Sunday, November 2, 2008

5000 km update

I just passed the 5000 km (3100miles) mark on my bike. I lost a screw on one of the exhaust shields.

My bike sits outside with no cover and a nice little cool spell has sent the temps to near freezing at night. It still starts right up in the morning after the c-clip mod.

I rode in the 40's but one morning it was 34 degrees when I left for work. My leather jacket, some sub-zero gloves from work, and my open-face helmet with a full length face shield made my 15 mile commute doable.

I am still knocking around the idea of adding a windshield. A universal windshield at the local bike shop is about $75.

The carb mod has really dropped my mpg. It has gone from 75mpg to 65mpg and I am thinking I will move the clip up one notch in the spring and see if it will work that way into next winter.

Gas prices are nearly a dollar a gallon cheaper than when I bought the bike so my ROI in pure gas saving will take a little long than anticipated. As it stands right now, I have saved about 30% of the purchased price on the gas savings.

I also need to adjust the chain for a second time. I use a spray-on chain lube that I bought at WallyWorld and apply it about every other week, seems to be doing a good job on the cheap chain that came on the bike.

I plan to use the original equipment parts on the bike until they need replacing and then I will upgrade to parts that I think will be more cost effective.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Carb c-clip mod

My American Lifan 200GY-5 started fine in the summer but as the weather turned a little cooler I knew I needed to move the C-clip in the carb. Before the mod even in hot weather I could not apply any throttle after starting the engine. I would have to start it several times before it would stay running.

This is an easy mod with the only tools needed;
Phillips screwdriver
8mm wrench
needle nose pliers

I chose to make the carb mod without taking the carb off the bike. After removing the seat you will see the strap that holds the rear of the tank.

Remove the three screw on the plastic trim on each side of the gas tank and remove them.

Make sure your pitcock is in the off position and then remove the gas line.

The front of the tank is held with a bolt on each side.

After the tank is removed you will be looking at the top of the carb. The two black circles are rubber pads that the tank rides on.

Unscrew the top of the carb and pull out the slide.

By compressing the spring , the throttle cable will come out the bottom and you will see how it will travel up the slot and out the round hole at the top of the slot.

Look down in the carb and notice the "knobs" sticking out from inside. The slide has notches in it that will fit over them.

When you look down the top of the slide you will see the retainer clip that holds the needle and c-clip.

Remove that retainer clip and pull the needle out. My c-clip was in the middle groove and I moved it to the bottom (toward the taper of the needle).

Just reverse the tear down order and put everything back together. The slide will easily slip back down the carb throat. Make sure the grooves line up. After you screw the top of the carb back on, reach up and twist the throttle to make sure it is smooth (the throttle should feel just the same as before you started). Sit the tank in place, replace the fuel line and replace one of the two screws on the tank just tight enough to hold the tank and you can start the bike and make sure everything is right before finishing the job.
This is a great mod and now as soon as the engines fires up I can apply some throttle to keep it running. The engine is smoother running and pulls harder in mid-throttle.
I love this mod!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Four Months

I didn't ride my bike as much in the last month as I needed to take my truck to work a few days and of course we have had lots of rain lately.

Nothing new to report about the bike except I opened the two holes I drilled in the exhaust to larger holes and it made the bike a little louder but it really seemed to help the bike breathe better.

I now have about 3800km (about 2360 miles) on the bike and it seems to get stronger and smoother with each mile.

The bike stays outside all the time and the red on the seat is fading.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Three Months

It has been three months since I purchased my American Lifan GY-5 and no issues has arisen.

I have ridden it to work every day (except for three days that I took my S-10 pickup) and it has averaged 75+ miles per gallon. I always convert the kms to miles.

The bike now has over 3000kms or about 1900 miles. I have decided to change the oil every 1500kms instead of the 2000kms I originally thought about, 1500kms or there abouts keep the miles around 1000 miles per oil change. The oil does double duty (engine oil and transmission oil) and the bike holds just over a quart and I feel 1000 mile oil changes are prudent.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Exhaust mod.

While I like a quiet bike, I thought the exhaust was a little restrictive on my bike. Maybe it was my imagination but I thought I could tell the header pipe was not flowing as well as it should.

With the muffler only having a 11/16" outlet, I decided to drill some holes to open it up. I selected a 7/32" bit and drilled one hole. I figured the small hole could easily be welded closed if I didn't like the effect.

After drilling one hole (I left the bike running to hear the noise difference) and listening to only a slight increase in the noise level even at higher rpm's, I drilled a second hole. Now the exhaust only has a slight noise increase and I stopped the drilling. If I were to do it again, I think I would put one larger hole instead of the two.

