Here’s Why Your Motorcycle won’t Kick Start

Motorcycle Kick Start with a rider on it

You tried to start your motorcycle, but the kickstart failed.

Adding to your worries, your electric starter stopped working long ago. Or now! Either way, you are in trouble and want to start your bike in any way possible.

Most motorcycles have a Transistor Coil Ignition (TCI), where a dead battery also means the kick-start is ineffective. The only immediate fix is to try the Push-Start method.

Let us deep dive into the reasons, fixes, and solutions for your kick-start problem.

Reasons for the kickstart not working

#1. Motorcycle has a TCI system and the battery is dead

Most modern motorcycles have TCI (Transistor Coil Ignition) systems. And in the TCI system, if the battery is dead – kick start is as good as dead too.

Motorcycles have 2 types of starting the engine. Electric starter and the Kick start. While the electric starter uses the battery for ignition, kick start is a mechanical way of doing it.

However, all kick-start mechanisms are not the same.

Motorcycle Kickstart

Few motorcycles have CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) system while the others have TCI (Transistor Coil Ignition) system.

Simply put, CDI systems do not require a battery to start the engine.

As a result, the mechanical kick-start is not dependent on your batteries in CDI systems.

Even if you remove and throw away your motorcycle battery, you can kick-start your bike for a hitch-kicking ride.

If it is a TCI system, on the other hand, then once the battery is dead, kick start is as good as dead too.

Motorcycle battery testing

So, the most likely reason your motorcycle is not starting with a kick starter is because you have a TCI system and the battery is dead.

A dead battery is the most possible cause for any issues in kick-starting your motorcycle.

#2. Faulty spark plugs

If the spark plug is not working right – then no amount of kickstarting will ignite the fuel in the engine.

This is a case of cause and symptom. The kick starter not working is a symptom while the damaged spark plug is a cause.

Ash deposits on spark plug

Again, even the spark plug might be a symptom of another part being damaged.

The different reasons why a spark plug is faulty include:

#3. Damaged mechanical linkages

This is a rare cause, but nonetheless, a possible one.

The mechanical linkages of the kick starter are somehow damaged.

Motorcycle Kickstart

Such damage can happen if your motorcycle has fallen down or was involved in a crash or an accident.

If that is the case, a thorough inspection of your motorcycle is in order. It is better to take your motorcycle to the dealer and have it examined.

Immediate Fix

Okay, enough with the causes. You are most likely looking for an immediate fix to your problem.

To start your bike and go to your office today, or to the nearest mechanic, or worse, you are stranded in the middle of no-way land and want to travel to the nearest motorcycle repair shop, here is what you need to do.

The easiest fix is Push-start.

A guy push starting a motorcycle

Here are the things to be done for push starting your bike.

  • Turn the Motorcycle On with your keys
  • Hold the Clutch Lever
  • Switch down to the First Gear
  • Push your motorcycle forward. A downhill road will be much better.
  • If the motorcycle is heavy, it is better you sit and push forward your bike.
  • Let your motorcycle gain some speed
  • Release the clutch lever
  • Voila, your motorcycle will splutter to life.

Despite the easy method to fix start your motorcycle when the electric starter and kick-start are not in working condition, there is a possibility that this method might not work for you.

Let’s just hope you were able to push start your bike and travel to the nearest mechanic shop available.

Another alternative is to call your mechanic or the on-road helpline of your bike manufacturer (if available) to fix up the situation.

Still, the Push-Start method can come in handy for you if your mechanic or the dealer is not picking up the call.

The Long-term Solution

It is most likely a dead battery situation.

Both the electric starter and kick-starter, if simultaneously are not working, then the battery is the likely culprit in nine out of ten cases.

You need to replace your battery with a new one.

Corroded battery terminal

If you know how to disassemble the current dead battery in the motorcycle and replace it with a new battery, then go ahead and do it. Battery replacement should do the trick for you.

However, if you are not sure about replacing yourself and have a hard time locating the battery in your motorcycle, better contact your mechanic to do the job for you.

Related read: Tips to Kickstart a Motorcycle Easily

Another possible cause that has resulted in kick-starting problem could be that the mechanical linkage is damaged. In that case, your mechanic should need to look into the system.

Faulty spark plugs can also be a concern here. You need to test the spark plug. And proceed accordingly.

If the spark plug is worn-out, oil-fouled, carbon-fouled, or has ash deposits – you have to replace it with a new spark plug.

Preventive Measures

Now that you have faced the problem of your motorcycle dying on you and not able to start it with your kick start and electric start, you would definitely not want to be in the same situation again.

Getting your motorcycle serviced every now and then and checking up on your battery by the mechanic will go a long way in maintaining your bike in a good condition.

So, service your motorcycle frequently. A thumb rule would be every three months or for every 1000 miles you travel, or whichever is earlier.

On a side note, modern motorcycles are finding kickstarts more and more redundant. The shortcomings of electric starters are getting addressed. There are already a few motorcycle models without kickstarts.

To Summarize

Here is the summarised version.

  • If your motorcycle is not starting with kick start and the electric starter is not working as well, then most likely, your battery is dead.
  • For a quick start, hold your clutch wire, shift down to the first gear, push forward your bike, and release the clutch once the bike gains some speed. A straight push-start method will do the trick.
  • For long-term solution, you need to replace your dead battery with a new one.
  • Other possible causes for problems in kick-starting could be faulty spark plugs or issues in kick start linkages. You need to get your motorcycle checked up by your mechanic.
  • To prevent this problem from arising again, service your motorcycle frequently. Servicing every three months or for every 1000 miles you travel, or whichever is earlier, should suffice.

Before you go…

Here are a few more kickstart related posts for you: