How to Replace & Install a Throttle Cable on a Motorcycle
In this blog from the team at Venhill we discuss everything you need to know about replacing and installing a throttle cable on a motorcycle.
Importance of Checking & Replacing Your Throttle Cable
The throttle cable is an essential component of your motorcycle - without it, you cannot accelerate.
And like any other cable on your motorbike, over time your throttle cable will naturally stretch, wear and fray. This damage and deterioration can make it difficult to control and operate your bike, compromising on the safety of both you and other road users.
Your throttle cable will therefore need replacing every so often in order to help maintain a safe ride.
How to Check Your Motorcycle’s Throttle Cable
Your bike’s service/owner’s manual should provide guidance on how to and when to check the condition of your throttle cable. How often you should check will vary depending on your make and model as well as how and when you ride, but below we have listed and explained some of the key things you should look out for.
We advise getting into a regular habit of checking your throttle cable (and your other cables too), giving them a quick once-over before every ride and a more detailed inspection before long journeys.
Visually inspecting the condition of your throttle cable will enable you to check for any damage. If you notice any cracks or kinks in the cable housing you should look to replace the cable.
Throttle Cable Free Play
The free play of your throttle cable refers to the amount of rotation before it starts pulling on the cable. Most manufacturers specify 2-3mm of free play for the throttle to respond correctly and accelerate smoothly.
To measure your throttle’s free play, make a note of the grip position (with the throttle fully closed). Slowly twist the throttle open until you start to feel the tension in the cable. The distance from the ‘closed’ position to the tension point is your free play.
You can make this easier by cutting two small pieces of masking or insulating tape into points, sticking one piece to the grip and one to the switchgear pointing together. When you’ve twisted the throttle to feel the tension, measure between the two points.
Your throttle cable will naturally loosen the more you ride, so the free play is something you’ll want to check often. A cable that is too loose will have poor throttle response and cable that is too tight can make it difficult to accelerate.
Incorrect cable free play doesn’t usually require replacing, you should be able to adjust it instead. Read our previous blog for advice on this: How to Adjust Motorcycle Throttle Cables for Correct Free Play.
You can check your throttle’s return by fully opening the throttle and letting go. If the throttle doesn’t quickly and easily close automatically, it indicates there’s a problem.
If the cause of this is an incorrectly routed cable, you should be able to fix it without replacing. If, however, the cause of this is a damaged cable, then you’ll need to get it replaced.
If you have any doubt about the health of your throttle cable, get a specialist to take a look. They’ll be able to run some quick tests and inspect the condition of your throttle cable, providing guidance on whether it needs replacing or not.
How to Choose the Best Throttle Cable
When you’re looking to find a new throttle cable for your motorbike, it’s vital that you purchase an appropriate and high-quality replacement. For maximum performance and to save you money in the long-term, we recommend buying a premium cable with a favourable longevity. Throttle cables made using stainless steel wiring and PTFE ‘Teflon’ lined conduit are a perfect example, lasting much longer than other regular throttle cables.
Remember, also, to buy a cable that is the right size for your bike. Not all motorcycles are the same shape and size, so make sure the replacement cable is the correct fit. An easy way to do this is to check whether you are using a cable built to the original specs of the bike, or if it has been increased or decreased in length to accommodate a change (like raised or lowered handlebars).
Original Equipment Manufacturer (often referred to as OEM) made cables usually have a part number printed in white somewhere on the black outer conduit which can be used to help identify your part. These numbers are usually a segment of the whole pater number and sometime also include manufacturer batch number information. This information can be used to find suitable replacements for your existing cable. More information on this is available in our OEM part number guide.
At Venhill, we specialise in manufacturing the highest quality motorcycle throttle cables for modern and classic motorbikes. Manufactured in our UK factory (which is ISO 9001 certified to assure quality), we use the finest components and production techniques for all our products. We can even make something bespoke if you have a special requirement.
How to Change, Replace & Install Your Motorcycle’s Throttle Cable
Step 1 – Purchase Replacement Throttle Cable
The first thing you need to do is purchase your replacement throttle cable. As discussed above, make sure it is high-quality and the right size for your bike.
Step 2 – Prepare
Before you start removing the existing cable, you should secure your bike so that it doesn’t wobble or move when you’re working on it. Ensuring you are in a well-lit area will also make it easier for you.
Step 3 – Remove Existing Throttle Cable
To remove your throttle cable, unhook it at both the throttle housing and at the throttle body. You’ll also need to unclip and remove anything else securing the cable (things like zip-ties and clips, for example). Once these are removed, the cable should become slack, allowing you to remove it. Take care to note the routing of the existing throttle cable and mark this path out with masking or insulating tape. Taking photos can also be helpful as this can remind you where cables go under or over one another.
Step 4 – Install New Throttle Cable
Once the old cable has been removed from your bike you can install the new one. You should secure it in the same manner as the previous cable, attaching it to both the throttle housing and throttle body. We also suggest leaving a gap between the cable and any heat source and keeping ties loose to allow the cable to move.
Remember to route the new cable along the same path as the old one (this is where the pictures you took earlier might come in handy!).
Step 5 – Test
Once installed, it is a good idea to check the cable is installed correctly. Start your bike and swing the steering from lock to lock – if the idle increases, your cable is most likely getting pulled so will need fixing before riding.
Buy Motorcycle Throttle Cables with Venhill
If you’re looking to buy a new throttle cable for your motorcycle, look no further than the online range available here at Venhill. For over 50 years we’ve been making the best quality motorcycle replacement cables so are sure to have a solution for your bike.
Or if you’d like advice about which cable is right for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our motorcycle cable experts today. We’ll be more than happy to provide recommendations based on you and your bike.
See more: 8 Essential Motorcycle Maintenance Tips