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Incorrectly warming up your motorcycle’s engine is one of the most common mistakes. While it is something that most people do, it can often be done wrong.
Properly warming your engine is essential to ensure your motorcycle lasts. The newer motorcycles are more complicated, which means that it is even more important to properly warm up a motorcycle. If we take the time and warm up our motorcycles properly, it allows our engine to function in the right way. In return, you will have a better motorcycle that will last for many years.
Is it a good idea to allow your motorcycle to warm up before you start riding it? You should allow your motorcycle to warm up before going on it. This will make a huge difference in the motorcycle’s performance as well as safety. The engine has many seals and rings that need oil to circulate at the optimal temperature. Heating up a motorcycle will allow the oil to circulate effectively.
The warm up procedure on motorcycles are just as important to it’s long-term health as changing the oil or inspecting the tires and chain.
Why you should let your motorcycle warm up before riding
Cars and motorcycles are very similar in how you are supposed to warm them up, but with both cars and bikes, people don’t know how to properly do it. Have you ever seen it done? Do you simply put the motorcycle on a kickstand, turn it on, and then let it idle until it sounds more controlled? Oder have you just started the motorcycle and let it idle until everything is moving?
Don’t be embarrassed if this is what you’ve done to warm up your motorcycle. Incorrectly heating up your motorcycle can be more common than you may think.
Before we get into the details of how to warm up your bike, let’s first discuss why it is important. There are many parts inside an engine that move and produce heat. While friction creates most of the heat, oil and coolant are able to dissipate much of it.
Just like cars, motorcycles were made to move. Air flows down the sides of a motorcycle when it is moving. It then moves up the engine and around the radiator. Air moves to cool the engine, and it prevents excessive heat from being left on any one component.
When a motorcycle isn’t moving, you’re not going to have enough cooling power to keep the engine at a good working temperature (for more information about how a motorcycle engine cools itself, see our other article by clicking here). The same principle should be applied to oil in the engine. The oil in the engine isn’t fully flowing around until the motorcycle is moving down the road.
Warming up your motorcycle before riding it means that you will get the oil operating at it’s optimal temperature which, in turn, means the motorcycle will be able to naturally cool itself down much easier while it is in motion. It is possible for parts to fail if the bike is not properly warmed up.
Warming up your motorcycle doesn’t just mean having it turned on. It’s about making sure your engine heats up in the right way so that it can perform properly while you are riding.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Warm Up Your Motorcycle?
I have already mentioned that improperly heating your motorcycle can stop important fluids from properly circulating around it. Particularly, the oil needs to be heated up and cycled through your engine..
When a motorcycle is left on the kick stand, the oil isn’t able to flow correctly around the engine and the cylinders. This can lead to excessive heat building up, which can lead to some extremely critical components becoming worn and damaged.. A damaged seal or ring inside an engine can cause serious malfunctions that could lead to complete damage.
What if you just revved it up right after starting it? Make sure the kickstand is up and the bike is straight. The engine will still be running with insufficient oil. This is because the oil has sat in the bottom of an oil pan. Cold oil doesn’t flow as easy as warm oil does.
Oil that heats up becomes thinner and more able to coat inside the engine. So when you rev the engine out while the bike’s oil is still cold, you also run the risk of completely ruining the insides of the engine cylinders.
You can end up with a motorcycle that is not properly heated or too warm. Incorrectly doing it once or twice won’t damage much at all, but years and years of incorrect starts can cause the bike’s engine to fail earlier than it should.
How to Warm Your Motorcycle Properly
Now that we’ve fully outlined the dangers of not doing it correctly, let’s look at how to properly warm up a motorcycle. As I mentioned, we shouldn’t just let our bikes idle for very long, and we shouldn’t just rev the engine out.
To do it correctly, we’ll consider three simple steps that are easy to remember. We first turn the motorcycle upside down and allow it to idle.. Keep in mind we aren’t just going to let it sit here, so don’t go off to do something else.
Second, ensure that your motorcycle can recognize and respond appropriately to throttle inputs. Sometimes if we begin to roll the throttle, the bike doesn’t respond, or it doesn’t respond smoothly. Give it a minute. What we are looking for is that when we roll on the throttle (very briefly and only to about 2 or 3 thousand rpm), the bike responds well and doesn’t stall.
The third and final step is that once the motorcycle’s throttle is responding well, go ahead and get your leg over it and get it on the road. Once it’s on the road doesn’t mean that our bike’s fully warmed up, but we’re almost there. When you’re on the road, give your motorcycle some time to warm up before you accelerate hard. Keep the rpm’s low, and be gentle on the throttle as you cruise around.
This is done to ensure that coolant and oil circulate around the bike. Hopefully, depending on your weather, this step shouldn’t take long. After a couple miles you will feel that your motorcycle can be ridden as normal.
You want your bike to be as active as possible. However, it is important that your bike does not sit still for too long before you can start riding. It is important to give it enough time to warm up before you put it in first gear. Then, you can get on the road without your car stalling or sputtering.
I would suggest that you ride around in your neighborhood before going out on the highways. The time it takes to lightly cruise through the neighborhood is about all that you’ll need to get your motorcycle warmed up.
Does the Warming Up Time vary with Outside Temperatures
The temperature of your motorcycle’s engine is the key to warming it up. You can modify the process I described to adjust for temperature variations. There’s no one formula that I have to give you that will show you how long to let your bike idle, Follow step 1 and let it idle till you feel that the throttle is giving an honest response and that the bike won’t stall.
Are you having difficulty getting your motorcycle started? Our other article explains how to start your motorcycle in less-than-ideal conditions.
Take care out there, and remember to ride a warm motorcycle. Not every ride will you be able to follow these steps, but understand the risks that you take when you don’t fully warm it up properly.