sensor tells the ECU when to ignite the spark plugs or inject fuel. Due to the vulnerable position of the crankshaft position sensor on many Ducati motorcycles, it is prone to fail, preventing the bike from starting.
The crankshaft position sensor sends signals to the ECU, letting it know when to ignite the spark plugs or inject fuel, maintaining proper engine functioning and timing.
If the sensor fails to transmit the signal, the ECU will assume there’s an issue with the crankshaft and stops sending spark and fuel to the pistons.
Without the timing sensor’s signal, the ECU cannot know the crankshaft’s position and whether or not it’s appropriate to spark or inject fuel.
Therefore, the ECU will stop triggering both functions rather than risking ignition or fuel injection at a hazardous time.
On many Ducati’s, the sensor is located on the left-hand side of the engine, by the charging system, where it’s exposed to weather, debris, and moisture and susceptible to the effects of engine vibration.
Symptoms of a Faulty Crankshaft Position Sensor
- Some Ducatis will start idle or run for almost twenty minutes before stalling
- RPM stumbling and RPMs dropping suddenly in random ranges at various throttle positions.
- Bike won’t start – the lights will illuminate, and the fuel pump will prime, but the ECU won’t deliver the spark required to ignite the motorcycle’s engine.
Another common reason a Ducati motorcycle won’t start is because of problems with the fuel pump constricting fuel flow. In some cases, the fuel pump is faulty, while the Ducati engine vibration loosens the fuel pump wires in others.
Additionally, a pinched fuel line or clogs from low-grade fuel and corrosion can all cause a Ducati motorcycle not to start.
Here’s how to spot a failed fuel pump in a few quick steps:
- Ensure the engine and all electronics are turned off
- Gently lift your Ducati’s fuel tank and inspect beneath it.
- Follow the fuel lines to your fuel pump.
- Put your ear close to the fuel pump as you turn on the bike’s electronics by turning the key or pushing the power button.
- The fuel pump should make a whirring noise. That’s the sound of it priming with fuel.
- If you don’t hear the pump wake up along with the rest of your bike’s lights and electrical features, the pump itself is broken, or there’s a short or failure somewhere in the pump’s electrical system.
If the pump does come to life with the rest of your Ducati’s electrical systems, the issue could be with the aluminum housing that holds the pump wires.
On some Ducati’s, the engine vibration is enough to shake the wires loose.
A dead battery is another familiar problem preventing a Ducati motorcycle from starting. Modern Ducati motorcycles equip electrical features that drain the battery when the bike sits for significant periods without use.
Parasitic drain is when your ECU or one of its associated electrical components gradually leeches power from the battery while the motorcycle is at rest.
- Some Parasitic drain is to be expected on any modern, ECU-equipped motorcycle.
- Because a motorcycle battery is recharged by engine power, it’s only charged while running.
Check for a faulty wire grounding or a short circuit if you’re encountering signs of a parasitic drain on a Ducati motorcycle but have been using it or chafing your battery consistently.
- Use a multimeter to test your battery. First, set the multimeter to DC Voltage.
- Follow the meter instructions to hook up the meter to your battery terminals.
- If the multimeter reads just a few shy of 12V, you might be able to charge your battery enough to get the bike started.
That said, if your battery reads less than 9V, it might be expired for good, meaning it won’t recharge and will need to be replaced to get your bike started.
Modern Ducatis also have a side stand or kickstand safety switch that alerts the ECU when the side stand is down. Once notified, the ECU won’t allow the Ducati to start unless the side stand is raised unless the bike is shifted to neutral.
The switch will allow the bike to start with the kickstand down if the transmission is in neutral, but as soon as you shift it into gear, the engine will die.
If the owner neglects to raise the kickstand before riding, a Ducati bike will stall and won’t fire back up until the rider lifts the side stand.
If the kickstand safety sensor incurs damage or is obstructed by road grime, moisture or corrosion, the ECU will assume the side stand is extended even when it isn’t.
Sometimes, the solution is to clean the dirt and corrosion off your kickstand sensor. Otherwise, the side stand sensor might need to be replaced.
Other Common Causes
- Blown fuses
- Clogged injector
- Bad spark plugs
- Bad ignition coil
- Failed starter
A Ducati motorcycle won’t start but will click, crank, and try to start if the fuel pump hose is disconnected, if there’s dirt or grime under the kill switch, or if the spark plugs are burnt out or fouled. It could also be a problem within your starter system.
