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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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  #46  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
I usually have oldish cars and have had two pumps failing (both stopped me) and one injector-failure.
A friend of mine had a broken pump on a 990 ADV which spoiled his Morocco-tour. But still I see alot of benefits with EFI and it's the way to go..
Injectors seems rare but pumps are a weak link. They need adequate cooling. But on bikes they are not very large so a spare is easily added to the parts list.
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  #47  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post

Carbs, gravity fed fuel and natural aspiration are BY FAR simpler, BY FAR, easier to diagnose and repair and BY FAR more easy to bodge, repair, adjust and any mechanic in the third world understands how it works.

Fuel injection bikes need fuel pumps and the electronics to run fuel pumps. They have servo controlled motors to let the bike idle. They need lambda sensors in their exhausts, MAF sensors in their airbox.

These are not things that can be bodged.
Just out of interest are there any stories of bodging up F.I. systems to keep going on a trip out there? Anyone actually had to bypass sensors, lash up a (F.I.) fuel pump, fix a high pressure hose with chewing gum or a spare brake hose or anything like that? If so, how well did you understand F.I. technology beforehand?

Many people have been talking about how the simplicity of carbs are their strength, how it's easy to work out what the problem is, strip them down at the side of the road etc but that presupposes quite a bit of knowledge about how carbs work, the function of the various jets, needles etc and how the symptoms you're suffering from connects to some process inside the carb. I've ground to a halt with carb issues quite a few times over the years and spent many a happy hour cleaning out jets in campsites. If nothing else it passed the time until I eventually worked out it was an ignition problem

Not so with F.I. though. I don't really understand the system well enough to delve into it with any degree of confidence. Sure, I can point out all the bits and draw a diagram of how it all works but deep down knowledge is lacking. I don't know much about how various failure modes manifest themselves so when it stops (only had that happen once - in a car) I'm in the hands of the "professionals". For the most part I'm dependant on the robustness of the engineering and hoping that whatever has gone wrong it's in a bit I do understand.

Many of the bikes that crop up in these hallowed pages have their well known weak points - AT fuel pumps, DRZs - a long list etc and there's often an aftermarket fix for many of them but I don't ever recall reading about anyone dealing with F.I. issues or taking spare parts with them because "the coolant temperature sensor always goes at about 20k". If it does go what happens? Can I short out the wires with a paper clip to bypass it or should I use a resistor from my tent light.

Whenever a new technology is introduced it's quite often over engineered to start with to gain public confidence but then the penny pinching starts. I know F.I. is not exactly new technology but it is in the context of the sort of bikes we're talking about here and I'm not certain the stresses and strains of overlanding will have been considered much by the manufacturers during the design process. On that basis we should perhaps expect to have to deal with more of these problems as time goes on.
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  #48  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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I agree. The general knowledge for most users is lacking. Which to me makes sense when you consider most people that prefer carbs grew up HAVING to fix them themselves because of financial reasons. During my childhood particularly as kids on mopeds. The FI became commonplace during the current "throw away and replace" era.

I guess you could disconnect all the sensors one by one and see if it wants to start to find out the workings in more detail. But surely this knowledge is already available with a few. As a minimum, I'm guessing, you need a computer, battery on most, pump to deliver pressure to the injector, working injector, a throttle actuator and sensor to provide air input and possibly the TDC sensor so the computer knows where the piston is?
I've heard of people strapping pumps and batteries to the bike as a bodge. Not sure about other necessary parts.
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  #49  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmotten View Post
I'm guessing, you need a computer, battery on most, pump to deliver pressure to the injector, working injector, a throttle actuator and sensor to provide air input and possibly the TDC sensor so the computer knows where the piston is?
Instead of a TDC sensor you usually have a crank position sensor. Like the TDC-sensor on a carbed bike it will stop the engine totally if it fails.
Some bikes also have ride-by-wire which I think it's pretty hard to manage without.
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  #50  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Just out of interest are there any stories of bodging up F.I. systems to keep going on a trip out there? Anyone actually had to bypass sensors, lash up a (F.I.) fuel pump, fix a high pressure hose with chewing gum or a spare brake hose or anything like that? If so, how well did you understand F.I. technology beforehand?
Excellent points!
I've had a few issues that were dealt with ... not really bodging up a fix or anything technical ... and I knew very little about EFI beforehand ... just a few internet words of wisdom from bike forums.

