Have you noticed an intimidating red button on your motorcycle? What is it, and how do you use it if you ever use it?
What is a motorcycle kill switch? A motorcycle kill switch is a red button safety mechanism on the right handlebar that helps the rider turn off the motorcycle without reaching for the keys. It is for the rider’s safety since it’s beneficial during emergencies.
This article will discuss how a kill switch works and what happens when you hit it. In addition, we’ll cover a common kill switch concern, so you’re in the know. Let’s get to it, guys.
What Is the Purpose of a Kill Switch?
A kill switch’s function is to cut power to the engine without taking your hand away from the throttle. You can use the kill switch on regular rides since it’s easier to use the kill switch than reaching for the ignition to turn off the bike.
Nonetheless, the kill switch is a vital button to have during emergencies. It comes in handy if you tip over and need to switch off the motorcycle to prevent further injuries and burns. In addition, it may prove helpful if you spot sparks after an accident and need to cut power to stop them from spreading.
Another valuable feature of the kill switch is that although it cuts engine power, it does not kill the battery or the lights. This feature is beneficial in traffic as it can help save some fuel. Suppose you were parking at a dark location where you cannot take your hand off the handlebar. You’d be able to reach for the kill switch with your thumb and stop the engine without killing the lights.
How Does a Motorcycle Kill Switch Work?
Your bike’s kill switch is wired to the engine’s ignition coil. The ignition coil produces a spark to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber, which then powers the engine. When you hit the kill switch, it breaks the ground circuit in the ignition coil. This process interrupts the circuit, so the ignition coil does not have a positive and ground. Hence, the circuit is broken, killing power to the engine.
You will feel like the bike has run out of gas. Hence, a gradual stop will help you get off the bike safely.
Does a Kill Switch Affect the Health of Your Engine?
A kill switch is an emergency engine shut-off mechanism. Thus, it’s okay to ask whether it will affect the health of your engine, especially if you use it regularly. Well, it’s good to know that you can use the kill switch every other day to turn off your engine without harming it.
The main concern with using a kill switch away from emergencies is battery deterioration. This is due to the constant disturbance of electricity and fuel during combustion. However, it could take many pointless uses of the kill switch to damage the engine.
How to Know When the Kill Switch Is Engaged
Before you start your motorcycle, it is essential to check whether your kill switch is engaged. It’s the red button with ON and OFF written on it. Some bikes will have a semi-circle with an arrow printed and a similar sign cut out with a cross above the button.
You have to press the switch upwards to operate it. If it’s in the OFF position, the engine will be off, but the lights, indicators, and other accessories will be on. When the kill switch is in the OFF position, you cannot use the ignition to turn it on – it has to be in the ON position to turn on the motorbike using the key.
Conclusion – What Is a Motorcycle Kill Switch?
In summary, a motorcycle kill switch is an easy way to turn off your bike’s engine without taking your hand away from the controls. It is a safety feature that allows you to cut the engine’s power if you cannot do it manually in the case of an accident. While using the kill switch does not damage the engine, pointless use can deteriorate the battery and the kill switch mechanism.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.