How To Install Electric Start

Putting Estart on a Honda CRF450R

Let's say you have a 2017 Honda CRF450R and your buddy just showed up with a new 2018 CRF450R with electric start. Naturally, now you want electric start also. Well you are in luck: Honda sells an electric-start kit for your '17 450R. We made a video of the install and the job was not as hard as we expected, though there are a few steps that are more advanced, and we feel like they are not well explained in the instructions that are included with the kit. In particular, if you are not familiar with the timing of the camshaft, we would suggest you do a little homework before you start. If you are not 100 percent sure about the cam timing, it would behoove you to order the Honda Service Manual at the same time you are ordering the electric-start kit.

I would say there are three parts to the install. One is the electrical components: wiring harness, clutch/kill switch and starter button, starter relay, voltage rectifier/regulator, and battery. The second is transmission parts: starter motor, a few idler/reduction gears, and starter one-way clutch assembly. And third are the engine parts: a new camshaft decompression plunger.

First, you will need to drain all the fluids. The coolant can be reused, so drain it into a clean container. You can drain the oil into your normal waste container and recycle it. You probably needed to change your oil anyway.

Electric Start Install
Step 1Stephen Potter

Step 1: Now that all the fluids are drained you can remove the clutch and water pump right-side cover.

Electric-Start Install
Steps 2-5Stephen Potter

Step 2: After removing the right case cover, continue removing the entire clutch assembly, primary drive gear, counterbalancer gear, and oil pump drive gear.

Step 3: This is the very compact yet very powerful starter motor.

Step 4: The starter motor tucks right in behind the cylinder. It's maybe the easiest part of the whole install.

Step 5: We have installed the new idler/reduction gears and the new starter clutch on the crankshaft. Take your time; there are few pieces to this puzzle, but it's not too hard to figure out.

Electric-Start Install
Steps 6-7Stephen Potter

Step 6: Timing the counterbalancer to the crankshaft is important. There are dots on each gear that must line up. Getting this wrong will cause your bike to vibrate.

Step 7: This is what it will look like after you have installed all the new gears and reassembled the clutch. We chose not to remove the kickstarter.

Electric-Start Install
Step 8Stephen Potter

Step 8: Next, we will move on to replacing the camshaft decompression plunger with the plunger provided in the kit. You will want to be 100 percent certain you do this correctly. Not reassembling this correctly will result in severe engine damage. If you are not sure, please be sure to refer to the service manual or a professional mechanic who can help you with the camshaft timing. Start by removing the seat, gas tank, and wire harness (you are going to be replacing the wire harness anyway, so this is all part of the installation).

Electric-Start Install
Step 9-10Stephen Potter

Step 9: Now remove the valve cover, set the engine to top dead center (TDC), back off the cam-chain tensioner, and remove the camshaft assembly.

Step 10: This is the decompression plunger that is going to be replaced.

Electric-Start Install
Step 11Stephen Potter

Step 11: First, remove the ball bearing from the end of the camshaft. Then with a small tool like a drill bit, push out the pin that is holding the decompression weight in the camshaft. Remove the decompression weight, and then the decompression plunger can be easily pulled out and replaced with the plunger from the kit.

Electric-Start Install
Step 12Stephen Potter

Step 12: For reassembly, repeat the steps in reverse and be certain to review the service manual to set the correct camshaft timing. Note: Not timing your camshaft correctly will result in engine damage. You can now begin to reassemble the electrical system with the new wiring harness that is provided in the kit. Don't get too intimidated—this is not as bad as it looks. Just work by process of elimination and all the connectors will fall into place.

Electric-Start Install
Steps 13-14Stephen Potter

Step 13: There will be a new starter switch to install. This will go inline on the positive lead from the battery to the starter motor.

Step 14: A new voltage rectifier/regulator will mount under the ECU.

Electric-Start Install
Step 15Stephen Potter

Step 15: Here you can see we have installed the new clutch perch assembly that houses the clutch starter cut-out safety switch—along with the new engine stop and mode switch that has the additional wires for the clutch safety switch. You will also have to replace the clutch cable with the new one that is provided in the kit.

Electric-Start Install
Steps 16-17Stephen Potter

Step 16: And, of course, everyone will remember to install the magic starter button on the right side of the handlebar.

Step 17: If you were wondering why the airbox was so big and the air filter was so small, now you know that extra room is for the battery box. It's almost like electric start was part of Honda's plan all along. Strap in the battery, connect the positive lead, and then attach the ground wire.

Reassemble all of the other items, such as the gas tank, radiator shrouds, and seat, and be sure your wiring harness is routed correctly. Be sure not to forget to refill the fluids, oil, and coolant.

This story is not meant to be a step-by-step instructional diagram but more to help you get a better idea of what you might be getting yourself into should you decide to try and tackle this job.