Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: How to "roll start" a motorcycle with a dead battery

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,752

    How to "roll start" a motorcycle with a dead battery

    Most late-model motorcycles no longer have manual kick starters. That means if your battery dies unexpectedly you won't be able to use the electric starter to get it running. But you can "roll start" it.

    Here's how:

    * If by yourself, look around: Is there a downhill stretch of road (or in a pinch, a hill/embankment leading down to a stretch of road)?

    * Put the bike in neutral and walk/push it to your starting point at the top part of that uphill stretch. Get on the bike, being sure the ignition is in the "run" position, with the transmission still in neutral. Put the bike in first gear, and pull the clutch lever in to disengage the clutch. Get ready!

    * Use your feet, Fred Flintstone style, to get the bike rolling. Once your speed is around 10-15 mph (the faster, the better) let out the clutch lever. This will turn the engine over just as if you were using the electric starter (only you're using the bike's momentum instead of the battery/starter motor). The bike should start. If it doesn't try again.

    * If you don't have a downhill stretch of road/hill available but you do have a few friends riding with you, you may be able to use them to get the bike going. Use the same procedure, with one obvious difference: Get two or three of them (one on each side, one behind you) to get the bike rolling/up to speed. This should work just as well as the hill-start method.

    Caution: If the battery is only run down (by having accidentally left the ignition "on" for several hours, for example) the engine/alternator should be able to recharge the battery after riding for awhile (about 30 minutes or so). But avoid turning off the engine until you're either home or near another hill, in case the battery's not recharging. In any case, try to get home/to a safe place as quickly as possible. Don't continue to run the engine with a weak/dead battery by roll starting it as this may overstrain the (usually very expensive on a bike) alternator. If the battery won't hold a charge, replace it as soon as possible.

  2. #2
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,421
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Most late-model motorcycles no longer have manual kick starters. That means if your battery dies unexpectedly you won't be able to use the electric starter to get it running. But you can "roll start" it.

    Here's how:

    * If by yourself, look around: Is there a downhill stretch of road (or in a pinch, a hill/embankment leading down to a stretch of road)?

    * Put the bike in neutral and walk/push it to your starting point at the top part of that uphill stretch. Get on the bike, being sure the ignition is in the "run" position, with the transmission still in neutral. Put the bike in first gear, and pull the clutch lever in to disengage the clutch. Get ready!

    * Use your feet, Fred Flintstone style, to get the bike rolling. Once your speed is around 10-15 mph (the faster, the better) let out the clutch lever. This will turn the engine over just as if you were using the electric starter (only you're using the bike's momentum instead of the battery/starter motor). The bike should start. If it doesn't try again.

    * If you don't have a downhill stretch of road/hill available but you do have a few friends riding with you, you may be able to use them to get the bike going. Use the same procedure, with one obvious difference: Get two or three of them (one on each side, one behind you) to get the bike rolling/up to speed. This should work just as well as the hill-start method.

    Caution: If the battery is only run down (by having accidentally left the ignition "on" for several hours, for example) the engine/alternator should be able to recharge the battery after riding for awhile (about 30 minutes or so). But avoid turning off the engine until you're either home or near another hill, in case the battery's not recharging. In any case, try to get home/to a safe place as quickly as possible. Don't continue to run the engine with a weak/dead battery by roll starting it as this may overstrain the (usually very expensive on a bike) alternator. If the battery won't hold a charge, replace it as soon as possible.
    Or, if it is merely a 'low' battery there is always the Bump Start. Put the bike into gear, pull it backwards onto compression. Pull in the clutch, run a few paces and bounce onto the seat, side saddle, simultaneously letting out the clutch, if the engine fires dip the clutch and throttle up to keep it going. Pulling the bike back onto compression, to give it the opportunity to 'spin up', before hitting compression, is vital - many years ago, in full RAF uniform, including greatcoat, with a pack on my back I tried to bump start my trusty Sunbeam B23 without pulling it back first. I ran and 'bounced', the bike which was already on (or near) compression stopped dead, I went over the bike and the bike landed on top of me. No injury but the embarrassment was enormous.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,752
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Or, if it is merely a 'low' battery there is always the Bump Start. Put the bike into gear, pull it backwards onto compression. Pull in the clutch, run a few paces and bounce onto the seat, side saddle, simultaneously letting out the clutch, if the engine fires dip the clutch and throttle up to keep it going. Pulling the bike back onto compression, to give it the opportunity to 'spin up', before hitting compression, is vital - many years ago, in full RAF uniform, including greatcoat, with a pack on my back I tried to bump start my trusty Sunbeam B23 without pulling it back first. I ran and 'bounced', the bike which was already on (or near) compression stopped dead, I went over the bike and the bike landed on top of me. No injury but the embarrassment was enormous.

    Ken.

    Yes, excellent! (But not the part about the bike landing on top of you!)

    One of the things I really like about my old ('76) Kawasaki Kz900 is that it has both electric and kick start. I usually use the kicker, just because I enjoy doing it that way...

  4. #4
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Auburn, CA & Reno, NV & Cold Springs Valley, NV
    Posts
    663
    "Put the bike in first gear, and pull the clutch lever in to disengage the clutch."

    Second gear usually works a lot better than first for this. First gear, if it does not only make the rear wheel skid when you just start to release the clutch it will often slow down the bike too fast to start.

    Try it with first and then witch second and I think you will find that second gear works better every time--with any bike. At least with any that I have owned.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  5. #5
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
    Posts
    3,421
    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    "Put the bike in first gear, and pull the clutch lever in to disengage the clutch."

    Second gear usually works a lot better than first for this. First gear, if it does not only make the rear wheel skid when you just start to release the clutch it will often slow down the bike too fast to start.

    Try it with first and then witch second and I think you will find that second gear works better every time--with any bike. At least with any that I have owned.

    -Don- SSF, CA
    Absolutely right, Don, second is nearly always the best gear. I should have mentioned that in my post as well as the important bit about pulling the bike BACK onto compression. This allows the engine time to spin up a bit before it hits compression when you drop the clutch.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Wahiawa
    Posts
    587
    All these talks about "roll starting" a motorcycle brings back memories when I was younger and driving cars and trucks with manual transmission back in the good old days when auto trans were optional (I don't recall any automatics available back then).When the car wouldn't start due to a run down battery, another car will give me a push while I'm behind the wheel, car in first or second gear---catch on faster in first..clutch engaged, and when the car reached 5-10 MPH, let go the clutch, and car would start, guaranteed.

    How do you push-start an auto trans car these days?

  7. #7
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Auburn, CA & Reno, NV & Cold Springs Valley, NV
    Posts
    663
    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan View Post

    How do you push-start an auto trans car these days?

    You don't. Carry a portable battery. I do, in all my cars (even in my manual tranny car).

    I even have a very small one for my Venture motorcycle that I take with me after my battery is a couple of years old.

    -Don- SSF, CA

Similar Threads

  1. Dead battery
    By chiph in forum Car Care & Repair
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11-09-2009, 07:00 PM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-21-2009, 09:05 AM
  3. Two kids dead in "gun free" forest
    By Eric in forum Guns, Second Amendment
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-28-2009, 08:57 AM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-20-2008, 08:09 AM
  5. Toyota and GM in "dead heat"
    By Eric in forum Automotive News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-23-2008, 11:10 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •