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Do electric start only (no backup kicker) dirt bikes really leave owners stranded?

Do electric start only (no backup kicker) dirt bikes really leave owners stranded?  

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  1. 1. What's been your experience with electric start only dirt bikes (no backup kicker):

    • None of my electric start only dirt bikes have left me stranded because of a starting system issue.
      341
    • None of my riding buddies electric start only dirt bikes have left them stranded because of a starting system issue.
      153
    • My electric start only dirt bikes have left me stranded because of a starting system issue.
      83
    • My buddies electric start only dirt bikes have left them stranded because of a starting system issue.
      72


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Story time!

So there we were. My best riding buddy and I. Riding where we had no business being. The trail finally "opened up" (to a sandy creek bed littered with basketball size and bigger rocks) so we decided to turn off the bikes and take a breather. A few minutes later, we put our helmets back on and started down the trail. About 10 minutes later I reach the next clearing and shut the bike off. I'm waiting for my buddy and after 10 minutes I start to get concerned that he hasn't caught up and I can't hear him in the canyon so I decided to go find him.

As I'm cautiously backtracking, expecting to find him unconscious in the rocks or off the side of a ledge, I'm getting even more nervous as I enter the rock strewn sandy creek bed and still haven't found him. The "trails" here are so seldom traveled that it would be easy to mistake a seldomly used game trail as "the way." Did he follow Cucuy into an alternate world?

A moment later I round the last corner to the last place I'd seen him, and there he was, seat and side panels off, makeshift jumper cables (pretty much just speaker wire with alligator clips that he stuffed in his battery box as soon as he bought his bike new) held up in his hands with an irritated look on his face. I laughed as I pulled up next to him and popped my seat off to give him a jump start. 

After several failed attempts, I decided to just pull my battery out and install it in his bike. No dice. A dead battery was not the culprit. The deep sand mixed with rocks meant we were NOT gonna bump start it... but we tried anyway. Nope. I broke out my tow strap and attempted to drag him out. Well, that didn't turn out so great either (for him, I had a great time!) I got us both moving and a few feet later his front end tucked and I drug him and his bike over a few more rocks (sorry Dozer!) We finally gave in to just having to drag his bike out of the creek and finding some harder ground to try to get him bump started. After an exhausting ~40 minutes we found almost 20' of smooth(ish) hard dirt and knew this was our last chance to get it started before we'd give up and have to ride out doubles.

After a couple tries, we finally got it to light. We had already discussed that if he got it started, he was NOT to stop for any reason until he reached a predetermine point on a fire road about 15 miles away (where we could get a truck if needed) so he took off. I figured that after some quicker paced riding, his battery would have either recharged, or would be completely dead if it had been a problem with his stator. When we stopped again, he turned the key, lights came on, fuel pump primed, horn honked, etc., so he tried the starter and still had nothing. No worries now as we were 6,000' up on a fire road now so he bump started himself with help from the road's decline, and we rode the 50-55 miles home without stopping.

Back at my house, we started pulling things apart and testing. I removed the starter and gave it direct power and instead of spinning, it turned all that power into heat, real fast. I disassembled the starter to find that it had carbon tracked the brushes between every segment of the commutator. I scraped them all clean and reassembled and everything worked perfectly again. 

That particular Husky had just over 2k miles on it at that point. There's been other hiccups along the way, but he never trusted that bike anywhere that you couldn't get to with a truck since that day. He still has it, but takes his trusty XR400 (kickstart only, acquired since the no-start incident) dualsport 99 times out of... 99 times now. He swears he will never own a bike without a kickstarter again.

I myself am not opposed to e-start only so long as the system is robust, and it's unlikely that I'll buy another full size 4t without an e-start in the future. My cars don't have a hand crank on the front either, even though those Model T guys tell me electric starters are unreliable.

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1 hour ago, DGXR said:

How often do riders find themselves in situations where every direction is uphill?  Devil's buttcrack, perhaps. 

Yes a kickstarter is a good backup but bikes can be bump started.  You just have to know what you are doing.

Try bumpstarting a 450 on a flat wet slippery track/trail and get back to Me.

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I've not had any issues with my e-start only bikes.  But I always ensure I start the day with a fully charged battery.

Fuel injected bikes that have a capacitor (on condensator as KTM calls them) can be bump started with no battery or completely failed battery.   That includes the latest generation KTM cross country bikes ( XC-F / FX, XC, TX).  Oddly the enduro bikes (XC-W, TX) don't have the capacitor.  The part from the cross country bikes can be added to the enduro bikes but it has to be wired directly to the battery.

Doc

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1 hour ago, DGXR said:

How often do riders find themselves in situations where every direction is uphill?  Devil's buttcrack, perhaps. 

Yes a kickstarter is a good backup but bikes can be bump started.  You just have to know what you are doing.

