Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Favorite Motorcycle Forum Topics - Engine Oil and Chain Lube

People love to ask and answer questions about what's the best oil to use in a motorcycle engine and the best lubricant, and how to apply it, for a motorcycle chain.

You get all sorts of opinions.

Some folks think it doesn't matter what brand of oil you use and that is doesn't need to be specifically formulated for a motorcycle. I tend to think there's some happy median (medium or something). Harley recommends diesel engine oil if you can't find the secret formula HD brand oil. Diesels run hot and go long distances between oil changes, so the oil for those engines has to be pretty good stuff.

The economics of trucking make the price for diesel engine oils competitive, unlike motorcycle oil where people can afford and are willing to pay 10 dollars for a quart of oil - because it's all discretionary spending to begin with unless it's your only vehicle - which is unlikely.

Interesting that if you're driving a semi-truck you can get service at Peterbilt including - oil (up to 44 quarts), oil filter(s), fuel filter, water filter and chassis lube for $179.95, and there are people who claim a Harley dealer wanted $225.00 to change oil or $191.00 if you supply the oil (4 qts). For that price it's probably a good idea to buy a screwdriver and a manual unless you don't like getting your hands dirty or are wrench challenged.

I only recently discovered that motorcycle forums have almost as many threads on chain lube as engine oil...

Some people like to remove chains from motorcycles and boil them in kerosene and then bake them in the oven to get a nice coating of grease - those would be your single motorcycle riders with a lot of time on their hands, who have older bikes that have a master link in the chain. Recommended interval for drive chain lubrication is every 200 miles and if it's wet/dirty on the road you may need to do it more often - so the boil and bake probably isn't very practical.

Some people use 3 in 1 oil or WD-40 on their chain. Some people think you should use a lubricant that says it's for a motorcycle chain (I'm with them).

Some people don't think you ever need to oil a chain - they must of never ridden a bicycle with a dry chain and realized how much easier it is to pedal when the chain is oiled.

I don't have any answers when it comes to oil for motorcycles but this guy seems to know what he's talking about when it comes to All About Motor Oil.

I've been using Mobil V-Twin 20W-50 synthetic oil in my Sportster and Shell Rotella Diesel Engine Oil 15W-40 in the Kaw. I used some super cheap Safeway brand before the Rotella. From what I've read that isn't a problem, as long as you change your oil frequently - which I was planning anyway. I was using the Safeway oil to make sure I had the right amount of oil in the crankcase and as a pre-drain oil before I put in something better a few days later when I did my first oil and filter change on the Kaw.

Rotella is around 14 bucks a gallon and Mobil 1 is 10 something a quart, at Autozone, which is about 7 blocks from my house - which plays into my decision to use those brands. Both the HD and the Kawasaki use a little less than a gallon of oil for an oil change and the recommended oil change is every 5000 miles on the Harley and every 3000 miles on the Kawasaki.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taking The KZP Out For a Spin Today

This is on the bluff by Legion Park - there's a hint of sun today,
after lots of rain.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Keeping Busy

I haven't been updating my blog for awhile because I've been busy with motorcycley things. Mostly outdoors or in the garage.

I really like my Sporty but I don't like riding it when it's wet out because it's so nice and shiny, and the saddlebags on it are made of leather which soaks through in the rain. I looked into saddle bag upgrades and a rack - but those are pretty pricey and I like the clean look of the Sportster as it is.

Not that I'd buy them, but a pair of color-matched Harley hard bags for a Sportster are $1400 and a rack/sideplates/sissy bar/light relocation kit is another $350. Throw in a windshield and a fairing and you are getting up there.

Once I'd justified to myself that another motorcycle might actually be less expensive then adding those things - and allow me to leave my Sportster looking cool, I started looking for a used bike. One that already had storage space, and maybe a windshield and fairing. Something I could ride and not care if it got wet and dirty. I know a Harley could be just fine in the rain and slop - I just wanted something to beat around on and want to keep my Harley shiny and new looking for awhile at least.

I ended up getting a 2000 KZP 1000 (Kawasaki Police Motorcycle Model P19), from a guy in Silvana, for commuting when the weather isn't so nice and for general banging around. The bike has 29K miles on it and belonged to the Snohomish County Sherriff's Department. He bought it at a local auction. The P models were made from 1982 to 2005 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and are all basically the same motorcycle so parts are easy to find.

It has two hard bags, a big rack, three nice bright head lights, a windshield and fairing with a couple of storage pockets. It also has a big trunk the previous owner gave me off another bike that I can mount with a little drilling and adapting.

I've been busy riding and learning the basics of maintaining the bike, getting the owners manual, repair manual, oil and filter change, air filter, tire pressure, brake pads, chain lube...that kind of stuff.

It's a fun bike to ride to work and has enough storage space to carry my stuff. So far it runs great and it's old enough that it needs a fair amount of tinkering for fixing small stuff - which I like. It still has the run-flat tires on it so if I ever have to run across a spike strip roadblock, I have that going for me.


