10 of the most common reasons for breaking down

Sitting in a layby waiting to be recovered? You're probably there because of one of the issues below; the ten most common reasons bikers call the RAC

THERE’S little doubt that modern bikes are more reliable than their forebears but despite all the improvements there are sure to be occasions over the years when your trusty steed lets you down.

We got in touch with the RAC to find out what they’re called out for most regularly when it comes to bikes. Some of the answers are no surprise…

10: Plugs/flooded fuel

ANOTHER old-school breakdown here. Not something that’s so likely to happen on modern, fuel-injected bikes, the good old fashioned flooded engine or dirty spark plug will still leave your bike unable to start if, for any reason, it does happen.

9: Clutch

WHETHER it’s cable or hydraulically-operated, the clutch is another of those key elements that can strike you down with even a relatively minor failure. While a worn clutch is likely to give plenty of notice that it needs to be changed, a broken cable or leaking master or slave cylinder can instantly render your clutch lever inoperative.

8: Gearbox

BIKE gearboxes are generally tough, simple things, but over time and under stress they’ll eventually wear and break. Bent selector forks from ill-judged clutchless shifts, stripped gears or simply a broken chain will all leave you stuck at the side of the road.

7: Alternator

ALTERNATOR failures are another of those unpredictable things that sometimes just strike – leaving you racing to get to your destination, charge light glowing, in the hope you’ll make it before the battery gives up the ghost. Sods law says you won’t quite make it, leaving you stranded as you wait for recovery.

6: Immobiliser

IN our experience, immobiliser failures – or operator error – can result in the devices living up to their name remarkably well. They might not be able to stop the sort of thieves that swill just stick the bike into the back of a van, but if they go wrong they’ll certainly stop the rightful owner from going anywhere.

5: ECU/Engine management

WE mentioned that modern bikes are more reliant than ever on electronics, so it’s perhaps surprising that electrical problems with those inscrutable computerised elements don’t appear higher in this list. Annoyingly unpredictable, computer failures are the sort of thing that you really want breakdown cover for; however carefully you ride and well maintained your bike is, there’s nothing you can really do to insure against these sort of problems.

4: Engine mechanical

NOW this is a proper breakdown. The sort where a piston comes out of the side of the engine. Or a cam chain snaps, introducing valves to pistons in such a way that most of the motor’s insides start to resemble some sort of avant garde industrial sculpture. Advice? Don’t skimp on servicing…

3: Accident

OK, perhaps it’s not a ‘breakdown’ per se, but nothing is going to bring a halt to your travels as fast and effectively as sticking your bike in a ditch or into the side of a car.

2: Flat battery

MOST of the time we don’t find ourselves pining for the days of kick-starts and magnetos. But if you ever return to your bike to be greeted with nothing but that dull ‘click’ on pressing the starter, you’ll have a rare moment of wishing you could kick in a more productive way than the one you’ll be tempted to resort to. Although a dying battery will usually give you fair warning, accidentally leaving your parking lights on all day will kill one that was perfect, and many of today’s bikes, packed with electronics, won’t even respond to attempts at a bump start if the battery is too flat…

1: Tyres

CHECKING your tyres is always a good idea, and if you want another reason to do it, how about the fact that they’re the number one reason for motorcycle breakdowns. OK, often there’s nothing you can do about it – a rogue nail in the road or a particularly nasty pothole can destroy a tyre that was perfect when you set out on your journey. But for every unexpected failure those there will be others that come down to poor maintenance or damage that could have been spotted at home before you set out. Keep an eye on your tyres – you know it makes sense.