What Is a Motorcycle Rev Limiter — Great Feature or Engine Killer

What Is a Motorcycle Rev Limiter — Great Feature or Engine Killer?

Look, I get it. 

We all love revving up our motorcycles on almost every stoplight and impress everyone around. But all those shenanigans come at a price. (HINT: the price is NOT a date from the girl next car!)

In a nutshell, this article will teach you what the price is and how a rev limiter will benefit you AND your motorcycle.

Know this. 

All that revving in the red zone and showing off is doing a hidden DEVASTATION to your engine. In the end, it spells doom for your motorcycle. Then, what are you gonna ride on your date? 

Would this be worth it for one or two here-is-my-phone-number looks, maybe dates?

Thank God, oops, I meant, smart engineers who invented the rev limiter! 

Rev limiter is a brilliant little black box that throws a CURSE on your engine RPMs. 

But, it’s a type of a good curse. White magic stuff. 

Let me explain the trick. 

Revving in the red zone time after time causes more wear and tear. In that range, your valves end up kissing the a*s of your piston. Rev the engine too high and the valves will NOT shut completely. You get poor compression, valve train wear, and valve float.

Rev limiter heads off all that, protecting the heart of your pride and joy. 

Back in my days, your rev limiter was your right wrist and jelly stuff between your ears. So, you’d better RESPECT that little magic box and avoid messing with it. 

Okay, but how does it do that?

Here is how.

Rev limiter deactivates your spark plugs a.k.a spark cut or your fuel line a.k.a fuel cut (a bit obvious, don’t you think?).

Those methods stop the engine from blowing up (sometimes even literally)! But even they have a darker side. 

(***horror music playing***)

  • Fuel cut – When you hover around the RPM limit, you run into uneven firingIt marries with injected fuel in places you don’t want it. 
    It’s a lamebrained feeling when the engine runs great then suddenly starts stuttering at top speed.
  • Spark cut – It’s like a death bomb to the emissions and catalytic converter. Unburnt fuel = temperature spikes = engine damage. 

Maybe that white magic isn’t completely white after all?  

Is It Bad to Hit the Rev Limiter? Simple Question — Many Answers

Motorcycle Rev Limiter

During spirited riding, you can go into the forbidden red zone and hit the rev limiter. But that won’t hurt your engine, right? 


When you hit the rev limiter that way, it causes no harm to your engine. Better yet, revving the engine in the red zone is healthy from time to time.  

Wait, what? (You’re joking, right?) How on earth could that be healthy? 

Get this. Engines that only operate in low revs (granny engines – if that’s even a thing) have several problems. The biggest one is carbon buildup. 

Engines in lower revs don’t burn fuel properly. Instead, they build carbon deposits on the cylinder head, or inside your exhaust system. The lower revs you make, the higher the chances of the carbon buildup. 

That’s why hitting the rev limiter is like an ADRENALINE shot to your engine. 

It’s bad to hit the rev limiter when you hang around that red zone and hit it like a punching bag. You’re turning the rev limiter against its nature and twisting its arm to KILL the engine. 

You’d better get yourself a spare motorcycle.

Do not hit it or do not go into the red zone when your engine is cold. It’s like forcing a professional athlete to run a fast sprint without a proper warm-up. The tick oil (the professional athlete) won’t lubricate the engine when it’s cold. It needs to be warmed up a bit. 

Of course, if you have an emergency, screw it! Machines can be fixed or replaced, people a lot less so!

Motorcycle Rev Limiter: One Unit, Two Controls

Rev limiter has two different ways how it will cut your fuel or your spark:

  1. Hard cut limiters one-hundred-per-cent holts fuel or spark to the engine. They turn on when specific RPMs are reached and produce a bouncing feeling of your RPMs.

    It’s like throwing a ball at full strength into the wall and having it come back at you at full speed and kicking it up again. It’s not a welcoming feeling. 
  2. Soft cut limiters partially stop fuel or spark to the engine. They’ll tune it down at your leisure before you’ve reached max RPM, and they’ll stay on that edge.

    It’s like slowly turning your kitchen tap to fill up the bowl. If you turn it on up rapidly, all that pressure will splash the water in your face. 

    With a soft cut limiter, you’re gently turning the tap ON-OFF to fill up the bowl. When it’s full, you won’t turn the tap anymore.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you hit the rev limiter?

Three things!

1. You might feel the engine has bounced off those RPMs. It means you have a hard cut rev limiter.

2. You might feel a slight loss in power and speed. It means you have a soft cut rev limiter.

3. Nothing at all! If you hit the rev limiter for just a fraction of a second, then you won’t feel a thing. The time is damn short to receive any type of feedback from the engine.

Can you ruin your engine by revving it? 

YES, if you rev it all the time and show off your pride and glory to your beer buddies. Search for motorcycle rev destruction on YouTube and you’ll know what awaits you!

However, this isn’t a rule carved in stone. If you only do it from time to time to prevent the carbon build-up from settling, your engine will be just fine.

What happens if you rev your engine too much?

One word.

CABOOOM! Kiss your motorcycle goodbye.

Is it illegal to rev your motorcycle engine? 

Revving your engine produces a hell of a noise. In some states and populated areas, expect cops to knock on your door for producing too much noise. 

There are laws on how much noise a vehicle should produce in traffic. It’s somewhere between 70~80 dB. Revving is wayyy beyond that limit!

Why do motorcyclists rev their engines?

You may hear different stories, but the truth is one. Motorcyclists rev because they want to turn as many heads as possible to their big and powerful machine.

So far, I haven’t met a motorcyclist who does it for the sake of revving itself and not to show off.

Can I make my own DIY Rev Limiter?

Sure you can! Go to many electronics forums such as this one and you’ll find a ton of info on how to make one.

But don’t expect it to save your rear end when push comes to shove and your RPMs are going through the roof.

Want to play it safe? Then leave it to the professionals and motorcycle rev limiter manufacturers.