How To Start a Motorcycle

pushing the start button on a motorcycle

As a beginner, the first thing you should know how to do is how to start a motorcycle. Whether you have never been on a motorcycle before or you just have never driven one yourself, this is the first step towards independently riding a motorcycle without help from a friend or relative.

There are different ways to start a motorcycle, depending on the style of bike you have. You can even push start a bike! Before you can even attempt to start a motorcycle, you need to determine whether it is a fuel-injected or carburetor-based bike. Once you figure this out, you’re on your way to starting a motorcycle on your own!

The Basics

The first thing you should do when prepping to ride a motorcycle is put on the correct gear. Once you’re geared up, you can hop on and get ready to ride. Before attempting to start your bike, it is important to check the following:

1. Fuel Delivery Method

The first step that you need to take in order to know how to start a motorcycle is to figure out what kind of bike you’re working with. There are two styles that you’ll see: carburetor-based and fuel-injected. If you are dealing with an older or lower-cost bike, it most likely will not have a modern fuel injection system. To figure out for sure what style the bike is, you can check the choke control. If there is a choke control, you have a carbureted motorcycle. The choke control is almost always on the left handlebar. If there is no choke control, then you are dealing with a fuel-injected bike.

2. Sit on The Bike

Before you start the motorcycle, make sure you are seated on the bike so that you are totally in control of the machine. If you aren’t sitting on the bike, shift it into neutral so it doesn’t leave without you. Neutral is located between 1st and 2nd gear.

3.  Condition of The Motorcycle

To get the most out of your first riding experience, you should be sure that the bike is ready to go. The battery should be charged well and it should have plenty of gas in the tank. You would also ensure that the spark plugs are fairly new or in good condition, as well as checking the ignition timing. Having the carburetor serviced is never a bad plan, either.

4. Oil Level

Before any engine is started, you should always check the oil level. This is important in any vehicle you will be driving. If there is not enough oil, you should put more in the tank. The oil lubricates the engine and ensures the parts work smoothly.

Starting a Carburated Motorcycle

If you are riding a motorcycle that utilizes a carburetor as the fuel delivery method, follow these steps to start the bike:

  1. Locate the choke. The choke is either a lever or a “cut-off switch” located on the handlebar. If you are starting the engine hot, you can skip this step.
  2. If cold starting, make sure the cut-off switch is on. Leave the handlebar throttle twist-grip closed to make sure the engine does not flood.
  3. Turn on the ignition. Once the ignition is on, the dash should light up. You should notice a green light that indicates that you have your bike in neutral.
  4. Locate the clutch lever on the left and the start button on the right. If your bike is in neutral, simply push the start button. If it is in gear, hold the clutch while you engage the starter. You will hear the bike start.
  5. Slowly close the choke and slightly open the throttle as your engine warms up.

Starting a Fuel-Injected Motorcycle

If you have determined that you are working with a fuel-injected bike, you can follow these steps to start your bike:

  1. Make sure your bike is in neutral. As with a carburetor style bike, you can nearly always find neutral between 1st and 2nd gears.
  2. A fuel-injected motorcycle does not have a choke, so you don’t need to look for one before you get started. Since the fuel-injected models have an electronically managed engine system, they automatically take care of the fuel delivery.
  3. Locate the clutch; in most cases, it will be on the left-hand side. Pull the clutch in towards the handlebar. You can also pull the front brake on the right handlebar simultaneously.
  4. On the right handlebar, you should see the start button. Once you locate this, press and hold the start button.
  5. If your motorcycle does not fire up upon pressing the start button, try using the throttle as you are pressing the start button. Be sure to hold the clutch in completely while you do this.

Push Starting

Push starting your bike comes in handy if the battery dies.

  1. Sitting on the bike, shift into 2nd gear.
  2. Turn on the ignition and pull in the clutch.
  3. If you have someone helping you, they will push you at this point. If not, you will have to provide the momentum yourself. A hill that isn’t too steep comes in handy for this.
  4. Once you pass 5mph, quickly release the clutch. If the engine starts, pull in the clutch while you rev the engine.


Overall, starting a motorcycle is a fairly easy process! Whether you are starting a motorcycle with a carburetor, an automatic fuel injection system, or you need to push start it due to a dead battery, learning how to start a motorcycle is not complicated.

A motorcycle with a carburetor utilizes a choke to help control the fuel. If you are using a motorcycle without a carburetor, you won’t use a choke. Aside from that, starting each style of motorcycle is pretty much the same.

If you are new to riding motorcycles, following these easy steps will have you on your way down the road in no time.