Or in the mud in the rocks. .. it’s simple. Put a kicker and estart. There’s a lot of places here where no way are you bump starting in the mud. The suck part of getting a jump pack is that’s another thing to carry in your pack and the other thing is it’s more maintenance as you have to charge that pack too so you have to put that on charge in before every ride. That’s pretty stupid. Just have a kicker on your bike. Don’t have to do that extra work every time you ride and put that shit on your back. A kicker bike is better than an only estart bike. Best is kicker and estart bike. 

Edited by hawaiidirtrider
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5 minutes ago, hawaiidirtrider said:

Or in the mud in the rocks. .. it’s simple. Put a kicker and estart. There’s a lot of places here where no way are you bump starting in the mud. The suck part of getting a jump pack is that’s another thing to carry in your pack and the other thing is it’s more maintenance as you have to charge that pack too so you have to put that on charge in before every ride. That’s pretty stupid. Just have a kicker on your bike. Don’t have to do that extra work every time you ride and put that shit on your back. A kicker bike is better than an only estart bike. Best is kicker and estart bike. 

You only have to charge a jump pack back up after you use it.  That is pretty much a non-issue.

The jump pack under the rear seat in my pickup truck sat for three years without being charged, pulled it out, jump started the diesel Bobcat out at the MX track, charged it back up, put it back away.

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I had a drz400e e start only ...never left me stranded same battery for 5 years just put on trickle charger ....warrior e start has left me stranded 

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hell yeah electric start bikes will leave you stranded my my buddy has a 2021 crf 250f and his battery died after taking a 30min break out on the dunes and then i rode my neighbors crf 150f from 2016 and the battery quit to so no i dont recommend electric start only bikes they will strand you one way or another a backup kicker is a must.

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2 hours ago, eastreich said:

You only have to charge a jump pack back up after you use it.  That is pretty much a non-issue.

The jump pack under the rear seat in my pickup truck sat for three years without being charged, pulled it out, jump started the diesel Bobcat out at the MX track, charged it back up, put it back away.

To each their own but I don’t want to carry that on my bike riding. I don’t want a jump pack at all. To me that’s  only for those who want with estart bikes only . The last brand new jump pack I had from Costco was fully charged. A month later it didn’t start my van. No sense carry one on your back for months then it doesn’t work when you need it. You have to maintain the jump pack. That’s a pain in the ass when all I have to do is kick. 
For the last few years Ive seen Holcombe racing his 300 race edition Beta with a kicker. I found that interesting for race edition Betas don’t come with a kicker and the reasoning was weight ? But then a kicker is on a variety of years of Enduro world championship Holcombe Betas ??? Obviously it’s more important than weight. 
 


 

 

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Edited by hawaiidirtrider
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Just now, hawaiidirtrider said:

To each their own but I don’t want to carry that on my bike riding. I don’t want a jump pack at all. To me that’s  only for those who want with estart bikes only . The last brand new jump pack I had from Costco was fully charged. A month later it didn’t start my van. No sense carry one on your back for months then it doesn’t work when you need it. You have to maintain the jump pack. That’s a pain in the ass when all I have to do is kick. 
For the last few years Ive seen Holcombe racing his 300 race edition Beta with a kicker. I found that interesting for race edition Betas don’t come with a kicker and the reasoning was weight ? But then a kicker is on a variety of years of Enduro world championship Holcombe Betas ??? Obviously it’s more important than weight. 

Whatever makes you happy.  

A dirt bike capable jump pack these days doesn't weigh or take up any more space in a pack than two energy bars (or a PopTart for those fat guys like me) and if you buy a quality one it doesn't need any maintenance.  I shop at Costco.  I wouldn't call most of the stuff there quality unless I just happened to be at Walmart a few minutes earlier and even that may be a stretch.

Buy cheap, get cheap.

Just like the tools, spares, medical supplies, and Spot tracker that I carry; I don't have that stuff for my own use.  It is to help out someone else that I may come across on the trails or in my travels (if I am not riding, my pack typically stays in the backseat of my truck) that may be in distress.

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Geez, who knew a 7oz jump pack was such a source of drama! 

Or run an Antigravity with restart if you absolutely can't stand that extra 7oz. 

And, what a race bike has to do with being left stranded is beyond me.

 

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On 11/11/2020 at 1:15 PM, motovita said:

 Having multiple starting systems is certainly nice, but how come nobody worried about breaking their kickstarter when it was their only starting method?

I broke half of the kickstarter off on my RMZ-450 with a Rekluse. Try starting a 450 with only have of the lever! haha. Wrapping some tape around it helped get enough traction.

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22 minutes ago, eastreich said:

Whatever makes you happy.  

A dirt bike capable jump pack these days doesn't weigh or take up any more space in a pack than two energy bars (or a PopTart for those fat guys like me) and if you buy a quality one it doesn't need any maintenance.  I shop at Costco.  I wouldn't call most of the stuff there quality unless I just happened to be at Walmart a few minutes earlier and even that may be a stretch.

Buy cheap, get cheap.

Just like the tools, spares, medical supplies, and Spot tracker that I carry; I don't have that stuff for my own use.  It is to help out someone else that I may come across on the trails or in my travels (if I am not riding, my pack typically stays in the backseat of my truck) that may be in distress.

