How to Bump Start a Dirt Bike (4 Easy Steps that Work Every Time)

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Batteries will die on dirt bikes, it’s just the way life goes. However, there is a solution to just this sort of thing happening, and I am here to teach you how to bump-start your dirt bike really simply.

To bump start a dirt bike in four easy steps that won’t fail, find a hill to get a “running start,” hold the clutch in while coasting, move up to second or third gear, and then, once up to speed, release the clutch. Bump starting can be done without help from another person if necessary.

In order to find out more about these steps and how they won’t ever fail you, even when you are by yourself, read on for more!

Bump Starting

Sometimes batteries die; it just happens. Whether your dirt bike is incredibly old and you think there’s still a little juice left, or there have been just one too many adventures with thousands of miles, batteries die after a while of good and playful use.

However, there is a solution to getting around this little problem, when necessary. The system can be overridden, and it’s as simple as finding the nearest hill to push your dirt bike down. This can be done with your partner if one happens to be around, or it can be done by yourself, it’s just that simple!

On the other hand, it is important to understand that continually bump-starting your dirt bike is not a solution to all of the problems. It is important to get your dirt bike checked out when necessary and needed, especially if the battery has gone rotten.

Things to Check to See if You Need a Bump Start

There are other factors that could be behind the reason that your dirt bike stopping. Sometimes, your bike not starting doesn’t need to be bump started to solve the problem.

Some other things to consider before simply bump starting your dirt bike is, first of all, the gas tank. Make sure that the problem is not just an empty tank. Sometimes all that is wrong is that you have forgotten to fill up before leaving on a dirt biking adventure. This is a simple fix but can be difficult if you’ve already ridden super far. Make sure to check the gas tank before you leave; it’s a great safety precaution and a good habit to get into.

If your bike has been sitting for a while, then the battery could definitely be dead, along with a large majority of the components that are inside the dirt bike. Bikes that haven’t received attention in several months (or even a year or two) the battery has little to no juice, along with other things. Check your dirt bike thoroughly, and possibly even consider taking it in for an inspection and check-up before going for a long ride.

Another cause of your dirt bike not starting could be that your carburetor is clogged. Something to consider doing is cleaning out your jetting and carburetor. They may be clogged with dirt and grime over numerous rides. If this is the problem, it’s a simple fix that you can do by yourself and can be done within an hour.

Something a little more dangerous to consider is the fact that a chain may be loose. When a chain is loose, it can come completely undone and swing around to either harm you or cause damage to other parts of the bike. This is considerably worse and should be something that is continuously checked before ever getting on the bike.

And after checking all of these, consider how old the battery and/or bike is. If you use your dirt bike more recreationally and take annual care of it, it can last three years. If you go on really hard rides and constantly run your bike, you may have killed the battery faster.

Consider how often you use your bike and how rough you use it. This plays greatly into the longevity of the life of the battery. You may need to invest in getting a new battery rather than just bump starting your bike, especially if you are about to embark on a trip.

Step One – Find a Hill

After checking for all of the possible dilemmas above, you are now ready to bump-start your dirt bike. If you are by yourself, this a really simple way of bump starting your dirt bike without having to unnecessarily jump onto the dirt bike while trying to get a running start.

Try and find a hill with a good slope so you get a decent amount of speed and momentum going. The hill should be sloped and large enough that it gives you enough space and time to get the bike going. You will want enough speed in order to shift the bike up into second or third gear, depending on what is necessary to give the battery the life it needs.

The larger the hill, the more speed your bike will gain and it will get your battery kicked back to life.

Step Two – Hold the Clutch While Catching Speed

As you are going downhill you will begin to coast. Grip the clutch once you are coasting. Whenever you start your bike, of course, you grip the clutch. It gives the bike the necessary means to get started and the engine responds in the way it needs to start.

When pulling in the clutch, you’re getting ready to shift up. By doing this, you will get the bike up to a speed that is comfortable.

Step Three – Shift into Second or Third Gear

After you’ve gotten into a coasting phase, and while still gripping the clutch, begin shifting your bike into second or third gear.

When shifting into gear, it is important to remember to keep it at second or third gear. When your bike kicks in, you don’t want to be in the first gear, as it will give a kick as the engine fires into motion. It’s safe to say that second or third gear won’t buck you off of the bike as your battery roars back to life.

Step Four – Once at Speed, Release Clutch

Once your bike has found a comfortable coasting place, slowly release the clutch.

If you found a much larger hill, you can release the clutch more quickly. This is because you have already found a comfortable speed that your bike doesn’t need to be slowly cradled by a gentle touch. You really want to slingshot your bike into speed, so try not to use the clutch too horribly much, as it is less likely to get your bike moving.

Your bike should be coasting at this point, which means you have successfully bump started your dirt bike, and you are ready for riding. (But this all depends on the life of your battery, how old it is, and things like that. Ride with caution.)