I've been doing some online lurking in the various motorcycle forums like What is the strangest thing you hit/almost hit? - ADVrider

You can learn a lot from those forums - for example I learned that if you ride a motorcycle you should stay the hell out of Georgia - they have all kinds of weird crap on the road that might hurt you. One guy from Georgia has this almost hitlist -

"1) A live turkey, back roads, Austell, GA. Spun me around but I did not go down.

2) Aluminum Ladder, I-285 Atlanta. Kinda jumped it, should have wrecked but didn't.

3) A steel nut, about 2 inches in diameter, straight to the chest (thought it stopped my heart it hit so hard) I-285 Atlanta

4) Muffler and attached exhaust pipe, 575 near Canton, GA. No wreck

5) Water melon, I-75 near Valdosta. Almost, and I mean almost but no wreck.

6) Wooden pallet (empty) East/West Connector, Austell, GA. Scared me shitless.

7) A helmet, unstrapped and blew off another rider in front of me, Daytona. No wreck.

8) German Shepherd, near Bo-Bo's house. No wreck but torn up a guys fresh grass stopping it."

"Weirdest I have heard, guy from Earl Smalls Harley Davidson in Marietta, Ga was headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantawith a group of bikes. I-75 south after dark. He hit an upside down wheelbarrow tub that already had the wheels and supports knocked off. Was almost a perfect ramp. Said he was about 8 feet off the ground, got some good distance and landed without crashing. LOTS and LOTS of damage to the bike."

But he's not done yet...

"And then on I-20 near Madison, Ga early one morning I am zipping along behind a big generic Fed-Ex/UPS kinda truck when he abruptly swerves and right there was a camper shell from a pick-up! Easy to react on a bike but still odd. Same place the next year was a bed liner."
They must not have much traffic in Georgia because if there was that much stuff laying on I-5 in the Seattle area we'd have total gridlock or a lot of accidents quick.

My stories are boring compared to that guys. I grazed a pig at high speed one time (me at high speed not the pig...he was going pretty slow and came up out of some brush as I was rounding a corner). I was Southbound out of Columbus Montana just before the bridge over the Yellowstone River, steep banks on either side - so there wasn't much room to maneuver. I swerved and just clipped him which bent the shifter pedal sideways. Another time lane-splitting in California I got my foot caught between a tire on a car going about 70 mph and my foot peg. The friction from that spinning tire melted my cheapie tennis shoe really quick. Nothing that exciting - I haven't got any air jumping over upside down wheelbarrows on the interstate...yet.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"It Is Better to Travel Hopefully Than to Arrive"

The title of this post is from Robert Louis Stevenson.

I ran across the quote in a good book called Lois on the Loose written by a young woman who left her cubicle in London to ride a 225cc Yamaha Serow trail bike from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina at the tip of South America.

There's an interesting article about the author Lois Pryce here and information about her motorcycle at this link.

She doesn't think the world is a scary place, and consequently is able to do things some people only dream of and others would never consider.


A little side-note on Robert Louis Stevenson.

He is considered one of the first outdoor adventure writers for his book Travels with a Donkey in the CĂ©vennes written in 1879. He writes about the sleeping sack he designed saying "I was determined, if not to camp out, at least to have the means of camping out in my possession; for there is nothing more harassing to an easy mind than the necessity of reaching shelter by dusk, and the hospitality of a village inn is not always to be reckoned sure by those who trudge on foot."

His sleeping sack was 6 x 6 feet, waterproof, lined with sheepskin and so bulky it forced him to travel with the donkey to carry it.

The hull of his schooner the Equator is stored at the Everett waterfront.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rode To The Olympic Peninsula Today

I rode my motorcycle over to the Olympic Peninsula today. It was a fairly long day with two ferry rides and quite a bit of circling around through Port Orchard to locate the office of the person I was meeting. I should have listened to his directions a little better - but my iPhone saved me from having to ask for directions again.

The purpose of my trip was to look at a nice old Harley Davidson leather jacket I saw on Craigslist and to enjoy riding on what may be the last warm/dry day for awhile. The jacket fit me perfectly and cost less than a 1/4 what you'd pay for a new one. It's heavy leather and like new - never been wet or scraped along the pavement. The guy I bought it from was really nice and interesting to talk with. He wants to downsize before moving back to Tennessee so he's selling a lot of items he's collected over the years at good prices.

He bought the jacket at a Harley dealership when he lived in Hawaii, but it was generally too hot to wear it there so it hung in his closet for years. He's 66 and currently doesn't have a motorcycle, but he loves to talk about them. His grandfather was riding motorcycles until his 80's and one of his uncles into his 70's - until he died in his sleep on the front porch after a motorcycle ride.

It was a good day. I got to ride along the West side of the Hood Canal which I've been wanting to do for quite awhile. I got to feel the weather warm up and cool down as I rode. There wasn't any rain. It got a little chilly riding in the shady areas, but not too bad. I need to work on my layering techniques and get a pair of warmer gauntlet style gloves for longer rides when it's in the 50's or below. The ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston is $5.15 for a motorcycle and rider.

View Around Hood Canal in a larger map