Four Genius Methods to Start a Motorcycle

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Push starting a motorcycle can be a brilliant way to get it started when you don’t have any battery or your battery is low.  Push starting can also be called pop starting, hard starting or rolling starts.

What is the best way to push start a bike? You need to push start a motorcycle by getting it moving quickly enough that the engine’s compression can start the combustion cycle.  To start the engine, put the motorcycle in second gear.

If you’ve ridden a motorcycle for long enough then I’m sure you have a story about when your motorcycle has left you stranded at least once.  It happens to us all eventually.

I’ve been left stranded countless times since I love buying old classic motorcycles with problems and fixing them.  This article will show you how to push-start your motorcycle, so you can get back on the road and fix the problem.

The Best Option to Find a Hill

Normaly, the starter would rotate the engine and create the required compression to keep it running.

Bad electrical connections can cause the starter to not turn if the starter motor isn’t working properly.  You will need to create compression by driving the motorcycle at least 4 to 5 miles per hour.

A hill is the best place to start your motorcycle. Because it is the most efficient and requires the least effort.  This one I’ve done many times.

I was going on a motorcycle ride with my now-wife during college.  We got to the top of the mountain and parked the bike and were talking for a while, then when it got dark we got ready to head home and the motorcycle wouldn’t start! Both of us climbed on and rolled down the hill. Then we dropped it into gear, and it fired up immediately!

These are the steps to push-start your motorcycle if you have a hill nearby. Turn the key to the on position. If you forget to do this then the ignition coil will not energize and will not be able to send a voltage dump to the spark plugs in order to fire the engine up and you’ll never get it started.

The next step is to move the motorcycle into second gear. Many people make the mistake of putting it in first gear when they do a push start but this can cause damage to the cylinder walls, pistons,  and connecting rods because of the hard jerk.

Second gear is found by moving the bike slightly forward or backward. Next, click the gear lever as many times you can. This is the first gear.  Then click it one full click up and you’ll be in second gear.

To test if you’re actually in second gear you shouldn’t be able to rock the motorcycle forward and backward with your hand off the clutch. The gear should prevent you from moving beyond a few inches.

You only clicked up half a click from first gear if you can still move forward and backwards.  You will be in second gear if you do one more click up. Because older motorcycles may have had transmissions that are difficult to locate, I recommend you rock backwards and forwards when changing gears.

Next, you will need to engage the clutch lever and accelerate down the hill.  If you have a mechanical speedometer, your speedometer should still function. As you gain speed, look at the speedometer. You should aim to travel between 5-10 mph. I don’t recommend going any faster than 10 because it will give you quite a jerk and might try to buck you over the handlebars.

You can quickly release the clutch lever when you have reached the desired speed.  If you do it slowly then the bike will slow down before the engine engages and won’t work as well. You must quickly empty the clutch. When you dump the clutch the motorcycle is going to jerk hard, so don’t let it lurch you forward over the handlebars.

Most of the time the motorcycle will instantly start when you dump the clutch, but it’s good practice to also hit the starter button after you dump the clutch as this can help the engine turn over as well. This is required by some motorcycles to allow the ignition coil to generate its first spark of electricity.

If your motorcycle fails to start, you can try it again.  If it doesn’t work after three attempts then I would start checking some simple things on the motorcycle to make sure you didn’t miss something simple.

These simple things are easy to remember:

  • Make sure that the fuel petcocks have been turned on.
  • You must ensure that the motorcycle is moving quickly enough.
  • Make sure your fuel tank level is above the petcock feeder, even if there’s a little fuel in the tank it might not be at a high enough level.
  • You can check the main fuse to make sure it is not blown.
  • Verify that spark plugs are securely fastened and that spark plug wires are tightly connected.
  • Make sure that you have the key turned to the right. “On” Or “Run” Position, not just the “Acc” Position as an accessory.

If these simple steps fail to get your motorcycle rolling down a hill, I recommend that you call a friend or relative with a trailer or truck to help you return the bike home so you can diagnose the problem.

Next: Get someone to push you

If there is no hill or incline nearby to help you get moving at a good pace, You can also get one or more people to push you. This generally does not work as well as a hill because it takes so much more effort and it’s hard to get rolling fast. It has worked for me before so I can tell you from experience.

You will need to put the motorcycle into second gear. Your friends can push you along a flat surface as fast as possible by holding the clutch lever.  Once you feel that the motorcycle is moving at a steady pace, release the clutch lever and press the start button. Remember, the motorcycle is going to jerk hard when you dump the clutch so don’t let if throw you off the front.

This method will work fine if the motorcycle has a dead battery.  These methods won’t work if there is fuel delivery or spark problems. The motorcycle still requires spark and fuel to function.

Try this method a few times and if you can’t get it to start then try moving on to the next method.

Add another machine to pull you along slowly

This is my lowest recommended option that you should only use if you’re really in a bind and don’t know what else to do.  This works for me, and I’ve tried it many times. However, it causes the most jerk and can result in the motorcycle tipping over more often.

Attach a towing line to both the front forks and back of another small vehicle such as a motorcycle, four-wheeler or UTV.  Be sure you have a lot of slack so you don’t run into the back of the vehicle that’s towing you.

Attach the tow rope to BOTH front forks. It can cause damage if you only attach it to one handlebar.

Push the clutch lever and shift the motorcycle into second gear.  Slowly, the driver of the front vehicle will take over the line. There should not be an initial jerk when your motorcycle is still. Slowly begin to tow the motorcycle. You can quickly let go of the clutch, just as in the previous methods. The compression from dumping the clutch will start the engine up.

This method requires that you make sure your key is turned on, have enough fuel, and that your bike spark plugs work properly.

The reason I like this method the least is because when you dump the clutch the front vehicle is going to give your motorcycle an extra jerk forward which can cause damage if you’re going too fast.  A friend tried this method wrongly, and it caused serious damage. He attached the towrope to one of the bolts that held the cylinder head on his boxer engine, and the cylinder head was cracked.

Last option: Push it Yourself, along with the motorcycle

This last option is something I have never been able do, but friends have said they have.  This is when your bike and motorcycle are riding on a flat surface. This option is more feasible if your motorcycle is lighter.If you own a large cruiser, I doubt this will work.

For this method, follow the same steps as for the others.  Start the motorcycle in second gear. Turn the key and check that everything is fine.  Make sure you check the fuel level, fuel petcocks and the main fuse.

If everything looks good, then you can start the motorcycle.  Start pushing the bike as fast as possible by putting it in second gear. Once you reach your maximum speed, release the clutch handle. Hopefully it will start to fire up.

Do not let go of the clutch handle. The motorcycle could stop immediately and the handlebars could jab you in the stomach. This is the last method I list because it’s the least effective.

Another disclaimer: If you are certain that your engine is seized, do not attempt any of these can do serious damage to your engine.  Someone who is experienced in dislodging a stuck engine should do it carefully. These methods can cause damage to your piston and cylinder walls, which could lead to higher costs in the long-term.

Similar Questions

Why is my battery constantly dying? Parasitic drain is the main reason batteries lose their charge.  Parasitic drain occurs when an accessory is left on your motorcycle and draws power from the system.  This could cause your battery drain quickly. For more information, click here

How do I keep my battery topped up? If you ride your motorcycle every month then a battery charger is not needed, but if you go months at a time without riding you should buy a trickle charger or battery tender with automatic shut off so you don’t overcharge your battery.

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