How to Fix a Kickstart on a Dirt Bike


Dirt bikes are one of the most popular types of vehicles on the market today. The popularity is due largely to their versatility and affordability. They can be ridden off-road, on unpaved roads, or even in a bike park. There might be various issues with dirt bikes.

How to Fix a Kickstart on a Dirt Bike

One common problem with dirt bikes is that they often need an adjustment known as a kickstart which begins the engine when it stalls out. This can be very dangerous for the rider! If this happens while you are riding your bike, it could cause injury or even death. For this reason, today, I am going to discuss how to fix a kickstart on a dirt bike. So let us get to the main discussion.

What Types of Problem Happens to Kickstart of Dirt Bike?

This kickstart is used in mini-bikes, mopeds, and kick scooters. It is located near the bottom of the bike frame or at the clutch lever mount if kick start is included on an automatic transmission kick scooter.

The kickstart has an important role to play when a motorcycle or bike stops running while riding down a hill, dirt track, or unpaved road. The kickstart lever can be used as a leverage point to push the wheels forward for easy getting going again.

If you suddenly stop your bike by locking both wheels on some liquid reflection, then the kick start lever will help you to get moving again. Likewise, if you are stuck in the mud due to different reasons, then the kickstart lever helps push out and move the bike to get going.

While Riding Down a Hill

These kickstarts have a single kick start lever attached to them. The kickstart typically attaches underneath the motorcycle, and kick wire entangles with a clutch cable. The kickstart is pulled back, similar to starting up the starter on your lawnmower or chain saw. This action starts crankshaft turning and forces fuel into the engine needed at this time of kickstarting readiness.

A Process on How to Fix a Kickstart on a Dirt Bike

Even though kick starts are reliable, they do get broken from time to time. To fix your kickstart, it will require a little bit of work, but it can be done; follow the simple steps below:

First off, what you’re going to want to do is loosen up the kick shaft bolt (the one that attaches to the engine) by using either a kick shaft wrench or something else like a long screwdriver so you can remove it easily without damaging anything if there is any resistance with it.

After that, when your kick shaft bolt has been loosened, go ahead and kick it a couple of times, if you want. This will loosen up the kickstart lever because, with some kick starts, they can sometimes be stuck in a tightened position and need to be loosened up before moving on to the next step.

Now after the kick start lever has been loosened, you should probably go ahead and spray some penetrating lubricant onto it. After that, when all the lubricant is soaked into the kick shafts surface, clean it off. Now, after it’s clear, we’ll move on to step 3, removing kickstart for us to put in a new one. So now remove your kick shaft bolt using either a kick shaft wrench or something else like a long screwdriver, so again you can do everything without damaging your kick starter.

Next up, you’re going to want to take a screwdriver and turn the kick start counterclockwise, so it comes off. After that, when your kickstart is off, you should probably clean it thoroughly because dirt can build up in there over time, causing kickstarts to stick and not work, therefore ruining kick starts.

Finally, put the new kick start into place but do not tighten down the kick shaft bolt until later on after we know everything is working properly. This way, if something goes wrong, we can easily remove it without damaging anything else on the motorbike if there are any problems with it.

Without Damaging  Kick Starter

What Causes the Kickstart to Slip? 

Some other reasons why kick-starter may slip are:

  1. Bad or worn engine main bearings – if the engine crankshaft rotates smoothly without any problems, it means there’s no need for replacing the crankshaft bearing.  This problem often occurs on Honda CRF/XR50 models. The bike engine of these models might affect the kickstart.
  2. Kickstarting shaft kick-starting oil pump needs to be fixed – kick-starting arms should turn freely on kick start shaft.  If the kick starter is slipping, you need to remove the kick start cover and take off the kick start shaft.  On the kick start shaft, kick-starting oil pump should turn freely.  If kick-starting oil pump doesn’t rotate smoothly, you need to replace kick-starting arms and kickstart shaft bushing.
  3. Bad clutch bell – if the kick starter is slipping too much, you may have a bad clutch bell or worn clutches.  This can be fixed by cleaning it with some special solvent or replacing the clutch bell.
  4. Incorrect kick-starting lever position – rear break should not contact any other part of the motorcycle except gear shift lever housing!!  There shouldn’t be any obstacles in both kick-starting arms paths either!
  5. Worn out kickstart lever – usually, kick start lever gets worn out when the kick-starting engine is constantly slipping. So it’s recommended to replace the kickstart lever every year or after 500 kick starts.
  6. Worn out kick start shaft bushing – you would need to take kick start shaft out and inspect if kick start shaft bushings are worn off or not. Also, if the kick-starting oil pump is noisy, that means kick-starting arms are misaligned on the kickstart shaft, and it needs replacing!
  7. Low compression – if the kick starter doesn’t have enough torque, it will slip and might damage kickstarting coil spring.  High octane fuel with 9% ethanol may solve the high compression issue, although kick-starting oil needs to be replaced with kick-starting oil if the kick starter is slipping.
Misaligned on  the Kickstart Shaft

 Routine Maintenance of Dirt Bike Kickstart Lever

If you kickstart your bike a lot, over time, the kick lever will become loose. This causes kickstart troubles and can easily be fixed using an adjustment nut on the kick lever end of Kickstarter.

The kick lever is connected to the kick shaft with two set screws that engage small bearings in the kick shaft and have sprung for proper tension. If the kick lever is loose, it must be tightened by turning the adjustment bolt (adjustable tension).

