Tech: Old Reliable vs New Fangled

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

  1. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    That's not my experience. Post say mid 1980's and a carby is virtually bullet proof in reliability terms if someone hasn't stuffed around with it/them. What does go wrong with them, other than crappy fuel being stuck in.

    How can FI be "miles above" something that doesn't have any real problems reliability wise?
    #61
  2. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Carbs are bullet proof, especially when the fuel if properly filtered as dirt & poor fuel are the only deal stoppers. The longest running bikes in the world - Honda Cubs use carbs.
    #62
  3. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Who said anything about cost? I purposely tried to make it ONE metric! I am not missing anything.

    If you want the whole range of issues I already said the cheapest bike that fits your bill will likely be the most cost efficient, and might be reliable enough to fit you needs.

    You can argue all kinds of things here. But take the cheapest dual sport available, or better yet, take a first year KLR and compare it to this year's KLR and this year's KLR will be more reliable mile for mile!:deal
    #63
  4. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    You can't possibly say that you will get 150K trouble free miles from a carb, bike after bike. You can say that about a FI system. No bike goes 50K miles with no issues at all with the carbs.
    #64
  5. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Been here awhile

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    The Bings on my BMW have been trouble-free for over 70K miles.
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  6. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

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    While a lot of dealerships won't work on bikes older than 10 years, I have been able to get parts at different dealers for older Hondas, Suzukis and Beemers still. Maybe your local dealership won't stock them, but many do.
    #66
  7. Motomantra

    Motomantra Registered Lurker

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    The carbs on my ZX9 went 45K before I sold it. I'll bet they're still working fine.
    #67
  8. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    I stand corrected. Maybe I should have said few instead of no.:deal

    No replaced gaskets, seals, valves or any other service other than syncing?

    Carbs tend to not do as well sitting unused, but that wasn't really the point.
    #68
  9. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    using your logic .. who said anything about finding the cheapest bike available?

    come on now .. for most folks costs to keep a motorcycle running is an issue. so what's the costs for a final drive not under warranty for R1200 at the dealership? what about costs to fix ABS on same bike?

    have we reached ridiculous costs to fix yet? and we've only mentioned two common issues for R1200. shall we go down the list of other common issues for R1200? so according to your logic, it doesn't count if you've gone say 40k miles on R1200 and are now being towed to a dealership .. with a probable repair bill that approaches 1/2 value of bike.
    #69
  10. hippiebrian

    hippiebrian Long timer

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    All you've done is to make me respect my new Bonnie more. I'd trust it on a long haul long before I trusted a beemer with all the new issues they seem to have.

    That said, in general a new bike, with efi and made with modern metals in the motor and tranny department is going to be more reliable than an 80's or earlier bike. Not as easy to fix, sure, but you won't have to fix it so much, so it's kind of a moot point.

    Just my .02. Your mileage may vary.
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  11. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    um, yes they can, very easily

    my '82 Yamaha XV920r did

    my '99 SV650 did it almost 3 times over
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  12. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    And you can't say that you'll get 150K trouble free from FI, bike after bike.

    My current 25 year old bike is getting a top end rebuild for strictly performance reasons, nothing to do with reliability. Only because the carbs were off I removed the float bowls to judge their condition. Wasn't even any sediment in the bottomed of the bowls to speak of. Blew that out, set the float levels, new bowls gaskets, good for another 25 years (and they didn't need to be touched).

    The main point I want to contest is the notion that as a generalization 'old technology' is less reliable than 'new technology'. You can't even say old old technology was unreliable. What you could say is that British motorcycles (just an example) pre 1970's were very unreliable. This was more to do with manufacturing standards and attitude that the technology. The Japanese soon changed that from the 1970's onward. I never had a single mechanical problem with my 1972 CB750. It may have handled like a pig, had no brakes, no light to speak of, etc, but it always went, never missed a beat.
    #72
  13. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    "I" never brought up BMW at all, others have. I refuse to debate BMWs because I am often labeled a fanboy, facts be damned.

