How A Dirt Bike Kickstarter Works | How To Kick Start My Dirt Bike

Most dirt bikes use a kickstart mechanism to spark life into the engine. It’s a manual method for starting an internal combustion(IC) engine, which involves kicking the levers.

This ratcheting lever is a metal arm with foot pegs at the end that gets rotated and pushed by the rider’s foot.

How Kick Starter Works

The kickstart foot pegs are generally folded on the right side of the bike’s engine, which is pulled out by the rider.

The kickstart lever is connected to a sprocket which is connected to another sprocket inside the engine case and then directly geared to the crankshaft.

When the rider’s foot descends the lever. The ratchet engages a gear linked to the crankshaft causing it to rotate past the top dead center. Which ignites the compressed air and fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber.

Once the bike is started, the ratched gets separated from the crankshaft, and the rider folds back the lever to the right of the engine. <Source>

How To KickStart A Dirt Bike

Kickstarting a dirt bike may vary for each bike with a different engine specification but you’ll need to follow the following step to kickstart your bike successfully:

Step-By-Step Guide to Kickstart Dirt Bike:

1- Put the dirt bike in the neutral gear- To ensure safety put the bike in the neutral gear.

2- Pull out the Kickstarter valve- On the right side of the engine there’s a lever with an arm at the end, you’ll need to pull it outwards.  

3- Set your foot on Kickstarter- Press the lever down until it reaches the stroke, the top dead center where you’ll feel a pressure building up. This is where you’ve to kickstart the bike all the way down with explosive force. 

4- Kick Start the lever- Shift your body’s weight on the kick starter and push it downwards with force. If the bike doesn’t start on the first kick, kick it all over again until it gets started.

5-  Pull the choker out– The choker is a little knob located at the left side at the upper part of the engine. Pulling out the choker knob sends more fuel to the carburetor. Turn it off once the bike has started.<source>

Safety Tips While Kick Starting

1- Don’t touch the throttle- Until the bike gets started don’t crack the throttle.

2- Don’t apply too much pressure- It can lead to the rider getting hurt or the bike’s part getting damaged.

3- Apply neutral gear- Before starting your bike, put on the neutral so that you don’t accidentally release the clutch or accelerate the bike unintentionally.

4- Don’t apply kick before the stroke- You don’t need to kick the lever before reaching the stroke, where your foot starts feeling a force of resistance.

5- Maintain your Bike- For optimal performance of the bike, you’ll need to make sure that it’s well maintained. Check the fuel tank, oil requirement, air filter, spark plug, or carburetor.

6- Wear Safety Gears- Don’t forget to put on your safety equipment such as a helmet or knee and elbow pads, body armor, and neck brace prior to riding the bike.

How to Kick Start a Cold Dirt Bike?

Preparation Before Starting

Make sure to follow these few steps before cold starting the dirt bike as you’ll need to maintain the bike’s engine for proper functioning. 

These include checking the fuel levels inside the tank so that the engine is provided with enough fuel. Make sure the spark plug is cleaned and properly maintained.

Check the oil levels so the engine is lubricated enough and Inspect the battery which should be properly charged.

Step-By-Step Guide To Kicking A Cold Dirt Bike

 1- Pre Setup- During this phase, you’ll need to ensure that your bike is properly maintained for a successful Kickstarter. 

2- Turn the Fuel ON – Adjust the fuel valve, so the carburetor is provided with enough fuel.

4- Set the Bike in Neutral-  Apply neutral gear to make it easier to get started.

5- Pull the Kickstart Lever Out-  At the right side of the engine, you’ll find the lever. Pull it out and set your right foot on it.

6- Kick the lever at the stroke-  Press the kickstart valve downward till the stroke where the pressure starts to build. At this point, you’ll need to apply an energetic kick.

7- Kick the Lever again- If the bike doesn’t start at the first kick, kick it again until it gets started.

In case, you’ve not started your bike for a longer period of time and you’re still struggling to get it started after several kicks. Then, you’ll need to check out a couple of things to ensure that your bike gets started: 

 Clean out the Carburetor- One of the easiest ways to clean out the carburetor is to turn the fuel valve OFF, drain out the old fuel, also the garbage or excess mud, and then turn the fuel ON.

 Give a bit of Throttle-  For older bike models, If your engine is not getting started after several trials. You’ll need to crack the throttle a few times to supply more fuel to the engine. 

Pull the Choke Valve- This resists the airflow inside the carburetor of an engine to enrich the air-fuel mixture. Which helps to start a cold engine. Once the bike has started, turn off the choke.

How To Cold Start A 4-Stroke Dirt Bike

A 4-stroke may be tricky to cold start as there’s a lot of compression and torque in these bikes’ carburetors.

The cold starting of the 2-stroke bike is much easier as compared to the 4-stroke, as they don’t have more compression or torque.

Step-By-Step Guide For Cold Starting A 4-stroke Dirt Bike

If your 4-stroke bike is sitting for a long period of time and it isn’t getting started then you’ll need to cold start it by following a few steps. 

Charge the capacitor-  If you haven’t started your bike for over a month then you’ll need to charge the capacitor.

Turn the Choke ON- This will provide the engine with an enriched air-fuel mixture that increases the chances of ignition in cold engines.

Turn the Fuel Valve ON- Turn ON the fuel so the engine gets supplied with fuel properly.

Pull out the kickstart Valve and kick: Pull the starter valve out and press it downwards with your weight, and stop where the pressure starts to get built. From here you’ll need to kick it downwards with an explosive force.