One case my Vstrom (running rough, would barely start), I simply "re-set" ECU back to default setting .. this by simply disconnecting the battery. Worked for a while but problem returned. Dealer dealt with it.
Secondary butterfly controls were dirty, draggin ... or some such. (crap air filter on Vstrom)

Another time, broke plastic high pressure fuel hose connector while removing the tank happened at home. BMW riding buddy had it happen on the road. Bike went home in a truck. I simply went to Suzuki dealer, bought a new hose ... fixed!

Also seen fuel pumps replaced on the road (lots of gas everywhere!) BMW riding friend went to dealer, $450 pump, all fixed. Turns out a pump from a Kia or Hyundai would have worked ... $100.

So no, no real experience bodging or using electronic trickery to by pass sensors or "fool' ECU. I've heard of BMW guys who carry a little magic box to access EFI/ECU computer. These boxes can: display and clear fault codes, re-program certain parameters. Very handy! Not sure how far you can go with such a device, but better than nothing I guess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by backofbeyond View Post
Many people have been talking about how the simplicity of carbs are their strength, how it's easy to work out what the problem is, strip them down at the side of the road etc but that presupposes quite a bit of knowledge about how carbs work
I think the more important point is that, when "on the road" one is more likely to find a common mechanic who can deal with a carb. EFI? perhaps ... but for sure carbs are well known system.
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  #51  
Old 4 Jun 2015
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General vehicle electronic comments

Components rarely fail. The loom is the usual culprit so just buzz it out with a meter. The fuel pump has a motor which can be jumped to the battery. It'll buzz or it won't. The injector is just a solenoid which can be tested in pretty much the same way.

Diagnosis is just like a carb at this level, you think of reasons it isn't normal and test them out. Put the reader on and it gets way easier.

The ECUs are usually wrecked by welding, water or crappy connection. If its ****Ed open it up and look for damage. They are often just burnt out between plug and circuit board. Never call the ECU a brain. We charge the yokels a disposal charge to empty the old parameter files out of the brain on top of the reset and calibrate.

Andy
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  #52  
Old 5 Jun 2015
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Something I knocked up at lunchtime

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink

Part of this which fits on my phone

https://picasaweb.google.com/1044429...eat=directlink

If only there was a known to work OBD2 phone app, but that'll come. This will let a car mechanic read the ECU

http://www.amazon.co.uk/OBD2-Connect...ords=fiat+obd2

Andy

Last edited by Threewheelbonnie; 5 Jun 2015 at 16:11.
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  #53  
Old 5 Jun 2015
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Maybe a bit out of context, but I have been reading a report written by the AA. It seems modern cars are getting more prone to breakdowns due to the electronics. I know much of it isn't there by choice, but to meet emission requirements but it is worth thinking about.
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  #54  
Old 6 Jun 2015
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AA patrols are human. Like rest of the industry they include a lot of people who were raised to be terrified of black boxes. They tell the punter " you'm be wanting a new brain in that missus " and tick the box in their management system accordingly.

We reject 99% of claims on the electronics I work with. They are changed unnecessarily and disturbing the loom gets them going until next time. Typical would be the main axle modulator. A grands worth of electro-pneumatics. They have air coming out of the exhaust because a fifty quid parking valve down stream is dirty. Change them and the brand new O-rings in the pneumatic bit slow the back feed and the crap its been fed has some clean new passages to gunk up. Give it a year an you'll be fitting another.

The industry is not helping itself. Putting on a huge red warning display because the ashtray is full or the radio can't pick up Chris Evans is a great money making scheme but not really what we want. BMW saving you from a flat battery by not letting you run a tyre compressor is a great example and will lead to people calling the AA.

Know your vehicle and carry the right tools IMHO.

Andy
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  #55  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
I have been reading a report written by the AA. It seems modern cars are getting more prone to breakdowns due to the electronics
I would still dare a guess, that all else being equal, a new car gets a higher mileage before any major engine- or other overhauls are required, than a car from 20-30 years ago. The amount of electronics has skyrocketed, and yes, anything built by man can sometimes fail, but considering how common they are these days, they seem to work quite well actually. And in the meantime, mechanical reliability has gone up all the time. (The quality of today´s engine oils is also a factor here).

For me, it´s FI, and no carbs no more, I don´t hate them, but I don´t miss having to fiddle with them.
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  #56  
Old 8 Jun 2015
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Why is every one on about fiddling with carbs. once set ( and they usually come set from the factory that it.

