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Discussion Starter #1
An 03 500R has been my first bike for the past year year & 1/2. Once I get comfortable with motorcycling in general I will most likely get a cruiser. Question I've got is...why would people choose bikes that require costly valve adjustments every 7500 miles if they can get good cycles with hydraulic valves which do not require adjustment? If you look at the total cost of motorcycle ownership something like the Ninja 500 looks good in the beginning, but when you factor in the cost of chain/valve maintenance over the bike's life, then something like a Honda Shadow Spirit with shaft & hydraulic lifters starts to look pretty good even though the mileage is 10 mpg less. The comparison I really need to make is a Spirit to an M50 though, since they're both middleweight cruisers. It appears to me that a bike with hydraulic lifters is a cheaper bike to own even though it may get 5-10 mpg less. :-\ Where am I going wrong with this analysis?
 

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Check the how to section and you'll see how easy the valves are to do on this bike. With other sport bikes you need to pull the whole camshaft out and then try different shims. On the 500 you just tighten a few nuts.

So really, the cost is nothing. Just some time and some basic tools you prolly already have.

And to those who have regular sport bike. Most never bother checking the valves because they are idiots. :D

On my 919 I don't have to check the valves untill 16,000 miles. The EX had to be checked every 8,000 miles. And in most cases the Honda will still be in spec at 16,000.
 

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The M50 is another bike that's relatively easy to do the valve adjustment on. It's about an hour job on my C50 now that I've done it a few times. I don't pay a shop to do anything on my bike. The price of the factory service manual is well worth the money if you're moderately mechanically inclined. That certainly cuts down on the cost of ownership.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK - I hear what you're saying about the valve adjustments being relatively easy and something that you can do, but given the choice...two motorcycles - one which requires valve adjustment and one which does not, and quality/handling, etc. being equal, then why would one choose one which requires the maintenance? In other words, is there some advantage to valves which require periodic adjustment over hydraulic...service life, power, etc.?
 

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The ex500 is a motor that is almost 20 years old. that might be why it seems a little out of date. here's the thing about low power motorcycles: New riders don't keep them for long.

and that's all there is to it. FI is just too expensive to put on a bike that is just going to be traded in after a year, or smashed to bit in a month. sure it would save on a lot of headaches, but that's kind of what THEY are looking for. They want you to look at the FI bikes and say, "Now THAT'S a better way" and buy it. that's why the introductory market exists. to make you bite, and to keep you hooked.
 

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I think what you're really asking is why don't all bikes have hydraulic lifters?

With high reving motorcycles the adjusters can't keep up. But I understand what you're saying. I almost bought a Buell for that reason. The drive belt never needs adjusting and the valves never need to be adjusted. I wish the big 4 would make more pushrod V-twin sportbikes.

Anyone see the new HD street tracker that they may possibly build? It's hot!
 

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I think you guy's are on the wrong forum. Pushrod air cooled belt drive twins are left over Old tech that's worthless on a Moderen Bike. they only work because theres a bunch of Nutcase/Harley freaks with more money than brains out there. Who on earth want that stuff. Give me a nice Double overhead cammed 200 HP per Liter super engine any day in a 350 lb. package.
One of My kids bought a Harley once. I rode it several times. It was terriable! It didn't even work trying to cruse along the beach. all lumpy and Potato potatoing along, they run so bad they put the soft rubbery belt on them to just absorb the shakes a little.
Bah phffftttt.


FOG
 

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I have to agree with you FOG.  Harley owners love a motorcycle that's 60 years behind the technological curveball, and barely runs to boot.  If i'm getting a twin, it's going to be a L-Twin, DOHC, 200HP, pavement chewing, toruqe monster powerhouse of a superbike.

And it will only cost me about 14k.  try getting that on a new harley for that price... just doesn't happen.
 
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FOG and I seem to be the exception to the rule, older guys usually want a Harley. But like FOG, I just don't get it... Twice the money for 1/4 the performance... Not logical, but a lot of people are making a whole lot of money off those geezers.

Rich
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You nailed it Super Sneaky Steve...why don't all cruiser bikes have hydraulic lifters(HL)? I get the point that the HL don't do so well on the high revving bikes, but why are a lot of the low revving cruisers now going with valves requiring periodic adjustment? FOG...why is it that HL are old school? If they work well, have good service life, and don't require periodic maintenance, what's wrong with that technology in low RPM cruisers?
 

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ninjamon said:
You nailed it Super Sneaky Steve...why don't all cruiser bikes have hydraulic lifters(HL)? I get the point that the HL don't do so well on the high revving bikes, but why are a lot of the low revving cruisers now going with valves requiring periodic adjustment? FOG...why is it that HL are old school? If they work well, have good service life, and don't require periodic maintenance, what's wrong with that technology in low RPM cruisers?
Well I guess if you want a 800 lb. fatass slow evil handling corruption of a motorcycle , than you might as well have it anyway you want. Now Hydraulic springs is where it at.

FOG
 

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Bona fides, since I'm a newby here on this board:

I bought an '05 Ninja 500 new, from an L.A. dealer, using the "fax trick." (Fax the 10 nearest dealers to you, asking for a quote on the exact model you're interested in, saying you'll buy the best offer you get that day. Fax the best to the second-best offer, see if they'll beat it. If yes, try that once more. Go in and buy at the best price). I've got about 22k miles on it in two year's worth of riding. I ride 66 miles round-trip to work and back, five days a week. I live in L.A., so it rains maybe two weeks of the year, so I drive the car then.

