Motorcycles diagnostics – fault codes

By Julia Freeman

Modern motorcycles contain all manner of onboard sensors which are able to transmit fault codes to the central processor. A huge benefit of this is that if a motorbike has broken down or begun to behave unpredictably, it can be a very quick job for a mechanic to hook it up to their fault diagnosis system and begin to understand what the problem may be.


Gone are the days of a mechanic having to spend a long time testing and looking at a myriad of different potential issues. Modern tools make the diagnosis of an issue a far easier and less time-consuming job. In our experience, this means that if your motorcycle is not performing, it is likely to be returned to you in full working order far more quickly than it may have been in the past.

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How it works

On your motorbike, you are likely to have an engine management light. Given the limited real estate on the dashboard, this will probably be just a single light, rather than having the full array of engine error symbols. This could indicate a fault that will need to be looked at by a mechanic.
Most motorcycle mechanics have invested in diagnostic equipment, which is able to interface with the motorbike in order to scan for fault codes. These may be present in the Engine Control Unit (ECU) although this is sometimes known as an engine control module (ECM). Fault codes could indicate that any one of the vital systems on the motorbike is performing at a suboptimal level, or indeed be failing altogether.
A global scan can find any issues within the ECU, whilst a deep scan can deliver a far more in-depth picture of the systems, offering a basic mechanical diagnosis. When undergoing routine motorcycle servicing, the more surface level global scan is probably most appropriate, as it gives a route map of potential problem zones.

Systems that can be checked

A diagnostic test on a motorbike will look at all the key systems, including engine management, ignition, fuel injection, gearbox, battery, braking, security, lighting and cooling.
Fault codes vary by manufacturer of motorcycle, with Yamaha bikes reading slightly differently from other manufacturers such as Ducati or BMW. Your mechanic will be able to interpret the readout and get to work fixing any issues, saving the time that would ordinarily have been spent diagnosing problems.
It is important that the ECU is cleared before riding away. Always check that your engine management light is not still lit following repairs. This could indicate that another issue is present, or that the fault code has not been cleared.

Book with Protyre

Protyre offer a range of motorcycle services, including servicing and MOTs. To book in for these, or for a free motorcycle tyre check, contact your local Protyre garage, where our qualified fitters will take a look at the age and condition of your tyres, advising you on their safety. If your tyres need replacing, Protyre offer a range of replacement options, including prestige tyres from manufacturers such as Pirelli and Sumitomo as well as budget options.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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