BLINK AND YOU’LL MISS IT
I’m interested in finding out if there is an inexpensive way of turning the blinkers on a Honda ST1300 into self-cancellers.
This is a good question, Russell (which is what I always say when I haven’t got a definitive answer). Every time you ride in a group there’ll be someone who has an indicator on for 20km or so. There’s even an etiquette for letting them know: overtake them, hold your clutch hand out and simulate a blinker by opening and closing your fist. Leaving your indicator on in city traffic can be dangerous in the extreme because it misleads car drivers into thinking, for example, it’s okay to drive up your inside because, clearly, you intend to turn right.
Most factory-fitted self-cancellers are part of a complex interaction of sensors and wiring. Most work on the rotation of the wheel, meaning the indicators won’t cancel while you’re waiting at a set of lights to turn. Once the wheel has turned a sufficient number of times, the indicators will turn off. A simpler alternative is a timer. These have been available on and off (if you’ll forgive the pun) in Europe for the past 10 years or so and the one I remember best allowed the rider to set a period of time (10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds etc) during which the indicators would operate. They were big, clumsy devices, though, and didn’t last long because they tended to live out in the weather. They also didn’t allow for being stuck at lights for any length of time.
So, the short answer, Russell, is no – there’s no inexpensive way of turning the blinkers on your ST1300 into self-cancellers, but there should be.
MISFIRE IN THE HOLE
I have a 1982 Honda CB900 and it has developed a misfire at times in cylinders two and three (mostly in number three).
I changed the leads and cleaned all the connections. I changed the coils. I crossed the leads on the coils. Compression is good on all four cylinders.
I can ride for 200km without a problem, but start up again and number three doesn’t fire. It occasionally misfires while I’m riding but it usually picks up again.
It might be running fine but I’ll park it at night and the misfire will be there in the morning. What the hell is going on?
Sounds electrical, Leo, but it could also be fuel-related. I’m translating your letter here but by "changing the coils", I’m reading you switched them around. This is a good idea as one coil services cylinders one and four, while the other services cylinders two and three. If one of the two coils was the problem, you’d shift the misfire to one and four, right? So it didn’t happen, suggesting the coils are okay, but I hope you rode with that configuration for a few hundred kilometers or so to make absolutely sure.
Plugs are new? Caps and leads are good (you indicate you know how to swap them around to check)? It really sounds like there’s a breakdown in the electrical system somewhere. This doesn’t always work but if you start the bike in the middle of the night in your shed with the shed lights off, you can see obvious leaks (cracked caps or faulty leads) by thin, blue lines of electricity leaking from the offending item. All four cylinders will run if the engine is hot because the plugs want the electricity and the general heat helps with ignition. You’ll notice the problem more if the engine is cold.
Problem not solved? Read next month’s piece on carb cleaning.
HISTORY OF HONDA
Saw the good ol’ Honda 50 in a recent issue. I was surprised to read they had an "OHV engine from about ’48 to ’52". I had a ’63 Honda 50 (or Super Cub C100), which was the same as the one pictured but with a dual seat.
The engine was original and definitely did not have an overhead camshaft. I’ve still got the original "driver’s manual", which is getting a little tatty from years of use. It was a great little bike and, before the days of metric, it cost the equivalent of 25 cents to fill the tank.
I wouldn’t swap one for my current Valk and Royal Star rides, but could find room for an extra bike in the shed. Please don’t tell my wife I have four other projects…
Umm.. did I say ’48 to ’52 instead of ’58 to ’62? Forgive me. I actually had one of each at one stage but foolishly sold the OHV model at a swap meet. I still have the OHC model though, and I’m fond of it. Regarding your wife, your secret is safe with me…
EFI VERSUS CARBS
I sold my black 2002 model Suzuki GSX750F in 2004. The bike was both a comfortable and competent long distance tourer, safely overtaking road trains and dodging errant emus in its stride while still remaining surprisingly tractable around the city.
After a five-year absence from motorcycling, I am considering the purchase of a new Suzuki GSX650F. Having ridden bikes with carbs since the 1980s, I know very little about electronic fuel injection. Would the EFI-fitted GSX650F achieve the touring/commuting compromise as successfully as the carbed GSX750F, or should I buy a larger capacity bike to support my somewhat wombat-like 108kg frame? Also, are there any mechanical headaches associated with the reliability of today’s EFI bikes of which I need to be aware?
