How to Hone a Motorcycle Cylinder


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If your pistons and cylinders are within serviceable limits according to your motorcycle manufacturer’s shop manual, you can install new piston rings and re-hone the cylinders.

If your cylinders are out-of-round and beyond serviceable limits, they may need to be bored to the next size up.

Cylinders that need boring should be taken to a machine shop with the right equipment.

Honing Motorcycle Cylinder

How to Hone a Cylinder with a Flex Hone

To hone a cylinder, you’ll need to:

  • Insert your hone tool into a proper drill.
  • Use a generous amount of hone oil/lubricant in the cylinders and on the hone tool.
  • Put the drill on a low speed and steadily move down the cylinder.
  • For ball hones or flex hones, you should start the drill before the tool enters the cylinders.
  • Move the hone tool up and down the cylinder bore, and make sure to keep the tool straight and centered.
  • Always keep the drill moving when it is in the cylinder, wait until it is out to stop it.
  • Continue for up to 1 minute, making sure to keep the drill moving and cycling the flex hone between halfway out the top and bottom of the cylinder.

Your goal is to create a 45 degree crosshatch pattern in the cylinder wall and to break up the glaze.

You do not want to take off any cylinder wall material if everything is within spec.

The process should not take very long – typically no more than a minute.

When you’re finished, clean and dry everything thoroughly before reassembly.


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Run a rag through each cylinder to ensure there is not dirt or particles in there. Continue to clean the cylinders again until your rag comes out clean.

Apply some fresh motor oil to the freshly honed cylinder walls before you put it all back together.

What does Honing a Cylinder do?

Honing a cylinder takes a small amount of surface material to help seat new rings.

Giving your cylinders a light hone will help break the glaze that’s built up on the cylinder walls to help the new rings seat.

If you’re working on a neglected project motorcycle, honing the cylinders can help remove any rust that has built up as well.

This will help improve engine performance and possibly eliminate any smoking.

There a several types of cylinder honing tools to chose from – ball hones/dingleberry hones and blade hone/stone hone tools. Hone tools will come in different grits, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations before selecting the hone for your job.

Be sure you purchase (or set) the hone tool at the correct size for your cylinder.


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