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Identifying Motorbike Issues By Sound

Bike engines make various noises; it is expected given the number of metal parts whizzing around thousands of times every minute. If you are worried about the noises coming out of your bike, then one solution is to invest in a workshop stethoscope, which amplifies the sounds you will not be able to hear otherwise. If the noise persists or increases in volume, that could indicate excessive wear.

1. Sudden Ticking

A sudden ticking noise while riding is usually not a good sign. This can indicate the presence of a loose connection or a broken spark plug cable. Loose or broken spark plug cables can lead to the fouling of the spark plug, with resultant misfiring, reduced power and oily deposits in the combustion chamber.

2. Variable Ticking

Quick firing, an audible ticking noise, comes from two places. The first and most common is the crankshaft, which rotates and moves at every manifestation of piston action. The sound you hear is the firing of the pistons or the end of their stroke at the end of the cylinder. Every revolution of the crankshaft of your bike means there will be this tick, tick, ticking sound; it is the sound of the motor turning the wheels of your bike.

3. Backfiring or Popping

Backfiring and popping are unpleasant noises when air and fuel enter the cylinder during the intake stroke. The person riding the bike endures a burning sensation at the back of the throat due to this. Backfiring and popping can happen on bikes with the exhaust tips located behind the cylinders. These bikes tend to backfire more than other models.

4. Gurgling or Puffing

When you hear one of these noises, it usually indicates a problem with the mixture in the air-fuel mixture. This can be caused by a blown spark plug, clogged air filter, wrong size throttle grip, or wrong carburettor jet size.

5. Clattering and Slapping

These noises are often heard as the bike starts on a cold morning due to vaporised fuel in the combustion chambers. The bike will likely run rough until the fuel condensed on the spark plugs melts. If this continues to happen even after the engine is up to temperature, it could point to a problem with the ignition system.

6. Knocking

When the bike is idling, a knocking noise usually indicates that the engine has low compression. Worn piston rings can cause this, defective valves, improperly torqued cylinder head and incorrect valve timing. When it occurs at higher RPMs, it is an indication that the bike needs new pistons.

7. In-Gear Whining

If you experience whining in the bike at low or high RPMs, it could be caused by a faulty or worn primary chain or sprockets. It could also suggest that the transmission is shifting improperly.


Maintaining your motorbike engine is vital for that final blast of speed, optimal performance, and owning a bike that you will love to ride for its mechanical and aesthetic benefits. This article has provided you with an in-depth guide to identifying common bike noises and their causes.

At York Motorbikes, we pride ourselves on our ability to offer customers an exceptional professional experience. We provide a fast and efficient turnaround whilst maintaining the highest standards. If you need motorbike repair services in the UK, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help!

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