Fuel injection is certainly more complicated than carbs, Marc, but it’s now cheaper to produce, it regulates fuel better (improved fuel economy) and it allows for easier engine tuning. As you’re (kind of) suggesting, it also takes owners farther away from home tuning and understanding how their bike’s engine actually works. Regarding problems, the injector nozzles in fuel injection systems are much smaller than the equivalent jets in traditional carburettors and are prone to blocking from varnish build-up, which interrupts fuel flow. Symptoms include irregular idle and running, and sometimes constant misfiring. None of us can be absolutely sure of the quality of fuel we put in tanks when we fill up at garages and contaminated fuel is far from rare. EFI fuel system bikes also don’t like being left for extended periods of time without use, which allows fuel to evaporate and leave a hard residue that impedes fuel flow. It’s a problem for bikes with carbs now, too, and conventional carb cleaners are proving inadequate in dissolving the varnish causing the problem. In general terms, though, get used to fuel injection – it’s the future.
Since you seem fixed to Suzukis and, given your weight, you should have a ride on the Bandit 1250S rather than the smaller GSX650F. It will give you what you liked from the 750 but with extra grunt if you need it. Pricing, at the moment, is excellent, too.
I have restored a 1984 Yamaha XT600 and, with modifications, it’s a great road bike. The engine rebuild included new bearings, cam chain, gaskets and valve seating. The big end, piston and bore were quite serviceable. I am, however, perplexed by a top-end rattle on starting, especially from cold. It appears to take between four and eight seconds for the oil to reach whatever spot it is. (An unreadable sentence follows here, but it’s good to see someone can still do handwriting.)
The original camshaft journals, cylinder head and top cover were replaced with a good, second-hand assembly, without reducing the noise at all. I have checked the oiling system carefully, replacing the leak-down valve in the clutch cover. I’ve bled the system and am using Motul 15-40. I get a bit of piston rattle until the engine is warm but it’s quiet when fully warm.
Is there a problem or is this acceptable noise? I’m mainly concerned about camshaft and cylinder head wear.
Air-cooled engines have to have wider tolerances in their manufacture, Ian, because metal expands and contracts according to the heat it experiences. With a liquid-cooled engine, the designers can determine the temperature at which the engine will operate, allowing for closer tolerances. A small amount of piston rattle while the engine is warming up is normal on an XT600. Without water-jackets hiding the noise the top-end makes, some top-end rattle is also normal until the oil arrives to soften the blows. Good oils have boundary lubrication qualities, which means that after a hot engine shutdown, oil will cling to the lubricated parts of the engine.
With the next cold start, this boundary lubrication is supposed to protect the moving parts until engine oil gets pumped into the area. Lighter base-weight oils (10W) will pump faster from a cold start but may not provide as much boundary lubrication as heavier base-weight oils (20W). If you use a heavier oil, though, it will take a little longer to move around from a cold start. I think you’re being as kind as you can be to your XT’s engine and Motul 15W-40 is a good compromise. You’ll get the best life from the rebuilt engine if you let it warm up a little before you make performance demands on it and if you change the engine oil at 2000km intervals.
TWO BETTER THAN ONE?
I have an ’86 model BMW R65 (it has an 11/85 plate but has the ’86-spec wheels, fork and monolever rear end).
I’m told this model is a good handler with the right tyres, but what are they? It currently has Bridgestone Battlax tyres front and rear and these are about three-quarters worn. Is there a better choice?
The Australia/British model had one front caliper but the American version of the bike had two, and the fork on mine has provision for a second caliper. The bike sometimes feels a little under-braked, but I’m concerned I’ll over-brake it with an extra caliper and disc. The lines look a bit faded, too, and while I’m changing the fluid I’m tempted to go for a braided line. It might sharpen up the feel without adding any weight, and it will be cheaper. Can you recommend good pads for the brake?
The fork is weeping, too, and while the Haynes manual says you don’t have to remove the fork from the triple clamps to remove the lower sections, it doesn’t tell you how to do it. Can you get the bottom part of the fork off by just removing the wheel, caliper and then removing the damper rod screw?
