Every season before we hit the road, it is a good idea to inspect the bike, clean it up, and do a little bit of maintenance. K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) is proud to designate February as “Spring Cleaning and Maintenance Month” so we find it fitting we post a little about your maintenance needs and recommendations. One of the simplist items to address is the spark plugs. Most V-twin motors call for 10,000 mile intervals on the spark plugs unless otherwise noted. I personally prefer new plugs every season, especially since they are relatively inexpensive, and directly affect my performance and fuel economy. You should always look at the color of your plugs when changing them because it will tell you exactly how your engine is performing. In general, a light tan/gray color tells you that the spark plug is operating at optimum temperature and that the engine is in good condition. Dark coloring, such as heavy black wet or dry deposits can indicate an overly-rich condition, too cold a heat range spark plug, a possible vacuum leak, low compression, overly retarded timing or too large a plug gap. If the deposits are wet, it can be an indication of a breached head gasket, poor oil control from ring or valvetrain problems or an extremely rich condition – depending on the nature of the liquid present at the firing tip.Here are some conditions to look out for.
Normal Condition – Your motorcycles engine condition can be judged by the appearance of the spark plug’s firing end. If the firing end of a spark plug is toasty brown or light gray color, the engine condition can be judged to be good and the spark plug is functioning optimally. “Clean” plugs are often a result of optimum air and fuel mixture, as well as a motor that has reached desired operating temperature and remained there for an effective amount of time.
Dry and Wet Fouling – Although there are many different cases, if the insulation resistance between the center electrode and the shell is over 10 ohms, the engine can be started normally. If the insulation resistance drops to zero ohms, the firing end is fouled by either wet or dry carbon. We often call this “Gas Fouled” because unburnt gas remains in the plug end. The accumulation of deposits on the firing end is influenced by oil leakage, fuel quality and the engine’s operating duration. Short runs are more prone to have deposit build up over engines that have been given a chance to reach ideal operating temperature.
Spark Plug Wires – Another maintenance item you should always look at are the Spark Plug wires. Make sure both ends are seated securely and there are no visible cracks or burnt spots as this will also decrease performance. Replacement Plug Wires can be had in a wide range from stock styles to neon flashing wires as well as thicker core performance wires. just like the spark plugs, plug wires start out with modest prices and can certainly travel into the outrageous.
Fluids – Lastly, are your fluids fresh? Keeping fluid changes up to date and up to the recommended levels is very critical to your motorcycle. Not only do fresh fluids keep the engine, transmission, and primaries clean by suspending the contaminates within, they also contribute to overall temps. The less fluid you have, and or the dirtier the oils are, the less efficiently they will do their job, resulting in increased operating temps or worse – engine failure. Keep the oils changed in accordance with manufacturers specs and your bike will be a happy camper.
Most of these conditions we will never experience with our motorcycles, but I felt the need to show you the importance of the extremes. This is also why I choose to change my plugs annually. It gives me a report card every season and keeps the situation under control by letting me address any abnormalities long before they become a bad situation. K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) has the spark plugs you need to keep your bike performing its best.