Kick Starting a ’75-’77 Honda GL1000

Starters are very reliable on GL1000s, but it’s nice to have a back-up. The back-up kick start lever is found only on ’75-’77 models. Honda deemed this extravagant redundancy was unnecessary and dropped the feature on later models.  I’ve actually needed the kick starter on several occasions to make it home when some aspect of the very reliable electric starting system failed. I also use my kick starter for another reason: it’s a good test of your bike’s overall state of tune. If it will start with the kick start lever, then you have a well tuned bike! There are many maintenance operations (like setting timing) where the kick starter provides some nice convenience.


Kick Start Lever Storage Location


Kick Start Lever in Use

However, the early GL1000s have an ignition wiring quirk that makes using the kick starter more difficult than it should be. If you ever need to perform an emergency kick start on a ’75-’77 GL1000 for any reason, it’s much easier if you by-pass the ballast resistor. The ballast resistor is the white oblong, ceramic device attached to the left side of the coil assembly which can be accessed behind the left top shelter door (near the steering stem).

Simply remove the 2 wires that attach to the ballast resistor and reconnect them back to each other (effectively by-passing the ballast resistor). This will saturate you coils with full 12V nominal battery voltage for a much hotter spark (vs. the 7V or so they would get if the ballast resistor was left in the circuit).

The reason the stock coil / breaker point ignition needs a ballast is to make starting easier and allow longer service life for the points and coils. Full battery voltage for starting is routed directly to the coils whenever the starter button is pressed. Once the starter button is released, the voltage to the coils is routed through the ballast resistor (assisted by a zener diode) to make the points last longer and keep the coils from failing due to overheating. When the engine is running, battery voltage is regulated by the regulator to approximately 14.5 V (at normal cruise rpms…voltage is less at lower rpms). At 14.5 V battery voltage, the coils will receive about 9 volts through the ballast resistor. The point is simple: more coil voltage is needed when starting as opposed to when the engine is running…the ballast resistor is normally your friend!

So, if you’re not pressing the starter button (as in when you kick start) you won’t get full voltage to the coils unless you do this by-pass trick. I keep a short wire pigtail with appropriate crimped connectors on each end with the tool bag “just in case.”

Alternatively, some people disconnect the main cable to the starter and depress the starter button when they kick for the same effect. I find my method easier and quicker.

Important: Don’t by-pass the ballast for extended use, or your points and coil will suffer a premature demise. The by-pass is strictly a temporary aid to keep you from being stranded.


  1. Matt Higgins says:

    I have my eye on a 76 GL that has had a number of ‘useful ‘ updates including an electronic ignition. Do you have any recommendations about these units. I really like the bike, but haven’t ridden it yet as the carbs need rebuilt and synced, NOT a cheap fix!!! I’ll have to check if it has a kickstart lever.

  2. Steeve Lavoie says:

    Hi, I have a GL1000 1976 and it don’t have the kickstrater (NO lever and NO place to insert it? Have you ever see it ?

    Best regards

  3. Robert Brooks says:

    Hi, I have just completed restoration of a 1976 K1 Executive (the first of 52 UK bikes sent to Rickman’s for modification and given away to winner of a spot the ball competition).
    I have a problem in that when I connect the battery, the starter engages without the ignition being on… Any help of what the likely cause is will be greatly appreciated.

  4. Mike Sanford says:

    I just picked up a 1977 GL1000 and it turns over with the starter but the kick start won’t budge. What could be the issue?

  5. I’ve been working on my dads 1975 gl 1000 that hasn’t seen the road since 1990 . Over the winter I redid the carbs , breaks. master cylinders , timing belts along with a bunch of other things I have the bike running pretty well . The problem I’m having is that I can’t get the kick start to engage , when i kick it over there is no resistance at all I was just wondering if someone could point me in the right direction as to what the problem might be .

    • You have some worn parts (internal). Give up on the kickstarter and use the electric starter. The kickstarter is for emergency use only and not worth fixing.

  6. Douglas Sims says:

    1977 GL1000
    Just trying to get my ‘wing running after many years of sitting due to life.
    I’d like to turn the engine over before trying to start it. I’d really like to use the kick starter but mine is missing. Is there anything else I can use in it’s place? Or what other method should I use to rotate the crank?

  7. I’m sorry but I’m still a bit unclear on something: Is it the case that this kick start option is completely removed from post 1977 GL1000’s, or could one still could kick start a `78 or `79 if he simply had the kick start lever?

    • No. Kick starters were only supplied on ’75-’77 models. The rear case and other internal components are significantly different with the later ’78-’79 models.

  8. Morton Milne says:

    My starter is spinning without turning the engine over. So i bypassed the Ballast resistor and kick started it. Worked fine, but after a few minutes of running the bypass connection came apart. There was a small spark at the dislodged connection, the bike stalled and now nothing. Won’t start or even try to start when I kick it. What happened>

  9. Karl Entenmann says:

    Hey, that would have been nice to know 38 years ago. No wonder I could never get it to kick start when the battery was low.

  10. Brian Styles says:

    I am trying to locate where the kick starter goes in on my 1976 GL1000. It has a storage compartment for it on the tank cover….just cant figure this out!


    • The kick-start lever stows behind the right top-shelter door …near the radiator overflow bottle. Yours may be missing if you’ve never spotted it. Randakk

      • Glenn Clark says:

        Randakk…I think Brian was saying he knows where the kick starter is stored, and probably means he in fact has the kick starter. What he doesn’t know is where to install the kick starter when he wants to manually kick the engine over. Brian, look on the battery side of the bike and you will see a rubber plug on the side of the engine, ahead of the battery compartment. Pull the plug off, and install the kick start lever.

  11. Hello,
    I have a 76 gl1000 and when I kick start her it just start for about 4-5 seconds and die. And other times it just backfires. Any suggestion.

  12. Do you still have electric start on your bike? If so does it start when using it?


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