The engine appears to breathe a little better but it may just be wishful thinking. I can no longer hear the bottleneck in the header pipe and the bike seems to perform better above 5,000 rpm's.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shifting gears

For quality shifting make sure the engine has enough oil (remember engine oil is also the transmission oil) and the clutch is properly adjusted (I like about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of free play at the outer end of the clutch handle).

Most of shifting problems occur when downshifting. When up-shifting we use the transmission as it was designed. Pull clutch, shift gear, release clutch . Our hand is off the clutch and our foot releases contact with the shifter and the gears mesh.

When down-shifting we get lazy and pull the clutch and try to downshift several gears and sometimes the transmission just doesn't feel right and even tries to hang in gear.

When down-shifting, pull clutch, "burp" the throttle quickly to raise the rpm's as you down-shift one gear, make sure your foot is then not holding any pressure on the shifter after the shift and release the clutch just enough to feel the motor pull against the transmission. Then repeat as you down-shift another gear.

If you have to stop and need to shift down several gears while standing still just release the clutch enough to mesh the gears but not stall the engine.

The tolerances are very tight on these little bikes and the slightest pressure can keep parts from preforming as they should.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day Trip

The only riding I have done is commuting to work. Today a have an errand to run that required a small "road trip", so naturally I took the bike.

With a fresh oil change (1500km), I gassed it up 1586km, it held 2.075 gal. for 152.23miles (245km)= 73.36mpg.

My day-trip would cover 166.52 miles(268km). I took small paved state highways and cruised about 45-50mph and had an absolute blast. The bike performed flawlessly and my butt held out pretty well. I rode 130km before I took a break.

I ran my errand, had lunch and stopped twice to visit with friends. I took all day to accomplish the trip but could not have had a more enjoyable day roaming the back roads of Arkansas.

I gassed up a little early on the tank because I wasn't sure of the next station. It held 1.617gal for 126.13 miles for an average of 78mpg.

Rubbermaid trunk

I always try to give credit where credit is due. Katoranger from ChinaRiders was the first person that I saw using the Rubbermaid ActionPacker for a trunk.

I really like the utilitarian look as I think a sculptured motorcycle trunk looks out of place on a enduro bike.

This is my version of the Wal-Mart trunk.

I mounted it just behind the upright bar on the luggage rack.

I considered cutting off the upright so I could move the ActionPacker foward to sit on the luggage rack instead of hanging off the back. Two problems with that would be,
1. the Action Packer might have to be removed to get the seat off the bike.
2. I think the ActionPacker would be too far forward and I would hit it with my foot when I throw my leg over the bike.
I used U-bolts to mount the trunk but I need to mount a plate under it as about half of it is not supported by the rack.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Winter protection

I know it is 90+ degrees but winter will be here before we know it and we get a little rain that can be problematic as well.

My last bike was a GoldWing that offered great rain protection and after getting caught in a rain storm on my GY-5, I started looking into rain suits. My last rain suit was a one piece that lasted over 15 years but I think I want a 2-piece suit this time.

I took this picture of a scooter in Paris last year and I think something like this will someday be imported to the USA as gas priced increase. This could truly be a daily driver in all weather.

This type of protection could be added. The cover is fastened to the fairing and it straps around your waist and drapes over you legs, yet lets you put your feet down when needed. Fastening it across the bike keeps your seat dry while you are not riding it.

With no fairing on the GY-5 something like this would not work but it does get the gears rolling in my head about how to best accomplish a reasonable about of winter protection for my ride to work.

I know coveralls, rainsuit, and waterproof boots will work but I am exploring other possibilities.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Motorcycle withdrawals

No my Lifan is not broken, I am on vacation at the lake.

For those that have not checked out my "other blog", we live fulltime in this travel trailer. The Dodge 2500 is our "family car" and the S-10 (that I have mentioned) is my work truck. The trailer weighs in (loaded) at about 14,000lbs. and the Dodge diesel gets over 10mpg pulling this mammoth trailer.

We are at BEAVER LAKE in the Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas. This would be a great place to ride the GY-5 but I could not bring it as I have not fabbed a carrier for the back of the camper yet.

The campers frame has an extension for the back bumper that will make a nice mounting point for a carrier. The heavy spare tire is mounted on the bumper, so when I remove it that will help counteract the additional weight.

I switched from a phone line based DSL to an "air-card" so we could have internet on the road.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

10 miles on reserve

After writing about riding home in the rain, I found my bike had fallen over during the night. It had fallen against the tree that I chain it to. It didn't fall all the way but at about a 45 degree angle.

I smelled gas as I picked it up but did not see any on the tank. It must have leaked a little out and the level got low enough to stop leaking.

