Any serious motorcyclist will know the essentials, like wearing appropriate safety gear, proper riding position, turning mechanisms, and how to do a push start. Wait, you don’t know how to clutch start a motorcycle? What happens if you can’t start the motor with the switch? Good thing you’re here. In just a few steps, you can learn how to effectively push start a motorcycle and get riding in no time.
Before You Push Start
There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on push starting (also called bump starting and clutch starting) your bike. First, push starting isn’t the ideal method, and it sometimes doesn’t work.
Next, if your motorcycle isn’t starting, check some things that sometimes prevent a motorcycle from starting:
- Ignition kill switch – make sure the kill switch is set to the STOP position.
- Fuel level – your fuel gauge could be faulty, so pop the cap and check to make sure you’re not running on E.
- Fuel petcock – if you have a non-EFI bike, make sure the fuel tap petcock is OFF.
- Kickstand – some bikes have an added safety feature that prevents it from starting if the kickstand is down.
- Gear set in neutral – if the gear is engaged, the bike will refuse to start. Do a double-check.
If none of these apply to your situation, then it’s time to push start your bike.
How To Push Start
Follow these steps in the order listed.
Find A Hill
While you could get a few friends to push your motorcycle, you’re not always going to be traveling in a group. When that happens, you need to find yourself a hill. Steep slopes help you get to the proper speed to bypass the start system.
On a flat road? Don’t despair. If you can push the bike at a reasonable speed then jump on and release the clutch, you can still do a push start.
Engage 2nd or 3rd Gear
A lesser known trick to a successful push start is to avoid 1st gear and go straight to 2nd or 3rd gear. Avoid 1st gear entirely if your bike as a high compression engine.
The reason why skipping 1st gear is important is because you could potentially lock the rear tire, which would result in a crash.
Clutch, Release, and Start
Start moving down the hill to get speed while holding the clutch. As you start to gain momentum, release the clutch and press the start button in a seamless motion. Quickly apply some throttle, and the motorcycle should start. As soon as the bike is roaring, engage the clutch.
It’s important to stay in full control of the motorcycle. Please do this as far from traffic as possible, just in case you end up swerving.
If this doesn’t work on the first try, don’t give up. Stop. Reset yourself, and repeat the first three steps again.
Rev That Engine
This is the final step—the most integral. If you don’t immediately rev the engine, the motorcycle will die again. Stay focused.
Depress the clutch slightly and moderately rev the engine. Don’t let it scream. Keep the revving slightly high so the motor doesn’t choke down. The worse case scenario if you don’t rev the motor is that the bike will die, and you don’t want that—especially since you’ll still be rolling down a hill.
Optionally, once you have the engine running, you can switch to neutral and apply the brakes while revving the engine. This will help you stay focused on keeping the engine from choking. This works best if the motorcycle is cold.
Once the engine has warmed up, do a quick ride to make sure everything is working as it should. Remember that your safety is the most important thing when push starting a motorcycle. Be sure to practice the push starting methods a few times before attempting it for real out on the road. You should be wearing protective gear and be away from traffic. If not, you could seriously hurt yourself and others.
That wraps up how to push start a motorcycle. Just follow the steps that have been outlined, commit to safety, and you will soon be push starting like the pros!
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