How To Check and Adjust Your Motorcycle Throttle

Get that crisp throttle response back with proper cable slack.

Setting your throttle free play is one of those simple adjustments that can make your bike feel more responsive and make it easier to ride smoothly. Most manufacturers recommend about 2 to 3mm of throttle free play, but over time the cables will stretch and settle into their housings and you’ll end up with a sloppy throttle.

Step 1

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Check the slack.Brenda Weaver

Measure the free play by rolling the throttle forward until it stops and then opening it until you feel tension on the cable. The distance from the closed position to the tension point is your free play. Masking-tape pointers are a big help.

Step 2

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Identify the adjuster(s).Brenda Weaver

There are usually inline cable adjusters near the throttle as well as adjusters down at the carbs or throttle bodies. The barrel adjusters are for fine-tuning slack, while the adjusters down by the engine are for making bigger changes.

Step 3

checking motorcycle throttle, throttle adjustments
Small stuff up top.Brenda Weaver

For minor free-play adjustments, use the inline adjusters. Just slide the rubber cover off, loosen the locknut, and turn the barrel adjuster to achieve the desired free play. A dab of silicone lubricant will make reinstalling the boot easier.

Step 4

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Big changes down below.Brenda Weaver

If either of the inline adjusters are at the end of their range or you can’t get the right slack measurement, you’ll need to address the adjusters in the engine bay. It’s the same basic procedure, but the parts are a little harder to access.

Step 5

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Swing the steering.Brenda Weaver

Once you’ve set the slack, swing the steering from lock to lock and verify that the throttle doesn’t tighten up. Then start the bike and turn the bars lock to lock again and make sure the idle doesn’t change. This is important!

Step 6

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Check your work.Brenda Weaver

If the idle rises, that could mean you don’t have enough free play, but it’s also worth checking the cable routing to make sure that it isn’t kinked or getting pinched. A happy throttle cable is a precise throttle cable and vice versa.