How to Kick Start a Dirt Bike? – 6 Easy Steps

Written by

James Stevens

Fact-checked by

Robert A. Verdin

How to Kick Start a Dirt Bike

Although having an electric start is easier for beginners, some riders prefer a dirt bike with a kick start, as it’s comparatively lighter. Instead of an electric start button, these dirt bikes have a kick start lever to turn on the engine.

The process may be overwhelming at first, but it’s quite easy to do if you learn the right technique.

Continue reading below to understand how to kick start a dirt bike, be it a 2 stroke or 4 stroke model!

Step-By-Step to Kick-Start a Dirt Bike

Dirt bike riding is fun! However, you need to learn the most basic procedure first, which is starting your motorcycle. You can start a dirt bike with a kick start, whether your engine is cold or hot, as discussed below.

Step 1: Put your dirt bike in neutral


Ensure your dirt bike is put in neutral first to avoid lurching over or jumping forward once you start your dirt bike.

  • On a dirt bike with clutch, pull it before you shift into neutral, which is between the 1st and 2nd gear.
  • To put dirt bikes without a clutch into neutral, simply press down on the lever to switch into 1st gear, then nudge the lever slightly up.
  • Some bikes may have different locations for neutral. For instance, Chinese models require shifting the gear up until their wheels can roll. Hence, you may want to check the user manual if you can’t find your bike’s neutral location.

Step 2: Turn your gas on


Now that your dirt bike is in neutral, turn the gas on by putting your petcock in the “on” position. It’s usually found beneath the fuel tank. This ensures that your dirt bike’s engine will run when you kick start it.

Step 3: Pull the choke up or use the hot start.


In this step, you’ll have to determine whether your bike has a choke or a hot start lever:

  • For your information, the choke is typically located on the left front side of the engine
  • The hot start level is commonly seen in older dirt bike models. It’s normally located on top of the clutch or brake lever.

Now that you’ve determined which kind of starting mechanism your bike has, carry out either of these steps:

  • If you’re doing a cold start, turn on your choke by pulling the choke knob.

Doing so helps warm your dirt bike, thus allowing it to start faster. The reason is that it allows less air to pass into the carburetor, helping enrich the air/fuel ratio.

  • Bikes without the choke knob will require you to use the hot start lever. You’ll need to either pull it in or push it (depending on your dirt bike).

Using the hot start allows more air into the carburetor, allowing dirt bikes with hot engines to start faster.

Step 4: Crank your throttle


Twisting the throttle all the way will allow the carburetor to release more fuel into the cylinder, making it easier to fire up your engine when kick starting it.

  • If riding a 4 stroke dirt bike, crank the throttle all the way 3 times.
  • Skip to the next step if yours is a 2 stroke dirt bike.

Step 5: Kick start your dirt bike


  • Release the throttle.
  • Pull the dirt bike kickstarter or the kick start lever out before you kick on it. It’s generally located on the right side of your dirt bike.
  • To make a motorcycle kick start easier, find its top dead center or TDC, which is when the piston is at the highest point of the cylinder.
    When you feel the most resistance when pushing the lever down slowly, that’s your TDC.
  • Using your weight, kick the kick start lever’s TDC all the way to the bottom. Repeating this step 3-4 times should get your dirt bike to start.
  • Put your kick start lever back in its original place.

Step 6: Start riding


Once your engine has fired up, you need to wait for a minute before you put your choke knob back to its original position. If you have hot started your dirt bike, you can now release your hot start lever.

If your engine is already warmed up and everything is in check, you can now start riding your dirt bike.

Basically, that’s all the steps you have to do to start your engine using a kick start. For a visual guide, check out this tutorial video!


It’s easy to learn how to kick start a dirt bike, right? Although it may sound difficult at first, you can surely do it with practice and experience.

When kickstarting a dirt bike, make sure your dirt bike is in a neutral position first. Then, pull the choke knob up if cold starting and use your hot start lever if hot starting your motorcycle.

It’s also beneficial to find your dirt bike’s top dead center when kicking your engine over so that it will start much faster and easier.

Have fun starting your dirt bike!

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James Stevens

James Stevens is an expert bike mechanic who knows everything from basic repairs to custom modifications. What sets him apart is his ability to explain complex concepts in a way that's easy to understand. Check out his content on Speedway if you need help with upgrades or modifications for your bike.