Stuck side of the road with a snapped throttle cable?
If your throttle cable breaks while riding a motorcycle, scooter, or driving a car it can be a real pain. The car may be mechanically fine, but without a throttle cable, you can’t go anywhere. No throttle cable means no acceleration, and no getting home.
Well, lucky for you it happened to me last night and I am here to share with you some tips and tricks to get you home.
The most likely way that should work for you is finding the broken part of the cable (that is still attached to the carb) and using your hand to pull open and closed the throttle. If the cable end snapped, you can tie a shoelace around the carb throttle and pull it that way. The third method is jamming a stick or rock in the throttle to keep it open at half throttle the whole way home.
All of these methods are dangerous and only for the expert rider. Please be safe when doing any of these. If you’re in doubt whether you can ride one-handed, don’t do this.
How I made it home with a snapped throttle cable 30 minutes from my house:
Huge tip: A multitool or a good knife makes this a lot easier to do.
You’re going to want to find the broken part of the throttle cable and get it out of the sleeve it is in. You can do this by pulling on the cable from the carb. I removed the cable from the handlebars then pulled it through that way until I found the end that was still connected to the carb.
If you’re lucky you will have a long piece to be able to wrap around your hand to avoid it cutting you.
I wasn’t as lucky. I had a little six-inch piece that cuts into my hand as I pulled on it for throttle the whole way home.
Videos to follow of me from last night trying to get home this way. At first, I tried shoving a stick in the carb to hold the throttle open, but it kept falling out/would’ve only given me one throttle speed.
Honestly, I had never ever wished I carried a multitool on me more than in that moment. It would have made my life so much easier. I highly highly recommend carrying a multitool if you ride a motorcycle or scooter often. I asked some aviation mechanic friends, and on some online forums, and found everyone recommends the Wave multitool. You could probably get away with a cheaper one, but I find cheap multitools suck more than not having one.
After this mishap, I was so frustrated I sold the scooter the next day. I just wasn’t down to keep fixing it. It was a 1985 Honda Elite 150, and I swear I spent more time fixing it than riding it.
Be safe, and when in doubt call a tow truck.
Steps to getting home if your throttle cable snaps or breaks while riding:
- Pull over safely to the side.
- Find the broken cable part that is still attached to the carb.
- Route it so you can hold it with your hand and pull on it while you ride
- Control the throttle with your hand and steer with the other hand
- If you don’t want to cut up your hand, use a multitool to grab it, or a corkscrew to wrap the cable around.
- I didn’t have a multitool– so I wrapped my sweatshirt around my hand first. It still cut me up and hurt pretty bad on my 30-minute ride home.
- Replace the throttle cable as soon as possible.
- If you get pulled over, impress the cop with your throttle cable skills. Tell him you’re just trying to get home fast because your hands hurt a lot!
- If your throttle cable is broken and can’t be put back on the carb, you can use a shoelace and tie it around the throttle part of the carb. These Harley guys recommend that.
I also originally tried to shove a rock or a stick into the carb to hold it open.
That didn’t work well, and I gave up on it. But that could also work (watch my video of me trying to do that).
Excuse the cuss words, and the “I’m over it” attitude with my scooter. I just have been left on the side of the road by it way too many times, simply because it is sooooo old everything is snapping, breaking, and I need reliable transportation.
Tools I recommend carrying while riding to make sure you can make repairs like this:
All links open Amazon to check the price & current reviews.
- A high-quality multitool– here is what aviation guys recommend– Leatherman Wave Plus.
- I could’ve used this to grab the throttle cable and avoided cutting my hand up.
- This Japanese super high-quality foldable pocket knife. I had to rip the rubber sleeve to get to the throttle cable with my bare hands. It sucked. A knife like this one would’ve saved me, plus this one is super high quality.
- A high quality small first aid kit. Impress the ladies or the dudes by being prepared. If you get hurt, help people help you by having the right stuff they need right there.
- This tire patch and refill kit to get you to the shop for a new tire. Use this only if you know how!
Here is the video of me from start to finish figuring out how to get home with my snapped throttle cable:
Notice how I didn’t show my face?
I am taking after Chrisfix and how he never shows his face in videos. Since he is the top auto repair YouTuber in 2018. Maybe not showing my face will make more people watch my videos!
To read who Chrisfix is and why he hides his identity click here. It is actually pretty funny.
If you’re looking for some tool recommendations start with my article on ratchets. This 4 Piece Gearwrench Ratchet Set 120xp (click to check the price on Amazon) is awesome. I love their ratchets and it is cheap (really really affordable).
Actually, you get 4 ratchets for less than the price of one Snap-On ratchet lol. Truly, unless you’re a professional mechanic (even then it is debatable) stay away from the Snap-On truck and stick with the cheaper alternatives.
Just my 2 cents! I got a lot of change leftover after not buying Snap-On tools anymore!
And if you get a professional mechanic to admit he has tried them out, they all admit they’re pretty awesome as well.
How to replace a throttle cable if it snapped 2 stroke motorcycles/dirtbikes/scooters:
How to replace a throttle cable if it snapped 4 stroke motorcycles/dirtbikes/scooters:
Question: How do I prevent my throttle cable from snapping?
Answer: Lubricate it often, and make sure it is adjusted correctly. Mine wasn’t adjusted properly which is why it snapped. I was riding it full throttle, and I was able to put way too much tension on the cable. It should’ve been adjusted properly and lubricated.
Read my article here on how to lubricate the throttle cable, and how on my scooter just a couple weeks before it snapped it had gotten stuck at full throttle and wouldn’t release. I went to my favorite old grumpy motorcycle mechanic. You can read what we did to fix it here.
Pro tip: My 30+ year experience motorcycle mechanic recommend this dri slide lubricant as his favorite for throttle lube. Click here to check the price and reviews on Amazon. I’ll take it from him and use this stuff from now on!