On the way home today I had to use "reserve" and I traveled 10 miles before running out of gas. I just decided to push the bike a little over a mile to the gas station.

It held 2.9 gallons and the odometer showed 275km (170 miles) and that worked out to 58 mpg. So I know it had leaked a little gas when it fell over.

At least I know the reserve works. I passed four gas stations but wanted to find out just how far I could travel on the reserve.

Monday, June 9, 2008

750 miles

I checked the chain again at 1250km (about 750 miles) and decided it would not make it to 1000 miles before it needed adjustment. After adjusting the chain, I cleaned it with WD-40 (yes it does a nice job of cleaning oily grime) and wiped it dry before applying a liberal coat of spray on chain lube.

I haven't owned a motorcycle with a chain since the late 70's and back then I cleaned the chain with kerosene and used 50w motor oil to lube it. I liked the way the spray on chain lube looked and had to ride home in a heavy down pour, so I will see how it looks tomorrow.

This little bike just seems to be getting smoother and more powerful as it racks up the miles. I know 750 miles is not an indicator of how it will hold up but so far I really like it.

You will not just hear the good points about it but also any negatives that might arise. Every part that needs replacing for repairs or upgrades will be documented.

One thing that needs improving is the "monkey butt" seat. I know my last bike was a GoldWing but this seat needs help. The seat has a little more padding (still not enough) in the center but as I more rearward to be comfortable, I find little to no padding.

Friday, June 6, 2008


I fueled up at 1065km and had traveled 319km (198 miles). I still did not have to switch to reserve even though I put in 2.598 gallons.

198.20 miles / 2.598 gallons = 76.29 MPG

I think that 75 MPG will be my average for riding to work and back. I will start doing a few modifications (one at a time) to see how it improves the bike and effects the gas mileage.

I checked the bike over and did not find any thing that needed attention. Not loose bolts and even the chain did not require adjustment. At 1000 miles, I will clean, lube and adjust the chain. For now I have "oiled" it while I research the lube I want to put on it after I clean the chain.

So far the only thing that the bike needs is a better quality battery. The battery was down when I bought the bike and it will now start the bike but if I have to spin it over for just a few seconds it will run down. I will replace the 7amp battery with a 9amp battery before cold weather but for right now it starts it fine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oil Change

After this oil change (about 750 km), I will change it again at 1500km and then every 2000km. I have never used synthetic oil before but I am thinking about starting with it at the 2000km oil change. These little engine work hard and hold every little oil ( a little over a quart).

I will not go into the "he said, she said" about using motorcycle grade oil in a motorcycle. I used automotive oil in my earlier motorcycles because I did not know there were motorcycle oils, but I have run nothing but motorcycle oils in the bikes since the early 80's.

I could not find 15w-40 around here and felt 10w-40 was a better compromise than 20w-50. The local m/c dealers use 10w-40 and I like the Castrol brand but any quality brand m/c motor oil will do.

The drain plug is accessed from the bottom through the skid-plate.

This shiny nut by the shifter on the left side of the bike is the oil filter/screen.

The nut comes off , the spring, and you will have to gently pull the screen out. Clean the screen of any metal shavings and insert it back in place, place the spring over the screen and screw the nut back in place. Make sure the O-ring in in the groove on the inside of the nut.

After the drain plug and filter/screen are back in place you can add the oil. I always tighten any plug as I put it in before I go to the next one. That way if it is" in" I know I have tightened it. I also like to keep my oil (unopened) by the engine just in case I get interrupted, I can see the unopened oil and know I have not added it to the engine.

Use the dip stick to check the oil and if your bike has a "sight glass", make sure it falls within the recommended levels.

Changing the oil is very simple and satisfying. These Chinese bikes come from the factory with "shipping oil" and should be changed before they are started for the first time. So if you buy a bike that is shipped unassembled be sure to change the oil. I think when new then at 50km, 150km and 500km would be prudent. Keep changing your oil at least every 500km or until you are comfortable with the condition of the oil. The shaving will be from the "gear-box" and as they decrease the quality of the shifting will increase. It is just the normal break-in.

That might seem like overkill but for less than $20 you can have the peace of mind that you did your very best to safeguard your investment.

I think all that work has earned myself a little ride.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

First mileage check=75.39mpg

I fueled up this morning after a trip to the DMV and six days to work and back.

A total of 283km=175.84 miles. I still was not on reserve but I knew I had to be close.

With the bike on the kick stand, I added fuel level with the bottom of the neck (I was headed to work and knew I would quickly burn some of it.

As you can see, I pumped in 2.321 gallons or $8.82 @ $3.799.

