Periodic Maintenance for your Motor
All Internal combustion engines need to be periodically serviced in order to maintain good running condition and life expectancy.
Let first start off with, why? Why do we have to maintain our motorcycles? The largest reason is contaminates, they come in all forms large to small and you can find them in the oddest of places; engine oil, air filters, throttle bodies, combustion chambers and even in the fuel you burn. In the process of combustion we make even more contaminates that collect on the rings, pistons and further deposit in the oil. Internally, motors will also shed material from gears meshing together, rings seating into cylinders, and moving parts contacting were the oil film is light and the pressure low, such as cold start-ups and extremely hot temperatures. This makes it critically important to remove the contaminates with periodic oil and filter changes. Having oil that is free of contamination extends the life of the motor by providing unobstructed clearance between moving parts.
Dirty oil that has debris in it will score bearing surfaces and gouge cylinders and pistons causing a decrease in performance and an increase in friction between the moving parts resulting in more "Blow-By" in the combustion process, further accelerating wear. Having new or clean spark plugs offer better and more complete combustion, providing a smoother running engine that can run at its highest capable state of tune. We'll further that statement as we go along.
There's plenty of controversy involved with the subject, but for the purpose of this article, we don't need to get involved with brands and which oils are better. This will be a general discussion based on maintenance of your motorcycle and not the findings of sole individuals.
The type of oil you use should be such that is compatible with the manufactures recommended weight and type. To follow a proper maintenance interval and precautionary service, you should keep up on the oil and filter changes recommended by the manufacturer which, for Victorys, is every 2500 miles. All oils suited for the application will provide adequate lubrication and cooling effects. Different brands and types of oils have been used and experimented with to produce sometimes better, and unfortunately sometimes worse results. This is due to a ton of variables. Some of these include but aren't limited to production variances in clearances, fitment, and state of tune. Our rule of thumb, from findings we've seen over the past 10 years, lend us to the state that you can not go wrong with using the oil recommended by the manufacture (Victory). This is the safest bet in for long term maintenance, when oil changes are performed at the recommend times. Keep in mind that we are basing this statement on the critical nature of maintenance and not total performance, sound dampening quality,or lower running temps that other oils might provide. As you might expect, oil change intervals are far more important when using the correct oil than the type of oil used. Meaning, you are better off to extend and maintain longevity and performance by regular service than you are to use an oil not recommended for the application.
Let's look at some other oil characteristics:
Total Performance, or the ability to increase a level of performance (in HP) over an existing product by means of better lubrication, cooling, or output. For Victory Motorcycles, an oils ability to increase performance to measurable levels is often not seen but conversely, an inadequate oils' ability to decrease performance can be seen. This brings us to a question on Total performance. If an oil does not increase the overall level of performance, should it be considered just a substitute to the existing product (Victory Oil), or is it based on some other quality desirable to consumers? Let's consider 2 other qualities, Sound dampening and Cooling.
Sound Dampening. Yes, certain oils will offer better insulation or sound damping over other types. A bike that has a noisy primary drive due to maximum clearance specs may quiet down when using a different grade or type of oil. However, this may cause another area to be neglected such as crank bearings during cold start-up. The thicker oil may decrease the ability to lubricate under other conditions so by saying the oil is better because it made a noise quieter or go away isn't always the avenue you want to look at.
Lower Running Temps. Heat is a major concern with some brands of motorcycles but since were only writing about Victory so this paragraph will only pertain to them. I've heard the statement, "When I used brand X oil, I dropped my engine temps by 20-25 degrees." WOW that statement sounds like a plus, it must lubricate better and be a better oil. NOPE! Wrong thought, oil that reduces temps does NOT mean its better oil. Oil like that can actually cause more premature failure than you think. On another note, by reducing temps you are taking away heat from the combustion chamber, the same heat needed to produce power and efficiency from the complete combustion of fuel.. Lower the operating temperature of the motor will elevate emissions levels by produce richer running conditions. Additionally, a cold running combustion builds more carbon deposits (contamination) from an inefficient burn. Those build up's pound on the valve seats, accumulate on the piston and try to push their way through the rings, destroying leak down, compression and seal. The lower temps also carbon up the spark plugs requiring more frequent changes to maintain good spark and prevent fouling.
Air Filters or "Cleaners."
Dirt has very sharp edges that cut and dig into all surfaces from the throttle valve to the valve seats and onto the rings and cylinders. Air filters must capture this dirt as air moves through the filter before it reaches the inside of the motor. This insures your engines components will not see the abrasive nature of these materials.
For all cotton and paper filters , the cleaner the filter the better the results. However, gauze and foam filters will actually perform better when slightly dirty, K&N, makers of high performance filters, use a gauze type element which supports a special oil to help further "catch" the oncoming particles.
