Tech: Old Reliable vs New Fangled

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by MotorcycleWriter, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    I like older technology and new, when it's mixed together properly.
    Air/oil cooling with NikaSil and F.I. for starters seems like a great match.
    Both combined allow for less moving parts than a liquid cooled carbed bike does but...
    I've never had an older tech bike NOT give me warnings before it was going to take a crap.
    F.I. and modern electronics on the other hand, can take a shit in the blink of an eye with no warning at all.

    Since I consider myself a pretty competent shade-tree mechanic/trouble shooter, none of the technologies bothers me but, I will take a bike that is simpler to work on (no plumbing in the way and adjustable screw/locknut tappets) any day of the week vs. absolute power.
    #41
  2. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

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    Old bikes are fun to tinker with and ride short distances.

    Modern tech is far more reliable, never mind modern materials in engines. It is rare these days to check valves the first few times and really need to do any adjusting. Not so on old bikes.

    I'll take a newer bike for reliability any day. Change the oil, do your maintenance, and ride it. Carry less tools. More time riding, less time fixing. I'd much rather plug a tire than change a tube on the side of the road, which imho is another plus for "new tech" i.e. tubless tires.
    #42
  3. AC909

    AC909 Great Job!

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    Every bike I currently own is air cooled and carbureted. I had a V-Strom that I absolutely loved while I was riding but the maintenance to me, coming from a vintage bike background, was a nightmare. Air filter cleaning/replacement was a two hour job, replacing spark plugs required about half a day, taking the front wheel off required a special tool, I wasn't used to having a radiator so having to deal with changing coolant was a whole new chore and something I didn't want to mess with, etc.
    So in my case and from my background motorcycle "technology" was a pretty negative term. It meant that every chore that generally took a few minutes was now a few hours. I didn't have to do these maintenance chores as often with the Strom but when I did it was a real burden and something that I didn't look forward to which meant the job may or may not have gotten done on its scheduled maintenance time.
    I have never been stranded with any of my old tech. That doesn't mean I haven't had issues but it was always something I could fix in the field or at least limp somewhere to get the problem fixed properly. I can see the advantages to new technology in motorcycles but for me it just isn't worth the hassle with the very little amount of trouble my old school bikes have given me. Your experience may vary and to each his own. :beer
    #43
  4. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    both the SV and V-strom were ridden in the same environment, so I am comparing apples to apples
    #44
  5. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    I bought this bike at a swap meet back in '07. I rode it 4000 miles getting used to it.
    Then in the winter of '08 I decided it would be my ride for a cross country trip.I modified it to suit the load and preped it to survive some rough gravel roads I like to ride.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    And it came out like this.
    Then I rode it from Kentucky to Seattle, by way of Monument Valley,getting stuck in a snowstorm in Nevada on 50 and left it at my cousin's place in Bellvue, Wa.
    The next year I went back and took it on a loop to Montana via the MaGruder Corridor between Elk City,Id. and Darby , Mt. and through Hell's Canyon on the way back to Bellvue.
    In '11 I picked up the bike and rode north to Vancouver Island then over to the mainland and up to Kamloops, then back to the states across Montana then south to the Mexico border in Tx.and home via New Orleans to Kentucky. The 3 trips combined totaled 13,500 miles.
    I paid $750.00 for the bike and had most of the other stuff I equiped it with.
    So, some people can travel on old bikes and enjoy the heck out of it.
    #45
  6. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

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    Nothing against older bikes for a long trip. I am of the opinion that the bike you own is the greatest bike made. Then there's affordability. Older bikes can be had more cheaply.

    That said, it is MY preference, not that it should be anyone else's, that newer bikes are better for me for longer trips. And I can afford them. I travel these days on a new Bonnie, which I consider the best of both worlds. A ride similar to (not exactly like) a classic with modern reliability and maintenance intervals.
    #46
  7. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    ok yes, so your experience that is carbs work better in highly corrosive winter riding conditions.

