DIY Guide for Checking & Adjusting Throttle Cables in Your Motorcycle
Dec 2019

DIY Guide for Checking & Adjusting Throttle Cables in Your Motorcycle

Stephan Michaels
Metal Buildings, Steel Buildings

Motorcycles are well-loved in the United States. In fact, according to a statistic from Ultimate Motorcycling, the households that own a motorcycle in the United States increased from 6.94 percent in 2014 to about 8.02 percent in 2018. And those numbers are only going up.

Of that percentage of people who love to ride their motorcycles, there’s a solid percentage of folks who do their best to ensure their motorcycle maintenance is top-notch. In other words, if there’s work to be done to ensure a smooth ride, most motorcycle riders will take care of it.

One of these maintenance factors includes the throttle cable. A throttle cable is essentially an accelerator cable, which is a metal braided cable that serves as a mechanical link between the gas pedal and the engine’s throttle plate. Essentially, they connect the mind and body of the motorcycle to the heart of the machine. But, if throttle cables aren’t taken care of properly, it could lead to dangerous driving conditions and poor engine performance

That’s why maintenance of your throttle cables is very important.

What are the Basic Checks to Ensure a Correct Throttle Cable Operation?

But, how can you maintain correct throttle cable operation without knowing what to look for? That’s why we’re here. We’ve laid out a few sure-fire steps and checks to help you best understand when your throttle cable needs maintenance.

  • Visually Inspect Your Cable Condition – This is as easy as it seems. Take a good, hard look at your cable and check for cracks, kinks, worn areas, or corrosion. If you see any signs of damage, it might be time for throttle cable maintenance.
  • Check Cable Free Play – This is usually checked on by measuring the amount of throttle grip movement that’s relative to a fixed point on the cable housing of the throttle cable. In most cases, there should be about 2-3mm of free play-but, every motorcycle is different. Make sure you know how much free play is normal with your model. We suggest measuring with a caliper, scale, or ruler.
  • Try Fully Operating the Throttle and Letting Go – If you can confirm that the throttle will return quickly and easily to the closed position, it’s probably in good shape. If not, though, you might be dealing with binding issues, corded parts, frays, or other damages that could make for dangerous driving conditions.

Learn About Throttle Cable Adjustment

Like with any modern machine, motorcycles generally use two throttle cables, unlike older carbureted machines often just use a single throttle cable. Depending on what type of machine you’re using, the adjustment process is likely a little bit different.

  • Dual Cable Adjustment-Though this process isn’t complicated, it’s a bit more involved than the single cable adjustment. First, take off the dust cover and identify both the decelerator cables and the accelerator cables. Identify each cable by looking at the housing design or by making minor adjustments and figuring out what is affected. Loosen the locknuts with an appropriately sized wrench (or your hand) and alter the cable adjusters to turn them for slack or tension, whichever is needed. Adjust the decelerator cable first-this one is typically set for no play when the throttle grip. Then, adjust the accelerator cable to the right amount of play (probably 2-3mm). Once the tension is correct, snug the locknuts back on and throw the dust cover over the top.
  • Single Cable Adjustment-This is a very straightforward process. First, remove dust covers protecting the cable and loosen the locknut. Then, adjust the cable adjuster in or out so that the throttle grip has the right amount of free play (which, you should know from the first check you did to measure the appropriate amount of free play-typically, this is about 2-3mm). Then, once you adjust to your requirements, the locknut should be snugged back on, and the dust cover reinstalled. See? Easy.

Checks Following the Throttle Cable Adjustment

Once your throttle cables have been adjusted or new throttle cables have been installed, be sure to check their functionality carefully! First, test their function with the engine off. Then, do so with the engine idling to be sure there are no abnormal issues! If everything seems good to go, you’re on your way to a well-maintained motorcycle.

Motorcycle Care Add-Ons

Apart from the checking and adjusting throttle cables, motorcycle maintenance is a vital part of being a motorbike owner. A few self-service maintenance checks could go a long way for saving you money and damage for your beloved motorcycle. Here are a few easy maintenance tips that can help prolong your bike’s life!

  • Ensure you change the oil after several thousand miles (check this regularly)
  • Clean your air filter often
  • Change the coolant, too
  • Don’t leave a messy chain-when it gets dirty, clean it. Or, check when your owner’s manual recommends regular cleanings and stick to them
  • Use a metal garage to protect your parked motorcycle

A Bike in Great Condition is a Safer Bike For You!

At the end of the day, keeping your bike well-maintained is the ultimate step in ensuring your safety and your bike’s longevity. Don’t slack when it comes to bike maintenance! Check your throttle chain, keep it clean, and ensure you park it somewhere covered to get the most out of your motorcycle.


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