WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Motorcycle takes a Long Time to Warm Up

By James - 7/23/2005

I’m writing to see if you can answer a beginner riding question or point me in the right direction. I Have a 2001 Kawasaki 125cc bike with less than 200 miles on it (bought new). I’m finding a couple of problems. It takes a long time to “warm up.” Meaning, even with the choke on for a few minutes sometimes it will shut off until after riding for awhile, or I’ll have to rev the throttle at stops to keep it going until its warm. I don’t always ride every day, so sometimes there is a few days in between use. Can this be the problem? Also, I was riding on a parkway the other day at around 50mph and the bike died on me. I was able to pull over start it up again and ride off, but I was surprised and a bit spooked. Is this normal if the bike doesn’t have enough warm up? Is it because the bike is new or the engine is too small? I appreciate at help. Thanks!

- Emmanuel P.

Smaller displacement bikes often take a long time to warm up. My wife’s Honda Rebel is a cold-blooded motorcycle but big bikes suffer from this as well. It usually has to do more with the idle setting and fuel/air mixture than displacement. You can figure out whether you are running lean or rich with a simple test. Start your bike up and ride it down the road. Don’t let it warm up and don’t give it full throttle. Ease up to 55mph and then pull in the clutch and kill the engine. Pull over and pull the spark plug out. You will need a wrench, practice before you leave if you haven’t done it before. If the ceramic element is white then you are running too lean, a black element means you are running rich. You are hoping for a tan spark plug. That is perfect. Usually new motorcycles come from the factory lean, for pollution reasons so my bet is that it is too lean.

The other reason your bike may be cutting out is electrical. Either the battery is weak (especially after sitting for a while), there is a short somewhere (does it happen when you go over a bump?), or there is condensation in the wires (rainy days or cold mornings) giving you a weak spark. It is hard to diagnose over the internet so if you don’t feel comfortable monkeying with the motorcycle talk to a mechanic and they should be able to narrow the focus.



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