    I am sticking strictly to reliability, not costs. You can debate costs to repair all you like. I'll pass as the costs are a moving target impossible to pin down the criteria of.:deal
    #73
  14. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    I have 350K total, all over 50K miles, on 7 bikes with FI, not one single FI issue. I have and do own carb bikes, and all of them required constant attention to the carbs to keep running at peak. Just MY experience.
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  15. Gripsteruser

    Gripsteruser Got a handle on it

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    I think JVB is equating a leaky carb gasket and subsequent need for rebuild with an injector or fuel pump or ECU failure.

    To me the first is a degraded condition which won't prevent you from getting home and doing a very inexpensive repair while the second can shut you down cold and cost you a very large amount of money.


    I prefer degradation myself :-)
    #75
  16. tlub

    tlub Been here awhile

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    Well, my very small sample, from which one may or may not generalize is this: R75/5 carbs: (35 years, 180,000 miles) one choke gasket, replaced with homemade item, replaced floats with alcohol-proof set; replace diaphragms every ten years or so.
    R90/6: 60,000 miles, 30 years (time off for young kids): Diaphragms only.
    R69S: Only about 20,000 miles: Rebuilt carbs once in 30 years.
    R50: Only about 10,000 miles. Rebuilt carbs once in 30 years. .
    Honda 350 #1: About 8000 miles. Pinholes in float from corrosion, fixed on road and replaced later.
    Honda 350 #2: About 25,000 miles. No carb issues at all.
    Harley Aermacchi 250 SprintH: 17,000 miles. (yowza!) No carb attention. (but lots of other attention).
    Carburetor breakdowns that left me stranded: Zero.
    It's hard to improve on zero.

    Don't ask me about aftermarket electronic ignitions, though. 4 strandings there.
    Interestingly, I think I have had more car carburetor trouble than motorcycle carburetor trouble, even though I probably have more miles on bike carbs than on car carbs. Zero trouble with car FI, though.
    #76
  17. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Not really. ANY issue is an issue. Reliability, by the definition I am using, is any issue, whether it strands you or not. Any other definition is a matter of degrees, and therefore subjective and would make this conversation too muddy to pick one over the other.

    For example, how bad is bad? I am a requirements guy. Definitions have 'by their very definition, specific meanings. Many here are trying to make equivalent definitions where it is all about what is an issue to them. Clarify it by saying that an issue is any issue that requires attention, either immediate or future (leaky carbs or intermittent O2 sensors) that may not strand you, but are degrading the optimal performance of the bike.
    #77
  18. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    I ride a Kawasaki ZR750 with carbies, and regularly ride with a guy on a 2012 model Z750 with FI. Basically the modern equivalent of mine. Mine is supposed to produce 80 h.p. and his 106 hp. On the road there is virtually no difference in performance between our two bikes.

    One hot day on a club ride in the middle of nowhere his FI bike just cut-out. The front of the ride wasn't aware of this and continued on, with those behind him stopping. After a while of scathing our heads, someone decided they should catch up with the lead group to tell them what had happened. The message that got passed on was the guy on the Kawasaki 750 has broken down. I spent months telling people it wasn't me, because everyone just assumed it must have been the 750 with the 'old technology'.

    It was only after many attempts to get it started the owner said the fuel pump usually makes a noise when he turns the key on, and it wasn't. We pulled the fuses, all were ok, put them back in, and it started straight up. To this day he thinks it was a fuse problem, I think pulling the fuse reset the system.

    Virtually all the bad rap for carbies belongs to the time of premix two-strokes. People left the fuel tap on, or didn't drain the carby, and the fuel evaporated of leaving an oil sludge in the carby which eventually killed it. This was easily prevented by turning of the fuel, and running the carby dry. This problem disappeared when oil injection was introduced.
    #78
  19. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    Well, let's temper that with a few thoughts:

    Old reliable is great - if reliable. I have an old First Gear Timbuktu enduro jacket that is absolutely fabulous and irreplacable because no one is doing anything like it. I love it and hate to see it deteriorate. It is a waist length jacket (Eisenhower jacket for those old enough to understand) with half length zippered sleeve vents and full width cape vent, a snap in 3/4 sleeve liner that can be stuffed in a pocket on the lower back and a zipper/snap front that could allow more air flow by snapping and not zipping. It had two side pockets that also had hand warmer pocket openings, an internal 20 oz bladder pocket and bladder for water with a straw that came through a grommet on the coat front, an angled right side chest pocket for an enduro check card, and finally a sleeve pocket at bicept level which was probably a waste. Very very useful and functional. Nothing like it out there right now.

