What made YOU, hate air cooled bikes?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by rivercreep, May 19, 2012.

  1. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    Ok, I for one, LOVE the simplicity of an air or air/oil cooled engine (especially one with screw and lock-nut tappet adjusters) But I've noticed over the years here that there are quite a few Inmates around who seem to hold the simple designs in contempt.:huh

    Let's NOT turn this thread into a L.C. vs air cooling argument. (that's been beaten to death already)

    I'd simply like to hear some stories about what bikes you've had that are responsible for converting you to....
    THE WET SIDE!:ear:ear

    The only model I've ever had that over heated and shut itself down due to pre-ignition was a Honda XL650. (and that was even after it had jetting changes made to help the situation) I also had a 91 DR650 that would do the same (until jetting changes were made). Still, neither ever had a catastrophic melt-down, just minor annoyances to let them sit for a while before allowing the journey continue.

    Now, with today's NikaSil technology, I've not heard of many (more modern) simple-tech bikes, that over heat.

    I currently ride an air cooled 2011 TU250 thru city traffic on a daily basis and I've also had no problems with any air/oil cooled DR650's that I've owned since 1997 when they went to NikaSil.

    Anyway....tell us of YOUR air cooled horror stories, that led you to liquid cooled bikes.:ear

    I for one, would like to know/better understand where some of my fellow inmates are coming from.

    PLEASE, NO L.C VS. AIR DEBATE...JUST STORIES!
    #1
  2. beemerphile

    beemerphile Long timer

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    It hasn't pushed me to water-cooled bikes yet because I still own it, but I will not have another airflow-cooled bike because of the incident.

    THE INCIDENT: A fatal accident on I-85 with a huge traffic back-up. The BMW got way too hot idling and inching forward so I had to shut it down and push. There was a slight uphill grade. The air temp was over 90 degrees. Full ATGATT, heat beating off the street, at the end of an 800 mile day on the road. It took an hour and a half to clear the accident scene. Now I am trying to find a way to fit some fans to the oil coolers similar to the RT-P design.

    A bike ought to be thermally stable idling in traffic just as a car is.

    I think it was Einstein who said: "A thing should be made as simple as possible but no simpler".
    #2
  3. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    The only aircooled bike I have experience with is a Buell Blast. Never had any cooling related problems with it.

    In fact, I'm semi-actively looking for a TU-250 to buy because I am enamored with the simplicity of the thing. Both of my current bikes have full fairings and it really does make working on them very annoying, not too mention that the damn radiator seems to always be in the way.

    Regarding the TU, I've been searching for 6 months or so for one locally and they are rarer than hen's teeth!
    #3
  4. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

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    I had no choice, my bike came water cooled. I cannot imagine my S10 being airflow cooled, it would melt down like a nuclear reactor.

    Sorry, no stories, but I still own airflow cooled bikes that do not melt down.
    #4
  5. 100mpg

    100mpg Self Imposed Exile

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    heat (Duh) and noise. :D I have been in traffic many times and it just plain sucks. Also, the engine (internally) is much quieter with a wall of sound deadening water around it.
    #5
  6. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    Everybody knows that an oil cooler is the way to go. :1drink
    #6
  7. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

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    Sitting on Route 3 coming back from Nantucket when my BMW R65 started idling rough, then I noticed the rain pants I had on were melting....
    #7
  8. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Never had a cooling problem on any air cooled bike, mountains, deserts, anywhere but deep sand on a hot day.

    I don't like riding in deep sand on hot days, so that just doesn't matter.

    The advantage of liquid cooled bikes is for the manufacturer getting it through emissions, not the customer who buys and rides it. Give me air cooling any day, especially on something used far away from civilization.
    #8
  9. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    'Hate' is a bit too strong of a term for me, as I own 2 HD's and am contemplating a 1200GS.

    My Road King in traffic on a summer day makes me cringe. It's never overheated, I think, but there's some serious heat coming off that motor sometimes. I actually don't understand how it doesn't overheat, because looking at Harley's design it seems like the rear cylinder would melt itself into a ball.

