How to Jump Start Your Harley Sportster in 3 Simple Steps

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How To Jump Start Harley Sportster

Jump-starting a bike isn’t the easiest task, but with the right know-how and some patience, you can get your Harley Sportster up and running in no time! In this article, we’ll show you how to jump start your Harley Sportster in three simple steps. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, this guide will have you back on the road in no time. So, let’s get started!

Overview of Harley-Davidson Sportster

Harley-Davidson Sportster is a popular line of motorcycles manufactured by Harley-Davidson, introduced back in 1957. The Sportster bikes are known for their classic styling, exceptional handling, and powerful engines. Over the years, the Sportster has become one of the most popular options for Harley-Davidson bikes and still remains a crowd favorite among enthusiasts all over the world.

Here are some of the key features of the Harley-Davidson Sportster –

#1. Classic styling

The Harley-Davidson Sportster is known best for its classic styling, which includes a sleek, low-slung design, a wide, comfortable seat, and a long, sweeping fender. The iconic V-Twin engine is another defining feature of these bikes.

#2. Powerful engine

The Harley-Davidson Sportster comes with a wide range of powerful engine options, including the legendary Evolution engine, available in 883cc and 1200cc versions. These engines are known best for their exceptional performance and reliability, while they also offer a lot of power for cruising down the highway or tacking challenging terrains.

#3. Exceptional handling

These bikes are designed to offer tremendous handling control. This is possible thanks to its low center of gravity, lightweight frame, and advanced suspension system. Whether you are carving twists or cruising down the highway, the Sportster is capable of delivering a smooth, stable ride that is hard to beat.

#4. Comfortable ride

Despite its sporty performance, these bikes are designed to offer a comfortable ride, with a plus well-padded seat, a smooth suspension system, and ergonomic controls that are quite easy to reach and control.

#5. Customization options

One of the key features of the Sportster is that it is highly customizable, with a wide range of aftermarket parts and accessories to help you personalize your bike. You can easily add a new exhaust system, upgrade the brakes, or install a custom paint job. With such customization possibilities, the Harley-Davidson Sportster is the perfect platform for creating a one-of-a-kind bike that reflects your style and personality.

How To Jump Start Harley Sportster - On The Road

How to start your Harley-Davidson Sportster the traditional way

Harley-Davidson Sportster is a classic and iconic bike known best for its powerful performance, sleek design, and thrilling ride. Starting a Sportster could be a slightly daunting task, especially for beginners. However, within a few steps, you can get your bike up and running in no time. Here are the step-by-step instructions to start a Harley-Davidson Sportster the traditional way –

Step 1: Check the fuel and oil levels

Before starting your Harley-Davidson Sportster, it’ll be important that you check the fuel and oil levels. Make sure that the gas tank is full and that the oil level is adequate. You can easily check the oil level by locating the oil tank on the right-hand side of the bike. Unscrew the dipstick, wipe it clean, and then reinsert it into the tank. After that, remove it once again to check the oil level. The oil level needs to be between the two marks on the dipstick.

Step 2: Turn on the ignition

Once you have checked the fuel and oil levels, you must turn on the ignition by inserting the key into the ignition switch. This switch will be located on the right side of the bike’s frame. Turn the key to the “on” position and wait for a click sound. This will activate your bike’s electrical system and prepare it for starting.

Step 3: Switch on the run switch

Next up, you’ll need to locate the run switch on the right-hand side of the handlebar. Flip the switch to the “run” position to activate the fuel pump and allow the gas to flow to the engine.

Step 4: Prime the engine

If your bike has been sitting for a while or hasn’t been started for a few days, you might have to prime the engine. For doing that, turn the run switch off and then back on again. Repeat this process a few times, and you’ll hear the fuel pump working, indicating that the engine is primed.

Step 5: Hold in the clutch

Before you start the engine, ensure that your bike is in neutral and that you are holding in the clutch lever using your left hand. This disengages the transmission, allowing you to start the engine without the bike moving forward.

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Step 6: Start the engine

Lastly, press the Start button located on the right-hand side of the handlebar with your right hand. Keep holding the clutch lever as you’re doing this, and the engine should start up. Once the engine is running smoothly, you should release the clutch lever, and you’ll be ready to ride.

How To Jump Start Harley Sportster - In Workshop

How to jump start Harley Sportster in 3 simple steps

If you cannot start your Harley-Davidson the traditional way due to one reason or the other, jump-starting it will be an alternative option. Jump-starting your Sportster can be a simple and efficient process, but it’ll still require proper preparation and safety precautions to avoid potential hazards. However, it needs a series of steps to be carried out so that you can jump start your Sportster safely and within a few minutes. Here is how to jump start Harley Sportster in 3 steps –

Step 1: Obtain the necessary supplies and prepare your bike for the jump start

Before you jump start your bike, it is important to carry out proper preparation. The key steps for preparation involve checking the battery, obtaining the necessary equipment, and ensuring the safety of the bike before you start.

