Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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The Real Purpose Of A Killswitch In A Motorcycle

What is a Killswitch?

Motorcycle Killswitch
Motorcycle Killswitch

A killswitch is a simple emergency-off switch that turns off the machine with a click. It acts as a simple safety mechanism enabling the driver to turn off the bike when it cannot be done manually. It shuts down all the running systems without causing any damage to the system.

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 Purpose of a Killswitch:

It also enables the riders to turn off the bike quickly without taking their hand off the handle to reach for the key. If you are a relatively new rider, you must have noticed an intimidating red switch on the right side handlebar of your bike.

The name explains its function, which is immediately turning the motorcycle off without affecting the mechanics of the machine. The killswitch is nothing complicated; it simply cuts off the contact from the ignition coil, so the engine shuts down. 

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Does the killswitch affect your bike?

A Kill Switch
A Kill Switch

Utilizing the killswitch does not affect the bike; there is no saturation point after which it affects the machine negatively. A rider can use that switch as much as he wants to turn the engine off.

Although the switch does not damage the system, there can be a situation where it can. If the rider is repeatedly fiddling with the button turning it off when the bike is already off will affect the bike. 

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When the rider continuously plays with the switch in the off condition, it can affect the ignition coil long-term but no immediate damage. It is also not advised to use the kill switch while the bike is in intense motion.

In addition to that, there are a few other things a rider needs to keep in check:

  • It should always be in the on state whenever you turn on the ignition for the ride. This might help you to keep further troubles away that are blamed on the battery.
  • Operate the switch with your thumb, make a habit of doing it while riding.
  • The kill switch is also called an emergency off switch, so you can use it without being alarmed.
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Yuvam Gupta
Yuvam Guptahttps://gomechanic.in/blog
Mechatronics Engineer in the making | Automobile enthusiast | Creating revving content | Living life 1/4 mile at a time | Always hustling for skills, experience, and knowledge.


  1. Thanks for bringing up an interesting topic. However you did miss the original and still most important part of the kill switch.

    First a little history, for the first hundred years or so of motorcycles consider the environment and the materials that they were constructed with.
    Many roads were not paved people took their motorcycles off-road. Motorcycles did not have o-ring sealed Teflon lined accelerator cables.

    Most throttle bodies were located on the outside of the motorcycle, small pebbles or other debris could jam the throttle body open. Also it was not uncommon for the throttle cable to be pinched in a crash or have rust inside that could prevent the throttle from returning to the off position.

    Having a kill switch accessible by your thumb so you did not have to take your hand off the handlebars was of utmost importance.

  2. Totally unnecessary and a robotic carryover some dude in some safety board’s of very little practical use.. And wrongly activated by a newbie can actually be dangerous

  3. I use kill switch all the time. It shuts the engine, but keeps lights on. Great at night to creep down neighborhood without noise at night, and allows me to park in places with poor lighting. Never had a single issue “using it too much”.

  4. Its use is when u are driving and suddenly a downhill road comes, and u remember that u need to save petrol so u immediately shut off the engine while on the hill without lifting hand from handlebars

  5. Absolutely agree, my wife’s TVS N Torq has this unnecessary doo hickey and it’s not even a different colour, the same black as the rest of the bike and panels, the first couple of times it was switched off when parked, and the 3rd the bike hit a pothole and toppled and her hand must have touched it.Who remembers to check if this stupid button is in the off or on positions when the bike isn’t starting but your lights, horn and fancy instrument panel, showing a full petrol tank all work, albeit without any warning flasher.All it does is make you call for service which arrives only on a weekday, during working hours , charges you a packet just for the visit, and you can hear them sniggering with a “gotcha” as they drive away leaving you standing there feeling downright foolish.

  6. It’s used to turn your motor off without turning the lights off, like at an extremely long red light or when a train crosses the road. Very useful at night if you value your life.

  7. Harley Davidson used to and I’m pretty sure still does recommend using the kill switch for initial shut down followed by the traditional way to turn off the bike.

  8. I think Josh is on the right line. Over time improvements are made in materials and machine development making items redundant. Regarding the kill switch I think it was a valuable item when the ignition key could have been low down on a side panel (remember) and in an accident and the bike on its side in gear and the rear wheel spinning isolating the bike was an issue.
    Now, my bike has a “tilt” switch which kills the engine when on its side as well as a kill switch but is the kill switch really necessary. I am sure someone will enlighten me to any other situations that the kill switch is invaluable

  9. I found this article and comments very comical. It is great to get good lough in these times.
    What is real purpose of wall light switch? Answer: to turn of light.
    It would really make article better to come up with possible situations when you actually need to use it. I am riding all my life and never use it.uf throttle gets stuck, most of us reach for ignition. I kill engine by ignition key or kick stand. Why hassle with extra procedure.
    Let’s do more articles: what is real purpose of throttle or why do you need to shift. Or why motorcycle has headlight or brakes.

  10. Lee Germaine. Wrong. Harley Davidson discourages the use of the emergency switch in favor of the ignition switch, because it’s use gives a false last known setting to the computer, engine and fuel injection system that could result in hard restart and false engine codes. This is America, not SE Asia. Stuff is different

  11. I’m the kind of guy he just likes to reach down and rip the spark plug 🥾 off so no doubt in my mind that I’ve killed the engine.

  12. You forgot the most important point and that is using the kill switch with a flick of the thumb to shut down the bike on the fly in an emergency (such as throttle stuck on) allows the rider to maintain proper braking (front brake along with rear) to safely bring the bike to a stop. Also using the kill switch for normal starting and shutting down process always is the best way to test it is working as it should and thus immediately alerts the rider if there is an issue with it and the rider is also therefore more likely use it more naturally if an emergency situation arises.


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