    My sportster is a stock 883, and it runs ice cold. It's actually pleasant to ride, I get less heat from that than I do my FJR. It will never get any motor work done, I am fine with the lack of performance and the bike is just as much fun to ride.

    My first sportster I did a lot, meaning too much, motor work. 1200 conversion, buell heads, drag cam, etc. The bike ran great by Harley standards, and was respectable by modern standards. That thing was HOT. I can remember hearing the motor getting louder as the oil thinned out and clearances changing. I once broke the header pipe riding on a highway in southern Kansas. No damage to the pipe, no rust, smooth road, etc. Just going up the road and the bike got louder. It was the pipe coming out of the rear cylinder, right where the crossover is on pre-2003 Sportsters.

    I think IMO what has cause modern air cooled bikes to get a bad reputation is expectations of power, and everyone wanting more. Speaking from a Harley big twin, the motors keep getting more power and more displacement, but with the same cooling surface. If you look an a 90's HD and a newer one, there's really no measurable change in the cooling ability. But the motor has gone from 80" to 103", and has been forced to run lean by the EPA. Take that 103", add pipes, cam, bump the compression up, intake, and programmer. You are making even more power with no more cooling ability. Every modern motor has been a victim of this is some fashion, some more than others.

    If you expect an air cooled motor to perform like a modern water cooled high performance motor you will either be disappointed, or you will have built an unreliable motor. If you take an air cooled motor for what it is and expect an underpowered but reliable and easy to work on motor that should give you years of slow paced service, you will be impressed.

    YMMV:deal
    #9
  10. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    I actually like both. Air is just plain simple, liquid is fine too. I just don't see the BFD.
    #10
  11. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    I prefer air or air/oil cooling. The fewer hoses and moving parts, the better. Also, radiators are ugly.
    #11
  12. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    I have been riding Air Cooled Bmw's for 30 years and I live in Texas and have had NO heat issues, my 1 non Air Cooled bike was just as warm in these temps. I prefer the simplicity over the Liquid Cooled version. Then again, i do not ride when the Heater is on full blast, July & August...
    #12
  13. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    To clarify what this thread is SUPPOSED to be about....

    Let's hear stories about bikes you've had that were air or air/oil cooled that actually over overheated and let you down in some way/shape/form....that swayed you towards liquid cooling.

    Thanks!
    #13
  14. Ultravoyageant

    Ultravoyageant Been here awhile

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    I've owned more air cooled street bikes than liquid cooled, and I have to say that some of the liquid cooled bikes that I had seemed to do worse in traffic than an air cooled rig. My FJ1100 is fine in traffic, even when it's stupid hot out (never mind the part where it makes a bit over 100hp at the wheel, which to me at least doesn't seem "underpowered" at all) . I'm not (and not really from the heat off the bike, more from all of the hot assed cars/exhaust around me) so I do my damndest to avoid places where or when I know traffic has a tendency of fucking up. I will say the type of oil/viscosity you use in a good air cooled engine can help a lot; When I switched to a good synthetic from dino I went from noticing the bike get louder in traffic to not only being quieter all the time but running cooler. When I ran dino I used to go from 10-40 in the cooler months to 20-50 to attempt to keep heat under control when sitting. Now I just run 10-40 syn all year.

    I also like how typically bomber an air cooled mill is (my FJ has almost 90K miles on it with zero issues) L/C bikes add complexity, which is cool if you're trying to wring every bit of power from an engine, but there is something to be said for the reliability of an air cooled motor not designed to within an inch of its life, making solid horsepower for many years, and many tens of thousands of miles. Not saying this doesn't happen with L/C bikes (my '00 C10 had 145K miles on it when it was hit, so it can definitely happen), but I would bet on average given the same care an air cooled bike motor will need less to keep it running.

