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Old 12th February 2016, 17:09   #1
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Default Throttle Play in Motorcycles

I had purchased a CB Unicorn Dazzler in 2011. At the time of PDI I had instructed the dealer representative to ensure that the bike is delivered to me with zero throttle play. He responded saying that a bare minimum play is there on all vehicles. However, I insisted on the same and he complied.

All of these five years my bike has been maintained with the workshop operated by the aforementioned dealer. Almost after every service I happen to note that they've brought back the throttle play and almost immediately I've had to ask them to adjust it back to my liking. I know that service center folks are only doing their job and I'm not complaining.

I used to ride an Activa earlier and that had a throttle play. I've also been on other bikes and barring some all have had a certain degree of throttle play.

However, I'm not comfortable with the idea of having play and prefer sharp and instant response.

I'd like to know from you as to what are the Pros and cons of throttle play. I'm enumerating whatever I've been able to make out.

Why no throttle play?

Pros
- Instant response
- Mental satisfaction

Cons
- Excessive pressure on throttle cable
- Even a slight accidental twist of wrist will cause bike to lurch ahead

Last edited by GTO : 15th February 2016 at 12:04. Reason: Adding clarification on your pros & cons :)
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:02   #2
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Default re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

^^^
A bit of play is necessary. Else idling is likely to be erratic.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 13th February 2016, 16:29   #3
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Throttle play is useful IMO.

PROS:

1) The play acts like a neutral zone/ reference point. If you ride any bike enthusiastically, and take corners in racing line, the corner entry is the braking zone. While braking I won't drop the throttle all the way down but will hold it at the end of play and throttle so that I can push at the exit of the corner.

2) play helps zipping through traffic a breeze, If you want to cut a vehicle or make a narrow pass ( I know it's wrong to do so) a sudden blip of throttle from play will make the pass easy.

3) Kids can 'play' with your ride if you park it outside.


CONS:

1) Too much play can hamper sudden acceleration from standstill.This is why sports-bikes even the R15 or the Duke have little play and commuters have a larger play.
2) excess play makes twisting the throttle difficult. I have ridden a CT 100 where I have to double twist to go anywhere
3) It makes things difficult (dangerous in some cases) for beginners. A long play followed by sudden pickup is recipe for disaster.
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Old 13th February 2016, 17:39   #4
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
Pros
- Instant response
- Mental satisfaction

Cons
- Excessive pressure on throttle cable
- Even a slight accidental twist of wrist will cause bike to lurch ahead
I've made a little mistake in my post above. Instead of throttle play, I've listed the Pros and cons of not having a throttle play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
^^^
A bit of play is necessary. Else idling is likely to be erratic.
Thanks for your reply. Can you please elaborate more. The only time I've faced idling issue was when I tried to play around with carburetor myself. Realised my mistake and took it to the service center to get it rectified.
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Old 13th February 2016, 20:52   #5
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

^^^
Movement of the handlebars, normal movement of the bike etc. causes small changes in the relative position of the inner cable with respect to the casing. Without a bit of play in the system, this will cause movement of the butterfly for the same handthrottle position.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 13th February 2016, 21:10   #6
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
However, I'm not comfortable with the idea of having play and prefer sharp and instant response.
Perhaps instead of eliminating play, you should look at ways to make your throttle "quicker action".

Less turn from 0 to 100%. You could buy quick action throttle sets off ebay, or you could try jugaading it by using a larger diameter cable pulley.

Cheers

Ride Safe.
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Old 13th February 2016, 22:43   #7
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

The newer age motorcycles are going by Ride by wire technologies and the overall input to the engine is controlled by maps and ecu's. Secondly the play was kept in place due to restrictions to wire action. Like when you turn your handle bar there was always a potential to increase the throttle and by mistake you didn't want to make the engine purr hard.But these days the wiring has improved, the point of contact between lever and wires have been modified to avoid this excess movement and literally eliminating the need for the play.

In my 390, i kept zero play, added a short throttle and voila fun was it. Also if you learn the right technique you wont mistakenly squeeze the throttle. Unless you are thrashing hard, the best technique is to use thumb and index finger(on the brake lever) while the other three fingers on the throttle grip.Alternatively you have use two fingers on the brake lever, thumb as the pivot point and moderate the throttle. The two fingers usually hold the lever at an angle which will act as a natural deterrent to roll the wrist so fast for sudden throttling.

When on highway when i dont need to be that careful, i usually take the five fingers on the throttle grip position to make maximum use of throttle.
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Old 14th February 2016, 11:57   #8
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
^^^
Movement of the handlebars, normal movement of the bike etc. causes small changes in the relative position of the inner cable with respect to the casing. Without a bit of play in the system, this will cause movement of the butterfly for the same handthrottle position.
Thanks for the explanation. I now have a greater degree of understanding in relation to your previous post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gthang View Post
Perhaps instead of eliminating play, you should look at ways to make your throttle "quicker action".

Less turn from 0 to 100%. You could buy quick action throttle sets off ebay, or you could try jugaading it by using a larger diameter cable pulley.
Appreciate your suggestion. For some reason I'm not comfortable with the idea of carrying out any sort of modification. I prefer keeping everything in a stock setup, the way it came from the factory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VW2010 View Post
The newer age motorcycles are going by Ride by wire technologies and the overall input to the engine is controlled by maps and ecu's. Secondly the play was kept in place due to restrictions to wire action. Like when you turn your handle bar there was always a potential to increase the throttle and by mistake you didn't want to make the engine purr hard.But these days the wiring has improved, the point of contact between lever and wires have been modified to avoid this excess movement and literally eliminating the need for the play.

In my 390, i kept zero play, added a short throttle and voila fun was it. Also if you learn the right technique you wont mistakenly squeeze the throttle. Unless you are thrashing hard, the best technique is to use thumb and index finger(on the brake lever) while the other three fingers on the throttle grip.Alternatively you have use two fingers on the brake lever, thumb as the pivot point and moderate the throttle. The two fingers usually hold the lever at an angle which will act as a natural deterrent to roll the wrist so fast for sudden throttling.
Much obliged for your explanation on throttle application on modern bikes, learnt something new. Even I ride in the same manner as you do. The left index covering the clutch and the right one covering the front brake lever.
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Old 14th February 2016, 13:05   #9
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Throttle and clutch cables require a manufacturer recommended play. Else they may wear out and snap prematurely at some odd place / hour.

If throttle play is too low it may cause the engine to race just by turning the handle bar extreme left or right, without even giving any throttle input.

If clutch cable play is too low or too much it can cause premature clutch plate wear out.

I keep the normal play on all my cables and also have them replaced every year, whatever the condition. Despite that I had a snapped clutch cable at an odd place during night time recently, with no mechanic shop open. Finally had to ride it home, gently changing gears without clutch and sticking to third gear (giving enough momentum at first with my legs to engage first gear). Wherever traffic came to a crawl I got down and pushed, before mounting again! Rode about six KM like that.
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Old 14th February 2016, 17:48   #10
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
....and also have them replaced every year, whatever the condition.
I'm assuming you are still riding the Splendour. It would be wrong for me to comment upon your replacement cycle without knowing your usage. So what's your annual mileage like?
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Old 14th February 2016, 17:52   #11
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gansan View Post
...

If throttle play is too low it may cause the engine to race just by turning the handle bar extreme left or right, without even giving any throttle input.

...
In the case of the Generation 1 Fiero, this is the exact thing that happens if no play is kept in the throttle. Turning the handlebar one side causes the engine to race, and the other side introduces play. I guess this is due to the way the cable is laid out and clamped from the throttle to the center axle of the bike.
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Old 14th February 2016, 17:58   #12
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
I'm assuming you are still riding the Splendour. It would be wrong for me to comment upon your replacement cycle without knowing your usage. So what's your annual mileage like?
Yes, going strong and runs like a dream with 125k KM on the odo! The usage is down to about 5k KM a year, but I still replace the cables, spark plug and air filter once a year. Bike will be serviced once in four months.
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Old 14th February 2016, 23:04   #13
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

IMO, a small amount of "play" in the throttle which allows a very small amount of movement of the throttle grip is necessary.

If the throttle cables are adjusted too tightly, the cables, the grip and the carburetor or throttle body will be under a constant strain.
This strain will lead to a premature wearing out of the moving parts in the system.

Additionally, under some circumstances, a throttle setup adjusted so tightly that there is no free play can cause the engine to change speed when the handlebars are turned from side to side.
This is not a good condition. Movement of the handlebars should have no effect on the position of the throttle.

There was a time when only one throttle cable was used to change the engine speed, a spring being used to keep a constant pressure on the throttle and to shut the throttle when tension was removed from the grip.

Although this worked for years, it was somewhat dangerous because a failure of the spring could prevent the engines returning to an idle speed when the grip was "closed".

Springs are still being used to close the throttle and they work fine but the addition of the second throttle cable to positively close the throttle even if the spring fails should be looked at as a safety feature.
It is not there to provide tension on all of the other moving parts.

Last edited by ArizonaJim : 14th February 2016 at 23:06.
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Old 15th February 2016, 08:18   #14
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
I prefer keeping everything in a stock setup, the way it came from the factory.
Hi there.

Not sure if you have tried already, but you could try securing the cable by clamping it firmly relative to the carb using some cable ties. Once you have the play set to your liking, clamp the cable so that handlebar movement will not upset cable geometry with respect to carb.

Throttle Play in Motorcycles-cable_tie_.jpg

Cable ties, a great cheap tool that doesn't get enough credit, in my humble opinion. A great friend of old bikes and loose cables.

Image source:http://www.cabletiefan.co.uk/pictures.htm

Cheers

Ride Safe.
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Old 15th February 2016, 12:27   #15
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Default Re: Throttle Play in Motorcycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
IMO, a small amount of "play" in the throttle which allows a very small amount of movement of the throttle grip is necessary.............

....It is not there to provide tension on all of the other moving parts.
Hello ArizonaJim, thanks for laying down your views. They help me to gain a better understanding of the subject matter at hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gthang View Post
Cable ties, a great cheap tool that doesn't get enough credit, in my humble opinion. A great friend of old bikes and loose cables.
Thanks gthang for your post on cable ties. Will definitely look into them.
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