How to Kick-Start a Motorcycle


Introduction: How to Kick-Start a Motorcycle

Kick starting a motorcycle is a pretty standard affair for dirt bikes and scooters, and is a nice thing to have on older street bikes when the battery or starter kicks the bucket. There are only a few things to consider when doing it, and I'll cover what I know about them in this instructable. Feel free to suggest any other foot-bruising insights below.

Step 1: Get the Bike Ready

There are a few things you may need to do before trying to kick start your bike. These include:

1: Open pressure release if your bike has one. This will make it easier to kick over and less likely to kick the pedal back at you. This could either be located as a small lever on the handlebars or on the engine somewhere.

2: Turn on the key. This is pretty self-explainatory.

3: If you're starting a scooter, put it on the center stand and hold the brake. Many scooters won't start without a brake being held down.

4: Put on shoes. While not an absolute requirement, flip-flops, heels, and bare-feet don't tend to get along well with kick starting motorbikes. I've personally gotten stone bruises from kick starting a quad in flip-flops before. You should have decent shoes on if you're going to be riding a two-wheeled vehicle of any sort anyway.

Step 2: Kick the Thing

Now you're ready to start stomping the kick start pedal. You may have to mess around some to find the best starting position, but for motorcycles it's usually straddling the bike, kicking the start pedal with your right leg in fast, downward motions. You may need to play with the choke or give the bike a little gas to coax it out of it's slumber, but unless you've got other problems the bike should start with a few swift kicks. Scooters are generally kick started standing to the side, holding the brake. If you have a manual compression release you may need to re-engage it every couple kicks.

If you find yourself kicking 'til you're blue in the face you might have another problem and need to refer to this fine instructable.



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    I have a 74 and 72 cb750 the 72 has a electric start but the 74 is a kick only bobber the key is to put the bike in neutral with the clutch out pull the choke and give the bike a few slow kicks to prime and then turn the key on and give it swift hard kicks until the bike starts. if it doesn't start on the first 4 tryes you way want to consider a tune up. if you have a electric start you may want to use the kick to prime the engine first.


    pretty vague saying heres the kicker starter, start it...i have an 80 yammy 650 twin, if u tried to kick it the wrong way youll be over the bars. i find slowly rolling the engine over with the kicker a lil 1st...then stand on that mofo n never forget ta FOLLOW THROUGH!!!!

    1 reply

    Agreed. I had an old brit, 73 Norton Commando 850cc with an 920cc kit and modified carb and exhaust. It had a lot of temper, if one didn't follow through it would kick you right off the seat. These old machines has a tendency to kick back due to ignition before piston reaches the top, so if you aren't fast enough the pre-ignition sends the piston in reverse, which means that it kicks the shit out of your leg if you're not cautious. The lesson it learned me was, follow through but never lock your knee when kicking.

    Could you provide an example and use better English? It's pretty hard to understand txtspeak.

    Translation: "What about gearless bikes? How are they started?"

    The only gearless bikes I know of would be scooters, which have a kick starter on them. Most require you to hold the brake(s) in as you kick. There's no way to bump start them however since they use a centrifugal clutch.

    Rishnai: Ahh, spark advance - owned a 1953 Matchless, had a magneto and therefore a manual spark advance lever on handlebar. Always joked that it was the best bike to go out drinking on - if I had too much to drink I would forget to retard the spark and end up lying on my back, looking up at the stars and sober as a judge.

    1 reply

    drinking n riding brilliant!!! ohhh my kingdom for a sarcasm font

    my klx 110 starts the first kick, every time

    I worked in a Triumph/Vincent shop in the '70s and kick-started a lot of different bikes. If the engine is cold, kick through once or twice to get some extra gasoline in the cylinder(s). Note - this is because only a small amount of gasoline will vaporize at ambient temperature, and droplets don't help you start. Then slowly push the kickstarter down until you feel resistance (so a/the cylinder is on compression). If you have a compression release, pull it. Push a bit farther (varies from bike to bike). Raise the starter back to top position, shift your weight and jab down. That said, I had a Ducati 450 single that was an absolute bear to start. The problem was that it was magneto ignition, and, unlike Brit bikes with magnetos, it was directly on the crankshaft and only had one pole - so the crank had to turn past that point fast enough to make a spark - and the crank was hard to turn. Loved the bike otherwise (dirt model turned into a cafe racer - what we'd call a "motard" today). Years later, I had a SR500 that was a delight to kickstart. One little push and it was thumping away. Oh - and make sure your gas is fresh(!). Again, you need that portion of gas that vaporizes at ambient - and that's pretty much gone after storage - even if you use a gas stabilizer. Finally - you can use these same techniques to bump start a bike if there isn't a kickstarter. I'd guess that ought to be a separate instructable, and there are ice patches here, so the bikes are away for the season

    3 replies

    I read your comment on the ducati 450 motobike.
    Could you pls give me more info the kick start system?  I found it very dangerouse if you don't  follow the proper procedures.


    Do you *have* one of these? For a '70's bike, power/weight was similar to two strokes of the time, but torque/weight was simply phenomenal. I had two issues: 1) keeping the front end down and 2) breaking spokes whenever I got the rear tire really hooked up and gave a lot of throttle oh - and of course 3) starting the dam*ed thing.
    If you have the breaking spokes issue, you can (mostly) solve it by re-lacing the rear wheel in a "cross 4" pattern, and get the heaviest spokes that will fit.

    Re-lacing is hard to do right - at least I never got good at it. No idea who to even go to to have it done these days...

    Oh, and, yes, kick starting *can* be hazardous - particularly with high per-cylinder displacement and high compression (like this bike).
    Come to think of it, how do you even get gas that won't pre-ignite? I think that bike was around 12.5 or 13:1.

    Thanks for the input. Those sound like some really good tips for a worst case scenario of kick starting.

    hears a tip my dad gave me... it works well with 4 stroaks. Find the hose that comes out of the carby, this is the over flow hose, Blow in it for about 2 seconds, Kick the bike over and wola. By doing this you will blow fuel in to the piston or were eva it goes.

    Nice choice of bike to show being kickstarted! (Fun fact about Indians with lefthand throttle, righthand spark: don't put the spark at full advance when you go to kick it. You'll land a distance away from where you started)

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    lol I was on the floor with that one You seem to know a lot about American and Australian motorbikes that have righthand throttle

    if your havin problems turn your choke on then kick it without choke 4-5times come back in 30mins and try again

    I have a 1973 CZ motorcycle and I have a little ritual I follow every time to start the thing. Turn on the fuel tap, flood the float chamber with three pushes on the button. Kick the bike over twice without the key in (gets the fuel , then put the key in and kick it over with the throttle, starts every time... hehe.

    If the scooter is realy cold , and/or the air-petrol mixture isnt just right, then you might have to kick-start as manny times in a short time as possible, and it tends to be easyer to do when you place the kick-starter on your heel, so that there is no strain on the toes or other area's of your foot. And another tip, i once ripped a shoe appart because the sole of that shoe was of a realy soft material, and it just couldnt take the strain of me kick-starting every morning. And i prefere kick-starting over electric start because: Its more relaiable more secure start. Better for your engine, well not realy your engine but the electronic part that tends to break if you electric-start alot, especialy when your engine is cold. It just looks cool in my opinion :)