Ignition Failures and Solutions for Classic Motorcycles

In the quarter century that I have worked at dealerships and owned classic motorcycles one certain fact has emerged – ignition systems fail.

The “How and Why” are often a mystery, even to some mechanics. The goal of this article is to educate you about the function of an ignition, explain the cause of common failures, and review current solutions on the market today.

What parts make up the ignition of a motorcycle?

Three parts: Coil, ignition trigger, and spark plug.

Most motorcycle coils look like a can of soda with spark plug wires sticking out the end. The function is simply to convert your 12 volt battery power to a much higher voltage that can fire your spark plugs.

All ignition systems have a trigger of some kind, either a mechanical “points set” or magnetic sensor to turn the coil on and off at the correct time.

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