Check the battery

The first step to jump-starting your Harley-Davidson Sportster will be to check the battery’s condition. Look for any signs of corrosion, like white or blue deposits on the terminals, which can inhibit the flow of electricity. Clean out the terminals with a wire brush or a battery terminal cleaner for ensuring a good connection.

Next up, you should use a multimeter for measuring the battery’s voltage. In case the voltage is below 12V, your battery might have to be charged or replaced. If the voltage is more than 12V, but the bike wouldn’t start, you might have a problem with the starter motor or any other component of your bike’s electrical system.

Obtain necessary equipment

For jump-starting your Sportster, you will require a few essential pieces of equipment –

  • Jumper cables – Ensure that you have a set of heavy-duty jumper cables that are long enough they can reach between the two motorcycles
  •  A running vehicle – You will require another vehicle with a good battery that can provide the jump start 
  • Safety goggles – These are for protecting your eyes from any sparks that might occur during the jump start process.

Ensure the safety of your bike

Before you jump start your bike, it’ll be important to ensure its safety. Turn off the ignition switch and remove the key for preventing any accidental starting of the bike. Moreover, ensure that your bike is in neutral and the kickstand is down, providing a stable base for the bike during the jump-starting process. 

How To Jump Start Harley Sportster - Battery

Step 2: Locating the starting points and cables

Once you have prepared your bike for the jump start process, the next step will involve properly identifying the battery’s positive and negative terminals, as well as locating the starting cables so that you can avoid causing damage to your Sportster.

Identify the positive and negative terminals

The next thing you need to do here is to identify the positive and negative terminals on the battery. This will help you make sure that you connect the jumper cables correctly and avoid causing damage to your bike’s electrical system.

The positive terminal is generally identified by a “+” sign, whereas the negative terminal will be marked with a “-“ sign. It is important to note that the signs might not be visible for every battery, so you should identify them by their position on the battery. The positive terminal will typically be larger than the negative terminal. Moreover, it is typically located on the right-hand side of the battery.

Locate the starter cables

Once you have identified the positive and negative terminals, you will have to locate the starter cables on your Sportster. The starter cables are generally located near the battery, and they connect to the starter motor. On a Harley-Davidson Sportster, the starter cables are located on the left-hand side of your bike, near the primary cover.

For locating the starter cables, look for two thick cables connected to the battery terminals. Follow the cables to the starter motor, which is located on the bottom of the bike behind the primary cover. It is worth noting that the starter cables might be hidden behind other components like the air cleaner or exhaust pipes, so you might have to remove the components to access the starter cables.

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Step 3: Jump starting your Sportster

After the preparation and identifying the terminals and starter cables, the final step will involve establishing a connection, starting the Sportster, and disconnecting the cables. This will allow you to jump start your bike safely and effectively.

Establish a connection

Before you start your Sportster, you should first establish a connection between your bike and the good battery. You must follow these steps for establishing a connection –

  • Turn off both the donor vehicle and your Harley-Davidson Sportster
  • Then, you should be connecting the positive (+) side of the cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery
  • After that, connect the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal on the good battery
  • Connect the negative (-) cable to the negative terminal of the good battery
  • Lastly, connect the other end of the negative cable to a metal surface on your bike, away from the battery and fuel system

Start your Sportster

Once you have established a connection between the two batteries, it’ll be time to start the Sportster. Follow these steps for starting the bike –

  • Turn on the donor vehicle and allow it to run for a few minutes to charge the dead battery
  • Turn the ignition key to the “on” position on your Sportster
  • If your bike doesn’t start after a few seconds, you should wait a minute before you try again

Disconnect the cables

After you have started your Sportster, it’ll be essential to disconnect the jumper cables safely to avoid accidentally damaging the electrical system of your bike. Here are the steps to safely disconnect the cables –

  • Turn off both the donor vehicle and your Sportster
  • Remove the negative cable from the metal surface of your Sportster
  • Remove the negative cable from the negative terminal of the good battery
  • Remove the positive cable from the positive terminal of the good battery
  • Remove the positive cable from the positive terminal of the dead battery
  • Store the cables safely and securely in your toolbox or storage compartment

It’ll be important to follow the steps in the proper order while disconnecting the cables to avoid any spark or electrical shock.