Pull the throttle three times:  This method is recommended for a carbureted four-stroke engine. Pressing the throttle three times will accelerate the pump in the carburetor. This will provide fresh fuel that’ll help the bike to get started. <Source>

How To Hot Start A 4-Stroke Dirt Bike

You’ll need to follow a few steps to hot start a dirt bike that is similar to cold starting dirt bike with the exception of a few steps:

Pull out the hot start Lever- Pull the hot start lever, it can be found on the right or left side of the engine. 

Avoid the throttle- Don’t spin the throttle until the bike gets started.

Kickstart the Lever- Place your foot on the kickstart valve. Shift your body’s weight on it and Kickstart it at the compression stroke. 

If the bike isn’t getting started then it might have been flooded or there might be an issue with the spark plug that needs to be fixed.

How To Start A Dirt Bike Without Kickstart – In Emergency

There are alternative ways through which you can start your bike by following a few steps.

Firstly, you’ll need to hold the bike on the rear wheel. You don’t need to hold the clutch throttle or anything. Just hold the bike and then jump on the foot peg with your foot. This method suits a situation if you’ve some other people to provide support.

Another way to start the dirt bike is by Push start. Find a hill with a slope to achieve a speed. Hold the handlebar, and put it in neutral gear. Then jump onto the bike while pushing the clutch and shift the bike into the first gear. 

Avoid jump-starting the bike after rain as there are chances that the bike can get slipped due to less friction.<Source>

Do You Need A Battery To Kick-Start A Dirt Bike?

Dirt bikes do need a voltage battery that provides a steady current to ensure that it gets started properly.

In case the battery dies you can replace it with a charged one by following a few steps. Detach the battery terminal, the negative one first, and then the positive one. Remove the battery and replace it with the charged battery.

Clean the terminals before placing the charged battery, insert the positive terminal first, and then the negative. If the dirt bike doesn’t have a battery you can start it by jump-starting or by following some other techniques.  <Source>

Why Do Dirt Bikes Still Use Kickstarter?

Before the mid 70’s, most dirt bikes used the manual kickstarting mechanism to ignite the engine’s fuel. Kickstarters were widely used until electric starters became the standard equipment.

Pros & Cons Of Kickstarter

Kickstarter bikes have a simple starting mechanism that makes them less complex, lightweight, and easy to ride. These are more reliable since there is no battery that can run out.

Apart from the pros, they’d have some drawbacks which include constant maintenance and less user-friendliness as the kickback of the lever can harm the rider.

Comparison With Electric Starters

An electric starter uses an electric motor that spins the crankshaft to ignite the fuel inside the carburetor. A Kickstarter is a lever is a manual method that rotates the crankshaft by kicking down the lever valve. <Source>

Advanced Dirt Bike Kick-Starting Tips:

Starting a flooded engine- To fix a flooded bike, you’ll need to kick the carburetor a few times to let off the excess gas. In case it still doesn’t get started, drain out the fuel from the carburetor by opening the fuel screw and refilling it with fresh fuel.

Adjusting the carburetor- The carburetor can be adjusted by turning the fuel valve OFF and letting the excess fuel and dust out of it and refilling it with new fuel.

How to troubleshoot common kick-starting problems

Check out the carburetor and make sure it’s cleaned and dust-free, the fuel injector isn’t clogged or dirty, and the air filter must be cleaned.

Common Mistakes While Kick-Starting the Bike:

Applying too much force: One of the common mistakes that dirt bike riders tend to make while starting their bikes is they put extra force on the Kickstarter which can lead to damage to any part of the bike.

Start the kick from the beginning of the Stroke: Know where the stroke is, you don’t need to kick the lever valve all the way down with full force.

Not Putting the gear in neutral- To ensure safety, start the bike with neutral gear.

Neglecting Bikes maintenance- For better performance of the bike, frequently maintain it. Which includes checking the air filter, fuel, oil lubrication, and spark plug.

How To Avoid These Mistakes

Don’t jump over the kickstarting valve: While starting the bike you don’t need to aggressively jump over the starting valve. It can break any part or can be harmful to the rider

Position your body’s weight properly- To avoid injury, shift your body’s weight on the lever to start the bike easily.

Determining the stroke- Kick Start the bike at the stroke, the point where the pressure starts to build.

Maintenance of Dirt Bike Kick Start

Adjusting the nuts of kickstart levers: Over time, when the bike gets kicked a lot, the levers become loose which causes trouble while starting the dirt bike. These can be easily adjusted by tightening the nut bolts.

Remember, Don’t over-tight the screws as it can lead to breakage or damage to the kickstart lever.

Install High-quality Levers-  For better quality and long-lasting life Install high-quality levers. You can check out  Dirt Bikes Clutch Lever Lever or ASV Unbreakable Clutch and Brake Lever.

Keep the Lever Well Lubricated- Lubricate the bike’s lever valve frequently for proper functioning.

Apart from maintenance sometimes the parts need to be replaced to avoid any accident or injury.

If the swivel is extremely clapped out then it’ll need to get replaced so that it won’t fall out of the bike while riding. If your bike is not getting started you can check out the air filter, carburetor, or oil to ensure that the bike starts properly. <Source>


The Kickstarter is a metallic arm with foot pegs at the end found on the right side of the engine. The rider kicks the lever once it reaches the stroke, by shifting his body’s weight onto it. 

This lever is geared with a crankshaft which rotates to the top dead center causing the ignition of air and fuel mixture in the carburetor.

To ensure safety, wear the safety gear, maintain your bike’s mechanical components, and avoid kicking the lever forcefully as it may end up getting broken or hurting the rider’s foot. 


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