How To Start A Motorcycle: Electric or Kick-Start

motorcycle start

Starting a motorcycle is a simple procedure but the process of starting may vary depending on the motorcycle model.

Today bikes come equipped with two options of starting called Electric Start and Kick-Start. The latter method has been there from the inception of motorcycles and even bikes with Electric Start options have this manual kick start technique in case the electric switch starts showing faulty operations.

The motorcycle engine uses the gas tank to start. Different types of bikes like dirt bikes, sportbikes and other motorcycles have their own compression release mechanism. The clutch lever prevents the rider from a bump start. The control system has a choke lever that helps to activate the kill switch. Take a few minutes before cold starting a motorcycle. A clicking sound is an indication to start the bike and heat the motorcycle engine.

A dead battery can cause a fault in the spark plug that can start engine fires. Use a rich fuel mixture to prevent mishaps such as engine fires. A fuel injected motorcycle can easily shift first and second gear on both types of starts. The top dead centre of the choke control system has the choke lever that uses a compression stroke to prevent motorcycle bump start. Use the neutral light when starting a motorcycle for better indication. The oil level plays a crucial role to help push start a motorcycle. A new battery is necessary to maintain both the starting facilities of the motorcycle.

Before we discuss how to use each technique in order to start a motorcycle, let us first have a look at what happens inside the engine of a bike when it starts

What Happens When Your Start Your Bike’s Engine?

The sound of a V-Twin engine is one of the most alluring things about motorcycles. And if such an engine is yours, you will not want to miss out on it by not starting your bike.

On pressing the start button or kicking it down after inserting the key into its slot, what happens inside the motorcycle’s engine?

When you start a motorcycle, the engine will first turn over and that is thanks to the battery. The battery is what provides current to the starter solenoid which in turn engages the starter gear with the engine’s crankshaft.

At this point, fuel is delivered to the cylinders and compression begins. If all goes according to plan, the spark plugs will ignite the fuel-air mixture and the engine will start.

If the engine doesn’t start, it could be due to a number of reasons such as a bad battery, fouled spark plugs, incorrect ignition timing, or a weak starter motor.

Now that you know how the engine works when starting your bike, let’s move on to how to do it.

How to Start a Motorcycle with an Electric Starter

electric start motorcycle

The electric starter is a device that uses an electric motor to turn over the engine. On most motorcycles, it is located on the left-hand side of the bike, just above the footpeg.

To use the electric starter, simply press the start button and hold it until the engine starts. You may have to hold the button for a few seconds if the battery is weak or the engine is cold.

How to Start a Motorcycle with a Kick Starter

motorcycle kick starter

The kick starter is a device that uses a manual lever to turn over the engine. On most motorcycles, this is located on the right-hand side of the bike, just below the fuel tank.

Make sure the motorcycle is in neutral to start the bike with a kick. Then, stand on the left-hand side of the bike and pull up on the Kickstarter lever while pushing down on the clutch with your left hand. Hold both levers in this position and give the Kickstarter lever a sharp kick with your right foot.

If you are not coordinated the bike kick system to start the motorcycle, make sure you practice kicking down on the Kickstarter before doing it for real.  

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) Handy Acronym for Starting a Motorcycle

The MSF has devised an easy-to-remember acronym for riders so that they can safely start their motorcycle without causing any damage to the ignition or the engine.

The acronym goes like this –


F – Fuel On

I – Ignition On

N – Neutral and Checked

E – Engine Cut-off On

C – Choke as needed and Crank

According to MSF, the last C stands for pulling on the choke along with representing the ‘C’ of the Clutch. As per their recommendation, it is important that you pull in the clutch before hitting on the Start Button.

How to Start a Cold or Hot Engine?

Starting a Cold Engine

If the engine is cold, you will need to use the choke to help get it started. The choke is a lever located on the left-hand side of the bike, just above the footpeg.

To use the choke, first, make sure the motorcycle is in neutral gear. Then, push in the choke and hold it in while you start the engine.

Starting a Hot Engine

If the engine is hot, you will need to release the choke so that there is no extra fuel going into the cylinders.

You can tell if the engine is hot by feeling the sides of the fuel tank. If they’re too hot to touch, then releasing the choke is the only way to get it started. Before you hit on the Start Button, no twisting of the throttle is also required if you have a hot engine.


Now that you know how to start a motorcycle, it is important that you practice on your own. The more familiar you are with everything that goes into starting a motorcycle, the less time it will take when you actually need to use these skills.

And remember, thanks to the acronyms FINE-C, starting your motorcycle will never be too difficult for you again!

Happy Riding!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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