There are a lot of little details when it comes to riding your motorcycle.
And one of the things that many new riders wonder about is whether they need to warm up their motorcycle before riding it.
You do need to warm up a motorcycle before riding it. Motorcycles do need to be warmed up for 1 to 5 minutes in both the summer and winter. Carbureted motorcycles do need to be warmed up for a little longer on average, especially during the winter.
Now, if you still have questions about the warm-up process and how important it is, continue reading below. I share more information about what you need to know.
Table of Contents:
How Much Time Is It Needed for the Motorcycle to Warm Up?
The really cool thing is that you do not need to leave your motorcycle running for 10 or 15 minutes to warm up properly. As a matter of fact, the engine will heat up pretty quickly, even in chilly weather—especially fuel-injected motorcycles, which can warm up in as little as 30 seconds.
The majority of riders do not leave their motorcycle running for more than what they need to put on their helmet and gloves and get ready to leave. (Which is no more than a few minutes at most.)
So how long should I warm up my motorcycle?
You should warm up your motorcycle for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the weather. This ensures that the engine, pistons, and other components will run at optimal temperatures, which will also provide good oil circulation and lubrication and prevent engine damage and wear out.
If the weather is especially chilly, take it easy and don’t push your motorcycle too much for the first 10 to 15 minutes. (The engine will warm up faster when being used.)
Still, it is advisable to have some sympathy for your bike and give it a little time to warm up properly.
With that being said, you do not need to leave it on idle for more than a few minutes, so don’t worry; usually, the time you will need to gear up will be more than enough for the engine to warm up properly.
Do I Need to Warm up My Motorcycle in Winter?
In the thick of winter, a lot of people say that you need to start your motorcycle and idle it for some time to let it properly warm-up? But is this a good practice during the winter?
This is something that a lot of people do with their cars, so should you do it with your motorcycle?
Interestingly enough, this is considered to be somewhat of a myth.
You do not need to warm up your motorcycle in the winter if you do not plan on using it. Letting your motorcycle idle for 10 or 30 minutes in the winter without actually riding it can do more harm than good. However, if you will be riding your motorcycle in the winter, you do need to let it warm up for a few minutes.
Letting your motorcycle idle for half an hour in the winter without actually using it can negatively affect the oil lubrication in the engine cylinders and around the pistons. This can have the engine wear out faster and reduce its longevity. (Oils will start gaining viscosity below 0°F or -17.8°C.)
And idling your motorcycle is also not a good way to warm it up in the cold.
In fact, this sort of thing is not recommended even for cars anymore—the best way to warm up a car’s engine is considered to be driving the car instead of letting it idle for 10 or 20 minutes.
Warming up your motorcycle in the winter for long periods of time can waste a lot of fuel and end up being more costly than necessary.
Warm-up your motorcycle the same way you do during the rest of the year.
To warm up your motorcycle in the winter, leave it idle for 1 to 5 minutes while you are gearing up. Then for the first 10 to 15 minutes, go easy on the throttle as the engine gradually warms up.
After the engine’s temperatures get above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can start riding it as usual.
With that being said, carbureted motorcycles (and I will talk about them in a bit) may need at least 5 minutes, or more, to warm up in the winter properly.
What Happens If You Don’t Warm-up Your Motorcycle?
Say you are in a hurry and you need to take off as soon as possible. There is no time to wait for the motorcycle to warm up, you get on your bike, start it, and you are off.
Is this bad, and what will happen if you don’t warm up your motorcycle?
If you do not warm up your motorcycle, you will be running the engine with cold oil. Cold oil is harder to pump and provides less lubrication. This creates more friction. As a result, if you do not warm-up your motorcycle, you can cause the engine to wear out faster, causing long-term damage.
Running an engine, especially if you try running it into the red, with cold oil is just asking for trouble. Cold oil will not provide optimal levels of lubrication, which will cause excessive wear and tear to the engine’s internal components. Eventually, the pistons may scuff due to the increased friction.
Another problem that you may be facing if you are riding a carbureted motorcycle is that cold carburetors will sputter and stall if they are too cold. Due to the low temperature, the fuel will not be combusting evenly, and it will be overall less efficient. As the motorcycle warms up, things will get back to normal, and the combustion will even up, and the fuel will be vaporizing as usual.
Below 45°F (7°C) the tires will also start losing elasticity and will need to be warmed up.
Do All Motorcycles Need to Be Warmed Up?
Some riders will say that new motorcycles do not need to be warmed up as much as older ones.
Although not all motorcycles need to be warmed up, it is recommended to do so in order to avoid any potential long term damage to the bike’s engine, stalls, and sputtering.
Generally speaking, carbureted motorcycles will almost always have to be warmed up, especially in colder weather below 60°F. In contrast, EFI motorcycles, especially newer models, can be ridden cold without that necessarily damaging the engine in any way.
On another point, sometimes, it all depends on the engine itself. Your mileage may vary, literally. Some engines will just need to be warmed up for a few minutes in order to get good amounts of power and avoid stalling, while others will be good to go as soon as you start them.
MotoGP bikes are usually warmed up for a lot longer (10 minutes and above). This is done to keep the oil and water temperatures and the oil pressure within certain ranges. This will normally keep the motorcycle ready to go out and be pushed to its limit.
After all, if you will be riding a motorcycle at super high RPMs for extended periods of time, considering it is a race and the motorcycle’s performance is of the essence, you want it to be working at the utmost condition. (Even if that is not ideal in the long term.)
Do Carbureted Motorcycles Need More Time to Warm Up?
When it comes to carbureted motorcycles, things may seem a little different, especially if you come from a fuel-injected bike background. However, in reality, in terms of warming-up, carbureted and fuel injected motorcycles are a little different.
On average most modern motorcycles may need as little as 30 seconds to warm up properly, and some may not even need any time warming up at all. In comparison, carbureted motorcycles need more time to warm up, which is usually between 3 to 5 minutes.
Carbureted motorcycles may be a little trickier and may need a bit more time to warm up, but not by a huge margin compared to the rest of the bikes.
How to Warm up Your Motorcycle?
Carbureted motorcycles are a little trickier, but once you get used to how to warm them up properly, you will see that it is not that difficult.
A carbureted motorcycle needs to be left to warm up—with the enricher knob pulled out—for at least 30 to 90 seconds and then for an additional 120 seconds with the choke halfway. A carbureted motorcycle is considered properly warmed up when the rocker boxers are very warm to the touch.
If it is cold outside (below 60°F), you may want to leave it to idle a little longer. Leave the choke on for 1 to 2 more minutes, then leave it for the same time with the choke halfway. After that, you can turn the choke off. Give it a small throttle blip. If everything seems normal, you can continue and ride away. As noted above, make sure to go easy on the throttle for the first few minutes or the first couple of miles.
Fuel-injected motorcycles are very easy to warm up. What you need to do is leave them idle for a half a minute up to five minutes at most, and you are good to go.
In comparison, in the manuals of certain motorcycles (especially the ones with computer-controlled EFI), you may find it that nothing is mentioned about warming up your bike. This is normal as the computer dynamically compensates and adapts to the cold. As a result, these motorcycles need very little to no warming up.