This Is Why Your Dirt Bike Is Hard To Kick Over

Dirt bikes are one of the most enjoyable activities and can provide a lot of entertainment when you are out on an adventure with friends and family. However, dirt bikes are not fun when you discover in the middle of your adventure that the bike will not start. After cranking that throttle and trying to turn the bike on as many times as you can, it still might not come on. You will probably start to wonder why your dirt bike will not kick over.

If your bike does not start, there are a couple of factors that can be contributing to it: either the decompression system is faulty, and there is not enough compression in your cylinders, or the mixture of the fuel in your dirt bike has too much or too little air, or your spark plugs may be faulty.

There are more reasons as to why your dirt bike might struggle to kick over. There are also guidelines you can follow that will help put you in a position where you will not have to struggle in order to get your dirt bike up and running. Finally, it can be helpful if you know how to kick start your dirt bike if all else fails. Below, we discuss all of these topics in depth!

This Is Why Your Dirt Bike Is Hard To Kick Over

If your dirt bike is difficult to start, there are a couple of factors that play a part.

The Pilot Jet

One of the factors is that the pilot jet of your dirt bike might be clogged. When it comes to carbureted bikes, the function of the pilot jet circuit is to control the flow of fuel of your bike from the idling position up to a quarter throttle.

There is a very small opening on the pilot jet, which has the potential to clog quite easily. If the orifice of the pilot jet is clogged, the pilot jet struggles to deliver the required amounts of fuel to the dirt bike’s engine. If there is not enough fuel being delivered to the engine of the dirt bike, starting it becomes quite a difficult task.

Your Bike’s Decompression System

Another reason why your bike may struggle to kick over is because of its decompression system. Some makes and models of bikes possess decompression systems that are unable to be adjusted. Some makes and/or models, for example, require a certain level of clearance between the rocker arm and compression adjusting screw that must be maintained.

From time to time, the system must be adjusted at set intervals in the same manner in which valve clearances are adjusted. If the system does not remain within its specifications and the correct clearances distort, there is more air that escapes when the decompressor lowers the compression of the engine each time the exhaust valves are opened.

If the compression in the cylinders of your engine is low, it can lead to your engine struggling to start. If the compression in the cylinders of your engine is very low, it can lead to your engine failing to start altogether.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are also known to be a large contributor to engines failing to start. Plugs that are old or worn are weaker than plugs that are brand new. If the spark plugs are too weak, they can struggle to ignite the mixture in your engine. If the mixture in your engine does not ignite, you will be stuck with an engine that does not start.

The Mixture In The Engine Of Your Bike

Finally, consideration should be given to temperature and altitude. This is the most unlikely scenario, but if you ever find yourself in a scenario where you moved from a sea-level location to a location that is thousands of feet above sea level, fuel requirements for your dirt bike will change. This is because air density varies by altitude.

If you move higher up and further away from sea level, the density of air decreases. This causes the engine to require leaner jetting to make your bike start and run properly.

The same goes for temperature. In warmer climates, the air is less dense, and your engine requires a leaner configuration to ensure the right amount of air mixes with the right amount of gas. The inverse holds for colder climates; denser air means your engine now has more air injected into it, so you have to match it with a higher concentration of fuel in order to keep the correct mixtures.

If you do not adjust your fuel requirements accordingly, your engine can struggle to start or fail to start altogether.

Guidelines On How To Make Sure Your Dirt Bike Starts Easily

It can sometimes be a headache to get your dirt bike started for reasons previously mentioned. Below are tips that can help you start your dirt bike more easily in the future to avoid the inconvenience of having to walk your dirt bike home.

Make Sure That The Engine Of Your Dirt Bike Is Properly Tuned

It might be obvious, but it is crucial that your dirt bike is in excellent mechanical condition.

One of the things to look for when determining whether or not your engine is in the appropriate mechanical condition is if the compression of the engine is sufficient. You must also look if your engine, in general, is not worn out.

You must also make sure that your dirt bike is tuned properly. Carb jetting is one of the important factors to consider here. By making sure that your carb jetting is proper, you have to ensure that the jets of your dirt bike are adjusted to make sure that the proper mixture of air and gas is used in your engine.

The carb jetting does not have to be exact and perfect; it must just be good enough to ensure that your engine can start. Once you have figured out what is required for your dirt bike to start, at the very least, you can fine-tune the jetting configuration for more efficient performance.

Use Proper Gas

When it comes to running your dirt bike properly, make sure that it has the correct fuel running in it – by correct, we mean fresh!

This can be even more problematic, especially considering the fact that gas has many extra additives. These additives can do hurt your dirt bike in two ways:

  • First, gas with many additives hurt the performance of your dirt bike.
  • Secondly, gas that contains many extra additives can go bad very quickly.

Thus, make sure you use proper gas because if your gas is too old, it might not even be fit for starting your engine.

Always Maintain Your Dirt Bike As Necessary

Maintenance is a very important factor when ensuring that your dirt bike always starts when it is supposed to. There are many things you need to do to make sure that your dirt bike is properly maintained so that it will not fail to start when you need it most.

Some things you can do to make sure that your bike is properly maintained are to change the oil regularly, clean the air filters, and doing any maintenance on a routine basis. This could be, for example, to check if your valve clearances are as they should be (if you have a four-stroke engine) or inspecting a ring and replacing it when needed (if you have a two-stroke engine).

Guidelines On How To Kick Start Your Dirt Bike If It Struggles To Kick Over

If you struggle to kick the engine of your dirt bike over, follow the steps below:

  • Use the switch that is located on the handlebars to turn your dirt bike on.
  • Make sure the dial is turned in the ‘On’ position.
  • If you are cold starting your dirt bike, pull the choke upwards (usually found on the left side of the bike).
  • Shift the bike into neutral position.
  • If you are using a four-stroke engine, crank your dirt bike’s throttle three times. 2-stroke dirt bikes do not require you to pull the throttle.
  • Pull the object that looks like a lever located on the right side of your bike out from the bike. This is the starter.
  • Put your foot on the starter that was removed from the bike in the previous step.
  • Use your foot to push the starter down. Try doing this three to four times.
  • If your bike has started, use your foot to put the starter back where you removed it.


So, if your dirt bike ever struggles to start, now you know why that is! It all boils down to maintain your bike in a manner that prevents it from ever not starting. That said, if you are ever in a situation where your dirt bike will not start, now you know how to kick start it as well!


Louis Pretorius

As an amateur off-road enthusiast, I have always been drawn to outdoor adventure. I have decided to share all of my learning experiences with you as I dig a little deeper into my new-found passion and wonderful world of off-roading. My mission is to create the Ultimate Off-roading space on the internet in the process. Stay safe and happy Off-Roading!

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