Is It Bad To Run A Motorcycle With The Choke On?

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When riding around, you may have accidentally forgotten to turn off your choke after the bike warmed up. Many possibilities could be running through your head that concern the wellbeing of your bike. This may have happened several times in the past, or it could be your first time doing so.

You may have asked yourself, did I hurt anything? The truth is that while this is not good for your bike and it will cause some problems if frequently done, it is not that bad for your bike. But if you do this too often, it will cause your bike to run richer (using more gas), and may cause damage to the motorcycle.

There is no reason to stress out about this minor problem because this happens to everyone, even the most experienced riders who have accidentally ridden with the Choke on. This article will teach you how to fix issues that might come from riding with the choke on too frequently.

Whether Or Not It Is Bad To Run Your Motorcycle With The Choke On

So, is this bad for your bike? Obviously, your bike’s engine was designed to operate at a specific air to fuel ratio. Anything that departs from that, either richer or leaner, will cause the engine to run less efficiently. You will notice losses in power, speed, and fuel economy. There are other components in the bike that will see extra wear as a result of this.

Fortunately, running too rich is less harmful to your bike than running lean. That being said, this still is not good for your bike. The first main concern of running a motorcycle like this is that you will cause lots of carbon to build up. These carbon deposits can eventually start to cause problems with your engine. Fortunately, you can clean this up and get rid of any deposits left from running too rich for too long.

The second thing that you may notice is your spark plugs start to go bad. As carbon builds up, you may get deposits that build up on your spark plugs. This can cause the spark plugs to foul up, resulting in you needing to change them out for new ones. This is not a terribly difficult task, but it is one that you would perform less often if you turned your choke off while riding.

As previously mentioned, if you forget to turn the choke off while riding occasionally, this is not going to damage your bike. Though you may notice that your bike feels sluggish, and you’ll get bad gas mileage. The only way that you will see a recognizable amount of damage would be if you did this all of the time or for thousands of miles. While that is pretty unlikely, it’s something that you probably don’t have to worry about much.

What The Choke Actually Does

The choke performs a very important job for your motorcycle. The name for the choke itself comes from what this device is intended to do. Its whole purpose is to restrict the airflow in the carburetor. This forces your air-fuel mixture to run much richer. Gasoline itself does not combust in its liquid state. Before it combusts, it has to vaporize. Gasoline vaporizes very quickly, as you may have noticed if you stood next to an open gas can. The rate at which it vaporizes slows down as the gas gets colder and colder. This can make it harder for a car or motorcycle to start in the cold.

By choking the flow of air, you force the mixture to run leaner. More fuel means a higher chance of having more vaporized gas in the cylinder and making it more likely that the engine turns over. The choke only needs to remain on long enough for the engine to heat up so that the gas continues to vaporize quickly and easily.

How To Fix Potential Issues Caused By Running Your Motorcycle With The Choke On

If you forget to turn the choke off all the time, can you fix the issues that this will cause? You can and they aren’t too difficult. Depending on the level of cleaning that you want to perform, there are several different things that you can do to help make your engine like new again.

If you need to clean up carbon buildup in the engine, there are several different options available to you. Depending on the level of carbon buildup that you have, these can make the job very quick and simple or fairly difficult. The simplest way to do so is by using chemicals that are designed for removing carbon deposits. There are lots of different brands that offer products that can do this. Generally, you pour the chemical into your gas tank, and it will work to clean up the carbon as it flows through the fuel lines and the engine. If you only have a small amount of carbon buildup or are just looking for a quick and simple tune-up, this is a great option.

If you have a ton of carbon buildup, that may not be an option for you anymore. In this case, you will need to remove the cylinder head entirely. From there, you can adjust the piston so that it’s at the top of its stroke. Then you can scrape the carbon directly off the cylinder head. Be sure to be extremely cautious while doing this as you do not want to dig into the head at all. Aluminum is fairly soft and if you are not careful, you can do a lot of damage. Once you have scraped everything the best that you can, you can use a spray solvent to clean up the last of the deposits. From here, you can also try to clean up the valves, valve seats, cylinder head, and engine block.

If your spark plugs foul up, you will need to replace them. The carbon can cause the engine to run poorly, and it can be very hard on spark plugs. Replacing your spark plugs and cleaning out the carbon is a great way to get your engine back into good shape.

Ways To Remember To Turn Off The Choke

So, what are some ways that you can remember to turn the choke off? Frequently when we are riding our bikes, we are riding to many of the same locations. Whether that is work, school, a store, or a gym we frequently go to. As such, it becomes really easy to pick out certain landmarks that you can use to gauge whether your choke should be on or off. Then when you see a certain landmark, you can remember that your choke should be off at this point.

If you are able to monitor the engine temperature, this is also another way to determine if your choke should be off. If you frequently look at this temperature, you will know when the choke needs to be off. That will prevent you from forgetting and leaving it on for your entire ride.

How To Properly Use The Choke

So, how exactly are you supposed to use your choke? When starting your bike, it is best to use the full choke while initially starting. Ideally, you just want the choke to be in effect until the engine gets warm. Depending on the temperature where you are, this will vary. Extremely cold places may make the engine warm up for a very long time. Likewise, very hot places could make the engine warm before you make it to the end of your street.

Learning how to use a choke is just getting used to your bike and getting a feel for what it needs. If it is very warm out, you can turn the choke all of the ways on for just a brief period of time and then turn it all the way off. If you are somewhere colder, you will probably want to use the full choke for longer and eventually go down to half choke before turning it all the way off.

There are things for you to watch out for. If your idle is extremely low or the bike is stalling, you should have your choke on. Pay close attention to your bike and how it is riding or idling. These will be the signs to let you know what it needs to run properly.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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