Can You Add a Kickstart to a Motorcycle? Why would you?

Getting stranded simply because your motorcycle broke down is the worst nightmare for anyone. Motorcycle starters run on battery power, which might drain out, especially if you happen to leave your headlights on for a long time while the motorcycle is not running. That’s why a lot of motorcycle owners have considered adding a kickstart kit to their bikes to help in case of an emergency. 

It’s possible to add a kickstart kit to a motorcycle, but you’ll need help from an experienced mechanic. The kit will be attached to the engine and works by cranking the gears to ignite a spark, helping start the engine. However, you need to choose the right kit for your motorcycle’s engine. 

Although it might sound easier in theory, adding a kickstart kit to a motorcycle requires a bit of work, choosing the right kit, and what to consider before adding a kit. This article will look at all these to help you decide if and when to add a kickstart kit to your motorcycle. 

Do you need a Kickstart Kit on a Modern Motorcycle?

black and brown bobber motorcycle
Photo by Arteum.ro on Unsplash

To start a motorcycle with an electric starter, all you have to do is push the ignition button. It’s a very effective and fast way of starting a motorcycle, but it relies on battery power. 

If your motorcycle’s battery drains out, it might be impossible to start it. This can leave you stranded. The safest bet against this is adding a kickstart kit on your motorcycle.

What’s In a Kickstart Kit?

Kickstart lever

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A kickstart kit includes all the needed components that help crank up the engine to trigger internal combustion. Old model motorcycles came with this kit added, but manufacturers moved towards electric ignition, which is quicker and more efficient than a kickstart. 

Here is what is included in a kickstart kit:

  • A lever – it’s the one that you step on when you’re starting the engine (like the one above)
  • Wheels – the wheels fit well inside the engine to help move the right components

Now that we know what’s in a kickstart kit, let’s take a look at whether or not all motorcycles have a kickstart kit.

Does Every Motorcycle Have a Kickstart Kit?

Old green vespa with a kickstart
Old Vespa with a Kickstart – Photo by Henry Lai on Unsplash

Most modern motorcycles don’t have a kickstart kit installed from the factory. However, you can still customize them to add a kickstart kit, but this requires a lot of work and money. Even so, the customization may be worth it if you often find yourself in a situation that might require a kickstart.

On the other hand, some motorcycles like dirt bikes still come equipped with a kickstart kit. The main reason for this is related to the engine size and intended use. If you use a bike in the city it’s very rare that you can’t find a way to charge or replace the battery. On the other hand, if you live in a remote place and often take trips in the wilderness, you might look into a bike with a kickstart option.

What to Consider When Adding a Kickstart Kit to a Motorcycle

As we mentioned above, a kickstart kit is a great backup option to have. If you drained the motorcycle’s battery or the electric ignition is damaged, you’re gonna be happy to have a kickstart kit installed. Especially if you’re 200 miles away from civilization.

Before you buy a kickstart kit or dismantle your bike’s engine, you need to consider several things that will save you money and your bike. These include:

  • The engine model – keep in mind that not all motorcycle engines are made the same way, even though they serve the same purpose. Make sure you know the model of your bike’s engine so that you can choose the right kickstart kit for it. 
  • The total cost – this includes the cost of buying the kit and paying the mechanic to install it for you. Shop around until you find an affordable kit. If possible, install it on your own. 

It’s best to let someone with the right experience handle this project, or you run a risk of damaging the engine, which will add up to your repair costs. Ask for proof from a mechanic to show that they have done this sort of work before.

Can You Damage the Motorcycle’s Engine by Adding a Kickstart Kit?

Kickstart shaft

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Adding the kickstart kit the wrong way can damage a motorcycle’s engine. Sometimes the damage might occur even when an experienced mechanic is handling the customization. However, such cases are rare, and a lot of customization works out well. 

Other than hiring an experienced mechanic to handle customizations on your behalf, make sure you get the right accessories and parts that fit well with the engine. Check out the picture above for an example kit from Amazon for a moped/scooter. You can better imagine by looking at it that a poorly installed kit might create permanent damage.

Warning: your bike’s warranty might become void once you start customizing the bike, particularly the engine. So if you have a new motorcycle always check in with the dealer to confirm before making customizations.

Is It Worth it to Add a Kickstart Kit to Your Bike?

Adding a kickstart kit to your bike is a great option as it allows you to start your bike even when the battery drains out or the ignition button gets damaged. However, you should only use it as a backup option and get the electric ignition fixed as soon as you can

While some people prefer removing the battery once they have the kickstart added to their bike to reduce its overall weight, it’s recommended to keep it as electronic components can still use the power supply from it. 

Final Thoughts

Adding a kickstart kit to your motorcycle is possible as it acts as a backup to the original ignition button. You can use it for emergency cases, such as when the battery drains, but you shouldn’t make it the first option. 

Besides getting an experienced mechanic to handle the customization, you should make sure the kit fits perfectly with your engine. A kickstart kit cannot damage the engine unless an inexperienced mechanic handled the work or there was an accident. 

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