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  1. #1
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    Default Throttle Shootout - Biltwell Whiskey / Joker Machine / Cheap Chinese

    I'm going to skip the backstory of why I have tried three different throttles on my 06 Sporty and get right to the meat and potatoes: how do they compare?

    WHISKEY



    First I tried the Biltwell Whiskey throttle. I had reservations about spending $100 on something I usually pull from my spare parts pile, but this time I didn't have any vintage spares, so I took the plunge.

    Here's what I like about the Whiskey:

    - The ferrules - Any cable works! This is a great concept. Literally any year Harley throttle cable will work with this. And there are a lot of differences over the years: Early style single cable, 1/4" screw in for butterfly carbs, later style 5/16 screw in for CV carbs, even later style clip in for CV carbs, and probably some that I'm missing. This throttle will work with any of them.



    - The throttle stop pin - There is a lateral pin across the front of the throttle housing that acts as a stop. The throttle tube stops/rests against it when in its forwardmost position. You've heard that the Whisky Throttle is "snappy?" This is why. It sounds and feels great when the throttle snaps forward against that pin.

    - It's made by Biltwell - USA, California based company. I've always had good luck with the company and their products.

    Here's what I don't like about the Whisky:

    - It's manufactured in China. - I wish this was actually made in America, especially with the $100 price tag.

    - The housing is cast - I wish this was billet. When I got it in my hand for the first time, I couldn't help but feel like it was a little cheap... or something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I didn't think "holy shit, this is an amazing piece!"

    How does it perform?

    It's very easy to get on the bars. Pop in the correct ferrule, install it like you would any other throttle. If you're not an idiot, you know how to do this. I popped it on, finger tightened everything, and it felt great. Whoo, that snap! But that's where the fun ended. Once I made everything wrist-tight, the throttle wouldn't move. WTF? I went through the installation process about 5 times, and tried it on three different bars, same thing. Bullshit, I returned it through Amazon, sent Biltwell an email, and ordered the Joker Machine throttle. Honestly, at this point I was pissed off, and very let down.

    A week later, I got a response from Biltwell, apologizing for their delay in response, apologizing for the faulty product (confirming they had other people having the same problem, lately), and that a replacement was already in the mail, and that the replacement was tested in-house to ensure that it worked smoothly.

    A day or two later (it was fast) the new throttle was on my doorstep. I was really excited to get this one on. Unfortunately, I had the same problem. It was NOT as bad as the first one. I could go half wrist tight and it was still pretty snappy. But wrist tight caused binding again. Not as bad. It only caught towards the rear of the throttle, but it still did, and I don't like that. Not on my throttle. This time, however, I was determined to figure out why. And I did:





    See that gap? When the throttle is tightened down, the gap becomes more pronounced. This misaligns the interior of the housing, in which the tube rides, and causes the tube to rub against the housing. I can only surmise that the casting is bad... that the hole in which the bar rests is not straight.

    I tried everything a shade-tree mechanic could do to alleviate this: honing the inside of the throttle housing, sanding down the powder coating on the bars, not tightening it as much... all of which HELPED, but did not complete fix the issue. It's worth noting that I am not tightening the throttle with an iron fist, only enough so that I cannot grab the housing and rotate it around my bar. If I tried really hard, I could set it to just spot so that it would just BARELY bind, but I wasn't comfortable with that. With vibrations, etc, that perfect set could change, and my shit could bind up while lane-splitting CA traffic. It's also worth noting that I did not have this problem at ALL with the other two throttles.

    JOKER MACHINE



    Next up, the JM JK throttle. Right out of the box, I loved this piece. Here's why:

    - Made in the USA-

    - Excellent Billet Machining - The piece felt great in my hand. Top and bottom matched perfectly, it felt heavier than the Whiskey throttle, the powder coating was thick and strong... it just felt good.

    - Option for cruise control - A nice option if you are ever going to hit the open roads.

