Longevity, FI or Carbs?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by LPRoad, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. LPRoad

    LPRoad Curmudgeon

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    There are a lot of opinions, but there seems to be a ton of technical knowledge on this site so I ask you. If you were looking to buy a bike today, with the idea that you would have to keep the same motorcycle for say 20 years, would it make more sense to buy a fuel injected model or one that still uses carburetors? I have low to average mechanical skills, I believe I could learn to work on a carburetor. I have low to average computer skills, so I could probably learn to use a program that allowed me to adjust a fuel injected system. I will be living in a remote area on a low fixed income. Does one or the other make more sense for me?

    next summer I plan to take the lump check I get at retirement for left over vacation and sick time and buy a new motorcycle. It is probably the last large batch of $ I will have until I kick it, so I am really trying to make a wise purchase.

    I welcome all feedback.
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  2. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    If you are buying a new new bike its probably going to be injected anyways. I think the bugs have been worked out of most fuel injection and any negatives are surely outweighed by positives in my book.

    Fi typically doesnt require a lot of attention, id plan on buying a reliable japanese machine and make sure you have the basic tools to work on it. And a factory service manual. And this forum. Good luck to you
    #2
  3. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    FI hands down.

    One of the major factors in the long life of most car and bike engines is precise metering of fuel in cold starts. Carbs are usually pretty rich and unless the rider/driver has good control over the enrichment here is excess gas washing oil off the cylinders causing wear.

    Rod
    #3
  4. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    Carbs will be less reliable, but easier to fix. I can take one apart, clean jets, replace a rotted diaphragm without too much hassle.

    FI will be far more reliable, but when it breaks there aren't a lot of user serviceable parts.

    If you like to tinker, get an air cooled single with a carb, maybe an XR650L, they've been around since God was a young boy and are pretty well sorted. No cooling system to break, just stone simple.
    #4
  5. ph0rk

    ph0rk Doesn't Care

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    I'd think FI's treatment of cold starts and knock prevention would be worth quite a bit in the longevity department. I see plenty of fully functional 20 year + honda cars with FI rolling around, often treated far worse than most would treat a bike they plan to keep that long.

    Carbed bikes will be going the way of the dodo soon enough due to emissions standards.
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  6. ohgood

    ohgood Long timer

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    the efi/carb debate doesn't really apply to you i think. it's more of a 'youre keeping it 20 years, in a remote location' which means you need PARTS ON SHELF more than most folk who can have carb/efi/electronics/stuff fedex'd tomorrow WHEN it fails, not IF.


    with that said, i'd say buy a -mass-produced-long-production-run- thumper or twin of your preference, that uses ONE carburetor. then buy a duplicate new or used carburetor, and put it on a shelf to swap out once a year, or whatever you like to keep it's rubbers/floats/stuff in good condition. the klr comes to mind.



    i've owned carbs and efi. the efi is definitely nice on cold or varying temperature days. as much as i like mine, i would definitely not buy another chinese scooter with efi, from a 3 year production run, to take into the wilderness for years at a time. for running around town or up into the mountains, sure. but not for forever. ;-)



    so, yes, it sounds like a good plan. enjoy your new life, your new bike, and the comfort of having the most needed part/parts already documented from other users, on YOUR SHELF, waiting for the day.

    :)
    #6
  7. LPRoad

    LPRoad Curmudgeon

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    Well, what started me thinking was an add for a 2008 scrambler. It has carbs, or I could get a newer one with FI.

    That is the sort of information I lack.

    Or as my dad used to say "six to one, half a dozen to the other" :)

    Good point.

    I appreciate all of the information guys. This has been one of the more helpful forums I have spent time on.
    #7
  8. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

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    Are you going to ride it every day?
    Carbs don't like sitting with fuel in their bowls.
    I can let a FI vehicle sit for months and it will fire up right away.

    Sure you can take apart a carb and clean everything out to make it like it was but when was the last time you heard of anyone taking apart their FI system just to clean it out? Good gas and/or FI treatment once in a while and you are good for probably longer than the motor will hold out.

    Carbs need maintenance, lots of rubber in them that dries out especially with ethanol. FI, not so much.

    New Mexico isn't really remote if that's still your plan. Everything is available online anymore so any parts you may need can be shipped to you, or if you don't get mail, shipped to a PO box that you can go to.

    I love my R90 and hopefully will never get rid of it, but the carbs and points are fun from a nostalgic perspective, not from a running one. The bike runs great but often either spills gas in the garage or runs overly rich for a bit from a stuck needle. A quick smack on the carbs with a big screwdriver fixes it.

