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Change Oil every 50,000 Miles? Service Interval Reality?

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Hey everyone,

I spent a number of years as a bike mechanic, and have owned 33 motorcycles. I haven't ridden much the past 15 years, but have recently been studying up on 450cc off-road bikes, trying to decide which one to buy.

And I have noticed that a LOT of people seem very concerned with the factory recommended service intervals (short!) and cost of rebuilds for these bikes.

For example, one brand requires a full top-end rebuild at 150 hours. As a base for comparison, that would be only 9000 miles, if you were averaging 60 miles per hour, or a few thousand miles as the bikes are typically ridden.

And that isn't much.

It seems to me that these factory recommendations are not based so much on the actual wear that the engines suffer, but rather on considerations of warranty liability, and profit.

For example, car makers since the 1930s have recommended oil changes at 3000 miles, even though the quality and tolerances of the engines have vastly improved, and oil today (non synthetic) is far superior. Some years ago a magazine did a 100,000 mile test with several identical cars, one with oil changes at 3000 miles, one at 6000, and I think one at 10000 per change. Engines were measured before and after the test driving, and NO significant difference was found in wear.

My friend's mother drove her brand-new (in 1982) Toyota for 50,000 miles without ever checking the oil. We heard that, and decided to do it for her. About a liter of the blackest goo you can imagine dripped out of the drain. After the oil change, she drove it another 80,000 miles (with normal oil changes later) with no problems or oil usage at all, then sold it. We saw that car driving around from time to time for years after that...

I am NOT sayng that oil changes don't need to be done at the "right" time (5000~6000 miles for my cars), or that regular basic maintainance isn't important.

The point I want to make is that modern engines and lubricants are very, very good.

So, has anyone out there failed to adhere to recommended top-end (or bottom) rebuild intervals, and had a related failure soon after. Or ignored all the advice, and run much, much longer without issue?

Seems to me that a compression tester and regular maintainance (oil, valve adjustments, chain tensions) are much better than worrying about factory service interval advice.

Am I wrong??

D

Edited by NipponDave

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just keep it full.

If you're a racer trying to drag every bit of performance out of it, change it when the manual tells ya to.

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just keep it full.

If you're a racer trying to drag every bit of performance out of it, change it when the manual tells ya to.

Sure. A pro racer depends on his bike for his living. But I'm not a pro racer, nor are 99% of the riders out there. So if all that extra money isn't actually leading to a noticible performance or reliability advantage, why do it (or not do it and then stress about it)?

Looking at specs from a number of top makers, my "seat of the pants" impression is that these top end rebuild intervals could be 2x~3X (at least) longer without risking meltdown or performance drops you'd notice.

But I don't "know it", and that's why I would like to hear from those who have gone further than recommended.

D

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One thing to remember the new high perf 4strokes are very expensive when they do blow up. It's cheaper to replace parts before they break than after when there's a hole in your cases. Every rider is different as well some people are on the rev limiter all the time others not as much that has an effect.

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One thing to remember the new high perf 4strokes are very expensive when they do blow up. It's cheaper to replace parts before they break than after when there's a hole in your cases.

I couldn't agree more. But the question still remains... What is the "real" service interval. Keep in mind that companies (like people)) follow their own incentives. They do publish inaccurate specs, and if they formulate service intervals based on profit considerations it would not surprise me in the slightest.

So if they say "150 hours", do you rebuild at 100 hours to be "sure" you don't blow a hole in the case, or can you expect 300 hours to be ok?

Let's assume that you ride your 450F "normally", which is around torque peak most of the time ...

D

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I think many people here, including myself change their oil too often.

I know guys that have owned CRF's (supposedly notorious for valve problems) for 5yrs and lots of hours with minimal oil and air filter changes and never checking their valves. Basically no maintenance. Motors ran strong untill the end, everything else fell apart first.

I replaced my piston and cam chain on my 07 WR450 after 3 seasons of racing HS's this fall. Bike had lot's of hours. Chain was stretched but the piston still had hours left on it for sure. The Yamaha manual does state, replace piston as needed though, no hour interval.

