Introduction: How to Start a Dirt Bike Using a Kick-starter

Hi I am Jacob Lentz and I have been fixing and riding bikes for the
last 5 years and have experience with several brands and styles of bikes.

The most common question someone who is unfamiliar with older bikes might ask is how to start a motorcycle if it does not have electric start. The answer is simple, most bikes come with a kick-starter and the rider has to use that lever to start the bike. With the knowledge of how to start a motorcycle, you could easily learn how to ride one and the possibilities are endless from there. The starting process is very simple and can be done in roughly 5 steps. Why drive a car when you can live life on two wheels and explore the open road.


Supplies Needed:

A motorcycle/dirt bike/etc. for this example (dirt bike)

*If the bike is low on fuel add gasoline/premix

Proper footwear such as riding boots, work boots or thick-soled shoes recommended accidents could happen flip-flops not recommended.

Step 1: Inspect the Bike

The first step would be to look at the bike find several items such as the kill switch, fuel petcock, and the kick-starter, and the ignition switch (if applicable). The kill switch can come in several forms some motorcycles utilize a flip switch with symbols representing on/off. The on symbol appears to be a 2/3 circle with an arrow on the right side, and the off symbol is the 2/3 circle with an arrow but with an X over it. Some motorcycles will utilize a normal key ignition instead of a kill switch. Secondly find the fuel petcock, (valve), the petcock is valve that either stops or allows the fuel to flow to the engine. The petcock is located on the bottom side of the fuel tank and has a hose going from it to the carburetor. The next thing to find would be the kick-starter; most motorcycles have it on the right side of the engine towards the rear of the engine. It looks like an L shaped lever it is on a pivot and will swing outward from the motorcycle. After those items are found, proceed to step two.

Step 2: Prepare the Bike

Step two starts with turning the fuel petcock to the on/flow position. This would also be a good time to check if there is fuel in the gas tank. Secondly, make sure the kill switch is in the run position. The on/run symbol appears to be a 2/3 circle with an arrow on the right side, and the off symbol is the 2/3 circle with an arrow but with an X over it. If applicable, turn the ignition switch/key to the on position.

Step 3: Get On

Get positioned on the bike, depending on the style of motorcycle it may be able to sit on the seat, but I find it easier on to stand up on the foot pegs when using the kick-starter it provides better balance and more power transfer from your foot to the kick-starter. Once on the bike swing the kick-starter away from the engine. It can be on a stand, or on the kickstand any way that feels comfortable It is easier and safer to be on a level surface and not leaning over but that is user preference and not always an option. Depending on situation and what is available.

Step 4: Use the Kick-starter

Next while still positioned on the bike place your foot over the kick-starter, I find it easier to lean forward with my body because you will be pushing down on the kick-starter, which will rotate back/downwards. Depending on the size/style of motorcycle, the force required to push the kick-starter will be different. Usually the bigger the engine the harder it will push, bigger bikes usually have longer kick-starters to give more leverage. Once comfortably positioned on the bike with your foot on the kick-starter the next step is to push down/backward hard with your foot quickly. The kick-starter should start to move down with your foot and there will be resistance. Do not stop pushing down until the kick-starter has stopped going down, use the full amount of space that the kick-starter travels. Be careful when pushing down that your foot does not slip off the kick-starter it can hurt.

Step 5: Let the Engine Idle

The final step is to let the engine run; when the kick-starter is rotating, the engine is turning over and is going to attempt to start. It may take several attempts to get it to start; once it is running, it is always a good idea to let the engine idle for a couple minutes before going for a ride.