Introduction: Starting and Shifting a Dirt Bike

Buying a dirt bike will make any person very excited to go ride it immediately. After unloading your dirt bike at your house and seeing your new pride and joy it may hit; you don’t know how to ride it. That’s kind of the reason for buying the bike isn’t it?

Step 1: Checking Gas and Turning on Fuel

First and foremost is making sure the dirt bike would be able to run. When sitting on the seat look down to the left hand side of the engine. Along the edge of the plastic panel should be a switch with a hose running through it. This is a gas switch and if the switch is not turned on then the engine will not get any gas. Make sure this switch is on and the fuel tank has gas in it. At the front of the seat is the gas tank and it should have a cap on the top. Unscrew the cap and make sure that there is gas in the tank. Once the gas switch is on then the next step begins.

Step 2: Shifting to Neutral and Using the Clutch

While dirt bikes can be started while in gear, it is for people with more experience. For an inexperienced rider it is best to start the bike in neutral. Putting a dirt bike in neutral and shifting is very different from a car. To begin shifting pull the clutch. This is on the left side of the handlebars on a dirt bike. Hold the clutch in anytime when shifting. The shift lever for a dirt bike is on the left side of the bike, next to the foot peg. Push this lever down repeatedly, and then put your foot under the lever. Slowly pull the lever up, continue this until there is a click. You will know that a bike is in neutral because it should roll with holding in the clutch. After shifting into neutral multiple times it becomes natural. After becoming acquainted with shifting, it becomes easy to shift just by feel. The reason shifting into neutral is not the same as shifting normally, by pulling the lever all the way up, is because shifting to neutral is only pulling the lever half way. After shifting the bike into neutral, release the clutch, and this is where the actual kicking begins.

Step 3: Kick Starting the Dirt Bike

The most important part of starting a dirt bike is the kick start. The process for kick starting a dirt bike varies between the two types of dirt bike; two-stroke, and four-stroke. This guide is following the method of starting for a four-stroke dirt bike. The visual difference between a 4-stroke and a 2-stroke is the muffler in front of and next to the engine. A 4-stroke dirt bike has a muffler that is similar in diameter to a golf ball, while a 2-stroke has a muffler that is about the same diameter of a 2-liter bottle at its widest. On the right side of the engine is a large lever that can be folded out from the engine. This is a kick start lever, and the part of starting a dirt bike that can be tricky. Without knowledge of how to properly kick start a dirt bike, it is easy to spend up to an hour kicking without the bike starting. Put your foot on this lever and slowly push the kick start lever down. This may seem like the opposite of how to kick it to life, but this is part of the process. It is a good idea to perform a slow push twice or until there is large resistance from the lever. After feeling the resistance, or compression, let the lever all the way up to the top and then slowly push until there is a resistance again. After feeling the resistance stop pushing. This position of the lever is known as Top Dead Center or TDC. After reaching the Top Dead Center kick with all full strength. Most bikes will start after performing this process once. If the temperature is cold outside the process may need to be repeated.

Step 4: Getting the Dirt Bike Moving

After getting the bike running fold the kick start lever back into its position next to the engine and let the bike sit for a moment. The bike must warm up for a moment to prevent extra wear on the engine. When the bike is warm then get back onto the seat and pull in the clutch. This next part may take some time to get used to. After pull in the clutch push the shift lever down and keep the clutch in. People with experience driving a manual car will have no problem with the next step. Pull the throttle on the right side of the handlebars, but only to about quarter throttle. The amount of throttle required to get moving may change with different bikes, but most are about quarter throttle. With the throttle now pulled slowly release the clutch while keeping the throttle pulled. When the clutch is fully off, then your bike is finally now in gear and you are ready to start riding.

Step 5: Shifting While in Gear

Shifting into the rest of the gears of a bike is as simple as pulling in the clutch, pulling the shift lever up, and releasing the clutch while applying throttle. Downshifting requires slowing down, pulling in the clutch, and pushing the gear shifter down. Just remember that if at too high speeds when downshifting it can damage the transmission. It is better to downshift while going slower than needed and playing it safe.