175.84 miles / 2.321 gallons = 75.39 mpg.

Compare that to my S-10 @ 27mpg.

175.84miles / 27mpg = 6.512 gallon x $3.799 = $24.74

$24.74 - $8.82 = $15.92 saving. It's not about the "miles per gallon" but the "smiles per gallon", but every little bit helps.

Most of my riding is around 50mph (5000rpms) with a little 60-62mph stints. I really like 50mph as the feel, sound, rpms, and wind in my face seem about right to me. I have tried to keep the rpms around 5000 for the break-in period.

The way I ride is really great for breaking in an air cooled engine. Heat and cool cycles, ride it 30 minutes and let it cool down all day and ride it home. Every day it seems to perform better.

My mileage will probably fall of a little as I start riding a little more spirited. A 40 or 42 tooth sprocket ( to replave the 46 tooth) will really make this little bike come into its own for highway riding.

Friday, May 23, 2008

My 2-wheeler days

I have owned a moped, scooter, or motorcycle most of my life. I wrote about my bikes a couple years ago on my other blog.

I believe more than ever that small fuel efficient vehicles are more important to our nation than ever before. Sure we might have small dips in gas prices, but gas is only going to get more expensive.

My round trip to work is almost 30 miles and I have ridden my Lifan 200GY-5 to work five days and I am still on my first tank of gas. They are fun and practical for second modes of transportation if they are not your only form.

If a motorcycle intimidates you or you are not into shifting gears, then go to a dealer and check out a "twist and go" scooter that has an automatic transmission.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chinese Enduro Motorcycles

cool hit counter

My Lifan 200GY-5

I purchased my 2007 American Lifan 200GY-5 last week (May 13, 2007). I bought it used with only 392km (243 miles). The speedometer shows miles but the odometer shows km's. I purchased it and rode it a little over 40 miles home.

Buying used saved having to pay sales tax on it. The insurance (for liability only) is $64.22 a year. I rode 2-lane most of the way home but was on the interstate thru Little Rock (65mph speed limit). I was surprised at the ease of running 60 -65mph. It was turning more rpm's that I was comfortable with.

50mph has the tack showing a tad over 5000 rpms, and 60mph indicates almost 6100 rpm. With the torque peaking @6500 rpm and the redline @8000 rpm, these speeds should be fine. That being said, I find the bike (and myself) really like to travel about 50mph. After it is broken in I might change the rear 46 tooth sprocket to a 42 tooth to get 55mph @ about 5200 rpm's. Should help fuel mileage and wear and tear on the engine.

This picture shows the relative size of the bike. I am 5'11" and weigh 215 pounds. This is a nice size bike for anyone under 6'.

I fueled the bike with 463 km (287 miles) and still on my first fill up. I will be checking fuel mileage at every fueling.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buying options

American Lifan seems to have a better warranty and only (with one exception at the moment) sells through dealers that prepare your bike for you. They also seem to have the best track record for delivering you MSO and other paperwork to obtain you plates for street use. You play a little more but some people find it well worth the extra to have a bike ready to ride and hopefully a dealer to do warranty work.

That being said, the DEALER has everything to do with whither or not all this is worth the extra money. The LF200GY-5 from American Lifan does have some changes (good or bad, you decide) from the bike sold under the Lifan name on the internet and e-bay. The drum brake vs. disc brake is the most obvious to see.

Even if you buy an American Lifan set up ready to ride, I would still go through the bike and

loctite every bolt.

If you order off the internet or e-bay, you are pretty much on your own. Any parts missing when you start to assembly you bike and who knows where you will find them. Most do not have too many problems right out of the box but do you really want to take the chance. The proper paper work might or might not come in a few days.

When you receive the paperwork, will your DMV accept it and issue a title and will an insurance company insure (liability is a must for street use) it. American Lifan seems to have the issues worked out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Why buy Chinese?

If you want a dual-purpose motorcycle, you can pay from $3500 to about $6000 for a small enduro motorcycle from the big four (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Kawaski) or about $1000 to $1600 for a Chinese bike.

In my state I have to pay 8.5% sales tax to license a new bike. That adds over $200 to the total price difference of the Japaneses and Chinese bikes.

Buying an inexpensive bike means not needing full coverage insurance on it. Insurance saving, lower personal property taxes, and lack of larger depreciation on a pricier bike means the saving in one year will be enough to pay for a Chinese bike compared to buying a Japanese bike.

Are they as well built as a Japanese bike? NO, but how many people really wear out a motorcycle. These are great starter bikes or just for basic transportation.

I will be using mine for basic transportation and even though my S-10 pickup get 25-29mpg, the fuel saving alone will help offset the purchase price.