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Old 07-17-2012, 04:59 PM   #16
SportsGuy OP
Joined: Mar 2007
Location: redmond wa
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Originally Posted by RedRaptor22 View Post
As far as reliablity goes I know lots who have plenty of miles with the "required" mods, and I know at least one person who's never done anything but ride selling one with only 6k miles that has a hole scorched through the piston, I presume it's because his was tuned like mine when it was new.
Are you basically saying that stock, from the factory, the XR650 will burn it's piston unless modded?

I'm sure one off situations *can* happen, but I'm guessing there are thousands of happy XR650 owners running stock bikes without issues...
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:15 PM   #17
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Stock dirt bike. Lol. What planet are you from?

In all actuality, my bike is stock, engine and chassis wise. Seat, tank, guards, not so much. It's a 400, honestly, there's not a ton that needs to be done to it. Other than possibly rejetting it depending on how the plug looks, the only other upgrades i would consider would be possibly a stabilizer and oil cooler.
'10 Yamaha WR250R , '93 Yamaha TW200, '03 Honda Foreman 450ES 4x4, '96 Yamaha Big Bear 350 4x4.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:07 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by malignity View Post
Stock dirt bike. Lol. What planet are you from?

In all actuality, my bike is stock, engine and chassis wise. Seat, tank, guards, not so much. It's a 400, honestly, there's not a ton that needs to be done to it. Other than possibly rejetting it depending on how the plug looks, the only other upgrades i would consider would be possibly a stabilizer and oil cooler.
You hit upon a clear issue between bikes and the need...or at least the real mod a given bike. Bikes that cost $8000-$10,000 or more shouldn't really need a ton of mods, should they? My '06 KLX250S bought used...cost about $5000 new...was in need of suspension work and uncorking the smog, intake, and exhaust issues for anything approaching a relatively heightened off road performance. Many are happy as clams with the stock bike, but many of those riders don't really need a better performing off road bike for their needs. I don't think you can throw a big blanket over the issue of modding bikes and the attendant reliability. There are loads of exceptions and issues. The dual sport category in particular is full of bikes that are blatantly in or very close to the obsolete category and are often in need of some mods to make them perform at a more acceptable level for more discriminating riders. The dual sport category is also one that is hard for manufacturers to put their fingers on and hit the bullseye with any certainty. We want DS bikes to do so much so well, and we want it cheaply. I'd contend that requires compromises that don't fill the bill for many of us. And to top it off, these DS bikes are required to meet strict emission regs that can further diminish the needed/wanted performance for many riders.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by malignity View Post
Stock dirt bike. Lol. What planet are you from?

I know, I know... ;)
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:25 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by SportsGuy View Post
Are you basically saying that stock, from the factory, the XR650 will burn it's piston unless modded?

I'm sure one off situations *can* happen, but I'm guessing there are thousands of happy XR650 owners running stock bikes without issues...
I'm sure with the XR650 it was'nt much of a problem, but with the XR650L stock tune definately is a problem that could result in such a situation and is very likely the cause of that particular failure at that mileage.

I know at least my bike at near sea level ran super hot to the point it developed a knock in traffic, my guess is pre-detination caused by a really hot piston and ultra lean mix, not to mention the tendency to burp and die coming off idle, basically in stock tune it was un-rideable by my standards.

Since jetting it and removing the smog parts all of those problems have gone away and it will definately live much longer, the spark plugs get dirtier but at least I know my engine will not try to supplement the lack of fuel being delivered by burning its own piston.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:30 PM   #21
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There's no clear and easy answer to this. Every bike, every person and every mod is different. Bikes are built to a cost and when they're built, corners are cut to save money. As a rule, if you're modifications and upgrades address the cuts costs then they'll improve the bike but otherwise they tend to do the opposite. I also feel that in most cases, removal of unnecessary restrictions such as emission controls will serve to make an improvement without a loss in reliability. My bike is heavily modified but highly reliable because I addressed the design issues such as overly restrictive airflow, lousy shocks and poor lights. Other people using the same model are talking about booster plugs to over-ride the ignition, that run contrary to making the bike reliable, in my opinion.
My brother bought a KTM 690 from new and modded it lightly with a new exhaust and some other parts. It never ran properly after that and he ended up giving up on it. Once returned to stock it ran fine... although it still leaked oil and needed a new engine.
Modding the bike is a lot of fun but it needs to be done intelligently. You don't really need to understand what you're doing as much as understand the consequences of what you're doing.
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:44 AM   #22
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Im completely against stock bikes, I am a big bloke, I need to do suspension, gearing, and up the engines output to feel like its doing what I want it to do, I would most likely give up riding or 4wheeling cos nothing out of the factory is good enough, everything needs modding to make it go good, why cant you buy a bike already fitted with highflow exhaust and high ouput stators and hd springs

on the other hand, I know poeple half my weight and height that leave their bikes stock, cos it works perfectly for them and they still have something that needs doing or replacing, reliability hasnt changed

doing practical mods does not make a bike unreliable, riding it day in day out,throwing it on the ground and not maintaining it makes it unreliable and occasional brakedowns well, something you just cant foresee or control, all new machines suffer something going wrong at some time, recalls, warranty?
current bikes : 01 XR 650R and 03 ktm 525exc, I cant decide one has to go, arraahhgg Both went I now saddle a Berg fe 570, beastie
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:07 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Incredulous View Post
I think a lot of people that don't know what they are doing screw up their bikes by doing mods they don't understand and do not have the skill to pull it off.
Yup. While working at a bike dealership I've seen people bring in bikes with exhaust and no fuel mods and ask me why it runs so bad. Running a bike lean like that is not good for engine internals and it happens far more often than you would think.

