Why You Should Warm Up Your Motorcycle Before Riding

As soon as you crawl out of bed tomorrow morning, try this experiment: run outside and sprint down the street. Aside from embarrassment over your jammies (or lack thereof), how do you suppose you’ll feel?

Your motorcycle likewise needs to warm up a bit before hitting the street. Many of the people around AMSOIL love anything to do with an engine, including motorcycles. So to get the technical details explaining why, I consulted a few of our resident bikers.

The heat is on

Metal expands when it’s heated, and anyone who’s sat astride a motorcycle knows they make serious heat. Subjecting a cold piston to extreme heat and friction without first allowing it to warm up can cause rapid piston expansion and scuffing.

Here’s what John Skuzinski, our mechanical test development manager, says:

“Optimal parts ​​clearances inside the engine are not achieved until normal operating temperatures are reached. If clearances are less than normal due to low engine temps, and the throttle demands the engine goes to work spontaneously, internal temperatures can rise very rapidly. Most frequently the pistons will heat-up and expand well ahead of the cylinder bores. The chances of clearance-related scuffing and seizure are thereby increased proportionally.”

Translation? Something might break.

Our director of facilities and maintenance, Rollie Everson, agrees. “I like to get them [engines] warm before putting any type of stress on the mechanical components. This makes sure components expand at a gradual rate when they are cold.”

Go with the cold-flow

Another reason to warm-up your bike is to circulate the oil. Here again John Skuzinski has some great insight. “Cold oils inhibit pumpability and flowability, making it more prone to thin-film and hydrodynamic-wedge breakdown. Under extreme cold-oil conditions, it is possible that the oil won’t be able to flow into the oil pump, leading to bearing and journal damage and wear.”

Translation? Again, something might break, this time due to lack of oil.

Of course, a good solution to poor cold-flow is to use a high-quality synthetic that flows quickly to engine parts despite cold temperatures. AMSOIL laboratory chemist Dale Beck explains:

“The highest chance of wear should be under the initial startup when the oil has yet to be circulated to all the components in the upper end. AMSOIL motorcycle oils have very good pumpability at cold tempatures, definitely colder than I enjoy riding the bike at, so I don’t worry much about the oil not being circulated enough. Our oils also have very good protection for cam wear, relating to initial startup, so unless you are redlining the engine after startup there shouldn’t be any worries about other engine parts.”

He's tough because he don't need a helmet. How long should you warm the engine?

Everyone I talked to said about one minute is plenty of time to allow the piston and other parts to gradually expand and ensure good oil circulation to the upper end. In fact, most riders just start the engine and then spend a minute or two putting on their helmet and preparing to ride. Once they’re ready, so is the bike.

Rollie Everson: “I only warm it up for a few minutes. Just enough to get it to a low idle.”

Patricia Stoll, AMSOIL trade show manager: “I warm mine up so I know everything is running well. I usually do this while I put on my helmet and make final adjustments before departing on a ride.”

Jim Swanson, AMSOIL trade show representative: “I usually let it warm up while making my last adjustments (ear plugs, gloves, glasses, etc.). This takes about a minute or two.”

Dale Beck: “I would guess that mine only warms up for around a minute. I usually start it just before putting on my helmet and gloves. In my opinion, anything more than a few minutes is a waste of fuel and can lead to deposit formation on the spark plugs and exhaust.”

John Skuzinski: “I like to let temps rise for about a minute before putting the engines to work. I equate it to a little muscle stretching before a  heavy  gym workout.”

To wrap it up, warm up your bike for at least a minute before heading out. Just use the time to buckle your helmet, slip your gloves on or finish other preparations. That way you’re not wasting time – and you’re likely saving your engine from wear.

FIND AMSOIL PRODUCT FOR MY MOTORCYCLE

Oil Analysis Kits Available from Oil Analyzers Inc. Ed Newman|May 10, 2022 2:38 PM   In order to provide a cost-effective oil analysis option when a full fluid analysis is not required, Oil Analyzers Inc. has launched a new Oil Analyzers Value Kit that focuses on the most critical used-oil analysis tests. It provides less […]

Racer Secrets: Tips and Tricks to Help on Race Day Lindsay Premo|Oct 16, 2020 8:00 AM Happy October, race fans! There are a lot of things we know are necessary in racing. A helmet, driver’s suit, gloves, appropriate footwear and (obviously) something to race on/in are all essential to striving toward that checkered flag. But, […]

First Time Heading to Sturgis? We’ve Got Some Tips. Jamie Jarvi|Aug 03, 2016 9:26 AM The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a true bucket-list destination for any motorcycle enthusiast. Each year thousands upon thousands of riders descend on Sturgis, S.D., and turn this small, sleepy town into a motorcycle mecca. Some travel the road to Sturgis […]

AMSOIL synthetic motor oil helps you breathe easier Oxygen is great in your lungs, but it’s not so great in your motor oil. Matt Erickson | VP, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Oxygen comprises about 20% of our atmosphere. It’s the third most common element in the universe. Without it we’d all be doomed. Yet, oxygen can cause […]

How to Maximize Marine Engine Performance and Reliability John Baker|May 02, 2022 10:36 AM   Fishing opener is right around the corner for us Northlanders. It’s essentially a regional holiday, rivaled only by the opener of gun deer season in the fall. Although some boaters and anglers don’t realize it, using a dedicated marine motor […]

Zeroturn Spindle

Best Practices for Your Zero-Turn Mower First, we’ll start with a question. How did we survive before Zero-Turn mowers? What did they do in the 50’s? Did they not cut the grass? Chris Sharon|Sep 07, 2022 8:00 AM Here at AMSOIL, we’re always investigating ways we can help you get the most out of your […]