At 55,000km on the odometer, my 4-year old Pulsar was due for an oil change. So after returning from a short Sunday morning ride to JB, I went to LAB and got myself some Motul 7100 15W50. Changing engine oil is a relatively simple maintenance procedure, and I’ve almost always been doing it myself. But today’s oil change was anything but typical.
As I drained the used engine oil and removed the magnetic oil strainer, my heart skipped a beat when I witnessed this:
For those who have been following my blog, you’d probably know that I experienced an engine breakdown due to a catastrophic camshaft bearing failure less than 1 year ago. In fact, I was almost stranded in Chiang Mai, Thailand, some 2,500km away from home where there wasn’t any Bajaj dealership in the country at all. I had to FedEx the engine parts up from Singapore to get the bike fixed. Similarly back then, the magnetic oil strainer caught a massive amount of metal shavings from the grounded down camshaft bearing.
My Pulsar has just reached it’s 4-year mark, and it’s certainly showing signs of its age. I was just at Universal Motors yesterday for a gear lever replacement. And when I got home that evening, I noticed that the left side of my radiator assembly was shaking loose.
The 200NS radiator is held in place by four mounting points. And to damp it from the motorcycle’s vibrations, each of these four mounts are coupled with a rubber “silent block”. Turns out that TWO of the FOUR mounts were broken! One at the rubber damper, and the other was a metal fracture on the radiator itself! GASP!
During my recent Sunday Morning Ride to Layang-layang, I experienced a gear shift issue on the Pulsar. Well, for some time now, I thought the gearshift on the 200NS felt strange. After the recent 2,000km run to Betong, Thailand and back, I thought that the gearshift felt kind of harsh. Initially, I attributed it to possibly spent oil. Although it was a mere 2,000km, I was running at high RPM’s for extended periods of time. And so when I returned to Singapore, I performed an engine oil change. Unfortunately, even the fresh oil – Motul’s fully synthetic 7100 – didn’t bring me the once-familiar super-smooth gear shift experience.
During the Layang-layang ride, it got worse.
At a juncture, I couldn’t downshift my bike! And I was forced to pull off from stationary on gear 2. Oh gosh! I hope it isn’t a gearbox issue. Now, THAT will be expensive repair.
The Pulsar 200NS comes with an adjustable nitrox-charged monoshock rear suspension. Although the damping is not adjustable, the spring preload is.
At my recent tour to Betong, and because I was riding with a group, I realised that when it came to corners, I seem to hesitate quite a bit more than the other bikes. It could be a case of chicken, or that my Pulsar was the most underpowered bike. But when I was discussing this issue with a fellow biker, he suggested that it could be due to the suspension setup of my motorcycle.
The Pulsar 200NS rear gas-charged mono suspension comes with NINE (9) levels of adjustment settings, with 1 being the softest and 9 being the hardest spring preload. The factory default setting is a very soft level 2. While this may be suitable for most “average sized” solo riders, heavier riders (like me) or riders with pillion and / or luggage should increase the preload for better damping.
Some of you would know that I have been using Motul’s very popular C2 (Road) chain lube for a very long time. It was also my primary chain lubricant when I did my 11,000km over 49 days SE Asia Tour in 2016. While the topic of chain lube – like engine oil – is very much a controversial subject when it comes to “which one is the best”, everyone has their own favourite lube. Personally, when it comes to chain lube, my opinion is that as long as you clean and lube frequently, I suspect most brand-name chain lubes would work well to protect the chain and keep it running.
But of course, there are differences.
While I’m pretty certain that the Motul C2 Chain Lube kept my chain well lubed, it also tend to attract A LOT of gunk. A HELL LOT!! I’ve previously blogged about the gooey mess that have accumulated on my chain and front sprocket after I returned from my long tour. Yes, admittedly, I had traveled on some challenging terrains – including the dusty roads of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. But I suspect the accumulated gunk might have somewhat contributed to accelerated wear on my chain – leading to an eventual uneven distribution of wear along the chain length.
This is crazy… At the Sunday Morning Ride, I was just talking to a fellow biker about carrying an extra bottle of engine oil for a long trip. And when I returned home after the ride, washed and waxed by bike, I realized that my oil inspection window was… EMPTY!
I had initially thought it was still “warm” after the ride and allowed some time pass to allow the oil to flow back down. But checked the oil window the next morning, still empty – no matter how I tilted my bike. 🙁
So I thought the high RPM run on Sunday might have something to do with it. No external oil leak was observed. So my worst fear was an internal engine oil consumption – aka oil “burning” up. Was it an engine gasket issue? Perhaps a valve oil seal failure? But it was only 17,000km since my engine was rebuilt in Chiang Mai, and I’d be very disappointed if an oil leak or oil consumption occurred.
Yes, I’ll admit it. I pamper my ride. A lot. And it isn’t just my motorcycle. I do that on all my previous cars too.
The 200NS comes with a black-painted exhaust header instead of some shiny stainless steel. It’s been some months since I painted the exhaust header on my 200NS, and there are some new signs of very, very light corrosion. I’ve had good experience with Rustoleum’s High Heat paint on the exhaust and still have more than a half-can remaining.
I recall someone asked me if the exhaust stays black (forever) after the Rustoleum High Heat paint treatment. While I would love for it to be the case, the truth is that I will have to periodically repaint it. Well, that person subsequently mentioned that it was too much of a trouble for him and he was really looking for a more “permanent” solution. Dude! It doesn’t exist! Even polish and wax have to be periodically re-applied! Unless, of course, your machine is a showpiece and remains perpetually in display and not used at all. Continue reading “Detailing the 200NS Exhaust”
Motorcycle chain cleaning is an essential maintenance procedure on all chain-driven bikes. While everybody have their favorite chain cleaner, the topic of the suitability of WD-40 as a chain cleaner (and as a chain lube) is amongst the most controversial ones in chain maintenance chats. Some swear by it, while others swear at it.
The biggest concern motorcycle owners have on the choice of cleaning fluids on their o-ring (or x-ring, or z-ring) sealed chain is the effect of the fluid on the o-ring itself. The 0-rings serve as a seal that locks lubricating grease between the pin and the roller of the chain, significantly increase the chain’s useful life as compared to non-o-ring chains. Any deterioration of this rubber o-ring will allow grease to escape and contaminants such as dirt, mud and other yucky stuff into the tiny crevices inside the chain, leading to a drastically reduced chain life.
The idea that WD-40 reacts with rubber, swelling, softening and making it brittle has been debunked. MC Garage produced an excellent video to demonstrate this:
With a new chain on, I decided to take a peek at my front sprocket.Some of you might have remembered that I performed a deep cleaning of my front sprocket only about 800km ago. And so I expected it to be relatively clean now. But when I popped open the sprocket cover…
At 12,000km, the chain on my Pulsar 200NS had developed an uneven wear across the length of the chain. This set of original Bajaj sprocket and chain was replaced for US$45 in Phnom Penh’s Bajaj dealership when I was touring Cambodia.