I was a service rep for a computer company from the late sixties until 1989 doing 50,000 miles a year. In all that time I never touched a carb and still haven't until this year when I had to replace the rubber joint between carb and inlet manifold on my 1989 Fiat tipo which has NEVER broken down. Neither did my wifes 1989 fiat Panda which we traded in two weeks ago having had it from new. Never even had the rocker cover off.

I fact I have never had a roadside breakdown except for a Volvo estate I had for 3 months. (engine management failure) Most unreliable and dangerous car I ever owned.
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  #57  
Old 9 Jun 2015
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Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
Why is every one on about fiddling with carbs. once set ( and they usually come set from the factory that it.
Based on ~15 years with carb´d bikes only first, and then got my 1st FI bike in 2003, and actually sold my last carb´d bike last year, it has been my experience, that carbs are more often in need of some kind of ´fiddling´. Re-jet for altitude, or bear running very poorly (have a set of plugs nearby, too in that case)... run them dry before storage, adjust their balance on multi cylinder bikes, work with the fast idle knob on cold starts, clean them up, etc. etc. It´s not that they don´t work, they do their job. But for me, the decisive factor is: FI does this same job better in just about every way (throttle response, cold starts, fuel economy, quick&clean adjustability). And regards the “what if it breaks”-argument: in my own experience, FI seems extremely reliable. Let´s not forget here, that practically every new four wheeled vehicle on this planet has had FI for at least 10 years (..or probably 20 years actually).

Fuel pump giving up? Ok, that may be a valid concern. So I´d carry a spare, if I was to go RTW. In fact I´ve owned an Africa Twin 750, and this bike was known to have issues with fuel pumps, so it would definitely need to have a spare one carried. That bike is not fuel injected, by the way....

All this is a bit like wondering, if one should move on to disk brakes or stick to drum brakes. What does older technology offer, that new tech does not? (Except of course, some are much more familiar with that older tech). Besides, FI is not even "new tech" any more, should probably say just "different tech".

Last edited by pecha72; 9 Jun 2015 at 08:01.
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  #58  
Old 9 Jun 2015
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I think its all a reasonably fair argument here Ted EXCEPT ... and its a BIG EXCEPT ... is the difference in frequency that carbs need maintenance vs how frequently FI needs maintenance. By skipping that critical, game changing, area of the topic, you have effectively bypassed the main debate.

No one is arguing that a carb is not easier to fix when broken - however dont kid yourself that they can always be fixed. I know of a carbed bike riding the trans siberian home because of broken needles not "capable of being fixed by 14 year old mechanics in any town".

The counter argument to the easier to fix advantage of a carb is the fact that you almost never have to fix EFI. See Margus's post where is compared 300,000 trouble free EFI kms all around the globe over half a dozen years, vs 8,000km with carbed bikes. (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...2-2#post506978) I also have around 200,000 km of EFI global (rough) riding under my belt (at least 60% off road) and also strangely never touched the injectors, never touched the black boxes.

A balanced viewpoint has to look at both sides of the argument. Its not only thats its more fuel efficient. Its not only that its better at high altitudes. The MAIN advantage of EFI is that it just works. Its simpler, its more logical, and its infinitely more reliable.

Granted its harder to fix if something goes wrong. Just like its harder to fix a mobile phone than an abacus. It doesnt justify taking an abacus on your trip - because any 14 year old with woodworking experience can fix it.

I currently have three bikes. Two EFI and one carbed. I am looking at ways to convert the carbed bike to EFI.

The equation for the uninitiated is as follows:

You have one system which needs constant maintenance and is less efficient (which also ultimately means heavier) - but its easier to fix when it needs fixing.
You have another system which almost never needs attention, is more efficient, lighter and far less restrictive, but is harder to fix when something does go wrong.

A perfect analogy is CDI ignition vs points. You can reset your points every day, but you cant fix black box ignition. The question is do you actually ever need to fix CDI or electronic ignition?? Is resetting points every day really necessary?

Who votes for points?

There are another couple of downside of carbs ... for carbs to work, the fuel either needs to be carried higher than the carb or you need the same weakest link part - a fuel pump.

If you carry the fuel higher than the carb you lose two things:
(1) low weight distribution. Most EFI bikes these days have tanks under the seats. Carbed bikes have tanks above the seat and in front of your nuts. Long distance tanks on carbed bikes make them very top heavy.
(2) Water crossing ability. Low carb (and very low carb breather hoses) result in lower fording depths on carbed bikes. Maybe not an issue for many, but for me, and loads of marginal water crossings on every adventure ride, that in itself is a huge deal and a major factor to consider.

