Motorcycle Malarkey. "Never use the kill switch to casually shut off the bike"

Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
4,965
I'm not sure where I saw this, but there's some "advice" floating around on the internet that the kill switch on a motorcycle is not meant to be used for regular startups/shutdowns of bikes.You should leave it on the ON position and then use the ignition key to control whether the bike is on or off.

The reason? The kill switch may wear out and leave you in bigger trouble if you ever need to quickly shut off the bike.

Absolute rubbish, but I saw tons of people saying 'hmm yeah that's not a bad idea!".

Even if the kill switch wore out, you can very easily turn the ignition to OFF in the event of an emergency. Plus I've taken apart kill switches before and there's not much in them that can "go bad". And even then, prematurely replacing one (if you're so paranoid of its impending failure) is relatively cheap to do.

Has anyone else seen this come up? Or even worse.. believe it?
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2020
Messages
449
Location
Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
I don't see the point if the bike has a key...unless it's hard to get at easily. Most dirt bikes only have a kill switch, and it's the first place you look for a no start, missing or stalling.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Messages
2,001
Location
Athens, GA
So, what happens when the key wears out? Be a whole lot easier to bodge up a solution to get your bike running in the middle of nowhere with a broken kill switch than it would be for a broken key.

I swear, some of the things that the internet stresses over......
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2010
Messages
29,246
Location
PNW
^^^ Thing is, if you use the kill switch to turn off the motor you also have to turn off the ignition switch with the key. So both are getting used.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Messages
2,001
Location
Athens, GA
^^^ Thing is, if you use the kill switch to turn off the motor you also have to turn off the ignition switch with the key. So both are getting used.

Not me, I carried my spare key, popped the seat, and used an 8mm nutdriver to remove the battery bolt.

Just kidding. Doing that makes about as much sense as the internet arguing over it in the first place.
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2020
Messages
449
Location
Rahui Pokeka Aotearoa
So, what happens when the key wears out? Be a whole lot easier to bodge up a solution to get your bike running in the middle of nowhere with a broken kill switch than it would be for a broken key.

I swear, some of the things that the internet stresses over......
If you have a keyring with all sorts of doodads, the key is horizontal and loaded, then yes, the key switch is going to wear out faster. A vertical single key is not going to give many problems. Dirt bikes ground the ignition circuit to the bars, and that is why they are a problem. We have a lot of farm bikes and quads here working on the farm....they never turn them off.
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2014
Messages
2,453
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
I guess if Id ever had one fail in 47 years of riding I may agree- but I haven't.
I think I've only been riding 46 years, so you got me beat. ;) And I've also never heard this. Dad was riding almost 20 years before I was, so say 65 years of mc memory there?

Also it's completely backwards - I'd rather save wear/tear on the ignition than a simple dipole switch I can clean/refurb in 20 minutes.

I've restored a number of bikes over the years (decardes) - never had to fix a kill switch!
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Messages
1,081
Location
Colorado, USA
I don’t know about you guys but my front brake is on the right and clutch is on the left... :) I come to a stop with my right hand on the front brake, both feet are down. My clutch is in because I’m not moving. I turn off the kill switch. Release the clutch so the bike is in gear and lower the side stand. Makes sure the motor is bumped up against compression and the bike won’t roll off the stand. I don’t understand all this debate about which one you use. My hands are busy so I use the kill switch. And then do the “difficult” thing about this apparently, and turn off the ignition and remove the key. 🔑
 

blupupher

Site Donor 2021
Joined
Aug 27, 2004
Messages
7,138
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
I agree with the muscle memory as well as the convenience of your hand is already there.

That said, on my GL1500, I use the key most of the time because I hate the location and style of kill switch that the bike has (a 3 position knob, off/on/off) instead of a simple rocker.
On my Shadow, I used the (rocker style) kill switch every time because the key was by my left knee and it was easier to move my thumb 2 inches instead of put bike in neutral, release clutch, then reach down and turn it off.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2020
Messages
322
Location
MI
I use either the key, the kill switch or the kickstand switch to turn off the bike. It just depends on the situation. I don't lose sleep over it.

I had my HI-LO headlight rocker switch act up this spring. Had to toggle it back and forth a bunch to clean the contacts and get it working again. So, I guess I can call my engine stop methods a form of preventative maintenance by exercising the switches and verifying they work properly.
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2013
Messages
1,058
Location
UK
I was taught this when I learned to ride and for a while followed this advice. Then I thought about it and got more experienced and started using the kill switch if it suited me. On my current bike I tend to use it more often than not - for example when I arrive home I ride up to the garage door, kill the engine, use the fob to open the garage and then paddle the bike in. If I use the kill switch then the lights stay on so I can see what I am doing - if I use the key it all goes dark. Furthermore my bike tends to heat up quickly when moving slowly or idling meaning the cooling fan comes on - if I use the kill switch the engine shuts off but the fan stays on.

I see no reason why the kill switch should suffer some kind of failure through use, when every other switch on the bike works perfectly. And besides, even if it did fail, it would fail safe (ie 'off') rather than on.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2015
Messages
2,231
Location
missouri
There are some bikes that can crank with the kill switch on. I had one. Be sure to find out yours is that way so you do not waste a lot of time or even get a tow simply because the kill switch is on.


Rod
 
Joined
Aug 21, 2013
Messages
4,262
Location
Central Maryland
I see no reason why the kill switch should suffer some kind of failure through use, when every other switch on the bike works perfectly. And besides, even if it did fail, it would fail safe (ie 'off') rather than on.
I have an older bike where the kill switch if failing. I don't know much about its history, I suspect it has seen some hits, but not so much mileage. It is flakey and needs to set just right in order the start the bike. It's next on the list for replacement.

But, like you, I will use it when and if I want to.
 
Joined
Jun 6, 2017
Messages
319
Location
New York
I have an older bike where the kill switch if failing. I don't know much about its history, I suspect it has seen some hits, but not so much mileage. It is flakey and needs to set just right in order the start the bike. It's next on the list for replacement.

On older bikes corrosion is often the cause of electrical glitches. You can try disassembling the switch to see what's going on inside, if it's corrosion you can try hitting it with some Deoxit D5 to see if that helps. Of course, if the corrosion is too heavy or there's physical damage then you've got no choice but to replace it.
 
Top