    Unless you are modifying your motor, you wont need to tinker with FI mapping or carb jetting unless it's bad from the factory. FI will also handle (in most cases on modern bikes) massive changes in elevation with little power loss vs carburation that can adjust somewhat with the right carb but often will require rejetting or result in poor power/economy during the time at the changed elevation. If you are jetted for high altitude and head down to the beach/sealevel, you risk running very lean as well without mods. FI, not so much.

    One last thing, a lot of carbed bikes (hard to find a new one now, so speaking older) hide those carbs away deep inside the bike. They aren't easy to get to, synchronize or maintain.
    #8
  9. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    I was thinking exactly the opposite, no surprise there. If a person is keeping one bike for 20 years, it's gonna sit around a lot...it's much easier to drain a float bowl and tank on a carb'd bike...same thing on a FI bike is pretty much impossible.
    #9
  10. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    Easier to bump start a carbed bike too. I've never successfully bump started an injected bike. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that I haven't been able to.
    #10
  11. flatchance

    flatchance Adventurer

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    Air cooled single cylinder w/carburetor.
    #11
  12. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

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    On a thumper sure. Maybe even a twin or that scrambler he was looking at assuming its a Triumph.
    If it's a Japanese 4, not really fun though.

    Still, I can't tell you the last time I've needed to drain my FI system on anything, bike or car.
    FI tanks come off easy enough and even with 4 or 5 gallons of gas, they are fairly easy to handle.

    What I read into the OP's question is - "I don't want to do much maintenance or repair work, I don't really know how and I just want to ride." That said, something dead reliable and not race tuned sounds perfect. That to me would be Honda or another Japanese bike, or modern Harley/Victory.
    #12
  13. Tweaker

    Tweaker ...

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    I am not sure how anybody can claim carbs are easier to work on. Just getting the carbs out of some bikes requires prying, bending and plenty of cursing. Then, some bikes have as many of 6 of the effing things and no nooby is going to have any idea of a pilot jet or idle jet - or any of the other dozen little parts per carb. Nor the knowledge and equipment to sync them. Nuts. I started messing with carbs for 35 years ago, give me FI any day. Reliable, simple and runs better.
    #13
  14. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    I'd say go with what you're comfortable with. Carbs are simple and easy to repair. FI is more user friendly especially in winter where the computer is constantly adjusting the mix but injectors wear also and won't last forever either w/o maint especially the electronics. Over a 20 year period depending on miles you may go through the carbs more often but over 20 years I'd guess total costs would be near equal. Nothing lasts forever w/o servicing/maint. Stuff that requires serving more often is generally cheaper to maintain than stuff with long service intervals. Nothing I know of falls into the "I just wanna ride and not maintain anything" category. Some machines may seem like it "for awhile" but eventually it'll catch up with you. I'm an old fart and used to carbs and their quirks and cold drivability issues so they don't scare me. It's a motorcycle and needs hands on love occasionally to keep it sweet and reliable. To me that's just part of the deal. My old little brain and economics can handle mechanical issues better than electronic black box voodoo issues you have to plug a laptop into just to tune but that's just me. It's a machine and eventually WILL need maint. Ain't no free rides. Go with the system you're comfortable with and enjoy the benefits of your choice and learn to live with it's consequences.
    #14
  15. engineman

    engineman Been here awhile

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    I resisted fuel injection for the longest time because it was complicated and I "couldn't fix it" then after havinh a few FI machines I realized I never need ti fix it. Its 7 degrees F in my shop this morning and I started both my injected bikes. Didnt even bother trying the carbed ones

    Sent from my SCH-R530U using Tapatalk 2
    #15
  16. Tweaker

    Tweaker ...

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    I put over 100,000 miles on my K100 and except for the filter, never touched the fuel injection system.
    #16
  17. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    and I never understand anybody claiming they need to 'work' on carbs. I've never NEEDED to work on any carb, open an intake or add an exhaust sure, I've worked on a carb for that reason. Never because it broke. Never had a problem draining a bank of four for the winter, just leave the tank on and drain it too.

    FI sure, had to work on those...fuel pumps croak, injectors get clogged.
    #17
  18. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    You got 100,000 out of a speed density system on a K bike? You are a god. :eek1


    :bow:bow
    #18
  19. fast4d

    fast4d Long timer

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    fuel injection for sure

    but an FCR carb will make me ponder for a few moments....:D

    then shake it off and get FI
    #19
  20. Tweaker

    Tweaker ...

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    I don't know what speed density system is. I replaced the fuel pump somewhere around 115k (Ford Mustang pumps fit), but that was from trying to push fuel through a dirty filter. As far as I'm aware, that is not unusual mileage for that system.
    #20