    What I don't like about it:

    - Cruise control costs extra - At $75 for the housing alone, the cruise control should be included; not an extra $25.

    How did it perform?

    Unfortunately, this was another non-starter. My brand new, correct size throttle cable had way too much travel, but only when using this throttle housing. (Two others are fine, and in comparison to my original OEM cable, this is the right size). Kinda weird, right? Even adjusted all thew way out, there was still about a half inch of free-play in the throttle. It wasn't hard to figure out why: Remember that awesome throttle stop pin I mentioned in discussion of the biltwell throttle? That pin stops the tube from rotating all the way forward the throttle, so that when the Whiskey is in its forwardmost position, it's still taking up about an inch of cable slack. This has nothing like that. As a result, the housing can rotate forward to the point that the ferrule is almost completely retracted to the cable. Hard to explain, I hope that made sense?

    Here's another illustration. This throttle does the same thing:



    When the throttle rotated forward, the ferrule is still retracted a bit, taking up about 3/4" of free play.

    JM was super nice on the phone about this. They didn't have any advice, except to order a custom cable. I don't want to do that. Next.

    Cheap $12 Chinese Throttle



    If you've ever seen a chopped bike, you've seen this throttle. It's $12, made in China, and on half the chops you see. It even has an OEM replacement part number.

    What I like about it:

    - Price - $12? You can't beat it.

    - Cruise Control - At no extra cost!

    - General Appearance - It' a classic. Shape and size are fine.

    What I don't like about it

    - Looks and Quality - It's cheap casting, chrome is shitty, included hardware is crappy philips screws, cruise control knob is huge and ugly

    - Made in China -

    How did it perform?

    Here's the best part: It works fine. Scratch that - it works GREAT. It bolted on without any problems. None. It's snappy. It feels great. Fuck everything, when you consider the price difference, I LOVE this throttle. Sure, the chrome blows, and the philips screws are shit, but I can replace the screws with SS socket heads and scotch brite the chrome. That's an extra $1 and 5 minutes of work, far cheaper and less time consuming than the time I spent trying to install either of the high-dollar throttles. And honestly, I really like the way it looks on my scoot. More than I thought I would.



    The winner is: China. I wish it was made in the USA, and I wish I was supporting the chopper community by purchasing it, but fuck it man, I tried. This piece is cheap and works great.

    If anyone wants the whiskey throttle ALMOST FOR FREE, it's theirs. I'm not going to use it, and I'm not going to sell it, because I kinda got it for free. Maybe it will work for you? Everyone else seems to love it. PM me if you want it, but you have to give me something in return to make my trip to the post office and shipping costs worth it. Maybe you'll send me some tequila, or some dope stickers, a chopper mag, or whatever.

    I also want to note that I think that JM and Biltwell are great companies. I will continue to support them and buy their products.

    Hope you enjoyed reading, and that the info helps some people out.
    Last edited by OakBehringer; 05-12-2016 at 2:27 PM.

  2. #2
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    Pmed ya I'll take it

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    Gone. Thanks tho.

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    Great to see a throttle review. The prices for the high dollar throttles are absurd, especially the Biltwell which doesn't cost them shit from their Chinese subcontractor.

    You could powder coat the 12-dollar Chinese metal housing after a light sandblast if ya had to have black. Emgo etc have been making those throttles for many years.

    As for the Biltwell that was bilt shitty, there is no excuse for parts machined on modern equipment having such bad fitment and that parts with shitty fitment are accepted means there was no receiving inspection. I have no quibble with using a casting, but they need to be properly finish machined to do their job. They should sub out their work to the guys who make the cheap throttle that works! Maybe that company will clone the Biltwell so we can pay what they are really worth for a better product.

    Sad about that nice JM unit, but there's no excuse for the ripoff price for a friction lock or failure to fit the stock cable UNLESS there is a disclaimer that it may require a custom cable. I just assume I'll have to throw a cable end on whatever I buy since I don't run stock carbs, but customers who don't live to wrench should be warned.

