If you are looking for a new motorcycle, one of the features that you might consider is the type of starter system. There are two main types of starter systems: electric start and kick start. In this article, we will compare these two types of starter systems in terms of their advantages, disadvantages, reliability, maintenance, and cost. We will also explain how they work and what factors you should consider when choosing between them.
How do Electric Start and Kick Start Work?
An electric start system uses a battery-powered motor to turn the engine over and start it. The motor is connected to a solenoid, which is a switch that activates the motor when the ignition key is turned or a button is pressed.
The motor then spins a gear that engages with a ring gear on the flywheel of the engine. The flywheel is a heavy metal disc that stores rotational energy and helps to smooth out the engine’s power delivery. The spinning of the flywheel causes the pistons to move up and down in the cylinders, creating compression and ignition.
A kick-start system uses a lever that is attached to a shaft that goes into the engine. The lever is usually located on the right side of the motorcycle, near the footpeg. When the rider pushes down on the lever with their foot, the shaft rotates a gear that meshes with another gear on the crankshaft of the engine.
The crankshaft is a rod that connects the pistons and transfers their motion to the transmission. The rotation of the crankshaft causes the pistons to move up and down in the cylinders, creating compression and ignition.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Start and Kick Start
Electric start systems have several advantages over kick-start systems. Some of them are:
- They are easier and more convenient to use, especially for beginners or riders with physical limitations.
- They are faster and more reliable to start the engine, especially in cold or wet conditions.
- They reduce the risk of injury or damage to the rider or the motorcycle from kicking too hard or slipping off the lever.
- They eliminate the need for a decompression lever or valve, which is a device that reduces the compression in the cylinder to make it easier to kick over.
However, electric start systems also have some disadvantages compared to kick start systems. Some of them are:
- They are heavier and more complex than kick-start systems, adding weight and reducing space on the motorcycle.
- They require a battery, which can drain over time or fail due to age, corrosion, or damage.
- They can malfunction due to electrical problems, such as faulty wiring, fuses, switches, solenoids, or motors.
- They can be affected by low temperatures, which can reduce the battery’s performance or cause it to freeze.
Kickstart systems have some advantages over electric start systems as well. Some of them are:
- They are lighter and simpler than electric start systems, saving weight and increasing space on the motorcycle.
- They do not require a battery, which eliminates the need for charging or replacing it.
- They are less prone to failure due to mechanical problems, such as worn or broken gears or springs.
- They can be used in any weather condition, as long as there is enough fuel and spark in the engine.
However, kick start systems also have some disadvantages compared to electric start systems. Some of them are:
- They are harder and less convenient to use, especially for inexperienced or weak riders.
- They are slower and less reliable to start the engine, especially if it is cold or flooded.
- They increase the risk of injury or damage to the rider or the motorcycle from kicking too hard or slipping off the lever.
- They may require a decompression lever or valve, which adds another step to the starting process.
Reliability, Maintenance, and Cost of Electric Start and Kick Start
Both electric start and kick-start systems have their own reliability issues that can affect their performance. Electric start systems can fail due to electrical problems, such as faulty wiring, fuses, switches, solenoids, or motors. These problems can be caused by wear and tear, corrosion, water damage, short circuits, or loose connections.
Electric start systems can also fail due to battery problems, such as low charge, dead cells, sulfation, or freezing. These problems can be caused by age, lack of use,
overcharging, undercharging, extreme temperatures, or physical damage.
Kickstart systems can fail due to mechanical problems, such as worn or broken gears or springs. These problems can be caused by excessive use, lack of lubrication,
dirt, or impact.
Kickstart systems can also fail due to engine problems, such as low compression,
poor fuel delivery, or weak spark. These problems can be caused by worn or damaged pistons, rings, valves, carburetors, or spark plugs.
Both electric start and kick-start systems require regular maintenance to keep them in good working condition. Electric start systems require periodic inspection and testing of the battery, wiring, fuses, switches, solenoids, and motors. They also require occasional charging or replacement of the battery, depending on its age and usage.
Kickstart systems require periodic inspection and lubrication of the lever, shaft, gears, and springs. They also require occasional adjustment or replacement of the decompression lever or valve, if present.
The cost of electric start and kick-start systems can vary depending on the type, model, and quality of the motorcycle and its components. Generally speaking, electric start systems are more expensive than kick-start systems, both in terms of initial purchase and ongoing maintenance.
Kickstart systems are cheaper and simpler than electric start systems, as they do not require a battery or much wiring. However, they may require a decompression lever or valve, which can add some cost and complexity to the motorcycle.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Electric Start and Kick Start
When choosing between electric start and kick-start systems for your motorcycle, there are several factors that you should consider. Some of them are:
- Your personal preference and comfort level. Some riders prefer the ease and convenience of electric start systems, while others enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of kick-start systems.
- Your physical ability and strength. Some riders may find it difficult or painful to kick over a motorcycle, especially if it has a high compression ratio or a large engine displacement. Electric start systems can make it easier for them to start their motorcycles.
- Your riding style and frequency. Some riders may use their motorcycles frequently or for long distances, which can drain the battery of electric start systems. Kickstart systems can be more reliable and convenient for them, as they do not depend on the battery’s charge.
- Your riding environment and conditions. Some riders may ride their motorcycles in cold or wet weather, which can affect the performance of electric start systems. Kickstart systems can be more suitable for them, as they are not affected by low temperatures or moisture.
- Your budget and maintenance skills. Some riders may have a limited budget or lack the skills to maintain their motorcycles properly. Electric start systems can be more expensive and complex than kick-start systems, both in terms of initial purchase and ongoing maintenance. Kickstart systems can be more affordable and simple than electric start systems, as they do not require much money or expertise to keep them in good working condition.
Table of Comparison
|eature||Electric Start||Kick Start|
|Starting Mechanism||Powered by an electric motor and a battery||Requires manual force applied by foot|
|Ease of Use||Simple and convenient; push-button operation||Requires physical effort and coordination|
|Reliability||Highly reliable; consistent starting performance||Dependent on user technique and strength|
|Starting Time||Instant; engine starts immediately||May require multiple attempts, especially when cold|
|Battery Dependency||Requires a charged battery for starting||Independent of battery; no dependency|
|Starting in Cold||Can start easily in cold weather conditions||May be more challenging in cold temperatures|
|Maintenance||Minimal maintenance; periodic battery checks||No specific maintenance requirements|
|Cost||Generally higher initial cost for electric start||Lower initial cost; no additional components|
|Additional Features||Can have added safety features like immobilizers||Typically lacks additional features|
|User Convenience||Ideal for frequent starts or stop-and-go situations||Suited for riders experienced with kick starting|
|Weight||Slightly heavier due to additional components||Slightly lighter due to simpler construction|
|Noise||Silent operation during starting process||Audible noise generated during kick starting|
|Compatibility||Compatible with a wide range of engine sizes||Commonly found in smaller or older motorcycles|
|Market Availability||Increasingly common in modern motorcycles||Common and widely available in most motorcycles|
Electric start and kick start systems are two different types of starter systems for motorcycles. They have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of ease of use, reliability, maintenance, and cost. They also work differently, using either a battery-powered motor or a foot-operated lever to turn the engine over and start it. When choosing between them, you should consider your personal preference, physical ability, riding style, riding environment, budget, and maintenance skills. Ultimately, the best starter system for you is the one that suits your needs and preferences the most.
Have you heard of Anti-lock Breaking System [ABS].