Motorcycles – Fuel Injected vs. Carburetors

When first time motorcycle buyers enter a dealership, one of the first questions they may get from a salesman is do you want a fuel-injected bike?  As a newbie to the industry, or even some old-timers that are happy with their carbureted bikes, fuel injection has become more and more commonplace with both motorcycles and ATVs.  One of the reasons manufacturers have kept some of their motorcycles carbureted is the cost savings that can be passed onto the consumer. While motorcycles with fuel injection are a little more costly, the manufacturers are banking on the consumer understanding that the added cost is worth it in the long run.

For those who are wondering what exactly is the difference between carbureted and fuel injection motorcycles, here is very shortened, simple explanation of the differences between the two. The key similarity between carburetors and fuel injection systems is getting the fuel to the engine.

With a carbureted motorcycle, the owner has to use a choke when starting a cold engine.  The choke allows more fuel to be added to the engine on start-up.  Once the engine is warmed up, the choke is turned off and not needed again until that next cold start.  With a fuel-injected motorcycle, no choke is necessary and a cold bike will start right up, there is no need to warm up the bike, just jump on and go. There is also a better throttle response with a fuel-injected motorcycle, a difference enjoyed by most motorcycle owners.

First time riders face another dilemma with carbureted motorcycles as opposed to fuel injected motorcycles.  When a carbureted motorcycle sits for a while, and the carbs are not drained of gas, the carburetors can easily clog and the bike won’t run since gas can’t reach the engine.  The bike needs to go to the dealer and it becomes a costly lesson to the owner, as they have to pay to get the carbs cleaned and learn how to drain the carbs if the bike will be sitting for a while.

Now, let’s talk about the few drawbacks of fuel injected bikes; well, not so much drawbacks, but what the differences are that may affect a person’s decision to buy a fuel injected bike when they have the choice.  Although fuel-injected models are more fuel efficient, if the owner is looking to modify the engine, like with an aftermarket air cleaner or bolt on exhaust, these few small changes can be very costly on fuel injected motorcycles.  The owner may find he needs to get the computer reprogrammed in order for the motorcycle to run like it should. Also, if you get stuck on the side of the road, you may find that the only way to fix your motorcycle is to get it to the dealer, whereas carbureted bikes are a little easier to self maintain.

Yes, cost is also a factor, you will pay a higher price for a fuel-injected motorcycle, but it may be worth it in the long run.  If you are only riding on the weekends or every other weekend, those carbureted bikes can clog up quickly with all the additives used in gasoline. Some considerations should be how mechanically inclined you are and how much you are looking to invest in engine modifications.  Be aware that modifications to fuel-injected engines will probably be a little more costly, since the computer in your motorcycle may need to have a costly reprogramming with the installation of a $30.00 part.

I hope this provides you with some insight as to what to look for when you are trying to decide if you should buy a carbureted or fuel-injected motorcycle.