How To: Kickstarting A Motorcycle

How To: Kickstarting A Motorcycle

For those of us that are fortunate enough to have a “kickstart” only motorcycle, we very well understand that the process of coaxing your bike into starting can sometimes be 50% finesse 40% skill, and 10% luck. Sure, when a motorcycle is tuned properly and everything is in great working order kick-starting a motorcycle can be easy, but a lot of the time our motorbikes are works in progress that could use a little extra love to get going.

I don’t want to assume everyone knows how to do this; given that most modern bikes don’t even have a kickstarter, so here are some of my tips for kickstarting a bike assuming. This is assuming it runs, some of the time.

1. Pre-check the bike.

This seems obvious, but make sure the key/switch is on if your vintage kicker has one. A bike will not start without the key/switch in the on position. Make sure you are in neutral and the gas is on. If you have a center stand this is oftentimes the most stable resting position to kick start a motorcycle

2. Find top dead center.

This usually involves slowly and gently stepping down on the kickstart lever and pushing down until the compression stroke is just about to cycle the engine over. This comes with a bit of feel for each bike, but you should know when you are close with a little bit of practice. 

3. Kick It’

Once finding top dead center the method I have always been taught, has been to gently but purposefully push the kickstarter in a downward motion. This distinction is for those like me at heart that just think jumping on the kickstarter really hard and fast will turn the bike over. This could very well work, but I always tend to air on the side of caution after having destroying many a dirt bike bottom end with unnecessary “Thor-like” force.

4. Keep on Kickin'

That’s it. Keep repeating the process above of finding TDC and purposefully turning the bike over. If this seems hard you may want to buy a membership at a gym or call up a friend with better knees. This is also the step in the process where you can start to add a bit of troubleshooting if the bike just does not seem to want to start, I would recommend turning on the choke and giving it a few tries. Still no luck? It may be time to pull out your spark plugs and check to see if you are getting spark at all. But that’s story for another time ;) 

This is not meant to be taken toooo seriously. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for kicking over your vintage bike? Did we forget anything? Leave us a comment below!