How To Use The Choke On A Motorcycle – When you choke on something, you are restricting the air that comes in. In a carburetor, we do this with a kind of plate that traps and restricts the air entering the engine. This is the thing. As the electric starter or kick starter cranks the engine, instead of the engine sucking away (vacuum) and drawing in restricted (choke) air, it begins drawing additional fuel from the needle jet and idle jet port. That extra fuel gets the engine started. I’ve only seen choke plates come in two styles.
Some plate chokes are spring loaded. Spring keeps them closed. A lever opens them. One thing to keep in mind with springloaded plate chokes. If the spring is broken, the choke will not work properly. The problem is, it’s not always obvious that the spring is broken. So the choke won’t work and you crank and crank, overheat the very expensive starter and fire it up. If you think the choke is on but the engine won’t start, feel the choke lever with your hand and make sure the spring isn’t broken.
How To Use The Choke On A Motorcycle
Some choke plates, but not all, have small, spring-loaded doors on the plate. Because some engines need a little more air if the vacuum in the carburetor throat is too high.
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At that time there were some Amal carburetors with a choke (air valve) on the throttle slide. You probably won’t see one of these chokes. Oddly enough, you can still buy a brand new monoblock carburetor from Amal. About −134.00 British Pound or about $200.00 US Dollar. As of March 2015. “My, maybe you should write an article about that,” I thought to myself. As the title of this piece probably already told you, that action is starting a carbureted motorcycle. It sounds plain silly, but the starting process is a little different with carb motorcycles. They are disappearing, but there are still a few carbureted models in showrooms and many more still happily plying the streets.
Many riders of modern fuel-injected motorcycles are put off by carbs, but the reality is that they’re a perfectly usable way to fuel a motorcycle—if you know what to do with them. Here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when trying to start a non-fuel injected bike.
From there, the fuel tap (petcock) should allow the fuel to flow. Often you’ll see three positions on a petcock: “ON,” “OFF” and “RES.” The “ON” position should be correct unless the fuel level is very low, in which case you want to use “RES”. “RES” is the reserve, the spot on the petcock that takes fuel from the lowest point in the tank. If you are not sure if there is enough motion cream in the tank, use “RES”. (Or, to save you time, put some gas in it and use “on”. You’ll have to keep the gas there for a while.) If they don’t mark, or like the one on the Sportster’s “winged knob.” Make sure the petcock runs parallel to the direction the exhaust points to open the knob.
Here is a feathered pet rooster. Note that both the fins of the normal flow (front) and reserve (camera side) are perpendicular to the bottom outlet – this indicates that the petcock is off. Photo.
Motorcycle Choke Stock Photos
Other bikes may have “PRI” instead of “ON”. You can use either of the settings, but the prime function is really a way to get fuel into a bike tank with a vacuum petcock; It is a petcock that turns on and off automatically. (That’s the theory anyway. I hate the damn thing and have everything fitted to a simple gravity feed valve.) Older Harley Big Twins (pre-1965) had a petcock above the left tank; Must unfold. (Or if you’re looking for reserve on a bike with empty tanks, unscrew and raise it.) And if you’re running an unmarked aftermarket unit, you’re putting fuel in the “on” position again, usually when the lever is in line with the petcock outlet.
Cold (read: room temperature or cold) bikes don’t behave as well as warm ones. They atomize the fuel poorly. They can run funny when they’re cold. Carbs are tuned to run better in a hot engine, which should make sense…if you want to ride your bike all day, it should spend more time hot than cold. The problem, of course, is that the carb is not set up to handle engines at low temperatures. A way to get more gas into the engine is needed for starting purposes.
Enter the starting circuit. To make starting easier, carbureted motorcycles usually have some sort of method to manually improve the mixture (reduce the air/fuel ratio) during starting. This is called a “priming” engine; Setting it up in such a great condition that the ignition will fire the car and make it drivable. Generally, many refer to this manual enrichment as a “choke”, but the fact is that a choke is a specific item, and not every enrichment device is like a choke.
Here is a set of carburetors with real chokes. The lever that controls the choke flaps can be seen on the left. Photo.
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Since I brought it up, let’s start with the choke. Some carburetors have a movable valve that restricts the flow of air to the carburetor. A carburetor takes the same amount of regular fuel, but it loses air, thereby enriching the mixture. With this type of enrichment device, the throttle cannot be opened very far. (Some throttle plates have a flap that opens under engine vacuum, others don’t. If you’re not sure, leave it open.)
Some carbs have an accelerator pump. The throttle pump delivers a “shot” of fuel when the throttle is opened quickly to help facilitate switching the carburetor from one circuit to another. Even if the pump isn’t on the carb to begin with, it often does an excellent job. (S&S Super E carburetors are emerging, as are the Keihin CV carburetors fitted to Harley-Davidsons and some Metric motorcycles.) The operation of the throttle pump involves opening the throttle quickly, so usually a few times. “Prima Shots” should be sprayed into the manifold. When the engine is cranked with the kicker or starter, vacuum pulls this fuel into the cylinders.
Many modern carburetors have an “enriched circuit”. It is a special circuit inside the carburetor that is only opened for starting. To draw fuel into the cylinders in this type of carburetor, open the throttle fully when starting, or this circuit is bypassed entirely. I’d argue that unless one happens to stumble upon a very valuable barn find or heirloom, this type of carburetor is probably the best you’ll ever see, as there are plenty of them, and there are still many metric machines that are fairly inexpensive. .
A final type of enrichment device is the tickler. This is a curiosity almost exclusively for old British machines. A piston is usually pushed in, effectively filling the carburetor to provide a feed charge of fuel. (Actually, “Stinky Finger” comes from those who tickle too long – fuel usually leaks around the tickle!) It’s mainly seen on Amal and US carbs.
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No, you are not. Some bikes, mainly large single motors, are equipped with a manual decompression lever or cable (or an automatic decompression unit). Unless you want strong leg muscles or batteries to cry and starters to fail, you’ll want to use it now.
Of course, it’s much easier with an electric start. Run the engine until it runs fine. If you get stuck, you need to be very sensitive to what the engine “wants”. Do you have a cough? Great! It probably wants more fuel. Don’t forget to idle it when it starts running; It’s easy to let an engine waste and die, and on some bikes the area between “cold” and non-“operating temp” is a no-man’s land to begin with. If you smell a large amount of gas coming from the exhaust, you may have flooded it. (Remember that some bikes are nearly impossible to flood…they gulp gas when started.)
If you overfill your machine (getting too much gas in the cans), you can help clear the bike by keeping the throttle wide open and revving the engine. (Be prepared to release the throttle if the engine suddenly roars to life… running it at high speed before the precious oil gets into the engine is a mega-size, very bad thing.)
Turn off the choke practically immediately. In some bikes it is almost
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