If you have a choice of not carrying a jump pack or not what would you choose? Nothing right? 

You are carrying a jump pack now because manufacturers went cheap and are forcing no kickers down riders throats whether they like it or not. You are ok with that. Some aren’t. I don’t even like it that Beta took off kickers off their bikes when it used to come stock. At least there is still the option  get em. That was good with Gasgas before ktm. Maybe Rieju will have estart and kicker. I wonder if jotagas will have kicker and estart? A friend got a 6 days ktm 300? I think? And he installed a kicker. Why is a kicker controversial? It should be that the rider should get what he wants. Weight is a bs rationale by manufacturers. It’s cover for giving less and charging the same or more. 
As far as Costco? Costco carries as good a jump pack as anywhere else. It’s not high end tech....And with good return policy. 
 

Edited by hawaiidirtrider

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15 minutes ago, RyanE33 said:

I broke half of the kickstarter off on my RMZ-450 with a Rekluse. Try starting a 450 with only have of the lever! haha. Wrapping some tape around it helped get enough traction.

YZ 250’s have the kicker shaft as a weak point . They are known to crack. It’s another reason why I kept my cr 250 Honda before. The kicker bolt would get loose on my cr and sometimes the kicker would fall off. O put locktite and silicone snd that works. I could have safety wired too I guess. 

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5 minutes ago, hawaiidirtrider said:

YZ 250’s have the kicker shaft as a weak point . They are known to crack. It’s another reason why I kept my cr 250 Honda before. The kicker bolt would get loose on my cr and sometimes the kicker would fall off. O put locktite and silicone snd that works. I could have safety wired too I guess. 

My kickstarter was going on like 200+ hours and 6 years, I am surprised it lasted so long, haha. Only half broke off so I still got a couple days of riding in with it broken. A button would've been nice....

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12 minutes ago, hawaiidirtrider said:

YZ 250’s have the kicker shaft as a weak point . They are known to crack. It’s another reason why I kept my cr 250 Honda before. The kicker bolt would get loose on my cr and sometimes the kicker would fall off. O put locktite and silicone snd that works. I could have safety wired too I guess. 

I’ve been noticing my kicker bolt loosens up after ever other ride with a ktm 300 ...I’ve lock tit last ride we will see if it lasts  

Edited by Doom22

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3 hours ago, DEATH_INC. said:

Try bumpstarting a 450 on a flat wet slippery track/trail and get back to Me.

 

 This thread reminded me of once when I was leading a local Hare Scramble race with only a couple of laps to go. I locked the rear wheel going into a flat slippery corner and killed the engine on my 450 Maico, I flipped the kick lever out for a quick restart and promptly broke it off. I was able to run and bump start the bike on flat ground (those were the days) and carefully, to make sure I didn't stall again, finish the race for the win.

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20 hours ago, JMundy said:

Sure if they didnt wreck it would not have happened 🙂

just fluke incidences.  Friend wrecked in rocks and the way the bike fell and bars turned just right a rock smashed button.   My wife, wrecking into trees, branch grabbed wires somehow and ripped them out.

1:1000 odds of it happening but it can happen

Ya the way I look at it (and can depend on where/how you ride) is there can be failures with estart, kickstart or E/kick start bikes.

Then you can not for see everything IE (throttle cable snaps, crack a case and loose all the oil etc etc) so now the obvious things and do your best to be prepared for those.

I'm not going though all the things I prepare for with by estart only and kinkstart only bikes cus I'm sure most of them have been covered but like NOT getting lost or NOT running out of gas, channel you're inner Boy Scout or Girl Guide 🙂

 

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Everyone talking about jump packs, nobody talking about cables? I can fit a small set of jumper wires inside my bike and you’d never know it’s there. It’s nice to have some spare wire on the trail anyway in case some of your wiring gets ripped up and you have to fix it on the trails. Hasn’t ever happened on dirt bikes, but has happened to a friend while riding atvs way back.

Also you can bump start a bike in place using the rear wheel of another bike - get your buddy to face his bike the opposite way, you both lean the bikes on their kick stands and lift the rear wheels up (like doing a kickstand pivot on a street bike), put his rear wheel against your rear wheel and have him put it in gear and give it some gas. His rear wheel will spin your rear wheel, you pop the clutch and boom, bump started in place. Basically the same way they start MotoGP bikes. If it’s good enough for MotoGP it’s good enough for me that’s what I always say. 

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1 hour ago, hawaiidirtrider said:

YZ 250’s have the kicker shaft as a weak point . They are known to crack. It’s another reason why I kept my cr 250 Honda before. The kicker bolt would get loose on my cr and sometimes the kicker would fall off. O put locktite and silicone snd that works. I could have safety wired too I guess. 

The shaft is hollow, fill it with JB weld problem solved

Edit: this is a joke (kind of), no proof JB weld would prevent it I just love suggesting JB. BUT afaik there’s no documentation of a JB welded shaft ever failing, so... :thinking:

Edited by OKDinosaur

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