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How to Use the Choke on a Motorcycle


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Starting a motorcycle with a manual choke requires some finesse and know-how.

If you don’t have the right technique, it can be difficult to get your bike going. In this guide, we will cover all the steps necessary for cold starting a carbureted motorcycle with a manual choke.

We’ll explain what the choke is and how it works, as well as discuss when and why to use it.

Finally, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to properly operate the choke so that you can start your motorcycle quickly and safely every time. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to get out on the road without any delays due to engine issues.

What is the motorcycle choke?

A motorcycle choke is a device that restricts the airflow into the engine.

This helps create an optimal air-fuel ratio for starting the engine, as well as providing additional kick to an already running engine.

The choke works by making it difficult for air to enter the combustion chamber, which allows gasoline to build up in the carburetor and fuel mix more easily. This causes a richer fuel-air mixture. Learn more about lean vs. rich conditions here.

The primary time to use the choke is when starting a cold engine.

This is because the colder temperatures create denser air, which makes it harder for gas to combust properly in a carburetor. The choke helps by restricting airflow and allowing a rich mixture of fuel and air to reach the spark plugs, making it easier for the engine to start.

In addition to starting up cold engines, using your choke can also help kick-start warm ones that are having trouble revving up due to excess heat buildup in their engines. 

Where is the choke located?

The choke on a motorcycle is connected to a lever or knob near the carbs.

On some bikes, it is close to where you grip the handlebar and looks like a switch.

You can move it up or down depending on how much air you want to get into the engine.

The actual choke is located inside the carburetor, which is underneath the gas tank. You can’t see it, but you can feel its effects when you open or close the choke on your handlebars. 

How It Works

A motorcycle choke works by restricting the airflow into the engine.

It does this by partially closing off the air intake valve, which reduces the amount of air entering the combustion chamber and allows more fuel to mix with it. This creates an optimal air-fuel ratio which helps start a cold engine and gives additional kick to an already running one. 

The choke is connected to a lever or knob on the carbs or handlebars, allowing you to adjust it as needed.

When opened, it allows more air in, and when closed it restricts airflow and allows for a richer mixture of fuel and air.

It’s important to note that too much of a rich mixture can cause problems such as fouling spark plugs or flooding the engine with fuel, so adjusting your choke carefully is essential for safe operating conditions. 

How To Use the Choke

When starting a cold bike engine, you’ll want to use your choke to give it an extra boost of fuel. Take these steps to get your engine revving:

  1. Before attempting to start your motorcycle, check the choke lever (or knob) located on the handlebars to ensure it is in its default closed position. This lever or knob will likely be close to where you grip the handlebar and looks like a switch. 
  2. Open the throttle slightly and then slowly turn on the choke until you feel the engine trying to start up. The choke restricts air intake, allowing a fuel-rich mixture to reach the spark plug and ignite more easily. 
  3. Once your motorcycle’s engine has started, reduce or close off the choke completely until it runs without any noticeable changes in speed or performance. If continuing with cold starting, open up your carburetor when revving for maximum power before release of clutch for smooth take offs. 
  4.  In case of warm engine starts, use your choke if having trouble revving up due to excess heat buildup in their engines – slightly open up your car’s throttle while slightly increasing its choke setting until it starts again; just make sure not to close off your carburetor entirely when doing so.
  5. To avoid problems such as fouling spark plugs or flooding the engine with fuel, adjust your choke carefully based on temperature and other factors that affect air-fuel ratio needed for proper combustion of fuel inside the combustion chamber. 
  6. Finally, if you experience difficulty starting your motorcycle, try using a richer air-fuel ratio by applying more choke than usual to ensure that all cylinders are firing properly and there is no lack of pressure within the combustion chamber preventing ignition from occurring.