I dont expect everyone to agree with me or my arguments, but you cannot ignore the multi hundreds of thousands of km of empirical evidence of myself, Margus, people like Simon and Lisa Thomas, Joe Pichler .... people who have racked up hundreds of thousands of non stop adventure kilometres .... just do not find themselves ever touching the EFI system. Thats the reality. Thats the real world evidence. That has to be taken into account. The theory arguments about EFI vs Carb are all great and its all important for new adventurists to hear ... but whats actually the reality? What actually happens to people in the real world in remote places with EFI bikes?

Nothing. They wake up. They press the red start button. The bike goes. All the scare stories in the world do not actually counter reality (unless the reader is vulnerable to scare stories in the beginning). Its not like no-one has done it before. Its not like taking EFI bikes on remote adventures is a new concept that we have to debate the pros and cons of. Its been happening for 20 years. The results are in. The vast majority of bikes crossing Africa or Eurasia are EFI bikes. It works !

Maybe its just me. I never was a big one for other peoples opinions. Every opinion is subjective. Its all twisted and biased. There is nothing objective about an opinion. But statistics are raw. Beginners coming into this debate and confused by the different opinions would be well advised to focus less on opinions and look at real world data.

What actually happens in the real world? What bikes are doing what trips and what issues did they have. Find (independently) 10 examples of people who have done trips like the one you plan. Look at the results.


Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
Fuel injection is by far a better system for day to day running of vehicles.

It's more efficient, more economical and semi-self adjusting. It's mostly very reliable and the technology is well established. Solid state electronics very rarely go wrong.

BUT !!!!!!!!!!!!!! And this is no small but !! LOL

This only stands true where you are in a modern civilised world where there is a garage every 5 miles, a pocket full of recovery companies, mobile phones, next day delivery on parts etc.


Carbs, gravity fed fuel and natural aspiration are BY FAR simpler, BY FAR, easier to diagnose and repair and BY FAR more easy to bodge, repair, adjust and any mechanic in the third world understands how it works.



Fuel injection bikes need fuel pumps and the electronics to run fuel pumps. They have servo controlled motors to let the bike idle. They need lambda sensors in their exhausts, MAF sensors in their airbox.


These are not things that can be bodged. If your fuel pump dies on half way down the silk road you're going to be pretty much up sh*t creek. You'll be parked up in an overpriced hotel for 7 days while you search endlessly all over the internet on a crappy wifi connection trying to find out why your bike doesn't run and swearing that DHL want £150 to ship a £200 pump out to you which then customs will want 20% import tax on and you'll have to wait another two weeks for it to clear customs. If it's not lost in the post altogether. And unless you really KNOW it's the pump you might have to post out a controller too. It might be the TPS sensor though. Or maybe the idle actuator is dead.

If you carb stops working in the same place, a 14 year old mechanic with a few old tools will be able to find out what's wrong with it. Carbs are VERY VERY reliable if fed clean fuel. Injectors need the same.


In a nut shell. If you ride a simple FI bike like a 660 Tenere then you'll be very unlucky to break down but it will be more complicated to get sorted. A simple carbed gravity fed bike will be easier to fix in far off places but you're not going to get the same power and economy for the same size engine.


However.... In my opinion , all the best travel bikes are carburettored. Not because it's better, but because that was all that was really around when they were made. The 90's was the golden era for travel bikes. Not just because they were well made, reliable, cheap and trust wrothy but THEY HAVE CHARACTER...

You can fall in love with an old Tenere or Africa twin. You can't fall in love with grey plastic, control units, and computers which pretty much want to ride the bike for you.. Which all the modern bikes really are.

So if you want an Africa Twin , XT600E, XT600 Tenere, Dominator, Transalp, F650 Dakar, KLE650, DR650 or XR650L etc etc, you're going to have a carb.


Wow... That was quite the rant.
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  #59  
Old 9 Jun 2015
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What actually happens in the real world? What bikes are doing what trips and what issues did they have. Find (independently) 10 examples of people who have done trips like the one you plan. Look at the results.
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  #60  
Old 9 Jun 2015
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Mechanical FI is old technology. Goes back to the 1890's but really got going in the 1930's. It's part of why a Messerschmitt howls (plus supercharger) and a Spitfire coughs and splutters at the top a loop as the carb switches floats.

EFI is 1960's technology productionised in the 1980's. Think of all those VW Golfs and Jettas that broke down all over the place. Austin Allegros had carbs!

Andy
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