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

Most of the newer motorcycles have a safety feature that cuts the engine when you put the bike in gear while the side stand is down. If you didn’t forget to lift the side stand, it could be the sensor on the side stand that isn’t working.


In this short article, we look into the possible reasons why your bike would die as soon as you select a gear.

We will discuss the following reasons:

  • Your side stand is down
  • The side stand sensor mechanism is stuck
  • Damaged wires to the sensor mechanism
  • Unrelated reasons

Your side stand is down

This is the obvious answer. But it might not be so obvious when you have your bike on a lift stand or a dolly. Check that your side stand is all the way up.

Why? Because most of the newer motorcycles come out with a safety feature that cuts the engine if the side stand is down while in gear. This safety feature is there so that you don’t start riding when the side stand is down. If that does happen and you lean to the left, the side stand hits the road and flings your rear wheel into the air.

The side stand sensor mechanism is stuck

If you checked that the side stand is up and it doesn’t solve the problem, it might be that the sensor mechanism is stuck. Depending on what bike you have, it will usually be some kind of button or switch on the side stand mount that closes a circuit. You might try removing it and giving it a good wash or you can just leave it there and clean it up.

You can use engine cleaner to get oil and grease off and then maybe some electrical switch cleaner that comes in a spray can. Well, this also depends on how the switch or sensor works but either way, cleaning it is always practical and might be the solution.

If it is some kind of pin that depresses when the side stand is down you can lubricate it with chain wax. If you don’t already know, chain wax is basically some kind of magic sauce from heaven. I use it for chains (as the name suggests), locks and essentially anything small that moves a lot.

Damaged wires to the sensor mechanism

If you checked the side stand and the sensor/switch/thing and it still doesn’t solve the problem, then it might be some wiring issue. Check the wires coming from the side stand and follow it up to where you can unplug it. This might be behind the headlights for some which is not great if you have a sportbike.

Disassembling everything is easy but putting it all back together is 100x harder. You could try cutting and replacing the wires that you can reach but it’s not to say this will solve the problem.

Unrelated reasons

If you were working on your bike recently, there might be something else wrong but I highly dought it. If the engine only shuts down when you select a gear, it has to be something to do with the side stand.

But there is one thing that might have a similar result if by chance you had the right conditions.

Maybe you removed your front fairing recently and put it all together again. Inside is a funny looking box that kind of looks more like a bubble. This bubble box tells the engine to shut down if the bike is laying on its side like when you tip the bike or crash.

If you just jammed the thing back without making sure it’s the right way up or didn’t fasten it again, it might be that when you sit the bike upright to start riding, it’s just at the right angle to shut down the engine.

So try sitting the bike up and don’t select a gear. Just wait. If the bike shuts down after a while without you touching the gears, then this might be the problem.

Final words

I don’t know all the ins and outs of all motorcycles; I basically just know how my own bikes work but it should be more or less the same. I did have this kind of unrelated problem on my CBR after reassembling the fairings. It’s not likely that this would be the issue but it is possible. I hope this article helps.

Featured image by righez_84 on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

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