Experts Rank Carbureted Motorcycles Above Fuel-Injected Models in Interviews with British Customs

Leading custom motorcycle builders rank carbureted motorcycles above EFI for being easier to work on, more authentic

Triton Amal Carbs
Three mounted Amal carbsRider's Digest UK

When purchasing a motorcycle, there are multiple critical decisions to be made beyond choosing between a make and model. Some of these decisions, like choosing between a carbureted or fuel-injected bike, are difficult for many riders. The market is gradually drifting towards replacing carbureted bikes with fuel-injected (EFI) bikes for their ease of operation, but experts are expressing dissenting opinions.

The majority of leading custom motorcycle builders stated that they strongly prefer to work on carbureted bikes over EFI bikes for their simplicity, accessibility, and ties to the heritage of motorcycling in a number of interviews published by British Customs.

For the majority of motorcyclists, accessibility is the most important factor. Co-founders of custom motorcycle garage and repair shop Vintage Steele Josh Steele and Chris John stated that, "Our personal preference is carbureted air-cooled systems. Everything is exposed on those bikes, making them easy to work on. You also have the most control over a carbureted bike, since there aren't any blackbox electronics to deal with."

Having the ability to adjust a bike to accommodate for one’s preferences is an important factor to all motorcyclists. An issue riders have with EFI bikes is that they cannot be adjusted without specialized equipment and training. Carbureted bikes, on the other hand, can be easily tuned by the average rider to meet their needs.

But with motorcycles, function isn't everything. Tony Prust of Analog Motorcycles stated that he prefers to use air-cooled, carbureted motorcycles when creating a custom build for a client: "There just isn't as much room for customization without a significantly larger budget on a liquid-cooled or EFI bike. My customers tend to want more customization, so they gravitate towards those platforms." Having an EFI, liquid-cooled platform requires that the machine be loaded down with a number of parts that both obscure the view of the engine as well as limit customization options. These detract significantly from the appearance of a motorcycle, and the majority of leading custom motorcycle builders prefer to stay away from them for that reason.

Amal Carburetor Diagram
Amal Carburetor DiagramAmal Carb

A final reason these experts have stated they prefer carbureted bikes over EFI models is that carbureted models are more true to the heritage of motorcycling. Motorcycling was built on the philosophy of working with one's hands, and sharing experiences with others to build a thriving community. Craig Marleau of Kick Start Garage stated that, "I respect the simplicity of carburetors, and the old world ways of doing things. I think a lot of that is getting lost. Especially the craftsmanship of tuning, because you don't learn anything by downloading a fuel map to your ECU — there isn't anything hand built or custom about that. With a carburetor though, you can get in there and tune your engine by hand. That's an art."

The craftsmanship of motorcycling is fading from the community due to the advancement of technology, where the skills and knowledge are now held only by the elite. To make changes to a liquid-cooled EFI motorcycle, a rider has to have prohibitively expensive specialized equipment and training on how to tune a motorcycle using software. To adjust an air-cooled carbureted motorcycle, a rider needs only a set of common tools and a willingness to learn.

Weekend projects where friends and families of riders would gather to work together were the glue of the motorcycle community in its great heyday. To promote this return to the core of what made motorcycling what it is today, builders like British Customs and Roland Sands have created factory-spec bolt-on parts to encourage Weekend Projects to help motorcyclists reconnect with their motorcycles by providing packages of parts that eliminate the guesswork behind what is needed, and can all be installed by hand with common tools. There is a wide selection of Weekend Projects upgrades designed to allow riders to customize carbureted bikes, and keep the new heritage strong.

About British Customs:

British Customs is a Southern California-based lifestyle brand and designer of aftermarket motorcycle parts. They are known for making the highest quality factory-spec bolt-on parts that only require common tools and minimal technical knowledge to install. With any of their parts upgrades, the average rider can completely customize his or her motorcycle in a weekend. For more information from them, check out their awesome blog at British-Customs.com