You might have noticed that many new motorcycles – lower cc and higher cc, are coming with only electric starters. No kickstarts at all.
For someone who has been riding motorcycles for a long time, this is still taking me time to get used to.
I worry what if the electric starter fails?
After all, you need the kick starter whenever the electric starter won’t work.
Then why don’t some motorcycles have kickstarts?
Most modern motorcycles have electronic ignition and fuel injection systems running on ECU to start the engine. Both these systems require a battery to function.
With a dead battery, no amount of kickstart will start the engine. And with the inconsistencies in the electric starter addressed, the kickstarts have become irrelevant in modern motorcycles.
That’s why, it has become more and more common for new motorcycle models to not have kickstarts at all.
That’s the gist.
Let’s get into the details.
Why kickstart is removed in newer motorcycles?
In modern motorcycles, the kickstart has become redundant.
The motorcycles today have fuel injection systems and electronic injection systems. Both these require a battery to function.
Since there is an electric starter already on the motorcycle handlebar, the kickstart is no longer of use.
In earlier motorcycle models, the kickstart would start the motorcycle even when the battery was dead.
These old motorcycles had magneto ignition systems where the motorcycle could kickstart without the battery.
But, modern motorcycles have electronic ignition now. Which won’t start without the battery.
Even then, kickstarts were still part of the motorcycles since the electric starter was unreliable during cold starts.
So whenever the electric starter was not working, the kickstart acted as the backup way to start the motorcycle. Provided the battery was still working.
But with the inconsistencies in the electric starter addressed now, the kickstart has become redundant.
As a result, many manufacturers today have removed kickstart in their motorcycle models.
To sum up:
With the introduction of electronic ignition and fuel injection, modern motorcycles require a working battery to start.
And the inconsistencies of the electric starter have been addressed.
The kickstart has become redundant and hence removed in many modern motorcycles.
In old motorcycles, kickstart was a vital component
In old vintage motorcycles, the ignition and fuel injection systems were completely mechanical.
These motorcycles did not have any batteries in them.
The engine was started mechanically through the kick start.
The fuel injection was carried out by the carburetor which was manually tuned to determine air-fuel ratio.
Even the lights – headlight, backlights, and turn-key indicators were powered by the engine.
You could see the lights fading whenever the engine wasn’t generating enough power.
The function of the kickstart was to start the engine. It was the sole method for ignition in these motorcycles.
If your motorcycle has the kickstart, here are some simple tips to kickstart easily.
However, with the introduction of batteries in motorcycles, things started to change.
Rise of electronic ignition and injection systems
As time passed, more and more electrical systems started replacing the mechanical way of operations.
The most important of them being – the fuel injectors and the electronic ignition.
Both these systems required a working battery to function.
Without the battery, neither the fuel is injected into the engine nor will there be ignition.
In these battery-dependent motorcycles, kick-starts still played a part. They acted as a backup for the electric starter to start the bike.
Especially in cold conditions.
The electric starter sometimes would not work (but the battery is alive) and the kick-start was used to ignite the engine.
However, if the battery is dead, no amount of kickstart would start the engine in these electronic ignition systems.
Kick-starts became irrelevant today
A dead battery essentially meant that the motorcycle would not run. No amount of kickstarting would change that.
The only usefulness the kickstart had was when the electric starter was not working but the battery was well alive and functioning.
Now, however, the electric starter is improved upon.
The inconsistencies in its functioning are being addressed.
And when their shortcomings are taken care of, there is no utility of kickstart in a motorcycle anymore.
First, the mechanical ignition was replaced by electronic ignition. Making the motorcycle reliant on the battery to start. And kickstart as a backup for the electric starter.
Second, the electric starter was improved and made more reliable.
The kickstart is now a redundant component in a motorcycle.
That’s why many motorcycle models today don’t have a kickstart.
Other reasons for removing kickstarts from motorcycles
Apart from the primary reasons discussed above, here are some of the secondary reasons why some modern motorcycles don’t have kickstarts anymore.
Ease of design and manufacture
The motorcycle design and manufacturing are far more complicated when compared to the earlier ones.
With technology continuously evolving, manufacturers want to let go of redundant or inefficient systems.
So by removing kickstarts completely from the motorcycles, the motorcycles no longer have to accommodate them in design and manufacturing. And thereby, decreasing the complexity.
Reduced motorcycle weight
Adding kickstart also requires adding the relevant mechanical engines used to kickstart a motorcycle.
With so many additional components, the weight of the motorcycle is bound to increase.
Related read: Different ways to measure motorcycle weight
However, if you go the other way and remove the kickstart, you will be removing the relevant mechanical components as well.
As a result, the weight of the motorcycle would be reduced. So does the complexity.
As a result, motorcycle manufacturers are preferring to do away with kickstarts.
Low production cost
This is another important reason for the manufacturers to do away with kickstart in motorcycles.
Every component whether manufactured or outsourced, is an expense for the manufacturer. If there is a scope for cost-cutting without compromising on the functionality, the manufacturer will take it.
Removing kickstarts obviously reduces the manufacturing expense without much compromise on the functionality of a motorcycle.
So, that’s another reason why kickstarts are removed nowadays.
This one is debatable.
Motorcycle manufacturing companies opine that most riders prefer the electric starter to start the engine.
Additionally, cruiser bikes such as Harley Davidson which have their seats far lower when compared to other motorcycle seats, make it uncomfortable for kick-starting.
Since the electric starter is the preferred option and most riders are not using the kick-starts at all, manufacturers of cruiser bikes are removing kick-starts citing no functionality and comfort reasons.
The kickstart is removed in many modern motorcycles mainly because they are of no use when the battery is dead.
A modern motorcycle has too many electronic systems dependent upon the battery for its functioning. If the battery goes dead, the kickstart is of no use since the electrical systems won’t work anyway.
The increasing redundancy of kickstarts has made the manufacturers do away with it.
Before you go…
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