Probably one of the most argued topics in the motorcycling fraternity. Carburetor is one of the things that the old-school riders cannot stop bragging about and the new ones find to be a tool that exists in history books. The versatility, more options to play around with, more connect with the motorcyclist are some of the reasons which the people who rely on basic rules of physics and mechanics for their fuel supply. For the ones who have allowed technology and sensors to take over the oil business, a carburetor is nothing but another reason to increase their worries.
I have spent endless number of afternoons at my mechanic's workshop trying to master the art of 'setting a carburetor' and never did succeed. Every now and then I would be seeing veterans coming over with small things that looked like screws and were called "Jets". Then they would put it in their carburetor, ride around and come back to take it all out, put a thing wire in that small hole in it and rub it vigorously to make the hole bigger by a few micro millimeters, and all of that effort was to find that exact performance. A bigger hole resulted in too much of fuel going in the engine making it run "Rich", and a smaller one resulted in making it run "Lean". It was the most fascinated thing during those days. To master something that the 'daily grocery buying' people didn't know exist. Extracting more power out of one's motorcycle was not something only the factory mechanics could do. It was cheap to fix, build, troubleshoot, and the rewards were immediate.
And just when technology was taking over the entire world, the carburetor got hit too. The more efficient, precise, less polluting Fuel Injection was a very effective replacement to something people were so much in love with. The fuel injection was like a balanced diet for your engine. It delivered more petrol when needed and reduce it when the engine needed less of it, hence making it a nice balance between over-feeding and under-feeding.
This simply meant a brain whose only job is to figure out the same thing only keeping in mind the environment around, which can be very hostile at times in you are in India. If you happen to be somewhere in Himalayas and if the temperature decides to drop against your wish, you will be sweating in the morning trying to kickstart a carbureted motorcycle. The Fuel Injection, on the other side, will sense the cold wave around it and throw in more gas at the time of a start which makes it extremely easy in times of a cold-start. It is similar to the choke mechanism in a carburetor, but is more efficient than that.
With motorcycles with more than one cylinder, the scene is a little different. To obtain the best performance, people prefer to have different air-fuel ratio for different cylinders, which is something a Fuel Injection cannot do and can be achieved easily in case of carburetors. However, this is not the only reason why carburetors are preferred in the world of motorsports. Longevity, easy to install, low cost, less complicated are some of the reasons carburetors still rule the world of the maniacs.
Fuel Injection, on the flip side, calculates the load on the cylinders and injects the 'perfect' mixture depending on the calculations. The electronics keep on calculating the information and constantly adjust resulting in higher power delivery, lesser emissions and better fuel efficiency. The negative side is that the price of Fuel Injection, when compared to a carburetor, is much high which makes it a big NO in Indian market whenever the customers have a choice. It is highly sophisticated and the complications associated make it turn-off for many motorcycle enthusiasts. The fact that it is highly difficult to adjust or 'play around with' is also one thing people have against it. But, and it is a major one, Fuel Injection is highly reliable and has less chances of breaking down, but if it does, make a truck driver your best friend who will carry your motorcycle to the nearest service station. The last reason is very depressing too. Fuel Injection stops working when you doing a somersault on your motorcycle as the siphon is mounted on the bottom of your tank and it cuts the supply when upside down. Disheartening, isn't it?
There is little doubt in the fact that Fuel Injection will soon replace carburetors because of the emission norms that keep getting stricter every year. However, there is little doubt that unless the cost of this new-age technology comes down significantly the majority will keep on sticking to carburetors. If you talk about numbers, a nicely tuned carburetor has its peak power just 10% lesser than that of a Fuel Injected mill which is not much keeping in the mind the extra money it comes for. What makes it highly efficient is its ability to constantly tune the air-fuel mixture benefitting the engine and enhancing its life. Still, we are, like many others, struggling to find a winner here as both of the options have their own pros and cons, and everything for or against them is a mammoth reason to either go or not go for any particular player here. So, depending on your need and how much you like to play around with the performance of your motorcycle, choose the one that suits you the best.