How to Push Start a Motorcycle

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If you’re out on a ride or away from your garage with a dead battery, you’ve got a few options before you need to call a tow.

The push-start (also known as clutch-start or bump-start) is one way to get your bike running again.

While the push-start isn’t something you’ll want to rely on every time you need to start your bike, it is a good skill to know.

Things to Check Before you Push Start the Motorcycle

Before you get going, you’ll want to check the simple things first as to why your motorcycle won’t start:

  • Check that the kill switch is in the right position.
  • Check that the petcock is in the right position.
  • Make sure you have enough gas.
  • Make sure you are in neutral.
  • Make sure your kickstand is up (on some bikes).

If these things check out, you can move on to push starting the bike.

A battery that won’t hold a charge probably needs to be replaced, or there may be an issue with your motorcycle charging system.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Push Start a Motorcycle

A push-start, pop-start, bump start, or rolling start can also be used to get a bike going on a drained or dead battery.

All you’ll need to is gentle hill or someone to help you get the bike moving.

To push start a motorcycle:

  1. Turn the key to the on position.
  2. Pull in the clutch.
  3. Make sure the fuel petcock is open.
  4. Find a slight hill or have someone push you to get the bike rolling fast enough. Aim for about 5-10 mph.
  5. Pull in the clutch level.
  6. Put the bike into second gear.
  7. Get up to speed.
  8. Let go of (pop) the clutch.
  9. The engine should fire up.

If it worked, the bike should be running again. Allow the engine to warm up and keep it running.

You should ride the bike around so that the battery has a chance to recharge.

Assuming you have access to a portable jump starter, another motorcycle, or a car with some jumper cables, you can also try jump-starting your bike to get it going again.

1. Prepare for the Bump Start

The first step to push starting your bike is to get it ready.

To get ready for the push start, you need to:

  • Make sure there is enough fuel in the tank.
  • Turn the petcock to the on position.
  • Turn the ignition on.

Additionally, you should make sure you’ve taken care of other safety mechanisms that prevent the bike from starting (kickstand, kill switch, etc.).

2. Find a Good Location to Push Start

Next, you’ll need to find a good place to perform the push start.

Once you get going, you’ll need to get up to about 5 to 10 mph.

Ideally, you can find a place with a slight decline to help with the speed.

Additionally, it is best to push start the motorcycle in an empty lot or a side street away from other traffic.

If there are no hills, you can either:

  • Have a friend push you.
  • Push the bike yourself and jump on it when you get it up to speed.

3. Bump Start the Bike

Now, you’re ready to preform the bump start and get your motorcycle running.

First, shift the bike into 2nd gear and pull in the clutch.

Keep the clutch pulled in as you begin rolling down the hill or pushing your bike.

Once you’re up to speed, release the clutch.

The spark should ignite and the engine should start running.

Use the throttle to keep the bike running.

You’ll need to get the RPMs up to charge the battery before shutting the bike off again.

Before your next ride, it may be a good idea to troubleshoot the motorcycle’s charging system to find out why the battery died.