It’s never a good sign when your motorcycle engine stops working normally. Maybe it’s overly noisy, maybe it’s blowing smoke, maybe its performance is suddenly weaker, or maybe you can’t turn it on at all. You know it’s going to need work, but you don’t yet know how much and what it will cost you. Will a minor repair job fix the problem, or are you looking at a brand-new engine?

Buying a new engine isn’t cheap, and it can be close to impossible for some rare and vintage motorbikes. A motorbike engine rebuild is a cost-effective choice, and it also gives you the opportunity to modify and customise the performance while you’re at it.  

But before you embark on a task of that scale, you naturally want to be sure your motorcycle really needs it. Signs that your engine is nearing the end of its lifespan can be difficult to spot. They can disguise themselves as common motorcycle engine problems easily solved by a few simple repairs.

Then there’s the question, “How hard is it to rebuild a motorcycle engine?” Can you tackle the job yourself with some tools and a little know-how, or is it best to leave it to a professional?

Common Motorcycle Engine Problems

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Like every other mechanical part, motorcycle engines wear out over time, although their lifespan is longer than you might think. With proper care, a motorcycle engine can last from 10 to 15 years, but neglect and poor handling can wear even the best engine out before its time.

Common motorcycle engine problems often overlap with signs that you need a motorbike engine rebuild.  That’s why it’s a good idea to take your bike to a professional to be sure.

Here are some common problems that a motorcycle engine can have and how to fix them.

Engine running hot

After running for a few minutes, your engine should settle back nicely into its regular temperature. If your engine continues to run hotter than normal, it could be a sign of many potential issues.  You can troubleshoot by checking that your engine has enough coolant, checking that your tyres are properly inflated and checking that your brakes are working. If the increase in temperature is accompanied by black smoke pouring out of your exhaust, your engine is running rich, and you need your carburettor checked.

Motorbike won’t start

It’s a horrible feeling when you put the key in the ignition, and the bike won’t turn on. Luckily there are steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem. First, try the obvious approach and check the fuel. Then check the battery with a multimeter to make sure it’s showing at least 12 volts. If the battery is fine, you can use the multimeter to see if there’s an issue somewhere else, like the fuse or starter switch.

Poor acceleration

If you’ve noticed less power than usual when you twist the throttle, the issue (as usual) comes down to air, fuel and spark. You can start to address the problem by making sure the right kind of spark plug is in the machine, having the carburettor cleaned or changing the air filter if it’s dirty.

Burning engine oil

Engine oil keeps your engine at the right temperature and reduces the friction of the moving parts. If your bike starts burning engine oil, you have a problem. It’s probably no surprise that the problem has a few potential causes. The most common are worn-out piston rings, leaking gaskets and degraded valve seals. 

If you’ve tried to fix all of the issues above and nothing has worked, it could be a sign that a motorbike engine rebuild is on the cards. So should you attempt to do it yourself or head to your mechanic? How hard is it to rebuild a motorcycle engine, anyway?

Signs That You Require a New Motorcycle Engine

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Signs that you’re in need of a motorbike engine rebuild (or replacement) include:

Loss of power

While weak acceleration often has a simple solution, it can also be a sign of an engine wearing out.

Strange noises

Sounds like rattling and knocking can be signs of worn-out internal parts like cam chain guides or cam bearings.  

Difficulty starting

If you have a hard time getting your bike to start, especially in cold weather, this can be a sign of wear and tear in parts like valves and piston rings, as well as leaking gaskets or cam timing off.

Excess smoke

Too much smoke is never a good thing, and if it’s blue or white, it can indicate oil or coolant leaking its way into the combustion chamber.

Heavy oil consumption

If you’ve noticed a bigger drop in oil levels between changes than usual, that’s a sign that the engine is wearing out internally.


If you find that your motorbike shakes while you ride, the culprit is often imbalanced or worn-out engine parts. Worn crank bearings or counterbalance bearings are often the cause, and a loose clutch is another common issue.

‘Prevention is better than a cure’ is a common saying. So how do you reduce the risk of a motorbike engine rebuild becoming necessary? And if the damage has already been done, how hard is it to rebuild a motorcycle’s engine, and is it really best left to the professionals?

Tips for Maintaining Your Motorcycle Engine

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Regular motorcycle maintenance is important for keeping your bike in a roadworthy condition. Here are some actions you can take to minimise your chance of needing a motorbike engine rebuild further down the line.

Use fresh fuel

If you’ve just pulled a motorcycle you haven’t ridden for months out of the shed, change the fuel before you take it for a ride. Sitting in the tank for too long makes petrol go stale.

Change the oil regularly

Always keep an eye on the level and quality of your motorcycle oil. Change it as often as the manufacturer says and use the oil they recommend.

Maintain coolant levels

For a liquid-cooled motorcycle, check that your coolant levels are topped up and watch for leaks.

Keep an eye on air filters, spark plugs, belts and chains

Pay attention to what’s going on inside your motorcycle, and keep an eye out for any damage.

Book your bike in for a regular service

Regular servicing is the best thing you can do for your motorcycle engine to maintain its safety and efficiency. It keeps everything running smoothly and gives your mechanic the chance to address potential problems early before they get out of hand. While there’s a general rule that you should service your motorbike every six months, it also depends on other factors like what kind of bike you have and how often you ride.   

Motorcycle Engine Rebuilds at Taverner Motorsports

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How hard is it to rebuild a motorcycle engine? If you have an eye for details and a lot of patience, it’s not that difficult, but it is a long and time-consuming process. It involves draining the motorbike’s fluids, stripping the bike of parts and using the right kind of tools to remove engine components like the clutch and alternator.

Taking your bike to Taverner Motorsports is a lot easier. With 40+ years in the motorcycle industry, there’s not a lot we haven’t seen or worked on by this point. With a passion for motorcycles running through our veins, we’ll treat your bike with the same care as one of our own when we carry out a motorbike engine rebuild. Our process involves disassembling the engine, cleaning it, inspecting and measuring the parts, replacing damaged ones, and reassembling the engine.

Our workshop on the north side of Brisbane is not only where we carry out workshop services like motorcycle servicing and performance work, but it’s also the location of our shop stocked with quality motorcycle parts from worldwide suppliers.

Request a quote for a motorbike engine rebuild and let the Taverner team do the hard work for you.