My TL1000 was modded pretty heavily when I got it and for the first 2 years of riding it I was constantly discovering bugs due to the previous owners poor workmanship.

My plan with the XL was to leave it stock but it's so soft and sloppy for a guy who weights 200lbs that I almost have no choice but to. Not a big deal though considering it's just a simple air cooled single cylinder bike. Reliability may be hindered to a point but at least it's cheap and relativity easy to work on. Unlike like the TL.

I'm planning on getting a new or newer bike within a year or so. It will be something that fits me properly, has the performance I'm looking for, and in turn I will be inclined to leave it very stock. Not to mention a stock bike has much better resale value. Half the time dealerships don't even want really modded up bike on trade.
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:27 AM   #24
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If the federal government would get out of the business of how an internal engine should run maybe the bikes would run right from the get go. I doubt that KTM wants its bikes that goofily jetted, or that Honda wants its that way either, or geared to do 100 MPH in first.
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:27 AM   #25
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Take a gear head when looking for old cars, truck, boats, bikes.
Look at a bunch of 40 year old wore out junk. Watch there eyes light up when they find something that is stock and un-molested. Sure the battery has been changed, the battery hold down is wrong or missing, all the plastic is cracked. But all the real gear heads I know get excited when they find something that just wore out and wasn't modded to death. To that there is something to leaving it alone.

I bought my KLR back in the end of '99 in a bit of a crisis, I needed good transportation at that moment. I left it bone stock. Upgraded as it wore (tires, chain, sprockets, battery, doohicky, etc.) Lost one fuse due to a design flaw and the element got a stress crack, replaced the fuse with another glass fuse with a different element shape and have been fine ever since. I did not fall into the "cut out all those crappy fuses and put in another design of crappy fuse and have more wire splices that can go bad" that so many others get brain washed into.

I am a gear head at heart (built multiple vehicles, engines, strokers, engine swaps that when done actually looked stock even though it was never offered that way. Generally V8s into stuff that didn't offer a V8. And when the KLR was no longer a necessary transportation requirement and was placed into the toy catagory I did change out the exhaust for something that didn't chirp like an old VW.

I do see plenty of good value in "stock". I have seen plenty of stuff for sale that lists $x,xxx in upgrades, in the end it sells for about what something that had $0 in upgrades added to it.

For my current daily driver I had 2 options. Get the stripper and add all the stuff or get it loaded. Got it loaded and have not touched anything. Guess what, it all works perfect like someone spent millions of dollars engineering it to all work together just right. Aftermarket upgrades I would still be sorting out trying to get everything to all play happy. Even then it will never all really work together.

My next bike I am looking around for what has everything just how I want it. Yes I could go for a cheaper model and add all the parts. I have the abality to do it. But after many years of dealing with it I find it better just to spend the money up front and get it right out of the box and enjoy the ride instead of spending all the time and money screwing with the ride.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:01 AM   #26
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Its been great reading this thread, so I owe a thanks to those who've shared their thoughts so far.

Your thoughts got me thinking some more, and looking back over my own history and actions.

I think to a degree, modding is a right of passage. About 7 years ago, I bought a Golf TDI. Awesome gas mileage (50+ mpg) and reliable. Wasn't long before I had upgraded the tires and rims. Then came bigger injectors to up power. Then followed a remapped ECU for even more power, which meant an upgraded clutch, upgraded ball joints and cv joints. Chose not to lower the car, but did replace the struts with upgraded units.

Fast forward to three years ago. Golf is long since sold to a friend, who reports even today its the most reliable car he's ever owned, too, even with all the mods. Still cracks off 50 mpg when he's light in the throttle, etc.

Three years ago I went shopping for a small used car for the seocnd spot int he garage. I recalled autocrossing the Golf back in the day and how fun that was...except that the Golf was NOT, despite my efforts, a sports car. Sure it was faster and handled far better than stock, but it was still a Golf with a heavy diesel engine pushing the front end around in the corners.

So we bought a used BMW Z4. 28,000 miles and $16K. Solid deal and after about a month of driving the car it hits me: you want a sports car? Buy a sports car. You want an economical commuter car that'll cross the continent with friends in tow, buy a Golf TDI. Just don't buy one thinking you can make it both.

Given I'm 40 now, this thinking wasn't really roote din my mind when I started modding the Golf. Thus I think all the modding of vehicles before now were my right of passage - what I had to do to realize I prefer to buy the tool designed fo rthe job. That you need to properly ID the job, then select the correct tool, rather than trying to make any tool fit any job.

