All About your Motorcycle Kill Switch

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Many riders have questions about the kill switch. Some use it automatically out of habit, while others find themselves questioning its existence.

This page will go over everything you need to know about your bike’s kill switch.

Why do motorcycles have a kill switch?

Kill switches are a federally mandated safety feature required for all motorcycles.

Their purpose is to quickly shut down the engine.

In the case of an emergency, if you drop your bike, if the throttle sticks, or in a motorcycle crash, the kill switch is a quick way that anyone can shut down the engine to prevent a fire or further danger.

The position of the kill switch also allows you to stop the engine while keeping both hands on the handlebars so you can control the bike and still operate the clutch, throttle, and front brake.

Where is the kill switch on a motorcycle?

The kill switch is located on the right side handlebar controls.

The kill switch will always be big and red and within thumb’s reach.

How does a motorcycle kill switch work?

The kill switch works by interrupting the motorcycle’s ignition circuit.

When the switch is in the “ON” position, the circuit is complete and spark reaches the plugs.

When the switch is “OFF,” no spark can reach the combustion chamber and the engine will come to a stop.

When to use the kill switch?

You should use your kill switch in emergency situations to stop the engine. (i.e. stuck throttle, broken throttle cable, accident, etc.)

It can also be used for everyday use when starting and stopping your bike.

Does the kill switch damage the bike?

Despite the name, no, using your kill switch will not damage your motorcycle’s engine.

What happens if you hit the kill switch while ridding?

If you accidentally hit the kill switch while ridding or need to kill the engine while the bike is moving, hitting the kill switch does not immediately stop the bike from moving.

Hitting the kill switch at speed is not going to send you flying over the handlebars.

When you hit the kill switch while the bike is moving:

  • The ignition circuit will be killed and there will be no spark in the combustion chamber.
  • The engine will no longer be producing power.
  • The engine will continue to move, but will start slowing down.

Turning the switch back on in the above scenario while the engine is still moving will start the bike up again.