How to Start a Dirt Bike

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After you’ve picked the right dirt bike size and put on your riding gear, your next step is to start it up. 

You can’t learn to ride a dirt bike if it isn’t running!

This page will cover the proper start up procedure as well as some tips on using a kickstarter or bump starting a dead battery

First Steps When Starting Your Dirt Bike

Starting your dirt bike is not too difficult. If you follow a regular maintenance routine, it should start up quickly every time. 

Whether you’ve got an electric start or kickstart, the first steps to starting the bike are the same. 

To prepare to start your dirt bike, you’ll need to:

  • Turn the key into the ON position.
  • Turn the kill switch to the RUN position. 
  • Turn on the fuel valve. 
  • Turn on the choke (when starting a carbureted dirt bike cold).
  • Get on the bike. 
  • Shift into neutral. 
  • Use the electric start or kickstarter. 
  • Allow the engine to warm up to operating temperature. 
  • Turn off the choke, if applicable. 
  • Get riding! 

If your dirt bike has carburetors, you’ll need to use the choke and prime the engine when starting cold. 

How to Kickstart a Dirt Bike

Many dirt bikes are equipped with kickstarters. 

You’ll find the kick start lever tucked in towards the back right of your engine. 

To kickstart your dirt bike, you’ll need to:

  • Turn the key and kill switch to the ON or RUN positions. 
  • Turn on the fuel. 
  • Shift into neutral. 
  • For a carbureted engine, use the choke and prime the throttle if starting cold. 
  • Untuck the kickstart lever from its riding position. 
  • Place the ball of your foot on the lever’s footrest. 
  • Push it down to get the pistons into TDC position. 
  • Push it down again smoothly and the engine should start up. 
  • Tuck the kickstart lever back into riding position. 

Avoid jumping on or jamming on the kickstart lever. 

How many kicks should it take to start your dirt bike?

A well tuned and maintained dirt bike should start up in 1-3 kicks. 

If your bike won’t start after a few kicks, confirm that you’ve performed the proper start up sequence (keys, kill switch, fuel, neutral, etc.).

Do not attempt to continue kicking a kickstarter that feels jammed, or one that won’t start – as you may damage the bike or flood the engine. 

How to Bump Start a Dirt Bike

If your battery is dead or your kickstart lever broke, you can try to bump start your dirt bike. 

A bump start is possible for dirt bikes with a clutch. 

To bump start a dirt bike, you’ll need to:

  • Find a slight decline or have someone help push you and the bike. 
  • Hold in the clutch lever and shift the bike into second gear. 
  • With the clutch lever squeezed and the clutch disengaged, run with the bike to get it up to coasting speed.
  • Once you reach a coasting speed, hop on the bike. 
  • Release the clutch lever.
  • The engine should fire up and start running again

If your dirt bike still won’t start, check on the tips in this guide: Why Won’t My Motorcycle Start?