Ever encountered someone who seems to know all about motorcycles and what you should do whether maintaining or riding your motorcycle? Granted, some passed on knowledge is helpful, but there are others that will do just the opposite. I was surprised to learn that a lot of riders, whether in person or in social media groups, actually believe some of these hearsays and follow them with a blind eye.
Some of these myths seem very believable. In fact, some arguments can even break out when another disapproves of their beliefs. Below are some of the common motorcycle myths that I’ve collected and the facts that should debunk them.
Change your motorcycle’s engine oil every 1000-kilometers
This, my friends, is practiced by thousands if not millions of motorcycle riders here in the Philippines. It’s typically done by those who ride scooters and underbones where the engine oil capacity is between 800ml to 1.2 liters. Oil companies will be happy to hear this, but are we really getting the most out of our engine oil (and hard-earned money)? It didn’t took me a long time to find the solution to this.
“As a general rule, engine oil should be changed every 3,700 miles (5,920 kilometers) or so, as great demands are made of it. However, depending on your driving style, you may have to change it more or less often.” – www.elf.com
My motorcycle’s (CRF 250L) owner’s manual says to change the oil and filter after every 12,000 kilometers past the initial break-in period. Some may argue that most underbones and scooters engine consume oil far sooner than 2,000-kilometer mark:
“It is pretty normal for an engine to consume oil but not that much,” said Loddy Orquina, a motorcycle mechanic of small and big bikes of all brands, of Orquina Parts & Services (more popularly known in the motorcycle community as Bai Motorrenwerks because of his expertise in BMW motorcycles) “Normally, the engine consumes 1% of the total oil volume per 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers). If it consumes most of the oil before reaching 2,000 kilometers, bring it to your dealer immediately to have the engine checked. It is still best to follow what the owner’s manual says since it is calculated based on the manufacturer’s extensive R&D before your motorcycle becomes available in the market. Give or take, depending on your riding habits or your riding destinations ex. Off-road or highway, light or heavy traffic, you could adjust your oil change interval sooner but definitely not every 1,000 kilometers only. It is just a waste of precious oil and has a bad impact on the environment.”
There are also some factors that may affect the engine’s oil consumption.
Clogged oil/engine breather: oil normally “breathes” at the top of the crankcase and to the air filter to keep it moist. If it is clogged, the oil will look for other outlets in the engine due to pressure, the first one may be the oil seals since it is the easiest to leak from. Another reason could be worn gaskets, resulting in oil leakage at the bottom of the engine.
A modified oil/engine breather: as stated above, oil breathes upwards toward the air filter to keep it moist. However, some motorcycle owners disregard this design, even going to great lengths of removing the hose linking it to the air filter or modifying it with aftermarket “racing” components. The result: oil evaporates at a much higher rate than normal.
Modified engines: – as they say in the motorcycle world: “stock is the best policy.” Modded engines have higher valve and piston ring clearances. That being said, oil may seep through and be consumed at a higher rate than stock engines.
“We should also consider the new technologies involved in the process of engine and lubricants engineering,” said Loddy, who has 28 years of mechanical experience. “In the past, engines require shorter oil change intervals because of oil quality and basic engine design. Now, change oil intervals could be longer due to better oil temperature-resistance and overall quality and high-tech engine designs.”
Turning on your lights during daytime will drain the battery.
Just recently, a House Bill was filed in the congress to require all motorcycle manufacturers to have motorcycles fitted with automatic headlight operation (AHO) as a standard feature and would also require all motorcycle riders to turn on their headlights even during the day to become more visible against other vehicles on the road. To a large measure, this is great news for all motorcyclists because of added visibility especially against drivers who do not know how how to use their side mirrors before turning. The lights will definitely reflect on the side mirrors and rearview mirror of a vehicle, making the rider more visible. Nevertheless, this didn’t come unopposed. In fact, some riders claimed that it will be an added cost to them due to the shorter service life of their batteries and light bulbs. Some even argued that it would result into more fuel being burned because of the higher rev adjustments to take the extra wattage load.
Most small motorcycles’ headlight run on alternating current (AC). They were designed as such so that if the battery were drained or broken, there would still be light available for the rider. If the battery is working, only a little power is used from it when the headlight is turned on. Also, batteries these days last longer compared to the past, thanks to newer technologies involved in manufacturing them. My motorcycle’s stock battery lasted for 5 years with the headlight always on when running.
Light bulbs these days, particularly halogen bulbs, lasts longer compared to the old days (again, thanks to new manufacturing processes and technologies) so there’s no need to worry about a short service life, unless of course it’s a Chinese knock-off of the original equipment brand.
Regarding fuel consumption, most small bikes are designed for absolute economy – small engines, simple chassis and light body design, nimble handling and fuel-efficient operation. Unless you are competing for the least fuel burned, down to the milliliter per year, the power required to keep the lights on won’t have a noticeable effect on your fuel economy.
My favorite vague argument is that having their headlights on may cause them unwanted trouble, especially when passing by some streets or alleys with lots of drunks. That’s a peace and order problem and it needs to be resolved by the barangay officials. And by the way, drinking alcohol in the streets is illegal in most jurisdictions so call the police or barangay if there’s trouble.
If your motorcycle’s battery is three years old or older and is not charging properly, have it checked at an authorized battery service center to see if it needs to be replaced. If it is still good, you may want to check your motorcycle’s overall electricals for faults, especially if you added some modifications (stereo, auxiliary light, loud horns, etc) that may change the power requirements.
Like the reflectorized vests worn by most motorcycle riders and clubs these days, the logic of the AHO is the same: to be more visible.
Higher Octane = More Speed
This is a classic myth: the higher the octane, the more horsepower and more speed for your motorcycle. Who can blame them? Since the 1960’s in America, petroleum companies used the term “high octane” on their advertisements to connect their gasoline with power and speed. Before we go further, let us understand first what octane means and does.
"Octane is the measure of how much compression a fuel can withstand before igniting. Or, in layman’s terms, the higher the octane rating, the less likely the fuel is going to pre-ignite (explode unexpectedly) at higher pressures and damage your engine." – www.fuelfreedom.org
To put it simply, the higher the octane rating the gasoline has, the longer it can resist pre-ignition at high compression engines, thus avoiding engine knocking. Since most underbones, scooters and some big bikes run on relatively low to moderate compression ratios, filling up with higher-octane gasoline really does not add any horsepower which translates to more speed, nor give you the benefit of fuel efficiency. It is still best to follow what your specific motorcycle owner’s manual recommends when filling up the fuel tank.
“Higher octane fuel is not and has not been a good value for consumers except for those seeking improved performance [on their higher compression ratio engines]” – www.epa.gov
With the rising fuel costs because of world oil prices and TRAIN Law, how much of your hard-earned money are you still willing to waste on overpriced gasoline if you are not really benefiting from it?
That’s it for the meantime, we will be discussing more motorcycle myths on the next article.
Should you have questions or suggestions, or even violent reactions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]