Motorcycle Overheating Issues and Rear Tire Question

MC Garage

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Heat Wave
Q I have a 1983 Honda VF750F Interceptor that has had an overheating problem for approximately 20 years. While moving, the coolant temperature reads approximately 15 percent on the gauge, which is normal. In stop-and-go traffic, it shoots up to about the 85-percent mark and kicks on the fans. I have had both radiators cleaned out, at which time the serviceman said they were in great shape considering how old they were. He also said they came in about 25 percent clogged. I have replaced the thermostat, water pump, hoses, temperature sensor, radiator and cap over the past year. I'm also running Water Wetter in with the coolant, and have been careful to make sure no air bubbles are in the system. I would expect the bike to run warmer in Houston's heat, but I don't ride in the summer that much. This is still happening when the temperature dips down below 40 degrees.
John Wood
Houston, TX

A Since you and the bike have been sweating it out for two decades, it's probably nothing to worry about. Honda V4 engines tend to run a bit hot by nature, but not when it's that cold outside. Especially considering you've exercised due-diligence in terms of cooling-system care. We dialed Ted Poovey, brother of dirt-track legend Terry Poovey and Service Manager at All Lamb's Dallas Honda.

"We have had some radiators clogged up, so some sort of blockage that's still in there would be my first thought as long as the fans are coming on," he says. "The instrument itself or its sending unit could be bad."

The next step is to aim a remote-sensing infrared thermometer at the radiator-the same sort of thing used to diagnose heating/air-conditioning systems-to see how hot they really are. "That way he can tell if the engine is really running hot, or if the gauge just says it is. And by hot, I mean anything over 240 degrees."

If the temp gauge and sending unit check out and the engine really is running that hot in cool weather, have another look at the radiator.

Re-Tiring
I am an avid dirt rider, and just purchased a new Triumph Street Triple after a long spell off the street. I am in my mid-50s and mostly commute, along with a spirited Sunday jaunt now and then. No racing. No heroics. What rear tire would you recommend that would provide the longest life possible while providing decent grip? I just don't need a super-sticky hero tire that is toast in 3000 miles.
Mike Bencze
Windsor, CA

Right off the top of the editorial cabeza, you should replace the rear tire with the same sort of skin that's coming off unless it didn't measure up in one way or another. Mixing brands or even models within the same brand is generally a bad idea. If there's room in the budget for two tires, have a look at Michelin's Pilot Road 2. Softer rubber on the sides and harder stuff down the middle gives you excellent grip-wet or dry-along with a much longer lifespan than the super-sticky hero tires you're trying to avoid. If you're a comparison shopper, have a look at Dunlop's Roadsmart radials as well. They also use a harder center compound to increase mileage, along with plenty of cornering grip for the occasional spirited Sunday jaunt.

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