I change my oil alot, every 5-10hrs, depending on the riding, but's that's because I want everything to be running just perfect. But I'm sure you could go much longer......

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Although I think your question has more variables than I want to solve for, I'll offer my recent KLX450R rebuild as my input...

5500+ miles, valves got dusted a couple times, new SS valves and seats cut, piston replaced, but the one that came out was in spec. Clutch in excellent shape, but replaced with a Rekluse Pro. Suspension springs swapped, original fine. Engine oil changed every so often...maybe 9 times...Fork oil replaced twice. Wheel bearings front and rear just replaced.

I raced it a few times since August 2007. Trail rode it several times a month all over the PNWet...rain, hail, snow...it went there.

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Thanks for the feedback. You're right of course; we won't get any hard conclusions here, but it would be nice to hear a lot of reports of longer-than-expected reliability...

As for your KLR, that is probably what, 150~200 hours? Seems too soon to have valve problems (and was it twice?). Were the seats flattened out, or did a valve get bent, or something else?

D

Although I think your question has more variables than I want to solve for, I'll offer my recent KLX450R rebuild as my input...

5500+ miles, valves got dusted a couple times, new SS valves and seats cut, piston replaced, but the one that came out was in spec. Clutch in excellent shape, but replaced with a Rekluse Pro. Suspension springs swapped, original fine. Engine oil changed every so often...maybe 9 times...Fork oil replaced twice. Wheel bearings front and rear just replaced.

I raced it a few times since August 2007. Trail rode it several times a month all over the PNWet...rain, hail, snow...it went there.

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I put hundreds and hundreds of hours on a 426, no rebuild, oil changes every 5-10 hrs, and a clean air filter. Ran like a champ until the day I got rid of it.

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our bikes are not like an 82 toyota, and the lubricants no where near similar to a car's (or evan older bike) lube's, we have an 08 ktm 450, which at 400 hours is well and trule worn out, the piston is knackards, the bore has worn completly through the nikisil plating, it burns oil and oil leaks from the gearbox to the engine (seperate engine and gearbox oil), it needed a rebuild easily 200 hours ago (piston and rings), and that's a torquey, low revving 450 that's been ridden relitively easy compared to some bikes, a friend of mine who races compeditivly on a KX250F changes the piston every 25 hours, and it's completly knackared every time.

most 450's will go more then 150 hours between rebuild, but small bore bikes (250F and 125) evan when ridden nicly will need rebuilding at 100 hours at the most.

as for oil changes, most bikes hold only a very small amount of oil (just over a liter), it's contaminated by clutch debris (except for honda CRF's and the KTM XC4 engines) and fuel from blow by caused by the short "slipper" pistons all modern bikes use to reduce friction, and motorcycle oils don't normaly contain friction modifiers car oils do because they mess with the wet clutch, that's not evan to mention the RPM's bike engines rev out to.

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our bikes are not like an 82 toyota, and the lubricants no where near similar to a car's (or evan older bike) lube's...

Not the point. Point is, oil and machine have both gotten much better over the years, yet recommeded service intervals have gotten shorter. I want to know if they are realistic and, if so, at what level of riding (i.e. for a pro mx racer, yes, but a trail rider can go 3x longer, etc...) That's all.

The report on your Ktm was great, though. Exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. I assume you ride pretty hard. What kind of riding did you do on it, single track?

D

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our bikes are not like an 82 toyota, and the lubricants no where near similar to a car's (or evan older bike) lube's, we have an 08 ktm 450, which at 400 hours is well and trule worn out, the piston is knackards, the bore has worn completly through the nikisil plating, it burns oil and oil leaks from the gearbox to the engine (seperate engine and gearbox oil), it needed a rebuild easily 200 hours ago (piston and rings), and that's a torquey, low revving 450 that's been ridden relitively easy compared to some bikes, a friend of mine who races compeditivly on a KX250F changes the piston every 25 hours, and it's completly knackared every time.

most 450's will go more then 150 hours between rebuild, but small bore bikes (250F and 125) evan when ridden nicly will need rebuilding at 100 hours at the most.

as for oil changes, most bikes hold only a very small amount of oil (just over a liter), it's contaminated by clutch debris (except for honda CRF's and the KTM XC4 engines) and fuel from blow by caused by the short "slipper" pistons all modern bikes use to reduce friction, and motorcycle oils don't normaly contain friction modifiers car oils do because they mess with the wet clutch, that's not evan to mention the RPM's bike engines rev out to.