    Useful thread. Post more like it. You can save 33ers some money and frustration.

  5. #5
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    Happy to contribute... I've found so much useful info on here of the years... That's what the community is all about

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    Great post, thanks for taking the time to do it. I've used a few of the S&S throttles with no problems. They are about 100 bucks but come with throttle cables and grips and it says they are made in USA.

  7. #7

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    Great thread. I am on the hunt for a throttle right now.

    Do you have a link for the china throttle?

  8. #8

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    Great post. I need a throttle and was going with the Biltwell but damn.....how hard could it be to spit something out for a $100 when all they have to do is match the quality control of a $12 product.

  9. #9

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    i got whisky throttle,rite out of the box it sukked. the reason i got it was cuz it had allen bolts instead of flathead screws. holding it on.
    anyway i worked it over and now werks fine.

  10. #10
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    Great info. Thanks for doing this. I was planning a whiskey for my front end conversion, but I guess I'll look elsewhere now. Shame. Like you, I'd much rather support a local company even if the labor dollars are going overseas. I'm super disappointed in the JM. That would have been my second choice. I'll need custom cables anyway, but if it's just gonna feel mushy, why bother?

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    Yup^ Installed two Speed Dealer's on the two builds I did last year. No issues with either and they look nice. I have a smooth one and I put a knurled on my buddies bike.


    A few dollars more than Biltwell but they're made in USA and really nice!

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    Wanted to add that on mine, I purchased the Speed Dealer throttle tube which is a beautiful piece of work. On the build I did for my buddy, we just purchased the knurled housing and he put a $5 plastic throttle tube on it for budgetary reasons. No issues with either setup.

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    Good know. I'll add them to my short list. Thanks.

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    I actually called Speed Dealer after I went through the Biltwell and JM throttles. I wanted to know if the throttle had a stop, like the biltwell and china throttles, or if it would be more like the JM throttle, rotating all the way around. Whoever I talked to on the phone didn't know wtf he was talking about. Clearly didn't know shit about their product line. Maybe he was new? I gave up. Didn't want to order a $130 (price climbing) throttle that might fail like the first two. It's a shame b/c it looks like a REALLY nice piece. I'd be happy to throw one on my bike and contribute a review to this thread if they were to send me one

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    A buddy of mine got a Whisky Throttle from Biltwell a few weeks back. He had the same issue. It has the uneven gap when you tighten it to the handlebars. And it is pretty clear that the hole isn't drilled at the correct angle.
    I kinda feel bad cause I told him to get one. But the throttle doesn't bind up, but instead it is all loose in the housing and moves around alot in it. Gives of a real cheap feeling.

    He contacted Biltwell and when they finally replied they didn't want to do much for him since it wasn't bought from them directly, but from a dealer. I don't really call that backing up your product..

    I have a feeling that having it made in china is biting them in the ass.

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    Is the problem with the Biltwell in the housing or the sleeve/tube?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cggorman View Post
    Is the problem with the Biltwell in the housing or the sleeve/tube?
    The housing... but I wouldn't use the biltwell tube with any other housing, and I wouldn't use the biltwell housing with any other tube.

  19. #19
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    Hate to see the quality has gone down hill. It's been several years since I purchased a whiskey throttle but mine worked perfectly. On a side note, the Biltwell throttle sleeve is my first mod to any Harley I get with the stock housings.

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    I have 2 whiskey throttles and both sucked out the box, ones a single and the other a dual cable.

    I managed to get them both to snap open and closed w near zero resistance, but it took some work. Usually it's a combination of the sleeve fit to the bar and sharp edges inside the housing. Hitting the offending areas with sandpaper and lubing the bar a bit w motor oil before the sleeve goes on will make for a super fluid throttle. A lot of times the end of the handlebar is flared a bit if they were trimmed with a pipe cutter...

    I have used motion pro turbo throttles and barnett nylon throttles, both were excellent and inexpensive as well.

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