How To Clean The Throttle Cable On A Dirt Bike

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So you want to know how to clean the throttle cable on a dirt bike? Regularly checking and lubing the throttle components will prevent the cable from fraying and snapping, ensure a smooth throttle action lowering the chances of arm pump, and help you avoid nasty, unnecessary accidents caused by a jammed throttle. There are plenty of horror stories of riders that have crashed because the throttle was stuck open.

When was the last time you checked yours? Take 20 minutes out of your day and clean that sticky throttle – it may just save you some coin and a trip to the hospital.

How To Clean The Throttle Cable On A Dirt Bike In A Few Easy Steps

  • Peel back the rubber sleeve so you can remove the throttle housing and slide the throttle tube off.

Note: Most modern four strokes have two cables instead of one – a push and a pull cable.

  • On my YZ 250 I also have to take out two screws and open up the throttle housing to expose the cable.
  • Remove the fuel tank and seat so you can get to the carby.
  • Release the end of the throttle cable from the carby so all the gunk doesn’t get flushed into it when you clean out the cable.
  • Attach a cable luber to the top end of the cable and spray contact cleaner into it to flush out the sand and dirt. Follow through with cable lube.

Note: Some modern cables are Teflon coated which shouldn’t be (and don’t need to be) lubed. Using contact cleaner or lube spray can corrode the coating so make sure you know whether it’s Teflon coated or not.

  • Once it’s cleaned and lubed you can reattach it to the carby and assemble the tank and seat back together.
  • Next, you need to clean out the throttle tube and the bar end with contact cleaner. Use a rag and screwdriver to get right inside the throttle tube. I also need to clean inside the throttle housing on my YZ. Once that’s all clean, spray a little WD40 or CRC on these components and inside the throttle tube to ensure a smooth, snappy throttle action.

Tip: Don’t use grease on the throttle tube as it will only give it a sluggish feel, plus the sand/dirt will stick to it. It is perfectly fine to use a fine spray lube like WD40 or CRC. Also, if the throttle tube is damaged you will need to replace it.

  • Slide the throttle tube onto the bar end and attach the cable – if you remove the throttle pulley it will make the job easier. Once the cable is on you can then fit the pulley back in place (the right way around), tighten the housing back together and secure to the bar.

Tip: When tightening it to the bar, push the housing all the way on as far as it will go then back it off a couple of millimeters before tightening. This will eradicate any friction between the bar end and throttle tube end.

  • Fit the rubber sleeve back in place and adjust the play using the throttle adjuster where the cable enters the housing. You want a bit of slack especially on more powerful bikes.

And there you have it.. a throttle smoother than James Bond ordering a martini. Just make sure the rubber sleeve is in good condition – otherwise replace it.

Question: How often should I clean and lube the throttle cable on my dirt bike?

Answer: In an ideal world I would clean the throttle tube and housing components every 5 – 10 hours and after every time I drop the throttle directly into mud or sand. I clean the cable every 10 – 20 hours, again depending on the riding conditions and how dirty it is inside the housing.

Other Possible Causes Of A Sticky Throttle

  • Damaged throttle tube.
  • Worn and frayed cable/s.
  • Cable tracking incorrectly down through the bike – could be kinked.
  • Wrap around hand guards rubbing on the throttle tube end.
  • Bent handle bar end.
  • Housing tightened up too far towards the brake perch so the tube end is rubbing on the bar end.
  • Various carburettor problems.

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Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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