No, oil is better (we have GRP III & GRP IV & GRP V ) but all I hear here is that the quality of todays engines is crap but I'm not including my Husky till I see it fall apart as you have described above...

How could anyone but some rich guy or some kid with a rich father ever justify owning a bike with this low of performance .... And please don't tell me it is a racer or some other BS like that.

If what you say is true, these bikes will be nothing more than boat anchors in about 10-15 years as who will want to keep spending the ~$2000 or so to fix them though the years as todays vintage racers are doing with the ~30 year old 2Ts of the late 70s...

I would never own something that is regressed in quality to this standard...If my 08 TXC250 Husky does this, it will be the last one I own.

My 02 CR250 Husky has 6+ hard (but not abusive) years on its same piston and ring and yes this is a 2t but most out here are the hours counting type for 2t or 4t machines ... The oil (whatever is available for me and nothing fancy) is mixed at 32:1 and only pump high test gas ... It still screams .... The clutch has not even been adjusted in the last 3 years I bet...It just delivers and I feather it all the time in the single track of GPNF ... Nothing fancy for tranny oil either...

PS -- Sending your oil out to have it analyzed is the only true way to tell how well your oil is holding up and to check its contents after a few rides....

Edited by ray_ray

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How could anyone but some rich guy or some kid with a rich father ever justify owning a bike with this low of performance .... And please don't tell me it is a racer or some other BS like that.

I would never own something that is regressed in quality to this standard...If my Husky does this, it will be the last one I own.

what's the problem? the main seal on the clutch side has worn out which is why oil leaks from the gearbox into the engine, the barrel is knackared because the piston was worn out long ago, and the loose toleraence has worn the barrel, and it burns oil because the rings are knackared, my old man expected it to last as well as his XT500 did when he was my age, and wouldn't believe me that it needed more attention then it does until i pulled the head off it and shown him the bore, 400 hours without evan touching the engine is a bloody good effort, and if you'd be dissapointed to get less then that from your husky then, it would have gone twice as long if the piston was replaced every 100 hours like it should be.

and the bikes not raced, only trail ridden with about 5 days worth of mx thrown in there in it's life, it still start first time every time and runs like a swiss watch, has never broken down or left us strandared

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what's the problem? the main seal on the clutch side has worn out which is why oil leaks from the gearbox into the engine, the barrel is knackared because the piston was worn out long ago, and the loose toleraence has worn the barrel, and it burns oil because the rings are knackared, my old man expected it to last as well as his XT500 did when he was my age, and wouldn't believe me that it needed more attention then it does until i pulled the head off it and shown him the bore, 400 hours without evan touching the engine is a bloody good effort, and if you'd be dissapointed to get less then that from your husky then, it would have gone twice as long if the piston was replaced every 100 hours like it should be.

and the bikes not raced, only trail ridden with about 5 days worth of mx thrown in there in it's life, it still start first time every time and runs like a swiss watch, has never broken down or left us strandared

All I hear is a regression in quality ....

Oils on the other hand are better but many may be past the point of where they actually help on metal wearing ... GRP IV and V oils really excel in the high and low temps that they can endure and still perform well in your engine ... At all the oil temps in the middle range where most bikes are run, the more expensive oils many not be any better than dino poop stuff... They may hold their viscosity longer as less VIIs are needed to stretch their grades ... So good GRP lll oils have been here since the late 80s, early 90s so maybe not so much change there really.

All I hear is a regression in quality of engines that is not going to be saved by any oil and will need to be re-designed and quality added for us the consumer ...

