Any tips on kickstarting?

by Cathy
(Cape Town, South Africa)

I kick-started a bike for the first time in my life yesterday! It was a bit of a struggle, but I got it eventually, and have had the mechanics of the thing explained to me, because I figure it’ll be easier if I can picture what I’m trying to achieve. Being a 350, it is fairly easy to start, and I’ve decided that I’m going to master it before I ride it anywhere (luckily I have another bike, so I’m not depriving myself meanwhile!!), because I can just imagine myself getting all hot and flustered trying to start the bike the first time I stall it at an intersection!

So, I was just wondering if anyone out there has some tips which could help me master the technique – because I’ve been told it’s all about technique, not brute force – which is just as well, because I’m a bit of a short lightweight, and the bike has had to be lowered for me, but the kickstarter is still in it’s original position, so starting from a standing on the pegs position is what I’ve got right so far, but obviously this isn’t ideal!

Is there anything besides practice, practice, practice?!

Comments for Any tips on kickstarting?

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Aug 07, 2011
Put leg through
by: Anonymous

Urrrgh I had to do this last week and hated it! Eventually got the hang of it by slowly putting the lever down until I felt resistance then when you kick dont jump on it or put foot down towards the floor, it kinda goes round in a circle rather so imagine youre aiming for goalposts in front of you not directly down at the floor. I got the hang eventually but hated it so I bought a new battery as it does have elec start!

Jun 13, 2011
Find the Sweet Spot
by: Erika

I have a CB350 that I learned to kick start. Here's a tip... never do it in gravel. I did the first try and rrr... just don't do it until you have the technique down. My other mistakes were jumping on it and not having it in the right spot. I feel for this "sweet spot" where you can feel that it has resistance, which means it will turn the engine over. If it's mushy, slowly move the kick starter up and down with your foot until you feel that resistance. Then push down with all your might, kicking more or less. Don't jump onto it and don't stomp on it. Only your one leg kicks really hard. Be careful that it doesn't kick you back, btw, if you have a big engine. It hurts. Also check your manual if you need to have it neutral or if you have to have the clutch pulled in, on some bikes that matters.

May 31, 2011
by: Cathy

Thanks, Lynn, it is a dirt bike, which is a whole new experience for me, but I'm going to have to do a bit of street riding to get to the dirt. I'm hoping that I'll eventually be able to master kickstarting from standing on the ground, especially for those embarrassing stalled-in-traffic moments!

One thing I do know already - it is going to be a whole lotta fun!!

May 31, 2011
by: Lynn - FL

The only bikes I ever kickstarted were dirt bikes. If this is for the street, is there a possibility of installing an electric starter? If you cannot kickstart it with one foot on the ground, it could get tricky if you stall out with traffic. Either way, have lots of fun with your new bike!

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