How To Kickstart a Panhead Harley

This particular style of Harley resembles an upside-down pan that is why the Harley-Davidson Panhead was nicknamed as such. The Panhead was first manufactured in 1948 when it replaced Harley-Davidson Knucklehead engine. Panhead manufacturing continued until 1965. Even though the Shovelhead replaced it, many Harley-Davidson fanatics are still into the Panhead. For them, this is the best Harley-Davidson engine of all time.

The problem is, decades after its last manufacture, the biking industry has changed a lot. Today, only hardcore bikers know how to kick start an engine like a Panhead Harley. Most motorcycles today have electric starters, which do not need kick-starting anymore. Even though you are used to an electric starter, it is still possible to learn how to kick start even a Panhead Harley. Here’s how:

  • Turn on the bike’s ignition key. Open the petcock valve or fuel lever if your bike has this.
  • Set your bike to neutral. The neutral sign is usually between the bike’s first gear and second gear. Move the lever for shifting the gear until the gear goes out. Lift up the lever again one time until you feel that it is already out of gear.
  • Prepare the kickstarter. It should be about 90-degree angle from the ground. Some bikes keep their kickstarter at the same distance at all times. So, you don’t have to adjust it anymore. Once kicked, the bike will start the engine almost instantly. You might need to try kicking the lever many times until the engine is starting. A good trick to help kickstart the bike is by kicking the kickstarter while rolling the throttle handle. This might give an instant blast of power for the engine. Just make sure that your bike is on neutral when you do this. If not, the bike will start running along with the engine. The brake should also be easily reachable when doing this. Hold on the brake to ensure your safety.
  • Warm up the engine. This is not necessary but when done, you’ll have a smooth ride with the bike. Do this by rolling the throttle handle so that you keep the engine running. Roll it back and forth for one minute before turning the lever to the shift you desire.
  • Start running the bike. Turn the gear shift lever to your desired position. You may start with the first gear and just shift to the second gear after some seconds of riding.

Do not expect to instantly start an old and original Panhead Harley. If your engine can’t be started anymore, maybe you have to replace it. Harley Davidson is not anymore making the Panhead but other manufacturers, do. The engineering, however, is different from the original Panhead. But most of these are made better than the original in terms of reliability and performance. Styling and structure were improved, too. With new engine, you can expect better performance.

Similar steps described above apply to kick-starting new Panhead Harley. Even other kickstart engine should be started that way. Most motorcycles today still have electric starter even if they have a kickstarter. Admit it, kicking the starter looks a lot cooler and manly than just pressing an electric starter.


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: