Motorcycle Throttle Sticks? Here’s How To Prevent & Fix It


A motorcycle throttle that sticks is a dangerous and inconvenient issue. A sticky throttle disables you from accelerating smoothly. It may also lead the throttle to suddenly backfire.

There are 4 ways to prevent and fix a motorcycle throttle that sticks.

  • Proper throttle cable maintenance which includes lubricating, adjusting, and checking the cable routing
  • Inspect the throttle lock and bar ends
  • Check the throttle tube
  • Check the motorcycle carburetor

Knowing the causes of sticky motorcycle throttles can greatly help in solving the problem right away. It also helps to know the correct emergency response in case the throttle gets stuck in the middle of a road trip.

What To Do When Throttle Gets Stuck While Riding

It’s highly possible to experience a stuck throttle while riding. When this happens, grab the clutch and pull it in. Press down the brakes and then kill the motorcycle engine. This is the equivalent of putting a car in neutral. It will not stop the motorcycle entirely but it will help you slow down so that you can swerve accordingly.

At the instance when the throttle gets stuck while you are accelerating towards a tree, a wall, or off a cliff, then the aforementioned routine won’t work. You’ll need to jump off of your motorcycle.

Don’t worry because completely stuck throttles are very rare and completely avoidable by applying the correct maintenance. The motorcycle gives warning signs before the throttle completely sticks. Just be attentive to any signs of sticky throttles so that you can remedy it immediately.

black yellow motorcycle

How To Prevent Throttle From Sticking

There are four preventative measures that you can do to get rid of sticky throttles. These should be part of the motorcycle maintenance routine every season.

Proper Throttle Cable Maintenance

The throttle cables are the cables that connect the throttle to the butterfly valve. Any disruptions on the cables are usually the main causes for a sticking throttle.

  1. Lubricate The Cables

There are two main cables connected to the throttle. One controls the opening of the valve for the intake of the carburetor while the other closes it. These cables will lose their original lubrication over time. Make sure to update its lubrication to keep it functional.

Remove the cables and wipe it down with a rag to catch all the old lubrication. Use a cable lubricator tool to apply and spread some of the products. Replace the cables afterward. Make sure that they are at the correct tightness by adjusting the cable nuts.

If you noticed that the cables are frayed at the end, it’s time to replace them with new ones.

  1. Adjust The Cables

Cables that are too tight can also cause the throttle to stick. There should be at least two to three millimeters of looseness to the cables. This may vary from model to model to refer to the manual for the exact measurement. Generally speaking, the cables must be tight enough that they’d snap back into position after flicking.

cables throttle stick

Adjust the cables by loosening the lock nut and then turning the adjuster nuts until the desired looseness is achieved.

  1. Check The Cable Routing

The cable can be routed in a way that causes bends or pinches. These disruptions can cause the throttle to stick or be less responsive. Just follow the cables and make sure that nothing is in the way of it. Turn the handlebars and check if the movement is not overly straining the cables.

Inspect The Throttle Lock Or Bar Ends

Some motorcycle models have bar ends. Make sure that they aren’t installed too tightly because it causes the throttle to get stuck. Inspect the tightness of the throttle lock and make sure that it is neither too loose nor too tight.

Check The Throttle Tube

The throttle tube is a tube that is made of either aluminum or plastic. It fits over the handlebars. This is likewise attached to the cables so any accumulated dirt and grime can affect the cable’s effectiveness.

Remove the tube and clean it with a degreaser. Clean the handlebars. Apply a fresh layer of all-purpose grease before you put back the tube. If the tube has cracks or already feels brittle, replace it with a brand new one. Make sure to grease the replacement tube before installing it.

woman holding throttle

Check The Carburetor

If the issue is not caused by the throttle, throttle tubes, or throttle cable, then there’s a chance that the carburetor is the problem. Check the springs that connect to the throttle cable. Make sure that the springs have enough tension to them.

Clean the carburetor because any dirt and debris can cause the throttle slider to stick. Clean the carburetor by using seafoam. This eliminates varnish and accumulated grease.

You can also clean the throttle slider without removing it from the carburetor. Just use a degreaser at the rotation joint of the slider arm.

Final Tests

After you’ve performed the aforementioned preventative tips, check the throttle first before taking the motorcycle out for a spin. This final rundown will make sure that you didn’t miss anything that can result in a motorcycle malfunction later on.

Give the throttle a visual inspection. Are the cables intact and properly attached? Do they have signs of fraying which means they need to be replaced? Are they routed correctly so that there are no bends? Is the throttle tube functional? Are there any vacuum leaks? Are all the delicate parts of the carburetor installed back?

If everything looks good, you may now take the motorcycle for a test run. Do so slowly while gradually increasing the acceleration. Check if there are unusual sounds coming from the engine. Check if there is motorcycle bogging while you accelerate. The test run shouldn’t take you too far from the motorcycle service center so that you can just immediately rush back if the throttle still sticks.

Charles Mariotti

Charles came to motorcycling in his mid 20’s, getting his first street bike in 1993. When not writing or riding his bike, Charles works as a Heavy Duty Mechanic for a large motorcycle dealership. He is also passionate about photography and owns a Persian cat named Rider.

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