I'm glad we have a kicker. I use it all the time in colder weather for the first start of the day. The e-start can struggle under those conditions. Once the bike has been run and the oil is warmed and thinned, the e-start works fine. These bikes don't have a real big battery so there's not a lot of reserve power there. Sustained cranking will quickly run it down. Also, the ignition needs power from the battery to function at start up. Run it down some and the e-start may still work but there may not be enough battery power left over to power the ignition. The bike will crank but not start. So, in my opinion, kick starting for the 1st start of the day in colder weather is the best practice.
Now let's talk about the kick arm. Yamaha used several different ones over the years and yes, I do have a favorite, the '79-'80 arm. '78 and older arms were straight. In '79, a slight inward bend was added. This folds in nicer and tighter to the engine .....
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In '81, Yamaha cheapened the assembly up, making the arm thinner, the foot portion smaller, and the splined clamp smaller as well. It's not as easy to get a good, strong kick with this later arm .....
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So, I've swapped '79-'80 kick arms onto both of my 650s. My '78 originally had the straight arm and my '83 had that spindly late version.
A little mod I like to do to all these is add a grease fitting to the pivot. Even though I always kept it oiled, it seemed every time I went to fold the arm out, it was stuck. Obviously, it needed more, oil wasn't cutting it here. It needed grease .....
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Incidentally, the ball used in the kicker assembly is the same 5/16" size you'll find in the clutch pushrod assembly.