There's a company building dual sports from Ducati Monsters. Pricey, but cool for sure. In the end, though, do you actually have a well designed dual sport? Not in my opinion. You have a street bike build to have longer travel suspension, so it can handle some dirt. Still heavy, now tall, and designed more for straffing desert washes than single track. Still, there's a market - heck, I considered one.

It pains me to say this, but I'm starting to think that modifying motor vehicles is starting to look like a younger man's game to me now. ;) I can still appreciate it - its an art form, of sorts. I appreciate those doing it, but find myself on a different path these days. I like adding functional hard parts (steering dampener, side bags, upgraded hand guards, etc.), but I like reliable and quiet. I've always found loud motorcycles obtrusive, annoying and unecessary. I like stock exhausts (but wish they were designed better). I truely wish stock seats were better. Things like exhaust heat melting turn signals simply shouldn't happen.

But when I want more power, I test ride everything in sight and start saving up my pennies for the winner of my own personal test ride shoot out.

In the end, I feel those modifying their bikes help keep the rest of us you to a degree. We've been there. We've dealt with that issue. We've made our choices - time for others to do the same, based on their own needs.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:03 AM   #27
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Reliability? It goes like this:

Badly modded bikes < stock bikes < well modded bikes.

The bad mods come either from using badly designed/manufactured parts, people that don't know how to install them, or that do not think about systems as a whole (e.g. if you change an exhaust you might need to adjust the intake of air and fueling to match).

OEM components generally tend to be well made and reliable, but the manufacturers do have to work with a limited budget, and they do have to comply with emissions, noise, safety, and other regulations, that we as individuals do not (at least partially). Therefore every single bike has weaknesses, and there is basically no component that cannot be improved if you have unlimited money to throw at it.

Well modded bikes do not only use premium components but they are also put together with previous knowledge and experience of the builder (or by copying somebody who has been there, done that). Not everything that sounds great on paper actually works out in the real world.

A good example would be Colebatches X-Challenge. After doing 3 or 4 Europe-Siberia trips, and changing out everything that doesn't work or could be improved, that thing is solid. It's completely obvious that any stock X-Challenge ridden on the same track at the same speed will bend it's wheels quicker and generally break more shit (both because of inferior rims and because his suspension is better tuned and is more plush yet doesn't bottom as quickly), the aluminum subframe would break before his steel one, he would be more likely to crash at night because his halogen light puts out 1/5 of the lumens vs. the dual 50W Bi-Xenons, etc.

The same thing is of course the case with any other bike, and most other parts. If you want to leave something stock because you don't want to spend the money, don't have the skills, or you are fine with functionality as is, fair enough. But don't tell me you are doing it because "stock is the most reliable".
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:27 AM   #28
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This has been an interesting thread. On the gearheads looking and lusting after unmodded vehicles, there are usually two reasons for that. One, they are looking for something in the vein of restoration, or two, they are looking for something they can modify. With that second one there's a kind of 2.5 reason also. Some previous modding can be classified as a hack job depending on quality. I just think the desire for finding the "unmolested" vehicle status comes down to a restoration goal or the joy of modding the virgin vehicle yourself for a real gearhead.

On the age of gearheads doing the modding, I'm not sure I find that to be the case that it's mainly a young man's game. I look around and see that it's many of the older guys who have the time, money, and experience to pursue modding projects. Many of them also pursue restoration projects, but if you're honest, that's a whole other direction. Many, many older guys are reliving their youth in terms of hot rods and hopped-up vehicles of all kinds that they couldn't afford when they were and nearly all other vehicles.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:02 AM   #29
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I have had my 2009 KTM 690r enduro for close to three years now and mods have mostly followed two paths. The first is replacing stock parts that have been reported to fail, and the second is adding or replacing parts to make the bike more durable. The weak point of the 690 has been the fuel system so I replaced the stock fuel pump with the CA Cycleworks pump. Also I added the extra fuel filter where the quick disconnect used to be. Stock fuel tank bolts were replaced with stronger ones. Also I just replaced the stock voltage regulator with a Mosfet type. I did these mods just to decrease the chance of a failure, but my guess is that even stone stock the percent of failures might be very low. So not doing any of these mods will make no difference in many cases. On the other hand, after 6 straight days riding all day in Baja with zero problems, I feel better about having done those mods. Other mods were more protective skid plate, LED rear turn signals after I broke the stockers, euro rear tail light and fender after I almost destroyed my license plate,better lever guards, and other mods just to replace OEM parts with stronger aftermarket parts. Mods I did purely because I wanted to were Akra Pipe and Vortex ECU. I added Rally Raid tanks because I needed the extra mileage for Baja. I am pretty sure that had I ridden a stock bike I would have had some failures or would have broken something. So in my case I feel like most of the mods were worth it and have made the bike more crash proof and more reliable. The only engine related issue I have had with the bike was two days separated by over a year where the bike was trying to die or did die which turned out to be caused by a poor coil connection.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:11 AM   #30
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Seems to me you can't get your money back either, AND they can be harder to sell (I'm not risking that the PO did it right). So, I do like my Ohlins shock, but the electrical mods were worrysome- ripped them all out. I think it depends on the person, and the mod. Good topic.
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