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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Ease of Servicing/Costs/ Time Spent

Never mentioned in reviews of new bikes.

I got caned once years ago after my first divorce by buying a sports car which had rave reviews then getting bogged down with over four regular services per year at high cost/high parts etc. You know the story.

Which brands of motorcycles are easiest to self-service/cheapest to shop?
If I'm doing it myself I really don't want to go (so last century) getting my feeler gauges out!

I'm not discussing issues with reliability of brands just the pain of regular services...Btw my biggest problem is time at the garage....

Cheers! Pete.

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 06:11 AM
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Most modern bikes are fine. There was a time I wouldn't say that about Harley but even they are good now. The one item I would watch for though is whether they require regular valve adjustments. Not a super hard job but some can be harder than others.

I'm not familiar enough with all the brands to say which is and is not. I know my Harley doesn't which I am glad. And my 2008 Honda VTX and 1988 BMW K100LT both did and both were not that easy for me not being a wrench at trade.

But I'd say search out what you like, then ask rather than get a list you may not be interested in.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 07:16 AM
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Ease of maintenance is one of the reasons I went with a Sportster. No valve adjustments, simple design, and everything is easy to get to.

2008 XL1200R

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 09:09 AM
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The worst for maintenance are the Italians. The Desmo valve Ducatis cost well over a grand for a valve adjustment. They have improved with longer intervals, but it still costs when it need be done. Other than the MotoGuzzi, they are a bit more high strung.

Sportbikes are usually more costly due to removal of bodywork and most all are shim-under-bucket that require cam removal to adjust. They go a fair amount of time between, but the first adjustments are the important ones, the valves will actually seat in the head and lose clearance. So buying used one needs to know that the bike had the valves done at least the first two times as required. From there they don't go out of spec quite as fast.

Cruisers and some more basic standards along with about any dual sport single are the easiest to live with. Many cruisers like the Harleys and some Kaw/Honda models (others may be there, but I don't know) have hydraulic valve adjusters and are maintenance free on the most expensive thing that need be done. The ones that do have valve adjustment are usually a bit easier to get to and some use screw type adjusters that are far easier and faster to adjust.

Valves are the expensive part of maintenance. Carbs are the second with balancing when more than one is used, but electronic fuel injection has eliminated that on the bikes having that.

In my opinion, the key thing for maintenance is the valve adjustment (or lack there of) for the bikes you're interested in. Ask about it whenever you look at bikes. Call a dealership and ask about what is needed in a check up and how much it costs. That way you know.

I used to have a Honda CB700SC Nighthawk S, lowest maintenance bike I ever had. Hydraulic valve adjusters, hydraulic clutch, shaft drive - change oil and ride. Find a bike with hydraulic valve adjusters, shaft or belt drive (no/little adjustment and maintenance) and you have it.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodsfall View Post
Ease of maintenance is one of the reasons I went with a Sportster. No valve adjustments, simple design, and everything is easy to get to.
I've been reading the comparos of the Sportster vs the Yamaha, oops sorry "Star" Bolt - only one mention of that, which to my view crucially tips the balance to the Harley between the two.....ain't much in it otherwise...
Btw does the 1200 Sporty vibrate much more than the 883???

Cheers, Pete.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 11:35 AM
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For the access to the valves, that valve adjustment is almost simple. Cost would be minimal. Nothing compared to any sport or touring bike where the engine is buried. That's one where if you were interested in the Star at all, which I doubt from the way you phrased your comment, you should just ask the cost of maintenance.

But clearly you should buy the Harley. It is obviously what you want. Don't waste money doing anything different. That is what I tell anyone, buy what you want. We had that with riders considering buying smaller bikes (750) and adding fairings (back when that could be done) when they actually wanted a Gold Wing. That was what we told them. Why waste time and money, buy what you want if you can. In 95% of the cases we sold the Wing without any more than saying that and showing the cost factor. No pressure needed.

I also told a few customers that when they were looking at metric customs and pretty much said they wanted a Harley. As a true enthusiast I asked them why they were wasting time and money buying something else when they knew what they really wanted - if they had the money to do so. That happened a few times, but after the Yamaha Road Star and the second gen Kawasaki Vulcans along with the later Honda Shadows, that became less often. Many of the riders wanted customs and brand didn't matter as much as looks. Then there were also the guys who refused to ride Harleys, much as there were those who would only ride Harleys. Yes, they do exist... riders who don't want a Harley.

Buy what you want and as it sounds, you want a Harley. Save money and time - do it.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 12:15 PM
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There's good vibrations (as in the Beach Boys song), and annoying vibrations. Speaking on Harleys, the newer ones have good vibrations - just enough to know you are riding a bike, but not too much to be an annoyance. Plus once you take off, the vibrations go away. Regarding Sportsters, they started adding rubber mounts to the engines I believe in 2007 (maybe someone can confirm this point for me?), so those and the later model years are pretty smooth.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 05:48 PM
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The 2004 and up Sporties have the rubber-isolated engines. 2007 and up have fuel injection.

They vibrate a bit at idle, but once they start moving, it's almost nil. I have a theory that the vibration at idle is intentional and just for effect.

I don't think the 1200 differs from the 883 as far as vibration is concerned. They are pretty much identical engines, except for piston and cylinder size.

2008 XL1200R

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks!
Can you recommend a book on the maintenance of Sportsters that knows what needs to be done and is reasonably accurate?

As to people really wanting HD's - that's true but I personally don't buy into the "legend" thing - that comes from being a cynical Brit - however I see no point in buying what is essentially a copy that is really no better.

Appreciate your advice, thanks, Pete.

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