I ride up the Angeles Crest Highway pretty regularly, full of blind corners and tight turns, and routinely stop at the bar halfway up the hill (Newcomb's Ranch). Met Jay Leno there once, he was driving a Porsche Carrera GT.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angeles_Crest_Highway
http://www.newcombsranch.com/

To the original poster- I think that the motorcycle market is heavily segmented, and each segment wants something different. So the EX500, although a 20-year-old design, remains a "sport bike." And people who buy sport bikes want sport. The engineering compromises all favor sport, so light weight (exotic, delicate materials) and high performance (exotic, delicate design) are all chosen instead of heavy weight (durable materials) and low performance (robust design, fault tolerance) designs.

While people who want cruisers want high mileage, low maintenance motorcycles. These engineering compromises require the opposite of sport, giving low performance (robust design, long-lasting parts) and heavy weight (easily worked metals instead of exotic plastics).

So cost calculations become really difficult, because a lot of desires are contradictory.

Personally, I set up my cost equation by adding in the amount of maintenance, value of my time, initial purchase cost, parts cost, insurance cost, and gas cost, then amortise it by subtracting expected residual value, and dividing the result by the number of months I'm expecting to keep the motorcycle.

Then I throw that number away, and think about how much I want the bike I'm looking at. ;)

By doing this with different motorcycles, you can get a real feel for what your actual costs, per month, are like for each bike you're considering. The results can be surprising. For example, a 3-year-used Ninja 250 is so much cheaper than anything else you'll look at, if minimal cost is your sole goal, that's what you'll buy and replace, every two years (assuming the value of your time in maintenance isn't very big).

Not very exciting, though.

Whereas a BMW R1150R is more expensive per month (less than you'd think though!), but you can keep for 10 years, so your amortised cost isn't that much more.

But then you're stuck with the same bike for 10 years. Boring.

Personally, I'm (heathen! heretic!) seriously considering something like a BMW F800ST because to my mind, it's a good blend of performance, gas mileage, commuting practicality and ease-of-maintenance. But I haven't made up my mind yet. Might buy a Honda Interceptor (>gasp<) instead- valve adjustments are in 16k mile increments on them. Or (*choke*), the Harley Sportster just got an EFI system for '07... (heh) Or I might just pick up another Ninja 500, since I'm slowly getting used to the maintenance work- the first time I adjusted the valves on my current one, it took me about 6 hours to figure out what had be removed, and how to do it. The second time took about 4 hours. I'm hoping the next time will take closer to 3... guess I'll find out next month.

Cost alone is only a part of the total equation though, and because engineering is all about trade-offs, better defining what you want and expect will make sure you get a bike which better meets your needs. Sadly though, there's just no such thing as a perfect bike. Well, not until the one from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash becomes a reality, anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Re:Well I guess if you want a 800 lb. fatass slow evil handling corruption of a motorcycle , than you might as well have it anyway you want. Now Hydraulic springs is where it at.

FOG


Well, an 800 pound fatass is not your only option. I'm looking at the Honda Shadow Spirit which weighs in at ~ 590 wet, the Kawi Vulcan 750( apparently not in their 07 lineup though) at maybe 525 wet, etc. Both have hydraulic lifters, and according to reviews I've read are good bikes. Sportbikes they are not. But that's not the issue. I'm wondering in cruiser bikes why the majority(with exception of Harley) are going away from the hydraulic lifters? What's the advantage in doing so?
 

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ninjamon said:
Re:Well I guess if you want a 800 lb. fatass slow evil handling corruption of a motorcycle , than you might as well have it anyway you want. Now Hydraulic springs is where it at.

FOG


Well, an 800 pound fatass is not your only option. I'm looking at the Honda Shadow Spirit which weighs in at ~ 590 wet, the Kawi Vulcan 750( apparently not in their 07 lineup though) at maybe 525 wet, etc. Both have hydraulic lifters, and according to reviews I've read are good bikes. Sportbikes they are not. But that's not the issue. I'm wondering in cruiser bikes why the majority(with exception of Harley) are going away from the hydraulic lifters? What's the advantage in doing so?
If they are going away from hydraulic lifters (Centralized cam, lifters and pushrods with rockers) to say... overhead cams... the benefits are kind of obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm not mechanically inclined, so humor me( :: ). What are those obvious reasons?
 

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Pushrods don't move as fast, it's one of the limiting factors to getting more revs. Even in a HD they have to be well ballenced and very strong to rev as high as they do. By putting the cams on the top you make the valve train much shorter and faster.
 

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Hydraulic lifters weigh a lot more than than regular lifters. Because they have fluid in them, and they have more metal. Regular lifters on my old yamaha, and I believe most bikes, is just an empty bucket - very light. Hydraulic lifters have fluid inside of them and valves, and all of the corresponding metal to hold the fluid. Like it was said before, more weight in your valve train means much lower revs. On a SPORT bike, revs are important, because that is how these small engines produce so much horsepower. It is a trade off.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
;D Thanks for these great answers guys. natebrau, that was a very intelligent and thoughtful response, and makes me wonder why I would even consider getting a cruiser, as the Ninja is really a fine bike overall. I think I understand the issues now in the hydraulic lifter versus the more modern, hi-tech approach. :)
 

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You need to own both a cruiser and a sport bike, sometimes
you want to look cool and cruise, and sometimes you want
people to say what kind of bike was that. ZOOM!
 
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