Triumph motorcycles are renowned for their heritage, quality, and performance.
However, like any machine, sometimes Triumph motorcycles fail to start due to various factors.
This article discusses some of the common culprits behind why your Triumph motorcycle won’t start and how to fix them.
Table of Contents
Here’s Why your Triumph Motorcycle Won’t Start:
Your Triumph motorcycle won’t start if the battery is dead, the side stand is extended, the kill switch is off, the bike is in gear, the clutch is not pulled, or the starter relay is defective. These are some of the common causes of starting problems.
Triumph Won’t Start
The most common reasons a Triumph motorcycle won’t start are a dead battery, problematic side stand sensor, left side stand being extended, or if the kill switch is off.
One of the most straightforward reasons your Triumph motorcycle won’t start is that the battery is dead or low on charge.
A dead battery can happen if you leave your Triumph’s lights on, the bike sits for a long time without running, or the battery is old or faulty.
“The battery is the most likely culprit [on a Triumph motorcycle that won’t start]. It may not have been fully charged when fitted or discharged.” –thetriumphforum.com
To check the battery, you can use a voltmeter or a multimeter to measure the voltage across the terminals.
A fully charged motorcycle battery should pack around 12.6 volts.
If the voltage is lower than 12 volts, you may need to charge or replace your Triumph’s battery to get it started.
Side Stand Extended
Some Triumph motorcycles have a side stand switch that prevents the bike from starting when the stand is down.
This safety feature utilizes a sensor that communicates to the bike’s ECU to prevent it from starting when the stand is down, avoiding collisions and accidental movement when the bike is parked.
If the sensor is blocked by road debris, it may signal that the stand is down, even if it isn’t.
A contaminated sensor prevents the motorcycle from starting even with the stand pulled up.
If your triumph has this switch, inspect and clean the sensor as needed.
Also, retract the stand before you try to start the bike.
Kill Switch Set to OFF
The kill switch is a red button on the right handlebar that can cut off the ignition to the engine.
Flipping your kill switch stops the bike quickly, whether in an emergency or when parking.
If the kill switch is OFF, your Triumph won’t start even with the key inserted or fob in range. Flip the switch to ON before pressing the start button to start your Triumph motorcycle.
Triumph Won’t Start Just Clicks or Cranks
When you try to start your Triumph motorcycle, a clicking or cranking sound may indicate a weak battery or a problem with the starter relay or solenoid.
Your starter system transfers power from the battery to the motor and engages the pinion gear with the flywheel. The engine will click if your starter components are faulty, but won’t turn over.
“The click you hear is the starter solenoid under the RH side panel, but if the battery power is a smidgen low, the ECU will not allow it to turn over – hence the symptoms you describe.” thetriumphforum.com
“We’ve had several relay failures [on Triumph motorcycles] here. It’s a common type of relay, very cheap, and available at most auto shops. Try replacing it.” –triumphrat.net
“Check the battery connection. Mine did the same thing. One of the battery cables was loose. The lights and everything would come on, but when you go to crank it, it would just click.” –Triumphrat.net
To troubleshoot this issue, you can:
- Check the battery voltage to see if your battery is weak. While you’re there, examine your terminal connections for looseness or corrosion.
- Your battery should be at least 12.6 volts. If not, charge or replace the battery.
- Clean and tighten your terminal connections as needed.
- Locate the starter relay under the seat or near the battery. It is usually a black box with two large and two small terminals.
- Using a jumper wire, connect the two large terminals, bypassing the starter relay with a jumper wire.
- If the starter motor spins, the relay is bad.
- Locate the starter solenoid on the starter motor. It is usually a cylindrical metal device with two large terminals and one small terminal.
- With a jumper wire, contact the small terminal to the battery’s positive terminal, activating the starter solenoid.
- If you hear a clunk, the solenoid is good. If not, the solenoid is bad.
Triumph Won’t Start in Gear
A possible cause of your Triumph motorcycle not starting in gear is a faulty clutch or side stand switch. These safety features stop the bike from starting when the clutch is not pulled or the stand is down.
To pinpoint the culprit behind this issue:
- Start the bike in neutral. If it works, then one of the switches is bad.
- Check the clutch switch on the lever. It should be a small button that clicks when you pull the clutch. You can test it with a multimeter for continuity.
