Ask motorcycle enthusiasts about bike maintenance tips and they will go on and on about the engine life and electronics. Some keen-eyed enthusiasts may also mention the tires of the bike but there are very few bike lovers that will mention the spark plug as an essential item to include in your bike’s maintenance checklist. Spark plugs are the most overlooked and taken for granted part of the motorcycle. And what is more astounding is that a spark plug is essential to start a bike.
The reason behind the riders not checking the spark plugs is due to the fact that these spark plugs have evolved so much over the years that they seldom have a tragic failure. But still, there are a few basic tips that you should follow and give them a look at regular intervals — before the plugs trigger an ignition breakdown.
The basic working fundamental of a spark plug is to provide the right amount of power at the time of ignition so that the engine consumes fuel and does not shut down. There are different types of spark plugs- single spark, duo spark, and triple spark. Whether you have a gas pocket bike, a normal bike, or a superbike, a spark plug would be required to provide the initial spark of ignition to the engine.
How does the initial ignition happen?
The initial ignition is about creating a high voltage electric field feed on the available fuel. The fuel may be gasoline or electric charge. The electric field is created by joining the electrodes in your spark plug. The electrodes then charge up the electrons and the electrons induce a current charge. This current charge is directly connected to the fuel tank of the bike and the sudden discharge of electrons leads to a combustible reaction. All these reactions are required to start your vehicle. Who could have thought that the tiny looking black plug houses such a massive chain of reactions?
Importance of gap in the spark plugsThe gap in the spark plugs of bikes is the difference between the charge carried by the center wire and the ground electrode. The center wire is supposed to have a negative charge and the ground electrode will have an opposite charge. The gap is essential. If the gap is too much or too narrow, then it may cause misfiring and cause engine blowback. Repeated blowbacks to the engine can eventually lead to an engine failure. It can also cause power loss and affect the fuel economy of the bike poorly. This is a common problem in many gas pocket bikes.
Spark plugs have different heat ranges
Every bike’s engine has its own heat range. The ignition provided by the plugs must be in this designated range. The heating range is totally dependent upon the bike’s usage and the engine environment. This is set by the manufacturer of the bike. The heat range of the spark plug of the bike is also specified by its respective manufacturer. The heating range is usually mentioned in the owner’s manual. Be sure to check it out.
Bike enthusiasts often change the spark plugs of the bike to enhance the performance of the bike. Usually, it works but the spark plugs must be changed within the specified ranges or the plugs may cause detrimental damage to the bike. If you are also planning to modify your bike and make engine enhancements then it is better to consult with an expert and then get the modifications done to your bike.
The heat range of the spark plug can also be estimated by the length and the girth of the insulator wrapped around the center wire of the spark plug. The basic thumb of rule is that long and thin insulation indicates a higher heat range of the plug and a shorter one indicative of a lower heat range. This is just an approximation technique and is not a profound way to determine the heat range of the spark plug.
You can also look for charts provided by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers provide a cross-reference chart that can be helpful in selecting a said spark plug. Heat ranges are indicated in numerical values. A lower numerical value (2-6) indicates a hotter range and a higher numerical value (7-11) indicates a colder range.
These are some of the basics of spark plugs that you must be aware of. There are different types of spark plugs for different types of bikes available in the market.
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