Why does my motorcycle die when I put it in gear?

Do you feel like a novice rider every time you stall your motorcycle after selecting first gear? Not only do you look like a novice rider, but it’s inconvenient and annoying at the same time.

There are a few reasons why your motorcycle stalls when you select first gear. A switch on the side stand may prevent you from riding with the side stand down. The switch may be dirty. A stretched clutch cable is very common and causes your motorcycle to stall.

Why does my motorcycle die when I pull in the clutch?

With modern motorcycles, there are many reasons why your engine could be cutting out when you pull the clutch.

First, it makes sense to pull off the codes from your motorcycle and look for anything obvious that stands out.

If this is a persistent fault, it will be easy to see through the codes where the fault emanates from. Unfortunately, you may need to use a technical guy to perform this task and make the correct diagnostic check on your behalf.

The problem would lie in one of the hundreds if not a thousand sensors fitted to your motorcycle. Identifying a problem is near impossible these days with the array of sensor adjusting components fitted to your motorcycle.

However, this does sound like one of two things, a fuel supply issue or an ignition timing issue.

Some motorcycles used as daily rides and not serviced at a leading dealership can develop faults with the fuel mixture ratio. For instance, air and fuel mix could be way off. This problem does come to light more when you have been riding for a while, and the bike is warm, making it an irritating fault to diagnose.

With the number of sensors controlling every aspect of your motorcycle’s performance, it’s hardly surprising something is going to fail, even the sensor itself resulting in running issues.

So to reiterate, if you are experiencing problems with your engine when you pull the clutch, it is reasonable to assume it’s a fuel issue (sticking needle) or an ignition problem.

How do you not stall in first gear on your motorcycle?

Stalling your motorcycle in first gear is a rookie mistake in most cases, but we all do it at some time. Even the most experienced riders get it wrong at times.

If you are stalling your motorcycle in first gear and there is no engine or clutch problem, and you have checked there are no side stand sensor issues, then it is a case of revs.

If your bike is cold and the oil is not up to temperature, then your engine needs those few extra revs to make for a smooth transition from standing still to pulling away in first gear.

If you wish, you can practise this process in the comfort of your driveway. Slowly release your clutch and know where the clutch starts to engage. There should be a medium amount of travel if everything is working fine,

At the point when the clutch bites roll on a few more revs for a smooth pull away, too many revs will see you spinning your back wheel and not enough will make you stall.

Clutch control is mastered only with practice, and regular riding will hone this skill.

Of course, if there is a mechanical issue with your motorcycle, stalling clutch control cannot always compensate for mechanical issues. 

What causes motorcycle stalling?

There are many reasons a motorcycle can stall, from a novice rider not adding the correct revs when the clutch bites to simple mechanical problems.

Let’s assume you are not a novice rider and your motorcycle has a problem pulling away when selecting first gear.

Some symptoms can identify the problem without going down the route of diagnostics.

If your motorcycle snatches when you select first gear, then look at the side stand switch. It’s often a simple plunger type switch. 

The switch prevents you from riding away with your side stand lowered, which can be very dangerous.

The position of the switch is open to the elements inevitably. It will look at some time need replacing or maintenance.

The switch gets dirty from road grime and, over time, can become sticky and not release the plunger, which sends the signal to the computer letting the motorcycle know the side stand is up.

Once in this condition, it will cause you to stall unless you have excessive revs.

It’s an easy fix. Maintenance or a replacement switch will solve the problem.

A worn clutch will cause you to stall your motorcycle. The clutch needs to be in good working order to transition smoothly from selecting first gear to pulling away.

Stretched clutch cables are a common issue. If the cable is stretched, it makes selecting gear difficult. 

Again an easy fix, you can adjust your clutch cable or fit a new cable if the clutch cable has been previously adjusted.

Most common of all is not enough revs. Every rider will have experienced pulling away from the traffic lights only to stall. It’s annoying and embarrassing.

Progressively add more revs as you release the clutch for a smooth transition. Too many revs will cause your back wheel to spin, which is dangerous, so take it easy and practise until you get it right.

How do you fix a motorcycle stall?

Know where your clutch bites. It’s easy to feel. Most motorcycle stalls are due to a lack of engine revs when pulling off. When your clutch bites and you move, add a few extra revs to get you in full motion.

If this is your problem, practice will make perfect.

Let’s talk about basic mechanical issues. If your engine idles in the correct rev range and you are confident your engine is not part of the stalling problem, we can look at three main issues.

First, side stands sensor or switch. The switch is located close to your side stand. It’s vulnerable to becoming dirty and exposed to road grime.

Road grime can be microscopic dust particles that penetrate the seals causing the switch to fail.

A good cleaning will help, and general maintenance will keep the side stand switch in good order. If it does fail, then replace the switch.

Second, clutch cable slack. If your clutch cable is stretched, this may be a more significant issue than just stalling your motorcycle. It can damage the clutch plates, so pay attention to the cable.

Too much tension on your clutch cable will prevent your clutch plate from engaging fully, causing it to spin.

If the clutch friction plates are not fully adjusted and spin during everyday use, the clutch plates will wear quickly and need replacing.

A not fully engaged clutch plate can put you in danger. If you need those extra revs to get you out of a pickle and your clutch is just spinning, the extra revs are doing nothing for you.

Too much play in the clutch cable also has a similar effect. When you pull your clutch lever all the way home, the clutch may not disengage entirely, leaving the friction service in contact with the flywheel.

If this is the case changing gears will be more complex, and you will experience your motorcycle creeping when at a standstill.

A correctly adjusted clutch cable is more important than you may have realised. Check that the clutch cable free play is in spec with the motorcycle manufacturer specifications. Clutch free play is a simple measurement you can do yourself.

Third, clutch plates. If you are heavy on your clutch, you will need to replace your clutch plates more frequently.

If your clutch cable is adjusted correctly and you have eliminated side stand switch issues, your stall issues will likely be directly connected to the clutch plates.

Changing the clutch plates on your motorcycle is a relatively easy DIY job. If you have some basic tools, you can perform this task in your home garage within an hour.

Is stalling bad for a motorcycle?

Stalling your motorcycle will not damage your engine. However, persistent stalling can cause damage to your sprockets and chain.

A bigger issue is that stalling your motorcycle at a busy road junction could put you in danger and cause you to be hit by a vehicle.

Without mechanical issues stalling is a function of insufficient fuel through revs. Each gear requires a certain amount of revs to function.

Practice clutch control and master clutch control to prevent stalling if you are a newbie rider. Stalling at a busy junction is not a situation you want to be in at any time.