Motorcycle Kill Switch: 7 Facts Most Riders Would Die To Know

motorcycle kill switch

Whether you’re a noobie motorcyclist or a diehard Harley-Davidson fanatic, you’ve used or at least seen the kill switch used on a motorcycle. And I’m sure you, like most of us, don’t really know very much about it.

The ignition switch and kill switches are emergency switch for motorcycles. Kill switch cuts power from the motorcycle engine and you can use the kill switch to stop the bike. The ignition key can activate the ignition switch and start the bike. The function of the stop switch is to immediately shut the motorcycle. It helps to lock position of the bike. Different types of bikes like a dirt bike or modern bikes all have a fuel pump and the same circuit. Since the ignition switch and kill switches have the exact opposite functions, make sure not to use them in an off position situation. If you accidentally hit the ignition switch or the kill switches, ensure that there is no harm caused.

So, in this article, we’re going to cover 7 facts that most riders don’t know about the kill switch of a motorcycle.

1. What is a motorcycle kill switch?

motorcycle kill switch

A motorcycle kill switch is a Red switch on the right-hand side of your motorcycle’s handlebars that completely turns off your motorcycle’s engine. The kill switch is an electronic device that shuts off the engine when the rider is not in control of it.

It is designed to stop the bike from running. A kill switch can be manually activated by hand. Almost every motorcycle on the market has a kill switch. The kill switch is mandatory in some countries because it is seen as a safety feature. It can be used to stop the engine in an emergency situation.

2. Why do motorcycles have a kill switch?

Motorcycle kill switch

Motorcycles have a kill switch for safety reasons. A motorcycle’s engine can become dangerous if it is on when the rider has fallen off or is being towed. And in certain situations having the motorcycle’s engine on is just dangerous. It’s so much so that in some countries, every motorcycle must have a working kill switch in order to pass inspection.

The kill switch is an emergency shut-off for the engine. It’s a simple, red button/switch that is located on the handlebars of a motorcycle. Kill switches are usually within reach of the right thumb, making it easy to turn off the engine quickly.

Engineers designed motorcycles this way because if you have to take one hand off the handlebars to turn the key off, it’s possible to slip the clutch while doing so and risk jolting forward unexpectedly. A kill switch helps you stay in total control of your motorcycle.

There are times when a kill switch comes in handy in certain emergency situations. Such situations may include tipping the motorcycle over onto yourself while it’s still on; it’s useful to have a switch that will immediately shut the bike off to prevent further burns and injuries.

If you have electrical problems on your motorcycle and you’re seeing sparks, a kill switch comes in handy to immediately turn off the bike, stop the spark, and prevent further damage and/or injury. This is especially useful if your engine starts leaking fuel or oil because then it can be very dangerous and would need an immediate shutdown.

In all of these emergency situations having to take the time to locate the key, turn it off and take it out is just too slow. A big red button just works.

3. How To Know When A Kill Switch Is ON?

To determine if the kill switch of a motorcycle is activated when it is pushed towards the front of the bike. That is to say, if the switch is pushed towards the back of the bike, the bike will start.

I know, this seems like a dumb one for most of us, but you wouldn’t believe how many new riders mix this up. A big mistake is pushing the switch forward to turn the bike off. Most riders go through their first month of riding like this because it seems logical. I know I did it when I got my motorcycle endorsement many years ago.

4. What happens when the Kill Switch is Activated?

The basic thing that happens when you hit the kill switch on your motorcycle is that all power gets cut from the motor. This means there’s no fuel getting pumped, so it stops running. At the same time, there’s also no spark being created by the ignition coil, so all of the power to the plugs is gone as well.

5. What happens if you hit the kill switch while riding?

Hitting your kill switch is very dangerous whilst riding. This is because your wheels have the ability to lock, and you could lose control of your motorcycle very quickly. In fact, hitting the kill switch while riding is considered a serious infraction in most states. If you’re going about 50 mph or faster when you hit the switch, it’s also going to be a lot harder for you to bring your bike to a stop before running into something.

Hitting the kill switch on a moving motorcycle tends to cause an ‘endo’ as well. This is because picking up the front end from under-steer only makes the issue worse, so now you have two problems instead of one. Ultimately this can lead to either running off of the road or crashing into whatever was directly in front of you at the time that you pulled over (or hit) the kill switch.

6. How to safely stop your motorcycle using the kill switch

The best way to safely stop your motorcycle using the kill switch is by slowing down gradually before hitting the switch, then applying the brake. This will help you to avoid losing control of your bike and crashing. Remember, it’s still very dangerous to hit the kill switch while riding, so be very careful!

So there you have it – everything you need to know about why motorcycles have a kill switch, and how to use it safely. Be sure to always practice caution when hitting the switch, and never do so while riding at high speeds.

7. Does the kill switch damage your bike?

There is no evidence that the kill switch damages your motorcycle. In fact, it’s a very important part of the bike and is used to safely stop it in emergency situations. Always be sure to use caution when hitting the switch, as it can be dangerous if done while in motion.

Bonus Fact: Does leaving the kill switch on damage my bike?

Absolutely not! So many motorcyclists use their kill switch as a way to turn off their bike and leave it off for days on end. I am not a fan, because when I hope on the bike I just want to go. But there is no damage happening to the bike when it’s left off for an extended period of time. It will basically do nothing but sit there, even if you forget the key in the ignition. The only thing that might happen is that your battery could drain slightly, which isn’t a big deal at all.


So there you have it – everything you need to know about why motorcycles have a kill switch, and how to use it safely. Be sure to always practice caution when hitting the switch, and never do so while riding at high speeds. Remember, the kill switch is an important safety feature, so make sure you know how to use it properly!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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