Motorcycles are noisy by nature. Sometimes, the noise is a satisfying one, like the hearty bark of a healthy exhaust. Other times, your bike may make strange sounds that indicate something is out of place: a buzzing sound when you’re turning the key in the ignition of the motorcycle or the motorcycle making a knocking sound when accelerating. Common motorcycle problems like a flooded engine can cause all kinds of odd noises. So, what does a flooded engine sound like, and how do you tell the difference between potential problem sounds and sounds that are nothing to worry about?

If you hear a rattling as you ride, the culprit is most likely an external component that just needs tightening or a new fastener. But that’s not the only noise, vibration or sensation that can serve as a warning sign. From ticks and rattles to abrasive grinding, there are many sounds that can potentially signal disaster if you don’t take action. What does a flooded engine sound like on a motorcycle, and what other problems tend to announce themselves through noise? This is the Taverner Motorsports troubleshooting guide to identifying and fixing your motorcycle’s problem sounds

Troubleshooting Techniques for Problem Sounds

If you’re not particularly handy when it comes to fixing motorcycles, taking your bike to a professional is a must. But before you do, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot problem sounds and, if you’re lucky, address them right then and there.

Look for the source of the sound

It might sound obvious, but figuring out where the sound is coming from can sometimes enable you to spot and fix it very quickly. For example, a rhythmic tick coming from an unusual spot, such as above the chassis, can be a sign of a loose rearview mirror.

Check for loose parts

Just about any part of your motorbike can begin making unusual noises when it comes loose. But often, it’s the exhaust system or the engine accessories that are rattling or clanging. You can reduce the risk by having your bike regularly serviced, and these parts tightened up.

Check your engine oil

The lower your engine oil, the rougher your ride. Motorcycle oil lubricates your engine, while the lack of it can cause a low, metallic clunking sound. Luckily, it doesn’t get much simpler than checking if your oil is low and topping it up.

Check the motorcycle’s exterior

Run through a quick visual inspection and look for cracks, breaks and damage to the framework, exhaust or engine. You might be surprised what a quick once-over can turn up.

Try an automotive stethoscope

Just like the stethoscope that gets pressed to your chest in the doctor’s office, this diagnostic tool lets you take a closer listen to where the sound is coming from.

Warm up the engine

Sometimes, you can only hear odd noises once the engine has already warmed up. Let your motorcycle’s engine run for a few minutes, and if the sounds only start when it’s hot, it’s likely to be a problem with your engine’s coolant or internal components.

See a professional

Not everyone can fix a motorbike. Not every issue is easy to fix and even if you have some skills on the tools, there’s no shame in taking it to a pro. A good motorcycle mechanic will find and fix the issues a lot faster than guesswork will.

Common Motorcycle Problems Diagnosed by Sound

Your motorcycle can make a lot of different noises, and often, these noises can give you a pretty clear indication of what’s going on. From regular ticking and clatters to the sound of a flooded engine, some of the most common sounds and their probable causes include:


Ticking can be caused by a number of problems, from low oil to engine issues to valve train hitches. Ticking that comes on fast and suddenly is often an issue, like a gap in a manifold seal or a hole in rusty pipes. Ticking that increases when revs do is often the result of loose valves.


A gurgling noise indicates problems with your coolant. A good way to start investigating is to check if your coolant is low. If it remains low even after you top it up, a leaking gasket or seal is likely to be responsible.


Clattering tends to be a sign that something is wearing out: most likely your throttle or your tensioner. If adjusting your cam chain doesn’t make a difference, that’s often an indication that you’re due for a replacement.


A motorcycle making a knocking sound when you’re accelerating is a serious sign of trouble, usually in the bottom end of the engine. A heavy metallic clunk from deep within the engine is a sign that the bike needs serious attention. If the bearings or big-end shells go when you’re in the middle of a ride, your engine will seize up.


A bit of cracking or popping isn’t unusual, but constant popping and the occasional loud bang are definitely causes for concern. The problem could be gaps in the exhaust, issues with the spark plug wire or energy in the ignition arcing up from a crack.


A grinding sound is enough to inspire sheer terror regardless of motor vehicle, but it indicates an issue that can be fixed like any other. Potential causes include a sticking calliper or a bearing failure.


A flooded motorcycle engine can make sounds that include cranking, whirring, spluttering or choking. You can also recognise a flooded motorcycle engine by its backfiring, excessive smoke or failure to start. If your motorcycle engine is flooded, you can fix it yourself or take it to a professional.


What is that buzzing sound you get when turning the key in the motorcycle ignition? Sadly, a buzzing sound doesn’t just have one potential cause. It could be a sign of a weak or faulty battery or issues with the fuel system, electrical system or starter motor.

Repair and Maintenance of Problem Motorcycle Sounds

There isn’t one single solution for problem motorcycle sounds and the issues behind them. Repairing and maintaining your motorbike depends on the issue. But some common steps to solving the problem include checking parts, checking oil and then checking the various parts like the valves and the driveshaft.

There are some simple yet effective steps that you can take to keep your motorbike running smoothly. But if you need anything beyond the most basic maintenance and repairs done, it’s best to hire a pro so you can leave it with them and get on with your life. 

For questions, from what a flooded motorcycle engine sounds like to how to stop your motorcycle from making a knocking sound when accelerating, Taverner Motorsports is here to offer all kinds of professional assistance.

Get Professional Help at Taverner Motorsports

At Taverner Motorsports, our qualified mechanics specialise in repairs of all kinds, from your electrical system to your brakes and suspension. With 40+ years in the motorcycle industry, there are very few types of bikes we haven’t worked on.

We also offer routine motorcycle servicing to keep your bike and all its components running smoothly.

If you’d like more information on anything from what a flooded engine sounds like to any of our parts or services, contact the Taverner Motorsports team for a quote.