Let's go into more detail on air filters. Paper elements provide excellent filtration of debris and are good choices for stock and slightly modified motors where ultimate power levels aren't of concern. They are inexpensive to purchase but continuing costs over time can offset the purchase of a more expensive filter such as a K&N, or a foam unit like the ITG filter. Paper elements need to be changed more frequently as cleaning such units is not an option do to the nature of paper and its inability to function properly after being wet or having been applied with oil. Paper elements, because of their make up, have too much stacking of debris that occurs making them less efficient in airflow, especially at higher revs. They are also less expensive to manufacture giving the reason why they come stock. A paper filter's membrane needs to be thin enough to pass air but have enough surface area to filter out dirt. Manufacturers design the filter with many folds to maintain enough surface area.
This design makes it so the oncoming debris that clings to the outside stacks or gets thicker as time goes by, reducing efficiency and air flow. Gauze elements offer increased airflow and higher power levels but at the expense of letting in slightly more fine particles when new. A gauze unit will perform better slightly dirty than brand new do to the thin lining of material.
As shown in the photo, when held up to light a gauze element will show openings or holes in the filter allowing the light to be more visible. This is the nature of such filters and the reason why they work better when slightly dirty. Slightly dirty they can catch more debris as it passes by because the surface area is increased from the trapped particles. Particles try to flow through the holes and are then trapped by the surrounding material and oil.
Foam Elements are thicker and need to be because of the cellular structure, almost like a 3 dimensional honeycomb. Foam filtration does very well in removing air born debris by having a tight cellular structure with stepped holes or openings. The particulates end up crashing into the structure as they try to move through it, allowing the oil impregnated element to grab all the debris leaving the air to move cleanly past and through the remaining structure.
In good condition they do a proper job in combusting the mixture of fuel, converting it to power, maximizing the BTU potential of the combustion process while ensuring the fullest, cleanest. Heat ranges of the spark plugs used in Victory motorcycles shouldn't be changed from the recommended type. There will be no benefit in changing heat ranges as the manufacture put extensive time into researching the correct heat range based on areas of fullest combustion, heat transfer, drivability, and emissions. Spark plugs do wear as time goes on and lessen their overall performance and sparking. A motor that is out of tune will highly effect the longevity of the plugs and will require more frequent changes. A very rich running bike will carbon the plugs and decrease the flame energy and spark produced, lowering the power levels and further increasing the rich condition. Conversely, a very lean motorcycle will produce excessive heat and will cause the plugs to be put under a higher electrical load than normal as there may not be enough fuel in the cylinder to burn, this gives us misfire. Both conditions; Excessively rich and Excessively lean will drastically shorten the life of your spark plugs making more frequent changes necessary.
Spark plug wires also need to be part of the preventative maintenance schedule. While having a high energy spark system Victory motorcycles will use one of the first rules of electricity, following the path of least restriction. I have seen numerous occasions where the spark plug wires are ruined even on bikes with relatively low miles. This occurs for a few reasons. The largest I believe is caused by not having the spark plug wires end connector that snaps on the spark plug fully engaged. These connectors snap on VERY HARD and when installed don't always get snapped into place, because of the hard nature of installing these the boot gets pushed down over the plug with the installer thinking it's on. The end actually sitting on top of the plug and not on it for a short period gets worked upward from vibration. This moves the connection further away in turn giving the spark pulse a reason for finding a shorter path, this path will transfer through the boot and into the cylinder, complete combustion may not be lost at this time but will be if not caught. The boot will then show a grayish band right where the female plug connector is located. Over time you can see a burn right through the boot. Make the plug wires part of your maintenance.
One note for older Victorys:
Unlike 2008 models, '99-'07 bikes don't contain IAS (Idle Air Solenoids) and require that the throttle body be kept clean. It's contamination or film comes from the pulse wave leaving the intake valve while it is slightly open. This wave carries with it debris from the combustion process, over time it builds up reducing the airflow at idle and low throttle positions. This decrease of airflow creates a richer condition (same fuel amount + less air = richer). A Throttle Position Sensor (T.P.S.) reset can be done and in my opinion no more then twice. After that a cleaning will need to be performed as the resulting film does decrease performance and disrupt airflow. The way to tell when a throttlebody needs to be cleaned is at idle. If at the start of the year your bike idles at 1000 rpm's and mid summer drops to 800 when NO OTHER changes were made this is a sure sign that they are getting dirty. A cleaning with an idle adjustment will restore performance and drivability.
Victorys are inherently low maintenance and trouble free. Keeping these items in good shape and replacing them at regular maintenance intervals will extend the life, performance, and drivability of your Victory.