If it Doesn’t Work, the Bike is Broken

In all honesty, it is just as simple as that. If you have tried to bump-start your bike more than once, then it definitely isn’t working. It really isn’t a good thing to repeatedly bump-start your dirt bike. It wears on things that are already starting to become worn out and aged.

It is extremely important to proceed with caution when trying to bump start your dirt bike. It’s as simple as thinking that if it doesn’t work the first time around that the bike is broken and there are more underlying problems than just the fact that the battery may be dead. It is then time to go and consider talking to a mechanic who can look more closely at things.

Do not try to bump-start your dirt bike without planning ahead. If you get going down a hill, and nothing happens, how do you plan to get the bike back up? Before ever getting started, think about if it doesn’t work, you need to be able to retrieve your bike either with another bike or a truck, or whatever means you need to get it back home.

When You Should and Shouldn’t Bump Start the Bike

There is a time and a place for everything, and that includes bump starting one’s dirt bike. There are weather conditions to look out for, if the bike has stopped working, and a few other things to consider as well. Here are some things to think about and when you should and should not bump-start your dirt bike.

If it has recently rained and it is really muddy outside, it’s not a good time to go riding and try and bump-start your dirt bike. If your dirt bike is already in need of a bump start, the rain and mud is definitely not a good time to go and try to get your dirt bike going. Getting mud stuck everywhere and struggling to get down a hill without slipping is not a swell idea. Trust me, it will cause you more trouble than necessary.

If the bike has died, it’s not worth the bump start. If your bike has died, the battery is kapoot, no longer available, and will not be requiring a bump start because there is nothing to bump start.

If you try to bump start with a dead bike you will ride down a hill, unnecessarily, and will get stuck trying to push a dead bike back all the way to wear your trailer is, or wherever your home may be. It’s important to be cautious with a dead bike, you may be pushing it farther than necessary.

If you’re out riding, and it stops working, don’t try and continually bump start. Doing so wears on the entirety of the bike, not just the battery. Plus, this will cause more damage than just a dead battery. Try bump starting just once, and if nothing works, then possibly try a second time, but more than that is not good on the entirety of the bike.

Now that we’ve got the worse case ways out of the way, here some places where you can bump-start your dirt bike.

For starters, good weather is always an option. If your dirt bike has sat for a few days and needs a little pick-me-up, then a simple bump-start is a great way to get the bike going again. There are many videos on this, and it’s an easy fix to a very easy problem. Sunny days, with maybe a scattering of clouds, is great weather for bump starting.

If you’ve been out riding for a while, and your bike spontaneously dies, but you know the battery is in good condition and you take care of your bike with annual check-ups, a bump start is effective in this situation. Sometimes bikes become “exhausted,” which is easily fixed and finding a hill or little jump on a track are both plausible options to fix your little battery blip.

If the connections on your battery are going bad, it’s a good idea to give your dirt bike a quick jump start, but also go home and consider changing out anything that is corroded or missing so as to not have to continuously jump start your bike. Bump starting really is a temporary fix to a small problem, it’s not something to repeatedly rely on and use.

How Long to Ride the Bike to Charge the Battery

Your dirt bike should be going at least ten miles an hour to bump start the dirt bike appropriately.

It may appear not easy to tell how fast you should be going and what speed your bike needs to be going to get it kicked back into gear. But, here’s the thing, you need to get into a fast enough glide that your wheels are moving at an appropriate speed that will coax the battery back into life. It should take at least ten seconds to get your bike moving in a fast enough direction that it recognizes the need to start.

When you are by yourself, riding a dirt bike through the mountains, and the battery dies, you are going to have to ride the bike to charge the battery. You’ll have to ride around for a while in order to get the bike up into first, second, and then third gear, and this may seem like a feat.

Trouble-Shooting Tips

Some of these things may make a lot of sense and may appear to be one of those “duh” moments, but it’s still important to consider these troubleshooting tips when going out riding. This is especially true if you’re by yourself and no one’s there to bring you help. Here are two things you should bring just in case your battery dies and you need more than just a bump start.

  1. Consider bringing a tow strap. If you are unable to bump-start your dirt bike after the second try, it’s time to tow, especially if your dirt bike is stuck, maybe even at the bottom of the hill, and you’re going to need more help than you originally thought.
  2. Another pro tip is making sure there’s fuel. In most dirt bikes there is a reserve tank, and you can keep that on if you are riding long distances and want the simple freedom of riding along the trails for hours. However, if you think your bike has run out, consider tipping the dirt bike on its side, as some of the fuel gets trapped and just needs a little coaxing to start the bike up again.

Having a functioning battery is what everyone desires in their dirt bike. Whether you’ve been riding the battery for the past six months, or it’s fresh off the market and sitting pristinely in your dirt bike, these steps will help no matter what may happen on your adventures across the country or in your own backyard.

Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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