When tightening adjuster, be sure not to overtighten as this may cause damage or break off kick-starter footpeg:

  • Loosen set screw closest to swing arm with hex or Allen wrench (being careful not to drop it inside the frame)
  • With the adjustable end of Kickstarter held firm by hand, tighten the kick lever end until a kick-starter lever is just firm.
  • Tighten kick lever end set screw and kick shaft end set screw (being careful not to drop in inside frame)
  • Kick lever should now be snug, and the kick starter footpeg will not fall off the kick lever.
  • Adjustable kick lever tension will help prevent kick start troubles with kick lever that is too loose or too tight.

Things to Consider While Learning How to Fix a Kickstart on a Dirt Bike

Tools Can Be Costly

kickstart lever, kick shaft, etc.

t’s best to do this on a kick start machine rather than your bike, as kick starts are flimsy.

On kick starts with the outer casing; you need to be careful not to break any of the casings and keep them intact (if needed for making more kick starts)

On kickstarts with inner blades or multiple blades, it is easier and cheaper to buy another kick start rather than try to take apart and fix it.

Going cheap is not always the best way;  you may have a tiny problem that requires 5 minutes, but hours later you realize that because you went cheap, now you need someone else to fix it for you and your kickstart is worse off than if you would have just bought a new kick start to begin with!

If you decide to go cheap, please comment below on the kickstart that this article helped make the situation better or worse.

How to Fix a Kickstarter Spine? 

Some people have problems with stripping kickstart spines.  What I mean by that is the threaded end of the Kickstarter spine gets stripped out. How do you fix it? Well, first off, take your old kick start lever and cut about 1/2 inch off of it and use some JB Weld to fill in all of the threads so they can be used again.

Then pull off your handlebars if they are mounted on risers and remove your gas tank. Remove the front fender, then remove the grab bar (if applicable). Take an old toothbrush or something similar and clean around where you will need to drill space for fixing your stripped kick start spine.

Take your drill and a 3/4 inch spade bit and drill out the hole. If you can’t find a 3/4″ spade bit, then get the largest one they carry. Once you have done this, clean out all of the shavings from the hole, which is where you will be bolting your new kick start lever. Take your old kickstart spine and keep it as a template for drilling where you’ll put your bolt into on to attach your Kickstarter pedal.

I recommend using an 8mm X 1.25 pitch (thread size) bolt, but any standard bolt should (check hardware stores for sizes).

Problems With Stripping Kickstart Spines

How To Start A 2 Stroke Dirt Bike?

The best way to start a 2 stroke bike is to start a 4 stroke, but you use two kicks. When starting any dirt bike, some precautions need to be taken before your motorcycle will fire. 

Before trying to start your dirt bike, have it on level ground and make sure there is no pressure on the kickstand, the engine kill switch is in the off position, and if you can take the weight off one side of the rear tire by leaning it against something or laying it on its side against the ground. 

Be sure all hoses are clamped down tight and that they are not resting against each other or anything else where they could rub, causing a short or spark from friction.

Start your Dirt Bike in a Safe Place

I know I said this already but to make sure you are not just kicking the bike over and over on its side or your lap, start your dirt bike in a safe place like a garage or open field where if something does go wrong, you can get it upright without hurting yourself.

After making sure your motorcycle is in a safe area, and there is no pressure on the kickstand, try to find neutral on the gear shift. If you cannot find neutral, we will show you how to start it later when it has some compression. 

Place both hands around the handlebar grip with one hand above and one below and position them right at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, so they are just above the throttle grip.  The throttle should be at idle but not so you would feel any vibration if you were holding it, just your hand, though.

What to Do When Your Motorcycle Doesn’t Start?

When your motorcycle doesn’t start, the first thing to do is check what you have done for the pre-start sequence of the bike. If you have followed it meticulously and there is no reaction from the starter, then there might be a problem with the kickstand or gear lever. There might be various reasons like bike engine or spark plugs.

It’s not uncommon that dirt bikes develop some problems with their starter motor. Here are several ways to troubleshoot issues with the Kickstarter on your dirt bike.

Step 1: Check if Everything is Connected Properly

As most modern dirt bikes do, if your bike has an electrical starting feature, you need to make sure that all connections in both starting system and battery terminals are properly connected. This could save you a lot of time during the troubleshooting process.

Electrical Starting Feature

Step 2: Make Sure that the Kickstand is Release

If your kickstart lever is not moving freely when you try to kick start the bike, this could be related to a problem with the kickstand. Many riders are under the impression that Kickstarter also acts as a stopper for the rear wheel, and therefore they don’t make sure if it’s release or not before engaging in starting procedure. This might cause issues, especially on dirt bikes and enduros. Be sure that your motorcycle has its kicking stand taken off before attempting to start it again.

Step 3: Check that Your Footpegs and Pads are Free from Debris

It often happens that riders forget about their footpegs and boots, which then stay on the ground during riding. In this situation, the debris might get sucked into your engine, cause serious damage, and even prevent the proper functioning of the Kickstarter lever. You should also check the air filters.

You Can Check It Out To Dirt Bikes Dangerous


Lastly, I hope you have obtained all the related information about how to fix a kickstart on a dirt bike. Ensure proper safety while performing the process. You should always perform a routine maintenance for your dirt bike for obtaining the best output. I hope you will be able to solve the issues with dirt bikes through this guide. Thank you, and have a good day!

Darren Matlock

Darren Matlock

Hi, I'm Darren. I love dirt bikes and everything about the off-road lifestyle. I'm passionate about motorbikes, cars, racing sports and going on adventures. If you're like me and enjoy extreme sports, you've come to the right place! I like to write articles about dirt bikes to help beginners get started. Whether you're interested in buying a dirt bike, ATV, motorcycle or want to ride for hobby, I hope my articles will inspire you to learn more about how this machine can be used to ride.

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