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Learn to push start your bike!

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  • Learn to push start your bike!

    Push starting is like crashing a motorcycle, sooner or later you're going to do it. Like it or not, it might be function that may save you from the side of the road. Last week I helped a guy push start his bike, and it dawned on me how simple it is, but yet people don't know the basics.

    So first, this will likely not work on a bike that is super cold/been sitting. The starter does a few things to motorcycles along with turning the motor. So, now you know.

    * Turn on the choke if it's cold, turn the fuel to PRIME if you have it. That will get fuel going even if you have a vacuum operated petcock.
    * Ignition on!
    * Put the bike in SECOND gear and hold in the clutch
    * PUSH! Get the bike up to 5-8 mph if at all possible. Use any hills or grades to your benefit.
    * Drop the clutch like its hot. DO NOT FEATHER IT. The torque will slow you and stop you if you feather out the clutch.
    * Give it some throttle a la dirt bike style (think braap braaap braaaaap)

    Hopefully you've gotten the motor to crank a few rotations and it's catching. Make sure you have good balance because it can be a rough ride when that motor catches. I've had to do it to goldwings over the years and it's never fun, but it can keep you from being on the side of the road.

    • AZridered
      #6
      AZridered commented
      Editing a comment
      The harder the engine is to turn over (higher compression, more displacement) the higher the gear needed to bump start. Higher gears give the pusher more leverage at the expense of lower revolutions. It is a trade off.

    • NORTY
      #7
      NORTY commented
      Editing a comment
      I've "bumped" virtually every motorcycle I've ever had, except 2. (Well, 3, actually.)
      1980 XL500S,
      1983 XL600R,
      2016 FXDL.

      First 2 Hondas don't "allow" bump starting. I tried every gear, down a 30% concrete slope, 2-up, and the wheel locked like I was applying the brake. Something internally won't let it happen...Oddley though, they were kickstart only...

      The last one is a Harley, and they're programmed to not fire until the 3rd revolution (ok, 6th revolution of the crank.) Something to do with minimum rotation speed and the compression release. Because of this, a kicker is out of the question.

      The old Harley bumped very easily. Must have been the Crane cam holding the valves open longer or sumpthin'. It would fire on the 1st available rotation. Always wanted to put a kicker on this bike. Just to mess with people!

    • Mad Matt
      #8
      Mad Matt commented
      Editing a comment
      I accidentally bump started my bike while riding in a trials event last fall. I stalled at the top of a hill with just enough momentum to start coasting down the other side. Popped the clutch and got it started again before the bottom.

      Technically it's still 5 points for stalling the engine, but I felt pretty good about recovering without putting a foot down.
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