Practical Tips For Starting A Dirt Bike In Cold Weather

Is your dirt bike hard to start in the cold, or are you planning to ride this winter? In this article I want to give you some practical tips for starting a dirt bike in cold weather so that you aren’t frustrated trying to kick it over 100 times with no luck.

How cold is too cold to ride a dirt bike?

How brave are you? Up here in MN there’s ice racing when it’s below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 

CRF230F Snow Riding Practical Tips For Starting A Dirt Bike In Cold Weather
I quickly found out that my knobs weren’t big enough…

With that said, it depends on the conditions you want or can handle. Once the ground is frozen, riding a dirt bike is not very enjoyable because traction is extremely limited unless you have studded tires. 

A dirt bike can be ridden when it’s -30 degrees: you just have to jet it properly and be able to get it started. 

How to start a dirt bike in the cold

The process for kick starting a dirt bike in the cold is the same as in warm weather, but there’s a couple extra things you can or need to do to make it easier. 

For one, the carb jetting needs to be optimal. If your dirt bike started easily in warm weather, then you’ll need to go richer on the jetting. The colder air requires more fuel in the mixture to burn properly. 

Starting a 2 stroke in cold weather

The key factors to starting a 2 stroke in the cold are: use the choke, richen the jetting if needed, and let it warm up longer before riding hard. 

Starting a 4 stroke in cold weather

A 4 stroke can be even harder to start in the cold because of the high compression, depending on which bike you have. 

Always use the choke when the engine is cold, but if your 4 stroke dirt bike carb has an accelerator pump, you have advantage. You can give the throttle a 2-3 twists and the accelerator pump will squirt a small shock of gas through the carb. This will richen the mixture even more, making it easier to start in cold weather. 

Dirt Bike Compression Test Practical Tips For Starting A Dirt Bike In Cold Weather
Kick Starting An Old Honda XR200

How to properly warm up your dirt bike in cold weather

The procedure is basically the same, but you have to let the engine warm up longer. Riding your bike too hard too quickly is one of the easiest ways to damage the engine.

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Metal expands as it warms up, so if the engine parts warm up too quickly, some parts will expand too quickly and cause extra friction, which results in more heat and wear.

Where to store your dirt bike when it’s cold/winter

The best place to store your dirt bike is in a climate controlled room/area with low/moderate humidity. If you can’t control the temperature, just make sure to keep it dry or else exposed metal will start corroding and can seize when you try to ride it again.

Changing oil for cold weather

The viscosity or thickness of oil increases as it gets colder, essentially making it move slower. A lighter weight oil can make starting easier because it’s thinner.

For example, going from a 10W-40 to a 5W-40 is reasonable for starting and riding in cold weather.

Changing coolant for cold weather

You don’t necessarily need to change your coolant for cold weather, but you may need to change the mixture. The amount of antifreeze compared to water needs to be higher to resist freezing.

Changing jetting for cold weather

As mentioned earlier in this post, jetting is super important if you want your dirt bike to start and run well, no matter the temperature. If it ran great with good throttle response in 80 degree (F) and 30% humidity, then it will be running lean when it’s 20 degrees with 30% humidity.

For a guide on how to jet your dirt bike click here.

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Kelley Fager

I help newer riders learn to safely ride with confidence by teaching basic techniques in a way that's easy to understand. Learn To Ride With Control Here

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