- Check the side stand switch on the side stand’s bracket.
- It’s either a spring-loaded plunger that moves when you lift the stand or a two-part magnet sensor that connects when the stand is down and disconnects when you lift it.
- You can test either type of sensor with a multimeter for continuity.
- If both switches are good, there may be a wiring or ECU problem. You may need to see a mechanic for further help.
Triumph Won’t Crank
If your Triumph motorcycle won’t crank, the starter motor lacks the power to turn over the engine.
A Triumph motorcycle can fail to crank for several reasons, such as a low or dead battery, a faulty starter relay, a bad starter solenoid, a damaged starter motor, or a wiring issue.
“I ride a 2016 Triumph Street Twin, and after a short ride, I used the kill switch and forgot to turn off the ignition… The headlamp lights, as does the instrument display, but when I hit the start button, there is nothing – no crank, no sound, nothing…
I received a call from the dealer today. They tracked the problem down to a bad instrument dial (Speedo). They don’t know why, but that seems to be the problem. It took support from Triumph overseas to figure out what was going on.” –Triumphrat.net
Check the starter motor for any signs of damage or wear. Test it by removing it from the bike and connecting it directly to a 12-volt battery.
- If the starter motor spins freely, it is good. It is bad if it does not turn or makes a grinding noise.
- Check the wiring and connections between the battery, relay, solenoid, and starter motor for any corrosion, loose connections, or breaks.
- Use a multimeter to check for continuity and resistance.
Triumph Won’t Start in Cold
Cold weather can affect the performance of your Triumph motorcycle’s battery, especially if it is a lithium-ion type. The battery may lose its charge or cannot deliver enough power to the starter motor.
“I have a problem with my [Triumph] bike. It is not starting after a cold night. If I make it start with my car help and ride to my job (40 min) when I head back home, after 8 hours, I have the same problem. I replaced the battery for a SHORAI, but it still happens. The cold is that bad, yet it is around 40 degrees.” –Triumphrat.net
- Keep your battery warm by storing it indoors or using a battery warmer.
- Turn on your ignition and headlights for 30 seconds to a minute before attempting to start the bike. This will help the battery to self-heat and increase its cranking power.
- Use a battery charger or a jumper cable to boost the battery voltage if it is too low.
- Replace the battery if it is old or faulty.
Triumph Won’t Start After Laying Down
If your Triumph motorcycle doesn’t start after laying down, it may be because oil has leaked into the cylinders and locked the engine. This can happen if the bike falls on its right side and oil flows from the crankcase breather into the airbox and the cylinders.
To diagnose staring problems after laying your Triumph down:
- Remove the tank, airbox, and spark plugs.
- Crank the engine to push the oil out of the cylinders.
- Clean the spark plugs and check for any damage.
- Check the airbox for any oil and clean it if necessary.
- Reinstall the spark plugs, airbox, and tank.
- Try to start the bike again.
Triumph Won’t Start After Winter
If your Triumph motorcycle doesn’t start after winter, it may be because you failed to store it properly during the cold season. Improper winter storage can damage your battery, fuel system, tires, and other parts of your bike, causing starting problems when you try to ride it again.
You can avoid a faulty start after storing your Triumph for winter by following some basic steps to winterize your bike before you store it for a long time.
These include draining the fuel, disconnecting the battery, inflating the tires, storing the bike inside, or covering your Triumph with a rugged tarp.
Triumph Won’t Start Oil Light On
If your Triumph motorcycle won’t start and the oil light is on, it may indicate a low or faulty oil pressure switch. Low oil pressure can be caused by low oil level, dirty oil, clogged oil filter, worn oil pump, or engine damage.
A faulty oil pressure switch can be caused by corrosion, loose connection, or internal failure.
“After my long ride, I parked it in the garage, and while cleaning it up today, I noticed oil leaking around and down the stator wire and grommet. The oil level was low in the window. I topped it off to the right level.
So, the good news is that it wasn’t a horrible leak, and I know how to fix that…just need more silicone sealant. Bad news, I can’t get it to start anymore!!!” –triumphrat.net
- Check the oil level and condition with the dipstick. If the oil level is low, add some oil. If the oil is dirty, change it and the filter.