Edited by ray_ray

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Sorry for this being 1/2 way off topic since it's not involving a bike, but I bought my VW Passat about 6 years ago with 44k on the odo (4 cyl turbo). The original owner had never bothered to change the oil - not once. So the VW dealer who took it in didn't notice at the time, but then when their service dept. did a once over in preparation for putting it out on the used lot, they realized how sludged up the engine was. They did a new short block, but that didn't solve the issues, so they wound up installing a new long block and changing pretty much everything that oil touches - I bought a car with a new engine, turbo, etc., for a fair used car price. I was careful to change the oil often, and except for the first changes I've been using Amsoil sythetic, changed about every 5000 - 7000 miles. I just changed it yesterday in fact, and the car runs like new with 159,800 miles on it now (I know because I remember writing it down, lol). I did notice that it immediately began leaking a little bit of oil when I switched to amsoil, but I think the engine protection is worth keeping a little area of cat litter on the floor in my garage where I park. Again...sorry for being kind of off topic...

Eric

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All I hear is a regression in quality ....

comparing a two stroke and a 4 isn't evan a close comparison, but that said expecting 400 hours out of evan a 250 two stroke that get's putted is completly rediculous, if ya get it good on ya but i'm not putting any of my money on it, in recent years the focus with all bikes has moved more towards performance rather then reliability, that simple, for 99% of riders who might only put 50 hours on they're bike a year that's great, they'll easily get 3 seasons out of a 450 before it needs any work.

also, do you have an hour meter on your CR250, 400 hours in two years is averaging around 160 km per week, every week, for two years, just because it's six years old doesnt mean it has alot of hours on it, most guy's are lucky to put 50 a year, i'm willing to bet your husky doesnt have nearly as much time on it as you think it does.

it's really this simple, if your not happy with a modern high performance bike that "only" last's 400 hours, then buy an older tech bike that will last as long as your after, no need to come on here ranting about how poor the quality in modern bikes are because they wear out more quickly, we already know.

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comparing a two stroke and a 4 isn't evan a close comparison, but that said expecting 400 hours out of evan a 250 two stroke that get's putted is completly rediculous, if ya get it good on ya but i'm not putting any of my money on it, in recent years the focus with all bikes has moved more towards performance rather then reliability, that simple, for 99% of riders who might only put 50 hours on they're bike a year that's great, they'll easily get 3 seasons out of a 450 before it needs any work.

also, do you have an hour meter on your CR250, 400 hours in two years is averaging around 160 km per week, every week, for two years, just because it's six years old doesnt mean it has alot of hours on it, most guy's are lucky to put 50 a year, i'm willing to bet your husky doesnt have nearly as much time on it as you think it does.

it's really this simple, if your not happy with a modern high performance bike that "only" last's 400 hours, then buy an older tech bike that will last as long as your after, no need to come on here ranting about how poor the quality in modern bikes are because they wear out more quickly, we already know.

lol ... I'll leave this as it is young grasshopper and let the numbers speak for them selves.. lol

And leave Husqvarna out of this low quality bin until I say my Husky went belly up :thumbsup:

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Seems like some compromises have been made to get the most power out at the expense of reliability. Look at the wr250r that motor is less powerful that the F but only needs valve adjusted at 26k. The manufacturers could build engines that last if they want to but it would cost more up front.

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lol ... I'll leave this as it is young grasshopper and let the numbers speak for them selves.. lol

if you have some information that mgiht shed some light on why you hold your opinion theres no need not to shear it from us, but at the moment you seem to be making the same assumption my father did when he got back into bikes "bike sin my day did 100k miles before they blew up so bikes of today should be just as good or better" but they're not, in terms of reliability they're much worse.

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Seems like some compromises have been made to get the most power out at the expense of reliability. Look at the wr250r that motor is less powerful that the F but only needs valve adjusted at 26k. The manufacturers could build engines that last if they want to but it would cost more up front.

Of course they could but then they sell less parts and do less shop work :thumbsup:

And those 2Ts are hard to beat in many ways for the customers!

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