The normal whining sound Ducatis make at startup is the fuel pump pressuring the rest of the fuel system.
If the fuel pump’s pressurization fails to reach the injectors, the Ducati motorcycle will crank but won’t start.
In situations like this, the culprit often turns out to be the fuel pump hose disconnecting from the pump and falling inside the tank due to engine vibration.
- Open the fuel cap and look inside your Ducati’s Fuel tank.
- If the fuel pump’s hose vibrates loose and disconnects from the pump unit, you’ll see fuel swirling inside your fuel tank as soon as you flick on your ignition switch.
- To reconnect the hose, you’ll have to drain the fuel tank and remove it from the Ducati.
- If you’re unsure how to do this, consult the service manual for your year model Duc, or take it to a Ducati technician for a fast and easy fuel pump service.
Ducati motorcycles won’t start in gear if the kickstand is extended. The Ducati still won’t start in gear even if you raise the side stand unless you press the clutch hand lever to disengage the clutch.
Modern Ducati motorcycles equip a neutral or clutch sensor, a safety feature that prevents the bike from leaping forward and shutting off.
If your Ducati Motorcycle doesn’t crank, the issue could be the bike’s fuel injector, starter relay, or a dead battery. A safety sensor will prevent the bike from starting if the bike is in gear or the side stand is down.
Ducati Won’t Crank, But Lights Come On
Ducati motorcycles won’t crank if the starter button wiring vibrates loose or if the starter system experiences a mechanical or electrical failure.
If the wires in the starter switch are compromised, you’ll have to disconnect your Ducati’s two starter switch wires from the wiring harness.
Once disconnected, check the starter button itself with the multimeter to see if the switch failed from the vibration.
If not, you may be able to clean the corrosion off the wires and reconnect them to get your Ducati fired up.
If your Ducati gets caught in hard rain and doesn’t start, there is already a problem since water shouldn’t affect the simple starting circuit. A starter, battery, or fuel pump fault could be to blame.
- If the fuel lines are cracked, water cannot only get in but there won’t be enough fuel pumped to fuel injectors to start the bike.
- If your Ducati got caught in the rain and the starter cranks a few times and then resorts to clicking, it’s probably a weak battery. When the starter pulls power, the voltage to the ECU drops below the point where it will power the injectors or send a spark, and your Ducati motorcycle likely needs a new battery.
Ducati motorcycles may develop problems starting after winter if not put on a battery tender. Your Ducati’s ECU drains the battery when the bike is sitting–more quickly when stored in the cold.
Ducati motorcycles won’t start when it’s hot outside if the starter motor is worn out. The starters on the Ducati Hyper motard models were notoriously weak and were often replaced under warranty for failing to start in sweltering weather.
Or, as one Ducati rider put it:
“About a year ago, my bike would take several attempts to start, and the motor sounded like it couldn’t turn over the engine. The dash would dim and flicker and require 4-5 presses of the button to start up. It would make awful clicking and clunking noises too. This issue was most prevalent when warm or hot, but the bike was also a bit weak when cold too.
Ducati replaced the motor with a new one, and the bike was fixed – it would fire every time. However…. considering it was the SAME part number, I was always afraid it would happen again. And it did, less than 3,000 miles later. Based on my symptoms, the motor was drawing too much current and not turning it into torque as it should. The massive load on the bike’s electrical system makes the dash flicker, making it seem like your battery needs replacement or your cables are not large enough.”
- The faulty starter motor part number is the Taigene 27040127A. Identifiable by black screws.
- Eventually, Ducati engineered a starter motor that holds up better in the heat.
- New part number: Denso 27040104A. Identifiable by silver screws instead of the black screws on the faulty motor.
If you or your mechanic recently installed a new battery and your Ducati motorcycle won’t start, it’s likely due to corroded battery terminals or a shaky connection.
A poor battery ground can also prevent a Ducati motorcycle from starting, even if it has a brand new battery.
If your Ducati motorcycle won’t start after you’ve changed your handlebars, it’s likely because the clutch cable needs to be adjusted to fit the new bat height. Otherwise, the clutch won’t fully disengage when you pull your lever in, and the bike won’t start.