Riding skills: How to bump start a motorcycle

By Ped Baker -

Riding Skills

 28 April 2011 15:18

Bump starting a motorcycle is a black art. Experienced riders make it look easy but as the hapless guy in the clip proves, there's a lot to go wrong.

First check the obvious stuff like the kill switch, side stand switch, petrol and ignition. Bump starting is tiring work so you want to give yourself the best chance of nailing it first go. Anything over 750cc is likely to be too heavy to push start yourself so persuade a passer by to give you a push. Never tow start a motorcycle.

If at all possible, find a slope to start from. A steep driveway will do. The quicker you can gain momentum the less chance there is of wobbling and dropping your bike.

Engage second or third gear and keep the clutch pulled in. Look where you intend to go is clear of obstacles, if the bike starts it may lurch forward and you'll need some room to bring it under control.

Standing on the left side of the bike start pushing the bike forward, keeping the clutch in and the throttle closed. When you've reached a good jogging speed, jump astride the bike. A nanosecond before your bum hits the seat, release the clutch. Your bodyweight hitting the seat gives added traction to the rear tyre, otherwise it will may skid and the engine won't turn over.

Another method of loading up the rear tyre is to jump on the bike side saddle and then swinging your leg over the seat when the bike starts. This has the advantage of getting the weight on the seat faster (thus losing less speed) but it can also unsettle the bike so only confident riders should attempt it.

The engine should turn over and fire up very quickly if not instantly. As soon as you feel and hear the engine start instantly pull in the clutch. If the engine turns over for a few seconds without starting stop pushing stop wasting your time and phone a recovery truck.