This video covers starting the motorcycle engine and checking the oil. If you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely, these videos will be a good place to start. This is the fourth video for my learn to ride a motorcycle series.
If you would like to play all of the videos in the series starting with the first video, click here: YouTube Playlist .
I have included links to the other videos in the series and other helpful links at the bottom of this page.
The transcript is below if you prefer reading.
(Sound of pencil scratching.)
(Motorcycle sounds throughout: switches clicking, gears moving, engine starting and running.)
[Use this information at your own risk. By watching these videos you consent to indemnify me, my company, and any employees from all liability for anything.]
This video will cover starting the motorcycle and checking the oil.
Sit on the bike using the technique shown in the previous video. Leaning the motorcycle side to side will assist with becoming more comfortable with the motorcycles weight. Putting the side stand or center stand down and sitting on the motorcycle with your feet on the pegs will also assist with that. In this case, I forgot to put my feet up!
MSF uses the acronym FINE-C for their starting procedure. FINE-C stands for: fuel supply valve, ignition switch, neutral, engine cut-off switch, and the choke and clutch. Turn the fuel selector to on. Turn the ignition switch to start. To ensure the motorcycle is in neutral look at the green neutral indicator — here it is not illuminated so it is not in neutral — and try roll the motorcycle more than a few inches back and fourth WITHOUT the clutch lever squeezed. Here again it does not roll freely so it is not in neutral. Now this bike is in neutral; the green light is illuminated and it rolled freely. I will show how to find neutral next. On the side of this bike is the shift pattern. First is at the bottom, neutral is right above that, and 2nd is next. We will use the shift lever near the left footpeg to find neutral. Shift the gears all the way to the bottom. You can know it is there because you will not hear any clicks and the shifting will feel different; there will be no resistance. You may have to move the motorcycle back and fourth slightly to shift. Lift up. If you listen and feel closely you may hear and feel two clicks. That means it is going PAST neutral into second. That is okay, because you may also push down slightly from second to go into neutral. You will hear and feel it move into place. It will roll freely and the green neutral indicator light will illuminate. Shift to the bottom again and lift the lever with your foot very slowly until you hear and feel a single click. Verify again that it is in neutral. If you go too far there will be two clicks as it goes past neutral again. Here it is in neutral again. This is an exception to the always use the clutch lever to shift rule. When the motorcycle is not running and not moving it won't matter if you use it or not.
We can see the same process from another view. I am shifting down all the way. Here I will go past neutral into first. Lifting up slightly brings me into neutral. Now I shifted down to first, went up past neutral into second, and down slightly into neutral. This is about the amount of time it actually takes to find neutral. The switch by the front brake lever is the engine cut-off switch. We should always use it to stop the motorcycle engine. Practice switching it a few times. Lets switch it to run and leave it. Now enable the choke if it hasn't been started for some time, squeeze the clutch, and start the engine by pushing on the starter button on the right handlebar. It should start. After it starts and has run for a bit you can turn the choke off. The shut down procedure is quicker: move the engine cut off switch to off, turn the ignition off, and the fuel off. If it didn't start verify that the: side stand is up, the fuel is on, the ignition is on, it is in neutral, the engine cut-off switch is to run, the choke is on, and the clutch is fully squeezed. Sometimes you must twist the throttle slightly while the engine is turning over to start it but avoid that if possible. Here is a faster engine start: fuel, ignition, neutral, engine cut-off switch, choke if needed and clutch. And for the shut down: engine cut off switch, ignition, and fuel.
The process for checking the oil may vary based upon the motorcycle. You can check the owners manual for your specific procedure. I first used compressed air to prevent stuff from falling in. This bikes official procedure is to start the bike and allow it to idle for three to five minutes. Stop it and wait for two to three minutes. Ensure nothing will fall in and remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Hold the motorcycle upright and level. Put the dipstick back in without screwing it in and remove it to check the amount. The oil should be within the hash lines, the safe range. Add or remove oil to ensure that is the case. The oil level is at the top which is to the right end of the hashes here. When done, screw the dipstick back in and check for leaks. You can check the oil using an an unofficial way to save time. Do everything the same but skip the warm up and cool down steps and ensure the oil is near the upper end of the safe range.
You can read the owners manual for other things to periodically inspect and verify at certain intervals. Other things can and do need maintenance. Otherwise bring it into a local motorcycle shop.
Repeat the procedures until you are comfortable. Stop to rest if you are tired.
The next lesson will cover the friction zone and shifting.
1. Intro to Motorcycling. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/1introtomotorcycling.
2. Motorcycle: Equipment. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/2motorcycleequipment.
3. Motorcycle: Pre-Ride Inspection and Controls. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/3motorcycleprerideinspectionandcontrols.
4. (This Video.) Motorcycle: Engine Start and Checking Oil. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/4motorcycleenginestartandcheckingoil.
5. Motorcycle: Friction Zone and Shifting. http://www.reidmr.com/musings/5motorcyclefrictionzoneandshifting.
Please note I am in no way affiliated with the MSF and have made these videos on my own. A special thanks goes to Ken at the MSF for sending me a brochure listing many of the lessons.
1. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Page: Homepage. Accessed August 2013 from: http://www.msf-usa.org.
2. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Title: Basic RiderCourse. Rider Handbook. Printing: May 2011. Copyright: 2001 - 2009. Accessed August 2013 from: http://msf-usa.org/CurriculumMaterials/BRCHandbook2011.pdf.
3. Organization: MSF: Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Title: You and Your Motorcycle: Riding Tips!!. Published: July 2010. Accessed August 2013 from: http://msf-usa.org/downloads/Street_Motorcycle_Tips_2010.pdf.
4. Organization: Idaho STAR. Title: Rider's Guide. Copyright: 2013. Accessed September 2013 from: http://idahostar.org/resources/rider%27s-guide.
5. Organization: Idaho STAR. Title: Practice Guide. Copyright: 2013. Accessed September 2013 from: http://idahostar.org/resources/practice-guide.
6. Your state motorcycle manual. Change MN to your state. Organization: DuckDuckGo. Search link: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=mn+motorcycle+manual.