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Motorcycles are much smaller than cars, and therefore every component is important. The throttle is an important component. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to accelerate.
A stuck throttle on a motorcycle can cause anxiety. This problem should be fixed immediately to ensure your safety, and to prevent any damage to your bike.
What should you do when the throttle on your motorcycle stops working? If the throttle is stuck in acceleration mode, pull the clutch and shift to neutral. Then, turn the bike off. You should not start the motorcycle again until the issue has been resolved. If the throttle is stuck in the closed position, you should turn the motorcycle off and clean the throttle.
I’ve owned several older motorcycles and have run into this problem a handful of times. You can trust me to provide a guideline based on my own experience and my mechanics education.
How to fix a stuck throttle
There are probably 50/50 questions about a sticky throttle. People are wondering what to do if they accelerate and their throttle sticks to the open position, meaning it’s stuck in acceleration mode. This will cause the throttle to stick in the open position, which can lead to it not slowing down. The other half may be wondering about a throttle that won’t accelerate at all because it’s stuck in the closed position.
You are more at risk if you have your throttle cable stuck in the open position. Your motorcycle will still try to accelerate. It is especially dangerous if this spontaneously happens while you’re out for a ride.
You should not attempt to start your motorcycle until you have resolved the problem. Trying to start at such a high rev isn’t good for your motorcycle.
If your throttle sticks to the open position while you’re out on a ride, apply the brakes and steer yourself to a place where you can stop. After shifting into neutral, pull the clutch and turn off your bike. You’ll need an alternate way to get home.
After you have brought your motorcycle home, inspect the throttle and throttle cable to check for damage and sticky buildup. You’ll first need to take the whole throttle assembly off the right handle bar. You should check the entire throttle assembly for any gunk or crossed wires.
In either case, you should thoroughly clean out the throttle while it’s off. Make sure you clean the area where the throttle connects. It is possible for the throttle to become stuck from accumulation of dirt and other debris.
If the issue is not the throttle itself, the next thing you’ll need to check is the throttle cable. Replace the cable sleeves if they are worn or have cracks in their rubber. Dirt, metal shavings, and all sorts of garbage can get down into the cable sleeve (the black rubber that covers the cable) and binds up the cable which may be the reason you can’t move your throttle back and forth.
If you are satisfied with the appearance of the cable, you can purchase cable lube. You’ll then need to slide the cable back and forth so the lube can reach the whole inside of the covering.
A stuck throttle cable can be caused by either the throttle or the throttle wire. But if you have tried cleaning and/or replacing the throttle and cleaned the cable and it’s still sticking, you can also check where the cable connects to your carburetor.
Sometimes, the connection may have little springs or clamps that hold the end the throttle cable. This can prevent the throttle from moving back and forth. These springs and clamps can be replaced or cleaned if necessary to ensure that your throttle is in the right range of motion.
If your throttle is sticking to the closed position, you can still start your motorcycle but it will just idle and you won’t be able to accelerate. If the throttle becomes stuck in the closed position while you’re out on a ride, you may be able to putt your way home on back roads if you’re close enough. Otherwise you’ll need to find an alternative way to get your motorcycle home.
You can fix a throttle that is stuck in closed position by following the steps above. You can inspect the throttle handle and clean it if necessary. If the cable is damaged or worn, lube/clean/replace it. Finally, make sure you check the connection between your throttle cable to the carburetor. These will usually be the culprits 99 percent of the time, particularly the first two.
How to Prevent Throttle Cable from Sticking
If you’ve run into the issue of a sticky throttle on your motorcycle, you know how annoying and frustrating it is. You probably don’t want to run into this scenario ever again. There are some preventative steps you can take to avoid this.
You can prevent damage by applying cable lubricant to the throttle cable regularly. While you’re at it, you should do this to the brake cables as well. This should only be done once a year. It is possible to notice some black nastiness at the end of your cable sleeves.
As disgusting as it may look, it’s also a bit satisfying knowing you were able to get all the gunk out before it caused any problems. If you routinely do this every year, you can make those cables last the whole life of the motorcycle and you’ll never need to replace them.
Another way to prevent a sticky throttle is properly covering your motorcycle when it’s not being used. Protecting your motorcycle from dirt, dust and other debris will help prevent it sticking.
What To Do If Throttle Won’t Spring Back To Idle Position
So you’ve fixed the throttle. It may feel like you got rid of all the dirt that had caused it to stick. Something you may run into is that though the throttle is now moving, it doesn’t do it’s natural spring back to the idle position when you let go of it.
Although you have some control over how your motorcycle reacts to such situations, you should not ignore it. The motorcycle will slow down if you lose your grip on the throttle. This is an engineering safety feature. In this case, the motorcycle wouldn’t slow down and will maintain it’s speed.
If you’ve gone through all the previous steps of cleaning everything that has to do with your throttle but you’re having issues with the throttle not springing back, your likely culprit is a loose throttle cable (a problem that won’t be fixed by cleaning it). A loose throttle cable can be easily tightened. All you’ll need to do (on most motorcycles) is adjust the lock nut found just right off the throttle where the cable runs out of.
When The Throttle Spins But You’re Not Accelerating
A phenomenon that’s often associated with a sticking throttle is that after you feel like you’ve fixed it, the throttle spins but you’re no longer able to accelerate. It almost feels as if the throttle is loose.
If you are experiencing this, it is likely that your throttle cable has broken or is not connected properly to the carburetor. Broken throttle cables can be hard to diagnose as they may be caught in the sleeves, which are difficult to see.
If this is happening to you, you’ll need to replace your throttle cable. Do not attempt to fix the throttle cable as that will take more time than it’s worth and could break again in the future. You can save money on throttle cables and be safe by buying a new one.
Why is my bike idling so high? If the motorcycle is getting too many air and fuel in low speed or neutral positions, it may idle high. This can be caused by a loose or out-of-place throttle handle screw, a bad throttle spring, a stuck throttle or throttle cable, or an idle screw on your carburetor. For more information, click here.
What causes a motorcycle to lose power while accelerating? A motorcycle can lose power when accelerating because of plugged jets in the carbs, a broken carb spring, a vacuum leak, a carb spring that’s on backwards, extra slack in the throttle cable, and poor timing advance. For more information, see my article.