Fuel For Thought
by Rod Morris
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Welcome To Fuel For Thought
Written by: Rod Morris
Glossary of terms and abbreviations:
MSM - Multisurface Motorcycles/Motorcyclist
MMP - Multisurface Motorcycle Products
TGMP - Top Gun Motorcycle Products
MSM Weight Classifications:
Lightweight (LW) - up to 250lbs
Middleweight (MW) - 251lbs - 300lbs
Light-Heavyweight (LHW) - 301lbs - 350lbs
Heavyweight (HW) - 351lbs - 400lbs
Reliability is NOT Accidental
by Elden Carl
Back in 1955 when I completed my Korean War enlistment and left the military, the first
thing I did was to buy a new 200ccTriumph Tiger Cub. As my salesman, Jim Keating had
predicted, I soon tired of the lack of power produced by the little single and moved my
200lb butt up to a 1955 AJS 500cc one lunger.
From the very beginning I did all my own service and repairs, so oil changes got my
immediate attention. In those primitive days before Mr. Honda showed the world how to
integrate transmissions and clutches it was necessary to change lubricants in the engine,
transmission, and primary drive case. Since my AJS had no oil filter, the engine oil
needed to be changed often. I followed factory recommendations and used the best
motorcycle oil I could buy. As a result of establishing good riding and servicing habits
early, my motorcycles in general have lived long happy lives.
A million motorcycle miles later and I have yet to suffer a mechanical breakdown. My two
closest calls came in the mid 1970’s and early 1990’s.
In the first instance I partially seized an aftermarket “Venolia” forged piston while plowing
through a long deep sand wash half way through a mid 1970’s Tecate 500 mile enduro in
Baja. Fortunately the piston resized itself and finished the race giving me another trophy.
In the second instance my stock DR350 sustained a broken ring during a Baja dirt ride
with Rod Morris but got me home albeit with greatly increased oil consumption and
The only towable breakdowns I’ve suffered were as follows:
A. A stator failure on my1973 Honda SL-350
B. An electrical failure on my 1983 Suzuki GS750E (voltage regulator/rectifier).
C. A fuel starvation failure on my 2004 Kawasaki KLR650A. Note: This is a dangerous
failure in both the DR650SE and KLR650’s caused by the one way air intake valve in the
fuel filler cap becoming plugged thereby creating a vacuum in the gas tank.
The long winded point I’m trying to make is that mechanical, electrical, and fuel supply
problems are rare in modern motorcycles if you only do your part.
The most important thing you can do is stay current on your factory recommended
maintenance especially oil and filter changes. If you fail to follow your factory
maintenance schedule, use washable “strainless” steel oil filters, or lubricate your engine
with Shell Rotella truck oil, you may expect your motorcycle to have a shorter more
troublesome service life.
Here at Top Gun we presently have three DR650SE’s and three KLR650A’s in service. All
were broken in on the best motorcycle synthetic oil (Maxima and Spectro) and none of
them burns enough of the slippery stuff to require adding between changes.
Car oils use cheaper group 1 to 3 base stocks. Maxima, for instance, uses top of the line
group 5 base stocks. According to Maxima’s Tim Schaeffer, “group 5 synthetic esters are
shear resistant, offer better thermal and oxidative properties and are polar molecules.
Polar molecules actually bond with metal and prevent a dry start during boundary
lubrication”. Maybe that’s partly why I didn’t have to change a shim on my last 15,000
mile KLR valve check. It also may be why I haven’t had to adjust valve clearances on my
16,000 mile 2011 DR650SE since the initial 1,000 mile break-in service.
Rod Morris has been using maxima synthetic oil longer than Todd Vosper and me and
the recent break-in results of his two MMP/Top Gun/Vey/Ed Runnels super KLR engines
should convince anyone that Jim Hackle of Millenium Technologies was right when he
recommended that “a motorcycle engine should live its entire life being lubricated by the
best motorcycle synthetic oil money can buy”.
In closing I should mention that my 47,000 2004 KLR650-A stock engine uses almost no
oil between 3,500 mile changes despite being equipped with a factory piston and cylinder
liner. Among other things I installed a manual fan switch, and an “E” model factory
doohickey complete with MMP adjustable spring and Wexman/Carl inspection port. By
using only Spectro and now Maxima full motorcycle synthetic oil from break-in to this day,
100,000 miles on both the DR and KLR seems possible.