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Topic: The most reliable motorcycles... in the world.  (Read 21218 times)

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jkb4c
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« on: April 05, 2011, 09:11:08 PM »

I'm something of an obsessive engine durability hobbyist. I love reading about powerplant torture tests, feats of motor longevity, and the various topics that go with them. I bought my last motorcycle, a 1st generation SV650S, based primarily on its reputation for having an incredibly stout engine, even under hard use.

That said, I think we can all appreciate the engineering that has allowed the present generation of motorcycle engines to produce nearly 200 horsepower per liter of displacement, and still maintain the sort of reliability needed to daily drive the thing without worry. And as long-distance sport tourers, this is pretty relevant to everyone's interests!

What do you guys think qualifies as the "most durable" motorcycle engine ever produced?


My vote goes to the later models of the Honda CB750 Nighthawk. Produced until 2003, this engine was based on and built around the venerable CB750 engine that first appeared in 1969. On this engine, hydraulic valve adjusters meant the valves stayed right in-spec mile after mile. Air cooled for simplicity, with an oil cooler to maintain optimum lubrication temp. Low power output by today's standards - but that means that the engine wasn't stressed.


So tell me what you think! Feed my OCD engine reliability issues. I know the geared-cam VFRs will make an appearance shortly...

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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2011, 09:12:33 PM »

61 Panhead?
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falconati
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2011, 09:21:22 PM »

2010 Ducati 1198
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 09:26:44 PM »

Suzuki air/oil cooled GSXR and it's derivatives.
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 09:28:20 PM »

I had over 200k on an '87 VFR700f. I also did well over 100k on both a busa and a Blackbird.

If i were to buy a bike I have experience with for reliability and fun, I'd get another Blackbird.
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 09:32:22 PM »

Lots of 200-300k mile Wings out there.
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 09:59:41 PM »

  Unlike it's contemporaries, 2nd gen CB750s had a hy-vo chain driven jackshaft ahead of the transmission
that I was never completely comfortable with but it didn't seem to become an issue.

  Early VFR engines were NOT very durable ( valves/cams ) which might
explain why you don't see very many running around.

  Rental companies outside the U.S. are fond of the XR400 for its durability and simplicity.

  But my vote for most durable engine would have to go to XR100. Just ask anyone who's
owned one.
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 10:14:59 PM »

Oh feck! I'm sensing a Honda Love Fest in the near future  Hurl :pokestick:
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 10:17:38 PM »

Hard to beat the goldwing flat 6.
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2011, 10:32:10 PM »

650 Rotax....makes about 50 hp and gets 60-70 mpg
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2011, 10:37:34 PM »

Kawasaki Z1/KZ 900-1000.  The Chevy small block of motorcycle engines.
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2011, 10:40:36 PM »

I cannot think that an air-cooled engine really belongs in this list.

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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2011, 11:16:35 PM »


I'm something of an obsessive engine durability hobbyist. I love reading about powerplant torture tests, feats of motor longevity, and the various topics that go with them. I bought my last motorcycle, a 1st generation SV650S, based primarily on its reputation for having an incredibly stout engine, even under hard use.

That said, I think we can all appreciate the engineering that has allowed the present generation of motorcycle engines to produce nearly 200 horsepower per liter of displacement, and still maintain the sort of reliability needed to daily drive the thing without worry. And as long-distance sport tourers, this is pretty relevant to everyone's interests!

What do you guys think qualifies as the "most durable" motorcycle engine ever produced?


My vote goes to the later models of the Honda CB750 Nighthawk. Produced until 2003, this engine was based on and built around the venerable CB750 engine that first appeared in 1969. On this engine, hydraulic valve adjusters meant the valves stayed right in-spec mile after mile. Air cooled for simplicity, with an oil cooler to maintain optimum lubrication temp. Low power output by today's standards - but that means that the engine wasn't stressed.


So tell me what you think! Feed my OCD engine reliability issues. I know the geared-cam VFRs will make an appearance shortly...





 Wife has a 95 Nighthawk 750 GREAT bike, I had a 1984 Nighthawks S, first road bike, loved it. My vote is for the Kawasaki Concours 1987-2006. The bike is a work horse, very easy to work on and cheep to fix compared to newer bikes, shaft drive, great fairing, solid engine.
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2011, 11:35:28 PM »


I cannot think that an air-cooled engine really belongs in this list.




While the original Z series engines may not be the most reliable of all they're certainly at the top of the air cooled engines. They were simple with no CV carbs to give problems and bulletproof clutches and bottom ends.

I had a '73 Z1 that got ridden hard for 40K miles when I finally bent a valve by overrevving it. I pulled it apart to do the top end and decided to go ahead and split it to do a cam chain while I had the engine out of the frame. I checked the crank and it met specs for a new one on the shelf. That's after many miles with the crappy oils of the day and the minimal oil pressure they ran.

The only other air cooled engine that even came close was the original Honda 750/4. I saw a number of them in the 70's spin over 100K miles without having even the top end done.
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« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2011, 12:24:32 AM »


I cannot think that an air-cooled engine really belongs in this list.

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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2011, 12:32:23 AM »

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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2011, 12:43:06 AM »

I was gonna say the Honda Trail 90/110.  Nothing can ever go wrong with that bike that can't be fixed with a screwdriver, hammer, or pair of pliers.
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2011, 12:47:41 AM »

Honda VFR and CBR1100xx - there was a courier in England who had a VFR with over 750k on the second engine and 420k on a XX with the original engine. Article was in Bike magazine about him.
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« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2011, 01:28:13 AM »

Norton Commando Mk1 750 cc twin
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« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2011, 01:38:52 AM »


Norton Commando Mk1 750 cc twin



You know, now that you make me think about it, I realize that you might be right.  My old Norton was completely reliable- 100%.

I could positively, absolutely rely on it to break down on any long ride.
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