Common problems and how to troubleshoot them

Jump-starting your Harley-Davidson Sportster can end up being a lifesaver if your Sportster’s batteries die unexpectedly. However, there are times when jump-starting your bike might not be successful due to underlying issues that need further diagnosis. Here are some of the common problems why your Sportster might not start and how to troubleshoot them  –

#1. Weak or dead battery

A weak or dead battery is among the most common reasons why your Harley-Davidson Sportster might not start. If the battery is too weak, even jump-starting the bike might not work.

If your Sportster doesn’t start after jump-starting, the first step would be to check the battery voltage. Make use of a voltmeter for checking the battery’s voltage. If it is less than 12V, then the battery will have to be charged or replaced. If the voltage is good enough, you should check for other components.

#2. Faulty starter

A faulty starter could cause your Sportster to not start even after jump-starting it. Symptoms of a faulty starter include a clicking sound when the starter button is pressed, the engine not turning over, or the starter motor spinning but not engaging the engine.

For diagnosing a faulty starter, you’ll have to check the starter circuit. Use a multimeter for checking the continuity between the starter motor and the battery. If there is no continuity, the starter might be faulty and have to be replaced.

#3. Bad alternator

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery while the engine is running. If the alternator isn’t functioning properly, the battery might not get charged and the bike might stall or not start.

To diagnose this issue, you should check the alternator by testing the voltage output while the engine is running. Use a voltmeter for checking the voltage output of the battery terminals. If the voltage is under 13.5V, the alternator might be faulty and have to be replaced.

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#4. Loose or corroded battery terminals

Loose or corroded battery terminals could prevent the battery from receiving a charge, causing your Harley-Davidson Sportster to not start even after jump-starting.

For diagnosing this issue, you should inspect the battery terminal for corrosion or looseness. Clean the terminals using a wire brush and tighten them securely. If the terminals are corroded and cannot be cleaned, you should replace them.

How to start a Sportster with a dead battery?

If you know that the reason for your Sportster not starting is because of a dead battery, then it is possible to resolve it. It depends on how “dead” the battery is. There are times when a bike cannot be started, no matter how much charging you give it. If your bike’s battery has a dead cell, then it is toast.

If your bike’s battery still has some life left in it, and you accidentally ran it down by leaving the ignition, lights, or radio switched on, then you should find a way to give it a charge. Do this by keeping a booster pack with you when traveling. If you’re at home, you can use a secondary vehicle to jump start your Sportster and keep it running.

You can also take help from strangers if they have jumper cables. A Sportster can be boosted by any 12V battery. A good Samaritan or a phone call to a friend can help save the day.

If you’re stranded and the battery is completely dead and there’s no prospect ofjump-startingg, the only option left would be to replace it with another. For the time being, go to the nearest store to search for any motorcycle battery or even a lawn mower battery of 12V. It’ll get you home as long as it fits in your bike. You can replace it with an authentic battery once you get home.

Does jump-starting damage your Sportster?

The battery is an important component of the proper functioning of a Harley-Davidson Sportster. The ignition system, starter motor, and lights source the power from the battery. Without a working battery, your bike cannot be ridden.

The three things that keep the Harley battery properly charged are the alternator, the regulator, and the battery itself. The alternator is a device responsible for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. It comes powered by the engine and spins at relatively high speeds. As it spins, it’ll produce electricity used for charging the battery. The regulator is a device tasked with regulating the flow of electricity from the alternator to the battery. It’ll make sure that the alternator isn’t overcharging the battery.

It is rather safe to use the jump start method to start a Sportster as long as it is done properly. However, there are a few problems that may arise if you aren’t careful. You will then need to troubleshoot the problems.

It is important to make sure that your bike is in a safe and stable location before you try to jump start it. It can be quite dangerous to try and jump start a bike on an uneven or a busy area. If you aren’t sure, you can always consult the owner’s manual or call a professional mechanic.

FAQs

What tools do I need to jump start a Harley Sportster?

To jump start a Harley Sportster, you will need a set of jumper cables and a working battery. You will also need a second vehicle with a working battery and a 12-volt DC power source, such as a car battery or a portable power pack. It is important to make sure that the second battery is the same voltage as the Harley Sportster battery.

How should I connect the cables to start the Harley Sportster?

To jump start the Harley Sportster, you will need to connect the jumper cables to the battery terminals. Start by connecting the red cable clamp to the positive terminal of the Harley Sportster battery, then connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the second battery. Next, connect the black cable clamp to the negative terminal of the second battery, and then connect the other black clamp to a metal surface on the Harley Sportster, such as an engine bolt.

What should I do after the Harley Sportster is started?

Once the Harley Sportster is started, allow it to run for several minutes to charge the battery. It is also a good idea to check the battery level and electrolyte level to make sure they are adequate.

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White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.