- Check the oil pressure switch for any signs of damage or corrosion.
- Check the oil pressure with a gauge.
If the pressure is too low, there may be a problem with the oil pump or the engine bearings. You may need to consult a professional mechanic for further diagnosis and repair.
Triumph Won’t Start When Hot
Suppose your Triumph motorcycle doesn’t start when it is hot. In that case, it may be due to a weak battery, a failing coil or starter, or a dirty temperature sensor, as heat weakens your Triumph’s electrical system; this affects the fuel injection by proxy.
- Check your battery voltage.
- Inspect your coil or starter for damage or wear, testing accordingly.
- Examine and clean your Triumph’s temperature sensor.
Triumph Won’t Start with Key Fob
If your Triumph motorcycle has a keyless ignition system, you need a key fob to start it. When in range, your Triumph key fob signals the bike’s ECU to unlock the ignition and enable the start button.
If the key fob is not working, your Triumph won’t start, and you may see a red triangle or a lock icon on the dash.
- Check the battery in the key fob. It may be low or dead and need to be replaced.
- Check the position of the key fob. It may be too far from the bike or blocked by metal objects. Try moving it closer to the bike or holding it near the sensor under the seat.
- Check the status of the key fob.
- It may be locked or in sleep mode. Press and hold the Triumph symbol on the key fob to toggle between red (locked) and green (unlocked).
- Press any button on the key fob to wake it from sleep mode.
Triumph Won’t Start with New Battery
If your Triumph motorcycle doesn’t start with a new battery, it may be because the battery is not fully charged, not correctly connected, or not compatible with your bike.
- A new battery may not be charged and may not have enough power to crank the engine, especially if it is a lithium-ion type.
- A loose or corroded connection may prevent the battery from delivering power to the bike’s electrical system.
- The improper size or type of battery may not fit or work well with your Triumph model’s specifications.
Triumph Motorcycle Won’t Start After Changing Handlebars
Changing handlebars on your Triumph motorcycle may affect the wiring and connections of the electrical system, especially the starter switch, the kill switch, and the throttle sensor.
These electrical components are attached to your Triumph’s handlebars and control your bike’s ignition and fuel injection. If they are damaged, loose, or misaligned, your bike may not start.
- Check the wiring and connections of your Triumph’s starter switch, the kill switch, and the throttle sensor for any signs of damage or corrosion.
- Make sure they are securely and correctly connected to the main harness in the headlight.
- Check the alignment and operation of your Triumph’s throttle sensor. It is located on the right handlebar and sends a signal to the ECU to adjust the fuel mixture according to the throttle position.
- If it is not calibrated or installed correctly, it may cause a weak signal and prevent the bike from starting.
Triumph Motorcycle Won’t Start with Clutch Pulled
If your Triumph motorcycle won’t start with the clutch pulled, it may be due to a faulty clutch switch or a dirty temperature sensor. These sensors send signals to the ECU to enable or disable the starter motor and adjust the fuel mixture according to the clutch position and engine temperature.
If these sensors or their wiring are compromised or defective, they may send incorrect signals and cause starting problems.
“The problem now is when I pull the clutch in, ignition on, and press start, all I get is a click from a solenoid behind the fairing. I have fully charged the battery, now got the front fairing off to check wires, and nothing stands out as loose.” –Triumphrat.net
- Inspect the clutch switch for any signs of damage or corrosion. It’s located on the clutch lever and has a small button pressed when you pull it.
- Check the temperature sensor for any dirt or corrosion. It is located on the cylinder head near the spark plug.
- Clean or replace the clutch switch or temperature sensor if they are dirty or faulty.
Triumph Won’t Start Lights Flashing
If your Triumph motorcycle won’t start and the lights are flashing, it may indicate a problem with the electrical or keyless ignition system.
- A low or dead battery that cannot provide enough power to the starter motor or the key fob.
- A faulty or damaged key fob can’t signal the bike’s ECU to unlock the ignition and enable the start button.
- A faulty or damaged starter switch, kill switch, or throttle sensor that can affect the ignition and fuel injection of your bike.
- A wiring issue or an ECU fault can cause a communication error between the bike and the key fob—check the wiring and connections between the battery, relay, solenoid, and starter motor for any corrosion, loose connections, or breaks.