Few things are as disappointing as getting geared up in your motorcycle riding gear for a ride and discovering your motorcycle engine isn’t running properly. Of the many reasons for poor engine performance, low cylinder compression is one some riders don’t feel qualified to diagnose or repair on their own. The average rider may prefer to let a dealership or professional bike mechanic perform a compression test, but a classic bike owner who has decent mechanical skills can easily do it themselves.
What You’ll Need
Having the right tools for the job is essential to getting the job done right. In this case, you’ll need a compression tester and time. Most mechanics recommend buying a tester set with multiple extensions and adapters. Here some things to look for when choosing a compression tester set.
- Correct thread length on the spark plug adapter (it needs to match the threads on your bike’s spark plugs)
- Avoid testers that don’t thread in
- Avoid testers that only use rubber cones to seal between the tester and the plughole
Before conducting the test, check your service manual for the acceptable psi range for your bike. Acceptable compression is generally between 120 psi and 200 psi with a difference no greater than 5 percent for multi-cylinder engines. Single-cylinder engines can vary by 10 psi in either direction.
Performing the Test
Once you have your tester and know your psi range, you’re ready to conduct the compression test in these eight steps.
- Take out the spark plugs and disable the ignition system by doing one of the following:
- Ground the spark plug wires
- Disconnect primary wires to the ignition coil
- Remove the ignition fuse (if there is one)
- Attach the hose-end of the tester to the cylinder you want to test, screwing it in finger tight. If you use an extender on one cylinder, use it on all of them.
- Open the throttle all the way by twisting it open at the handlebar. Do not engage the choke.
- Turn the engine over in one of the following ways:
- Press the electric starter button four or five times
- Put the engine in neutral and use the kick starter
- Record the readings on the pressure gauge
- Release the pressure in the gauge
- Keep repeating the test until you get the same reading three or four times
- Disconnect the hose and move on to the next cylinder
Most mechanics recommend performing compression tests on a warmed-up engine to get more accurate readings. So, if the bike is running and you’re doing a compression test as preventive maintenance, take your ride out for a little spin before conducting the test.
Bike Maintenance and Protection
Compression tests performed a couple of times a year serve as preventive maintenance. They can help you spot issues before they become full-blown problems. You can also protect your bike with accessories like OEM Motorcycle fairings which not only improve fuel economy, but they also provide an extra level of protection for engine parts. It’s easy to find quality compression test kits and other options for the best OEM parts for Suzuki GSx R600 from a reputable online bike shop.
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