As an avid dirt biker, you’ve probably noticed that dirt bikes don’t have traditional keys like cars do. So how do you start that dirt bike engine then? Well, it’s time to kickstart this guide and electrify your dirt biking knowledge!
In this handbook, we’ll cover all the ins and outs of starting up a dirt bike engine without keys. From kick starts to electric starts, security tricks to theft prevention, and maintenance must-haves to key ignition installations, we’ve got the full teardown on how to handle dirt bikes without keys. Buckle up your helmet and get ready to rip into the need-to-know details from engine sparks to storage locks. Let’s hit the trails to decrypting dirt bike keys!
How Dirt Bikes Start Their Engines
Unlike your standard sedan, dirt bikes have some unique ways of bringing their engines to life. Let’s explore the kick start and electric start systems that get your bike buzzing.
Kickstarting Your Engine
Kick starts are the OG method for starting up dirt bike engines. They use a spring-loaded lever that you push down with your foot to manually turn over the engine. But how it works varies a bit between 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines.
On a 2-stroke dirt bike, you’ll usually only need one solid kick to that lever to spark the engine and get rolling. Just make sure you’re in neutral first!
4-stroke engines require a bit more finesse. You’ll need to “prime” the engine by slowly pushing the kick starter up and down to warm things up first. Once primed, you can give it a firm kickdown to fire it up.
It takes some getting used to, but kick starts are simple and reliable once you get the hang of it. Just be sure to keep that kick lever maintained and lubricated for smooth starts.
Firing Up With Electric Starts
Electric start systems are also common on modern dirt bikes. They use a battery (rather than your foot!) to turn over the engine when you hit the start button.
Electric starts are super convenient – just press and go! But they do rely on battery charge, so you have to stay on top of maintaining that starter battery. A dead battery means getting your kick start workout.
Many dirt bikes actually have both electric and kick start systems. This gives you a backup manual starting option if the electric start fails.
Both start types have their pros and cons, so choose what fits your riding style! Electric gives convenience, while kick start ensures reliability.
Do Dirt Bikes Use Keys?
Now you might be wondering, where are the keys in all this? Do dirt bikes even use keys?
The answer is most dirt bikes actually don’t have key ignitions like cars. There are a few good reasons behind ditching keys:
- Weight savings – Keys and ignition switches add unnecessary pounds to an off-road machine.
- No theft deterrent needed – Dirt bikes are rarely left unattended in public areas, so keyed ignitions aren’t providing much security.
- Keys get in the way – Can you imagine trying to fish for keys wearing muddy motocross gloves in the middle of a race? No thanks!
However, some newer dirt bike models may include key ignitions as an option for additional security. But kick starting remains the primary engine firing method.
So in most cases, dirt bikes are keyless creatures designed for performance and reliability rather than anti-theft measures. Let your feet and the start button do the ignition work!
Securing Your Dirt Bike From Theft
Just because dirt bikes don’t use keyed ignitions doesn’t mean you can’t take measures to protect your bike. Let’s explore some key ways to lock down security.
Getting a Lock On It
A sturdy lock is one of the simplest protections for preventing unauthorized use and theft.
For the frame, a hardened steel cable lock can be threaded through the frame and wheels. Chains with padded shackles also deter cutting.
For the wheels, you can use disc locks or rim locks. These fit over the brake disc or wheel rim to prevent rolling. Just don’t forget to remove them before riding off!
Shielding It Indoors
Storing your dirt bike inside is ideal for security. Lock it up in a garage or shed to keep it safely stowed away.
Short on space? You can try squeezing it into a basement or laundry room as a last resort. Just lay down tarps because, well…it’s a dirt bike!
Hiding It Outdoors
If indoor storage isn’t possible, look for hidden spots in a fenced yard or patio to conceal your bike. Just be sure to lock it up, cover it, and never leave it unattended for long.
Sounding the Alarm
Alarm systems can alert you if someone tries to move or tamper with your locked up bike. Steering wheel locks with motion sensors are one option.
Tracking It Down
GPS trackers are invaluable if your bike does get swiped. Hidden tracking devices can transmit location data so you can recover your stolen bike.
Making It Identifiable
Custom paint jobs, decals, and aftermarket parts help make your bike stand out. This unique look makes it harder for thieves to disguise.
Shutting It Down Remotely
Kill switches let you disable the ignition system remotely if your bike gets stolen. Just flip the switch covertly installed somewhere and the engine won’t run.
Insuring Your Investment
Comprehensive dirt bike insurance should cover theft and damage in case all else fails. Make sure you have coverage for all your security and custom add-ons too.
Get creative with chains, alarms, trackers and anything to make your bike a less appealing target. Deterrence and fast recovery is key!
Installing a Key Ignition on a Dirt Bike
Even though they aren’t common from the factory, you can install a key ignition on your dirt bike for extra security.
Aftermarket ignition switch kits are made by companies like Trail Tech. You’ll need to do some rewiring to integrate it with your bike’s electrical system.
Make sure to use dielectric grease on the connections to prevent corrosion. Double check all wires are properly matched and secured too.
Soldering any splice connections instead of just taping them helps strengthen the wiring bond as well. Don’t skip the test run before buttoning it all up!
You’ll also want to hide the key switch in an inconspicuous spot so thieves can’t easily tamper with it. Mounting under the seat or behind plastics are common stealth locations.
A keyed ignition only deters amateurs though. A skilled thief could still bypass the switch and hotwire your bike. So make sure to combine the key with plenty of locks, chains and disc brakes for maximum security.
Dirt Bike Maintenance and Modifications
Don’t let gunked up maintenance issues leave you kicking endlessly to start your dirt bike. Stay on top of tune-ups to keep things firing properly.
Make sure to frequently clean your kick start lever and mechanism. Lubricate the joints and linkages with light oil or spray lubricant to prevent sticking.
Check electric start battery terminal connections are tight and corrosion-free for reliable cranking power. Keep the battery charged if you’ll be using electric start a lot.
Adjusting your clutch and valves can also make starting easier when they’re in proper spec. And don’t ignore general engine maintenance – fresh plugs, clean air filters, and proper carb tuning all promote easier starting.
If you do install any key ignitions, lighting kits or other electrical mods, use dielectric grease on connections and avoid simply crimping or taping wires. Proper soldering and insulation avoids headaches down the trail.
Stick to the service manual schedules, swap in fresh oil and filters regularly, and wash off heavy mud after rides to keep your bike happily humming along. Your starter systems will thank you!
That wraps up our full rundown on dirt bike keys and starting secrets! To recap, most dirt bikes rely on kick starts and electric starters rather than keyed ignitions to fire up. Keys aren’t really suited for off-road riding conditions.
But that doesn’t mean leaving your bike unsecured. Locks, trackers, indoor storage and alarms should all be part of your protection strategy. For extra security, an aftermarket key ignition can also be installed with some mechanical know-how.
Whatever you choose for managing your kick start or electric start system, stay diligent with proper maintenance and tune-ups. A smoothly running engine makes getting your dirt bike started a breeze!
Now it’s time to go get muddy, just don’t forget where you hid that spare key. Dirt bike on!
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.