    Mine is, that FI is just as reliable for more or less everything else, gives better mpg, and is easier to deal with, if you ride in high altitudes.
    #47
  8. James Adams

    James Adams non impediti ratione cogitationis

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    No, you're comparing an apple to a lemon.
    #48
  9. Timbatrader

    Timbatrader n00b

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    I have both an R1150RT and a R100GSPD I’ve had the RT from new and have abandoned it in favor of the GS not sure whether it is an old verses new thing or just that BMW have lost their way. The engineers no longer run the place instead Accountants Marketing gurus and stylist make the calls.
    Issues that lead me to this conclusion.
    Without a fully charged battery that is less than a year old the bike won’t start
    It is not possible to get to the battery to charge it, change or jump-start it, without removing all fairings fuel tank etc.
    If you leave the bike without using it and without connecting to a battery charger for more than a couple of weeks you are up for a strip down again it doesn’t seem possible to disconnect the battery when not using it and that little clock must use a hell of a lot of juice.
    Another problem was on the 1150RT’s they had power assisted ABS brakes they gave me heaps of problems while under warranty which they fixed OK but after the warranty finshed the quoted price to fix was more than the bike is worth so that’s why I am now riding an old R100 it might breakdown more often but when it does I can see what the problem is and generally any small town mechanic can get me going again
    #49
  10. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

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    I prefer the KISS approach to bikes...the old airheads fill the bill. New bike manufacturers (especially NEW BMW"S!!) can't understand the principle remove the KI and change the "S" 's to $$'s.

    would you rather take a 30 year old Oilhead or Airhead on a round the world journey???<object class="hark_player" height="28" width="300">



    <embed src="http://cdn.hark.com/swfs/player_fb.swf?pid=chsqkglsfk" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" wmode="transparent" height="28" width="300">
    </object>

    The More They Overthink the Plumbing<script src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js?c1=7&c2=9304640&c3=1&c4=&c5=&c6="></script><script src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js?c1=7&c2=9304640&c3=1&c4=&c5=&c6="></script>
    #50
  11. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    spot on .. yes older airheads like R80G/S can be dead reliable. but the catch is finding one and/or putting back in prime condition.

    there are NO subsides for low miles .. starting with a worn out airhead will net you out same or more troubles as a brand new BMW.

    totally lucked in on both my airheads ... R90S found dead with 7,300 miles .. R80G/S found with a frame off restoration by Beemerguru, which is essentially like starting with a new bike.

    a lot of folks would rather find a high mileage airhead that's been maintained vs a dead low miles airhead. IMHO it's much easier to deal with small issues like replacing all seals on dead low mileage airheads vs dealing with major issues like overhauling engine/transmission with high miles airheads.

    if achieving an older bike reliable enough to ride anywhere is the goal ... IMHO there are no substitutes for low miles.

    new bikes have entirely different issues .. it's usually a binary situation .. either zero problems or big ones. if/when problems do come up on new bikes .. they usually are not minor. for instance dealing with ABS problems on newer BMW .. F8 not having an anti-knock sensor combined with bad fuel, resulting in a destroyed engine. fuel injection are pretty darn reliable until problems do show. like clogged fuel filters and/or bad fuel injection pump. problems with failed rectifier/regulator and/or stators, failed non serviceable final drives, failed non serviceable wheel bearings, etc. etc.

    it's not that newer bikes have no service issues .. they are just different.

    1981 R80G/S after frame off restoration by Beemerguru
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #51
  12. Gripsteruser

    Gripsteruser Got a handle on it

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    I've not been stranded by any motorcycle (yet?).
    I've been left stranded by a Euro-sedan whose fuel pump melted (alcohol in the fuel said the Dealer - try to avoid it. yeah, right.). Said fuel pump is not accessible easily for repair. So it had to be towed.

    My old Jeep was a nightmare of vacuum lines and carbureted but I could fix it roadside or mountainside. A fuel pump swap was $30/30 minutes/2 hose clamps/2 1/2 in bolts.

    Nowadays I tend to just count the connectors. More connectors = more trouble in the long run because of more complexity.

    Carbs are never optimum. But when they fail, they can still be persuaded to work. Compare to ECU controlled, O2 sensor feedback, high pressure fuel pumped electric injection. Runs great when new. not so good later with corroded connectors or poor power...


    (I'm a manufacturing EE now working as a Reliability Engineer. Connectors are the most evil electrical component. Fewer is better.)