    As a point of reference my '95 RF900 was the hottest bike I've ever owned. It and I were both miserable in traffic (having overheated twice in traffic with it, leaving me on the side of the road, luckily causing no long term damage to the bike) and I say this having owned a C10 Connie (which was no picnic in warm weather in traffic) and a first gen FJR, which are known to cook legs. I think outside of commuting best practice is to give congested areas a wide fucking berth, regardless of whether you ride A/C or L/C. And if you commute pick a bike that runs on the cooler side. Just my 2 Sesterce, mind you.
    #14
  15. Red9

    Red9 Been here awhile

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    Unless you end up with a class action lawsuit because of it (in an effort to meet emissions standards)....

    http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/harley-davidson-will-face-class-action-over-hot.html

    http://www.opolaw.com/practice-areas/harley-davidson-burn-lawsuit

    http://www.prweb.com/releases/harley-davidson/burn-lawsuit/prweb8701137.htm

    In my humble opinion, a consumer should not have to buy accessories (stage one etc) to be able to enjoy their purchase or to extend the life of their purchase.

    I can't get my head around how a company could ask their sales staff to sell a product knowing it is almost unbearable to ride or how a salesperson could knowingly sell the product without disclosing the information.

    "Dakez has Harley asked you to inform potential clients of the lawsuit and the additional costs incurred to make the bike rideable or are the sales staff just keeping mum about it? Grab the commision and let the customer find out about it later kind of deal?":uhoh

    For the record: I traded in my 07 and moved back to the 05. Harley never leaned them out as much.:hung
    #15
  16. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

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    My CB900F at 45,000ish miles began using about a quart every 1k miles, and making a light fog from the pipe at cruising speeds.
    Wick it up and it would go through a quart in a tank of fuel.
    Middle two cylinders were baked after too much time in traffic and were burning oil.
    Outer bores weren't much better.

    Generally, during bike week in the South I see a lot of cruiser big twin products in the median cooling down. I would post pics, but people will still swear this doesn't happen. I see it does.

    BMW airheads I owned had a similar problem. While easier to fix than the Honda big four, It's still a pain in the ass.
    My R100RS went about 80k miles and needed rings, pistons, and jugs, along with a valve job.

    My quaint little CB450 Nighthawk would get HOT in traffic, enough to make the pipes cherry red at night, when it was bumper to bumper and at a crawl.

    I went to water cooled and got my first bike that made it over 100k miles (K100). While being a pile of shit in nearly every other way, it stayed cool in traffic (while baking me when the rad fan clicked on) and is now in the hands of someone else who is pushing it to 200k.

    Yes, I learned my lesson about air cooling. I still like the rough hewn feel of an air cooled Honda big four, and would probably throw rocks at you if you tried to give me an airhead BMW or Moto Guzzi. Riding them is now no longer a serious endeavor for me. They're now play bikes that I find neat and toy around with on the road, polish and tinker with in the winter, etc.

    For serious traffic duty, FI and water cooling is my base standard since I don't have time for something to melt down anymore. I have stuff to do and have to be there to do it, no excuses.
    #16
  17. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    These people seem like bottom-feeders. I got a chuckle out of one of their background images...

    [​IMG]

    I've always had aircooled bikes and in all my years, I could count on one hand the number of times that I've gotten stuck in a traffic jam such that the engine could have overheated. In those situations, I've put Plan B into effect and dealt with it before problems happened. I don't expect an aircooled engine to like to idle or creep along for long periods.
    #17
  18. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

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    Igrew up riding Kawasaki triples and can still remember how crisp and fast they seemed on cool Spring and Fall evenings with the chambers singing and the intakes howling but on hot Summer days the pinging and rattling of the hot cylinders was annoying.Good thing was that back then most of my street riding was short trips,40-50 miles or so. I couldn't imagine being on one for 8-10 hours like I do now.However my brother rode his H2 from eastern PA. to Chicago only stopping for fuel. But it was totally stock.
    #18
  19. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    You might have a hard time finding very many of those.
    #19
  20. rivercreep

    rivercreep Banned

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    I'm expecting that to be true.:D

    My hunch is that Guys who have had heat related problems with air cooled bikes, have had those problems with older bikes that didn't benefit from todays NikaSil technology. (vs. old iron lined alloy jugs)
    #20