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How to Start a Motorcycle

by Contributor

Starting a motorcycle may sound simple, but it isn't always so easy. Every engine has its own starting procedure. It is most difficult to start a motorcycle when the engine is cold, because the carburetor does not vaporize fuel as well. So, if you have been frustrated while trying to get the engine humming, here is how you can start her up easily every time.

Step 1

Determine the kind of carburetor on your motorcycle. Is it an enriching circuit, a float plunger or a choke?

Step 2

Turn on the fuel and ignition and pull the enriching lever, if you have an enriching circuit. Leave the throttle closed, as it will stop the enriching circuit from functioning properly and either kick-start the engine or push the starter.

Step 3

Hold the plunger down until the carburetor floods, if you have a float plunger carburetor. Then open the throttle between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch and push the starter or kick-start the engine.

Step 4

Put on the choke after turning the ignition and fuel, if you have a choke type carburetor. Then open the carburetor throttle between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch and kick-start the engine or push the starter.

Experiment with the engine. These instructions will start most motorcycles, but as the engine gets older and has more and more miles, you will have to change the drill a bit. Try opening the throttle a bit more, or a bit less. Maybe you can open the throttle for one kick and then close it again. Play around a bit.


  • If you find that you have flooded the engine, clear it by opening the throttle wide open and cranking the engine. By doing this, you are drawing only air, and no gas, into the engine and you will clear out the excess gas.
  • If your electric starter fails and you don't have a kick-starter, you will have to push start your motorcycle. Put the motorcycle in second gear and pull the bike backwards with the clutch in. The engine will turn over and the rear wheel will lock from engine compression. With the ignition on, choke and throttle set, pull the clutch lever in and start pushing as fast as you can. When you feel like you can't go faster, hop on the bike and let the clutch out. The engine should start.

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