The bloke I bought the bike from has run it on Penrite oil and it’s in very good condition considering it’s done 96,000km. I’d just like to get it set up well, and since I don’t cane my machines, I should get a good run from it.
Glen Alpin, Qld
It’s hard to go past the traditional combination of a Metzeler ME33 and ME77, Barry. BMW designed its suspension around these tyres when the R65 was but a twinkle in the designer’s eye. The equivalent of an ME33 these days is called a Metzeler Lasertec, which probably has a different compound but has the old ME33 tread pattern. You’ll find it difficult to locate an air-head BMW rider who recommends anything else.
I can’t quite get my head around your particular model as there were changes made between ’85 and ’86. The ’86 model had a fork with features developed for the K100 series and are slightly different to the ’85 model.
Regardless, you’ll find it easier to replace the fork seals with the fork out of the bike. The reason for this is that the Allen screw at the bottom of each fork leg is usually impossible to undo unless you have some means of holding the damper assembly it’s screwed into. Otherwise, the damper rod turns with the screw. The Haynes manual will give you a couple of techniques to overcome this problem and if it’s the manual for two-valve twins from ’70 – ’96, follow the instructions for the R80ST.
Regarding pads, EBC is good and a range of ratings is available so you can match the pads to the caliper. The single disc is more than adequate if it’s working well. Adding more rotors and calipers increases unsprung weight, which will have a negative effect on handling. Early twin-disc options were all about marketing, not engineering. A braided line is a good idea, though. The original line will be soft by now and some of the pressure applied by the master cylinder will be taken up by the line expanding. A braided line directs the pressure to where it should go: the caliper.
Since you’re in Queensland already, Barry, The BM Shop in Stafford (07) 3356 6128 is a good source of parts and advice if you get stuck. At 96,000km, your R65 is still a baby…
ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM
If it’s possible, can you send me any information you have on a Honda Dream 50 (see picture attached). When was the first model made and when did production cease? Was the bike ever an official import in Australia? What would have been the cost of the bike new?
The Dream 50 (CB50W) was released in 2004 to commemorate Honda’s early adventures in 50cc racing. There was a 50cc GP racing class in 1962 and Honda made a bike called the CR110 available to privateers. It revved to 14,000rpm. Think about that for a second: the piston would have been going up and down around 234 times each second.
The current Dream 50 is claimed to produce 7hp at 13,500rpm but is still good for around 130km/h-plus. The Japanese love this kind of stuff and HRC has all manner of kit bits available for it. It has never been officially imported into Australia as it’s essentially a display item. They couldn’t be registered, there isn’t a racing class for them and it would be cruel to do that anyway. The new cost has varied with the exchange rate from about $8000 to $15,000. It would be a great addition to any loungeroom, though, and far more interesting than other form of modern art.
THE COST OF STOPPING
I was out riding my BMW K1200 GT (’03 model) recently when the bike suffered a total brake failure. It was very scary and the sphincter muscle went into overdrive. The ABS failure light came on as did the brake failure light (a red triangle) next to the ABS light. I had only ridden about 20km from home and I’m not sure exactly when it came on. Certainly when I left home it was okay.
The only braking I had when I was finally able to come to a stop was some residual braking. The problem would appear to be the power booster. Can you throw some light on what the problem might be and the level of cost I might have to bear? The bike has only done 13,000km.
You’ve really got to take the bike to an authorized dealer, Rainer. Fault codes will quickly determine what’s gone wrong. You may be on the right track suspecting the electronic booster (modulator) but it could be something as simple as a dirty brake lever switch. Motohansa (1300 557 889 www.motohnansa.com.au) now sells a device called a GS911 for $450 which plugs into your bike. It reads the fault codes and the data is then downloaded to your mobile phone or a PC. It fits in the palm of your hand so it can travel with you.
The sophisticated electronics on high-end models like the K1200GT can be very expensive and failure at 13,000km isn’t what most owners would expect. For this reason, BMW tends to be fairly supportive of owners in situations like yours. You’ll get the most support if you bought the bike new from an authorized dealer and have complied with the service schedule. If the dealer has done the scheduled servicing and knows you’ve looked after the bike, he will be more prepared to go in to bat for you with the distributor.