Common Motorcycle Power Loss Causes Checklist

“Wait a minute, something doesn’t feel right..! Why is my bike suddenly feeling sluggish ?”, this is a question that almost everyone of us have asked our self at some-point of time since we started riding. And we come to the conclusion that the bike has suffered from what we call it as Power loss.

This happens in almost any type of vehicle, be it car or bike or three-wheeler , trucks …blah blah. Well,you get the point , if it is a motor which generates some output(power) , it is bound to lose a part of it over time. Sometimes it is because of components failing internally, which means that the motor should not be used and should be serviced and parts replaced without delay to ensure that the machine stays clean and runs clean for the foreseeable future.

But more often than not power loss is caused  due to some very simple minute carelessness from the part of the owner/operator, which can be easily found and rectified , which will restore the machine to its former glory and the additional perk is that you can feel good about yourself too ;-). Now nothing beats that feeling does it ?

Now since this is a space related to Motorcycles, let’s concentrate on that. So , here is a checklist , whenever you feel that your bike is running sluggish, go through this checklist and inspect if it is the bloke that is causing this problem for you.

Checklist :

  1. Chain Slackness
  2. Chain Lubrication
  3. Tyre Pressure/ Tyre Life
  4. Air Filter
  5. Carb Tuning
  6. Fuel Quality

Now lets get into little detail as to why these points are mentioned.

Chain Slackness

This is probably the most overlooked part of regular maintenance by owners and almost always ends up as the most common reason for power loss. For motorcycles the power generated from the combustion of fuel is present at the crankshaft, now that power needs to be transferred on to the wheel for it to make any use to us, and the medium used for this is the chain-drive.

Chains once adjusted tends to get loose overtime due to the pressure put on it while transmitting the power from the crank to the wheel.

Now each bike has a manufacturer prescribed slackness that must be maintained at all time, the reason being, if that chain is loose then there is a huge transmission loss which in our term refer as power loss. Chains once adjusted tends to get loose overtime due to the pressure put on it while transmitting the power from the crank to the wheel.
So, always make it a point to check and adjust the slackness/tightness of the chain every 500-1000 kms.

Chain Slackness

Chain Slackness


You can refer this link for steps to tightening the chain. Click here

Note: For more powerful bikes the pressure on the chain drive is much higher and inspection should be done more frequently. Effects of running on a loose chain for prolonged period of time is that the chain is pulled abnormally and develops uneven slackness and will in turn be very tough to get a perfect slack and in this case must be replaced with a fresh chain-sprocket set.

Chain Lubrication

As the name suggests, lubrication is very important for chain drive, reason being , the chain is transferring power to the rear wheel through the sprockets and naturally when this happens there is friction between the chain links and the sprocket and if the chain is running dry the friction is higher and this means the efficiency of power transmission drops.Plus it gets noisy , really really noisy and annoying.


Dry chains cause transmission loss and are very noisy and irritating

So to take of this problem we lube the chain with gear oil/chain lube of certain grade to make the movement of the chain smooth and soundless and thereby reducing friction and giving smooth transmission of power.

Clean Chain Drive

Clean Chain Drive

Note: Most cost effective agent of lubrication is SAE Grade 90 gear oil, but it is very messy, the rear wheel cleaning will be a herculean task to perform. Another costlier and cleaner options are dedicated chain cleaners from Motul/Muck-off/Rolon. Rolon being cheapest(smallest) and Muckoff being costliest(most effective).

Chain Cleaning

Chain Cleaning

Tyre Pressure/ Tyre Life

Yup, the next important part, what good is the power transferred to the wheel if all the Tyre does is cause extra drag/ hindrance. Tyres are filled with air and the common misconception of people is that , once you fill it with air, it won’t drop in pressure, which is wrong. Overtime as the tyre gets old air starts to leak from the tyres, you can get more detail about it form google, but let me tell you how this pressure loss causes headache for us, when the tyre loses pressure the surface area of the contact patch on the tyre becomes more and this causes extra drag , which in turn puts more pressure/effort on the chain/sprockets to turn the wheel, which in-turn increases your fuel consumption and decreases performance. Makes you think doesn’t it, what a pain in the ass this air pressure can be if ignored..!!

Low tyre pressure causes increased drag and pressure on the chain/sprockets and in turn increase fuel consumption


Now the way to solve this issue is to maintain the front and rear wheel to specific pressure which works best for running the vehicle in optimum, and this specific pressure which is needed for your bike will be mentioned on the swing-arm, just look out for a small sticker with a bit of writing on it and you will find the psi levels needed for your bike.

Air Filter

How well can you perform if one was to deprive you of oxygen ? You’d either die or pass out. Same thing happens to engines too. Your bike generates power through combustion and for combustion you need air and this air is supplied through an intake manifold , which has a filter to make sure only clean air is passed though into the combustion chamber.

Dirty Air Filter

Dirty Air Filter

Try doing your job without breathing, and you will get what this part is about

Clean Filter

Clean Filter

Now if a filter is doing its job right, then it will get dirty, yes it means it has filtered all the dirt from entering the engine, now as the filter gets dirtier the amount of air that passes through gets lesser as it is clogging the air passage, so this means it needs cleaning from time to time.  When this does not happen the bike starts to stop responding to the throttle input you are providing because it just cannot carry out proper combustion because it is not getting enough air. Simple science..! Now go clean your bike’s air-filter.

Fuel Quality

Nothing much to add here, make sure that the fuel you fill is always of high quality, impure fuel can cause improper combustion which results in performance loss/power loss.

Clean Fuel is very important

Clean Fuel is very important

Carb/Carburetor Tuning

This is not applicable to most modern bikes as most modern bikes fueling is taken care of by Fi (Fuel Injection). For bike with carbs it is not the case, performance difference is felt when you change altitude. Mostly faced by riders living in high altitude areas. It is simply because your air fuel mixture or what we call as fueling is dependent on the atmospheric condition or altitude. So if your bike was running fine in your home town , but is performing weirdly while ascending a hill station mountain areas, a small tweak to the carb tuning is all it takes. But do keep in mind carb tuning is a tricky job and if you do not know what you are doing you might end up making it worse. So messing with carb should be done at your own risk.

Well, that’s about all I can think of in my mind right now, I will add more points if I remember any, also I would really like you guys to post any points you feel that should be added, you can comment about it below and I shall add it into the article.

P.S: After going through this checklist if you still feel power-loss in your bike, it is best you take it to your authorized service center or to a trusted mechanic and get the bike inspected. Most of the time it is one of this point that causes all the problem and rectifying it puts everything back in place is it was. Hope this helps.

Ride Safe

4 responses to “Common Motorcycle Power Loss Causes Checklist

  1. Pingback: Running In your Motorcycle. Do’s & Dont’s | Wheels'n'Shields·

  2. Hi. I think I’ve messed up the carburetor tuning of my Pulsar 220 Dtsi (24k km on odo). What is the stock/default setting (turns) for the AFR screw? My bike keeps stalling when the engine’s cold and takes a very long time to warm up to a steady idle. This is even after getting it serviced at an authorised center. The mechanic said he cleaned the carb because it was clogged up. How much would a new carb cost? Please help. Thank you.


    • Kumar, did you get sorted I’m having same problem with my one. Also revving when clutch in or in neutral -mechanic said it could be a crack in the carb.


  3. Very informative article. From my experience too, I have noticed that power loss in my FZ16 is a result of the causes you mentioned. The fueling part is something I have experienced many times but never realised until now that the high altitude town I live in is responsible for sluggish acceleration especially when gradually ascending to my work place. This never happened when I ride the KTM or other FI bikes.

    Liked by 1 person

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