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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 4 Apr 2007
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Fuel Injection vs Carburetion

I have heard folks mention that they feel fuel injected bikes are a poor choice for overlanding in undeveloped countries.

They say carbs are easy to clean and service whereas fuel injectors seem to work great unless they break, then you need unusual parts.

Ofcouse, I used to hear they same argument made about electronic ignition.

Opinions?
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  #2  
Old 5 Apr 2007
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I am a bit of a traditionalist myself but I think at times I am misguided by my emotions - longing for the good old days.

I think there is more that one can do manually with a carb to fix, clean and modify it in the field etc. and something about it being manual (you can see it and open it etc.) make me feel more confident.

That said - if it is broken it is broken and with a carb you have to be pretty perfect with fuel flow and air to get a bike to run much. So if you are really out in the field you might not have much of a chance anyway.

As far as injectors - they add so much in the way of control and fuel management that it is hard to beat and they are very reliable in comparison to many aspects of a traditional carb. Especially in areas of dirt and poor fuel. And, importantly in wide ranges of altitude.

We who ride bikes forget that things like fuel injection, power assist etc. have been around for many many years and tested in the harshest environs and racing in cars/trucks. And, we shouldn't expect them to work any less reliably in a bike.

So - I think I would opt for fuel injection if I had a choice.

Dean
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  #3  
Old 5 Apr 2007
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Cool Tough choice

This is a topic that cropped up around here just recently. I bought my first fuel injected bike in '91 and have had about 6-8 since. I have about 30 running bikes, three of which are fuel injected. None of the fuel injected bikes have ever needed service or repair in the time I have ever owned them. The carby bikes are also very reliable, but I must say I have been inside many of them. I have bought many bikes cheap because they are not running properly because the PO (Previous Owner) had been messing with the carbs.
I think what I'm trying to say is that if you are familiar with carbs, then the choice is less easy. But if you are not, fuel injection is probably the best bet. I have never personally met anyone with a fuel injected bike that had problems due to the injection system. I have seen a few F650GS's that have had carburation problems, but that was due to the intake manifold splitting.

YMMV.....

Regards

Nigel in NZ
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Old 5 Apr 2007
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Whilst being a tradionalist, i.e. old technology works - generally. I do see the appeal of fuel injection, which lets face it does have a number of benefits over carbs.

The detractors of fuel injection usually point out that if its broke, then it can't unsually be fixed without "workshop" tools and now days maybe even a computer. But my response to this is simple, fuel injection has been around for a long time in a mechcanical format and at least 20 odd years in an electronic format and that is a long time for a technology to mature. Not many bikes, cars or trucks break down because of the engine management "goes south". And when they do breakdown, it is usually down to a cheap easy to replace sensor, plus the engine management system reverts to "limp home mode", so you will not usually be stranded!!! (famous last words?)

One benefit that isn't mention very oftern is that there is a lot less tinkering required when riding at higher altitudes - where carbs may need to be rejeted. And for that matter lower grade fuels. Have a look at the guys who set the unassisted altitude record (bikehigh.com) - interesting reading, especially as they were on "standard" showroom bikes.

My next bike will almost certainly be fuel injected, but that may be because getting hold of a bike with carbs my soon be a thing of the passed.
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Old 5 Apr 2007
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I agree with all above.
My feeling goes for a carb but my common cense goes for Fi.
Will you drive a carb'ed car on a long overland there day's? If you do want to, there very hard to find.
the fuel filter is more important on an FI bike or car but i think injection is just a lot more relyable then a carb.
Will you fix a broken FI down the road, well: YES it's pick and replace when you know what's broken.
Will you fix a burned piston down the road coused by a very badly adjusted carburator? I dont think many will be able. OK on a single this is not so likeley but on a 4 in line, you'l be vary able to ride on a long time with one of the four carburators running way to lean.

Just a thought.
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Old 5 Apr 2007
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This might be a slightly different way to look at this debate.
Fuel injection for sure is more reliable than carbs. They do need much less maintenance and can operate in a much wider band of altitude and fuel grades, and on top of all they also provide much better fuel consumption.
The problem is that when the electronic components controlling them stop working your bike stop riding and you will need to get it on a trailer to take it to a dealer with special test equipment to tell you which of the very expensive electronic components need replacing as these parts can never be repaired. This is all good and fine when you find yourself in a first world area close by a large city centre where such repairs can be done no mater how unlikely this kind of repair might be.
However, if you have the same problem somewhere in Africa, South America or Asia in third world countries it is a different story all together and can mean the end of a good trip.
One major advantage of carbs over fuel injection is that they will keep going no mater how out of tune, full of holes the diaphragm is or worn the jets or needles are. The bike can be hard to start and will hiss, pop and backfire but it will get going eventually and will take you to the next place where you can find a mechanic and parts to do the necessary repair. This will of coarse never be necessary if regular maintenance is done and the very inexpensive parts is replaced in due time.
I do agree it helps to know your cabs well, but if you don't, make sure you take them often to the right dealer for preventive maintenance and you will never have any problems.
Performance carbs do provide better engine performance than fuel injection, therefore you will find carbs on most plane engines and racing cars and racing bikes.
I believe there is nothing that beats a well tuned carburettor and for overland touring in more remote parts of the Globe I believe it should be your only choice.
The box controlling the fuel injection on the BMW R 1150 GS is around US$1000.00 and driving in the back of the world with this is like playing Russian roulette with a 1000 round pistol. Eventually getting the bullet is highly unlikely but when you do, it will be all over with no going back.
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Old 5 Apr 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT600 Dude View Post
The detractors of fuel injection usually point out that if its broke, then it can't unsually be fixed without "workshop" tools and now days maybe even a computer. But my response to this is simple, fuel injection has been around for a long time in a mechcanical format and at least 20 odd years in an electronic format and that is a long time for a technology to mature. Not many bikes, cars or trucks break down because of the engine management "goes south". And when they do breakdown, it is usually down to a cheap easy to replace sensor, plus the engine management system reverts to "limp home mode", so you will not usually be stranded!!! (famous last words?)
Not so on my Volvo, as a 'safety feature' if the system detects any problem it completely shuts down the ignition stopping you dead. I ended up parked twice on the M5/M6 intersection about 4 lanes in of a 7 lane motorway. After months of wrangling with Volvo they agreed to replace everything for the cost of £1800 but no guarantee it would fix the fault as it was intermittent and may have beena wiring or connection fault. I part exchanged it for a Citroen diesel with mechanical pump.
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Old 6 Apr 2007
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i too find this a tough debate,i grew up riding and working on carbed bikes and still own and ride one every day.purchased it cheap only because the carbs were gunked up.took them off 123 cleaned,adjusted,and back on the road.but i ridden fuel injected bikes and enjoy the smoothness noticeably at
higher elevations.i worked in the auto industry for many years and very rarely due i see fuel injector problems.so i'm going to have to say go with fuel injection.just add fuel treatment every once in a while and remember to disconnect the battery when welding eg.frame,panniers,handlebars....
i too will make the switch one day in the near future.
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  #9  
Old 6 Apr 2007
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i'm sure that pretty soon you wont even have the option to choose a non FI bike.
In holland i can't think of a non FI road bike right now. Even the offroad bike's are going FI, check out the new KTM's for example.
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