    Too much of the stuff is over engineered with too many features that are a waste to many of us, just adding cost to the item. The only thing my old reliable Timbuktu could have used was being waterproof. It was the perfect 3 season jacket.

    Of course when old gets old and starts to crap out then it isn't reliable any longer and may have to be replaced. Then it isn't better. But right now in comparison to other jackets it is still "good old stuff".

    When it comes to bikes again reliablilty comes into play:

    If an old bike keeps on running fine, where is the problem? So what if one has to spend say $600 on suspension updates, if they like the bike it is worth it and the updates won't really lose function either. Heck, what are the updates for most bikes still today? Suspension! Get the forks valved and a $600 shock! Same as 1980, but twin shocks even now are only about $350 for good ones. Forks are more easily worked on with old bikes. Besides we don't expect 2014 suspension on a 1978 motorcycle.

    By the way, when an ignition takes an electronic crap it doesn't seem to matter what year you have - you're screwed. Now with points and plugs you have a chance to get going from the side of the road, but it is more likely to be a problem eventually. Still I could substitute a car coil, ballast resistor, and condenser for the ignition on many old bikes. Had 'em on my MotoGuzzi and a few I knew had 'em on RD350/400s. They worked. Try that with a 2014!

    Functionally in casual riding and commuting an old bike can easily be as good as a new one provided both are reliable mechanically and electronically. Much like cars. It is only when you start to push the envelope to an extreme or if your ego needs massaged that the new one is truly better. An 80 Honda Interstate won't hold a candle to a 14 GoldWing, nor will an 87 CBR600F Hurricane hold a candle to a 14 CBR600RR when you start to push the limits they're meant to approach. But to start 'em up and ride 'em casually... all can do the job.

    By the way, I'm thinking my 78 SR500 is likely on par and as good as the modern Royal Enfields that had kick start.
    #79
  20. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    The black box that burnt out. What at the local hardware store will fix that? Seems Harley has that stuff too. And what about all those special tools that Harleys need. I remember there was one that was a C shaped box end that was needed to remove some cylinder nuts or somthing like that. Just sayin' that Hardware store thing is quite a misconception about Harleys as much as the misconception that metric bikes are more reliable than a Harley. Just ain't true. Oh, I bought most all of the tools I have for my metrics at Sears and places like that - you know... hardware stores. And good ones even carry metric fasteners that fit too.

    To me that is the only "new tech" issue - electronics issues. As long as the electronics can be dealt with, all is good. One example of a serious issue would be the electronic ignitions on the old Laverdas (new ain't all that recent). The ignition cannot be replaced. It would take serious work to fix that issue with something from another source since the stator is unavailable now.

    It's all about reliability and what can be fixed.

    Fact is the only negative to old bikes has more to do with performance. Bigger fork legs with better damping. Real shocks that work - not counting some cruisers. Frames built for stiffness instead of to look like Norton Featherbeds. Machining tolerances for frames that tightened up handling - old Kaw Z1 had the flex flyer reputation because of sloppy frame fits and poor bracing. Plus the old bikes were truly UJM. They weren't tourers nor were they sport bikes. They were general use motorcycles. They did general use as good as anything going now. When new, much like what is new now, they started up, went in gear and rolled down the road just fine. Do I want one? Do I want a Honda CB750? Not really... well, maybe a sand cast. But I didn't really want one then. I would take a 1986 CB700SC Nighthawk S in pristine condition though. That is one bike that I do think is easily on par with what is currently comparable today.
    #80