    Oh - and don't forget that new bikes have UNDISCOVERED issues lurking. I really hate blazing THOSE trails.....
    #52
  13. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

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    Kind of like hubris. The notion that a new bike is so well designed that it can't break down on a long trip. This may have been BMW's stock in trade from way back though, the early BMW tourers were often the choice of long distant riders who were counting on the most reliable machine available. I think we choose a path in our motorcycle careers, whether to survive through best information and money or familiarity and mechanical experience. I went to a BMW riders' breakfast a few years ago, and was surrounded by a personable group of dedicated riders on exquisite machines who were taken aback by the comprehensive tool kit they saw when I opened the seat of my bike to show the engine layout. It must be true that on some modern bikes every detail is so well worked out that the bike will run flawlessly till the next appt with the shop. Hard to imagine. A recent roadside repair for me was a wire that broke off a 47 year old condensor. A few years before that a 17 year old retrofit electronic ignition module went bad and I switched back to the old points system. A main jet retainer that had become slightly misaligned and stopped the bike completely had me searching for over an hour. A loose ground wire, well that's pretty easy! Stuff like that crops up now and then. To me these things don't indicate an unreliable or poorly designed bike, but to someone who can't figure them out, that is the end of the day's ride.
    #53
  14. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    Don't confuse new/old technology, and a low/high mileage bikes.

    New/old technology - The more complicated you make something and the less 'mature' the technology, generally the more problems you have. So on a technology comparison, since say the mid 1980's no difference in reliability. A battery failure is just as likely to happen regardless of the technology. Age and lack of maintenance will decide its fate. If you did have to pick one, I'd say the simpler mature technology is marginally more reliable.

    High/low mileage. Is there any dispute that a low mileage well maintained bike of any technology is likely to more reliable that a high mileage poorly maintained bike? A higher mileage well maintained bike should perform without any problem.

    If there has been a technology improvement that has made a significant difference in terms of reliability to bikes from say the mid 1980's like to know what it was, as I can't immediately think of one. Not performance, reliability.
    #54
  15. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Some will dispute this, but miles per issue fuel injection is miles above carbs for lack of issues.

    I am not saying easier to fix on the road, just pure reliability. Performance is just a bonus.

    There are a lot of people tossing out miles, repairability and a host of other criteria, but new versus old, issue per mile, there is no doubt at all the modern bikes are more reliable by far.

    Go ahead and argue it if you like by tossing out what you can and can't repair on the side of the road, BMW V. Japanese or any other criteria, but as the title says, "new versus old", new technology wins every time.
    #55
  16. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

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    Newer bikes may last for more miles, but you had better put those miles on in a hurry. New technology does not hold up over time, and it is not designed to be kept going over a long period of time. Old bikes can be kept going virtually forever, depending on whether parts are available, but newer bikes become too expensive to be worth fixing in a fairly short time. A carb will last a lifetime. A FI ECU, which costs more than a new carb, has a fairly short lifetime when measured in years, and will probably no longer be available if you need a new one 20 years from now. New bikes are designed to be disposable and recycleable. Rather than fix them after a certain point, you are just supposed to replace them. Honda has started setting the lifespan of their new bikes at 10 years, after that they will no longer work on them or sell you parts for them. There is a definite growing trend in this direction.
    #56
  17. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Like I said!:norton
    #57
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    what's missing in above assessment is COST ... let's assume you are correct in reliability per miles delivered for FI vs carb bikes. for most folks who are not technically astute as your self costs becomes a real factor in keeping that newer BMW running.

    for instance if someone has ABS issues ... costs to fix at dealer could exceed value of BMW motorcycle. if it happened to me fix would be low cost as I'd dive into circuit board and come up with a fix. other option is to send to a ABS board specialist for repair at low costs.

    same thing that's happened to brand new cars has happened to motorcycles. going to electric driven sensors requiring special code readers to diagnose. even someone technically astute has no choice but to visit dealership. unless someone is willing to make the investment for BMW specific electronic tools.

    above translates into higher costs of ownership for most folks. look at what's happened with all the final drive failures on R1200...
    #58
  19. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    sell both BMWs and buy a Super Tenere, they don't break & go most anywhere.
    & keep the TE.
    #59
  20. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    I'd take a DR650 on a world journey.
    Most of the world is dirt, speeds are 45 mph & people ride cheap & simple 125cc bikes.
    Americans are just ignorant of these facts because they have credit to buy beyond their means.

    #60