That's exactly what I do, too. The change in RPM's is subtle, but it's easy to hear if you're listening for it.
If the bike is running, just follow your maintenance schedule (especially lubrications), and all will be well. If the bike won't start, dirty carbs are probably the reason why. They can get gummed up if the gas sits in them for a while.
How long should I stay in first gear? The are many factors in that question as well. Normally, like bikeaholic stated you should use it to start it and then turn if off justa as soon as you can get the bike to idle on its own. You should also usually Blip or (quickly rev) the motor to get the excess gas to clear out ofyour engine and exhaust. just keep it running is all that is required. You cannot put a definate time on it because you may have different gear on your bike. Things such as the gas you use could change that amount of time that it takes to warm up and clear the engine...IT could be a very deep subject to go into, but for the most part only use the choke long enough to get the biek to the point wher it will idle on its own. Perhaps one of our Guru's could explain some things about winter setups and riding a bike in the winter...things like diferent plugs, airfilters (air has to pass through OIL saturated filters, and oil gets very thick), tire pressure checks...things to check in preparation... Gee, I can't find my snow studded ice tires...
Oh, to be young...in the days where we had a carb on a car it was easier to see why/how a choke works. You could remove the airbreather and see the choke plate laying nearly/completely closed causing the air/fuel mixture to run way to rich. once the engine warmed up the choke plate on the carb would open...Actually in the older days we used choke cables in our cars to contron the mixture. A bike is the same way. If you remove the airbox and look into yor carb you will see that the chokee cable moves a little plate. When it is not a wide open (streamlined position) it makes the air:fuel mixture rich. When you drive around this winter you may see cars spewing black fumes and you can even smell the gas coming through the exhaust pipes...this happens because on some cars people don't realize that the choke is stuck.
My bike starts up really cold. I have to use the choke every time, unless I've ridden it within the last couple of hours. I also turn it off when I hear the RPMs speed up. I don't know why I didn't think about starting the bike, then gearing up. Duh... Thanks, Suresh!
Read your service manuals...Only use the choke long enough to get the bike started, then once you turn it off you should give the bike a quick rap/rev to clear out the excess gas in he clyinders. Ride the biek easy at first to bring the oil temps up to temp as well as all the fluids and metals up to temp before you use the throttle to hard...
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