I find this whole FI thing really interesting. FI is one of the reasons I’m even here browsing the DR forum. I’m currently riding an ’06 BMW F650 Dakar and giving some serious thought to selling it and getting a DR650. The BMW has been a great bike. It still is. But I think it’s overly complex. I also hate the dealers. The closest dealer is worse than awful and it’s just over an hour away. The next one is merely awful and right at 100 miles away. The next one after that is more like 200 miles away. Compare that with eight Suzuki dealers within 50 miles – all closer than the nearest BMW dealer.
I like the DR because it has a carb. I understand carbs and I can work on carbs. Carbs work without electricity and without high-pressure fuel pumps. Unless it’s torn off the bike and run over by a train, a carb can usually be repaired well enough in the field or on the side of the road to get you home. I’ve patched a friend’s cracked float bowl with gum and duct tape. It still leaked, but it got him home. I patched the diaphragm on a CV carb with electrical tape. It didn’t work well, but it worked well enough to get me home.
I like the screw adjusters for the valves. They require more frequent adjustments than shims and buckets, but they’re easy to check and easy to adjust. The BMW shims under buckets are very stable and rarely need adjustment – but you have to practically dismantle the bike to get to them to check the clearance. Then when they do need adjusted, it means pulling the cams.
I like the air/oil cooling on the DR. In addition to being lighter and simpler, it completely removes the danger of damaging the radiator, damaging the hoses, or in BMW’s case, having problems with the water pump shaft seals. A cracked radiator isn’t a big issue at the racetrack. It ends your race, but that’s all. Dual sporters are much more likely to be quite a ways from help and a truck. By nature we like to get off of the beaten path and out onto dirt trails and single tracks where we can be a long way from help. It’s always possible to break something and get stranded, but when I’m away from civilization, I think simpler is better.
But back to the point of this – FI.
There are a lot of good things to say about FI. It’s super precise in fuel metering. That means a better mixture across a wide range of throttle settings, with the side benefits of reduced emissions and better fuel economy as well. There is no choke and no enrichment circuit – turn the key, hit the button, and it goes. No altitude problems. For the most part FI has proven very reliable – for the most part.
The downside is that it’s not user maintainable. If it ever does have a problem, FI will definitely end your ride. You can do a little adjustment at the throttle body, but other than that, no fiddling, no adjusting, no nothing. Bring the truck and haul it back to the dealer. And it may very well be the dealer only. While there is pending legislation to require open source code (Right to Repair Act), it IS still pending.
Additionally, manufacturers may well be able to get around it. BMW is a case in point. The current rules require that they sell the same equipment to third parties that they sell to the dealers. That means that you can buy the BMW special tools that the shops have. So what BMW has done is just not sold the diagnostic equipment to the dealers – they lease it. So the equipment to diagnose, update, or reflash the computer(s) belongs to BMW. It is proprietary and isn’t even sold to the dealers. It’s simply not available to independent shops or do-it-yourselfers.