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Discussion Starter #1
So, I'm not exactly a new rider, but I'm not an experienced one either, and I'm definitely not a mechanic. I had to get rid of my first bike about five years because it needed work I couldn't do myself and couldn't afford to have a shop do. A little more than a month ago, I bought my second bike.

It's a 1988 Kawasaki Ninja 600. It's been a bit beaten up over the years, but is in surprisingly good condition nevertheless. I've taken it on a couple hundred-and-fifty-mile rides and the only thing that concerns me is that my oil level readings are widely variable even though I'm not leaking or burning any.

This trip I'm going on isn't really much longer, but my other rides were basically a big circle. I was always within towing distance of home and I won't be on this one. I was hoping you guys could give me some tips on how to prepare, and any mechanical things I should look into before I go.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Typically, it'll show no oil in the sightglass when I start and full when I'm finished. I understand that you need to let the engine warm up before you can get an accurate reading, but it takes longer than it should for that to happen. For example, I checked seven miles into a ride the other day, and it still showed empty. I decided not to risk it and turned around, only for it to show full when I got back home.

I haven't had any engine noise, overheating, or clutch problems.
 

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When you first change the oil and filter, then you need to run the bike for a few minutes to fill the oil filter, but you need to wait a few more minutes for the oil to drain down.

If you have not just changed the oil and filter then you don't need to warm it up first.

The bike needs to be held up level to check the oil level. When its cold will be most accurate. The oil will be drained down, but the filter will still hold oil.

I can't see the oil level without using my little flashlight. Of course I check mine on the carport not out in the sunshine.
 

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I don't know if you're riding low on oil or not, check before you start up. Don't start the bike and let it warm up, that is the WRONG procedure, check it before you start.

After you have been riding you have to wait for the oil to settle back down before checking it.
 

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Get out your owners manual and find out how you are supposed to check the oil level. It will be in the daily checks listing. Details matter. For my bike it needs to be warmed up and standing level after being shut off for 2 minutes to allow the oil to drain back. Mine uses a dipstick so it is important to know whether or not to screw in the filler plug before reading it.
If you are not getting consistent readings something is changing that you have not taken into account. The actual oil in the engine doesn't just come and go.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Turns out we're both wrong. I'm supposed to warm the engine to operating temperature, then turn it off and let it sit for five minutes to let the oil settle.

Time to go outside and take a look at it. Any other potential problems I should look for while preparing?
 

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Double Secret Probation
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Check your coolant level and change it if it's old. Might want to change brake fluid too if it's due. I don't recall if your bike has a cable clutch, but you might want to bring along an extra clutch cable if it does.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks. That was really helpful. After checking the right way, the sight glass said my oil was overfull, so I removed some. Now I'll wait to see if it gives me the same reading tomorrow.

My coolant definitely needs a change, and I might as well change the brake fluid too. I wouldn't be able to get a clutch cable in time though. Other than that, the only issues I've found are that my tires are a tad low and my turn signal switch sticks a little.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's 180 miles each way, mostly wide open freeway in the middle of nowhere—Idaho—so I'm probably going to do a bit of speeding. :p I'll go up Friday and come back Saturday.
 

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Pale Rider
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My wife and I rode a 30-year-old bike, two up, circling Lake Superior, just us, no one else. The only mechanical issue we had the entire, 9-day trip, was the throttle grip came off, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada -- around 500 miles from home. We got some grip glue at a Harley dealership (we were on a Honda...), fixed it, and continued our tour without any hitches thereafter. I did, however, go through my bike prior to the trip, to make sure it was in great running condition. That trip was made in 2009, on a 1979 750cc motorcycle. We had it heavily loaded, but with new tires. Only the one grip problem, even during four consecutive days of riding in the rain, 1,935 miles total.

On a bike, any failure can be catastrophic. Proper maintenance is not an option, it is required -- your very life may depend upon it. Not to be mean, but if you cannot afford proper maintenance (either making repairs yourself, or paying a professional to do it for you), you should not be riding -- a crash could harm people besides yourself: other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. I'd suggest making sure your life insurance is paid in full, but if you can't afford to properly maintain a bike... Not trying to offend, just trying to give you a friendly reality check. Cheers!
:coffee:
 

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180 miles one way is not very far,if you maintain your ride like you should then just get on and go.Two weeks ago I rode 180 one way to eat lunch.Yes it was some of the best grilled Mahi-Mahi I have ever eaten!Ride Safe
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My wife and I rode a 30-year-old bike, two up, circling Lake Superior, just us, no one else. The only mechanical issue we had the entire, 9-day trip, was the throttle grip came off, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada -- around 500 miles from home. We got some grip glue at a Harley dealership (we were on a Honda...), fixed it, and continued our tour without any hitches thereafter. I did, however, go through my bike prior to the trip, to make sure it was in great running condition. That trip was made in 2009, on a 1979 750cc motorcycle. We had it heavily loaded, but with new tires. Only the one grip problem, even during four consecutive days of riding in the rain, 1,935 miles total.

On a bike, any failure can be catastrophic. Proper maintenance is not an option, it is required -- your very life may depend upon it. Not to be mean, but if you cannot afford proper maintenance (either making repairs yourself, or paying a professional to do it for you), you should not be riding -- a crash could harm people besides yourself: other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. I'd suggest making sure your life insurance is paid in full, but if you can't afford to properly maintain a bike... Not trying to offend, just trying to give you a friendly reality check. Cheers!
:coffee:
That's a hell of a lot of conclusions you jumped to right there. How long have you been saving that particular lecture?

180 miles one way is not very far,if you maintain your ride like you should then just get on and go.Two weeks ago I rode 180 one way to eat lunch.Yes it was some of the best grilled Mahi-Mahi I have ever eaten!Ride Safe
Well, I have been known to do some pretty desperate things myself for a Five Guys burger...

:71baldboy:
 

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CDRW - 600 miles is a long day on a bike.
Both you and the bike SHOULD be able to make distances like that.
180 miles is nothing.

Go do it!!

And YES ... make sure that your bike is reliable.
It's not a lot of fun pushing bikes for miles down the highway!! :)

dT
 

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Pale Rider
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Sorry, CDRW. I went back and re-read your post about selling your previous bike. I definitely jumped to conclusions, reading things into it which weren't there. Apologies.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Sonofabithhkladsgg;las! I had this entire long report post about my trip and lost it to internet shenanigans when I hit the reply button. I ain't re-writing it all, so you get the cliff notes.

Rode up Friday. The roads were crowded the whole way. Followed a cop for twenty miles. Met a cool biker lady with a cool story. No problems with the bike.

Planned to come back Saturday, cancelled because of rain.

Came back Sunday morning. Lots of fog at first, but nobody else on the road. Clear skies and empty freeway the whole way after that. Long periods of time of 100MPH+ cruising without any worries about other cars or cops. This bike is way better than my last one, but not so much better that it scares me.

Thanks for the apology Slag.

Edit: And sorry about waiting so long to report back in.
 

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Well done CDRW. Now you know what a longer ride feels like you have a basis for deciding to go further or not. I see you got your oil level issue worked out too.
 
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