Oil Change, Carbon-Fiber And More - Answers - MC Garage

Free Advice

How long?
I own an '04 Honda VFR800. I have owned a number of sportbikes and have always changed the oil every 2000 miles. As I've gotten older (and lazy) and read more about oil, I'm wondering if maybe 2000 miles is a bit too soon. I'm not an extreme rider and my VFR has not seen the track. What do you feel is really necessary regarding oil changes?
Mark Rosenthal
High Springs, Florida

After a motorcycle is broken in, generally 2000 miles is a bit too soon to be changing the oil (and presumably the filter); it's potentially a waste of money as well, especially if you're using an expensive all-synthetic oil. All American Honda would say to your query is to follow the recommended mileage(s) and procedures in your owner's manual, which is most often the safest and best advice-and it's what we'd feel safest recommending to you.

What's really necessary, though, should be determined by the type of riding you do. For instance, a lot of in-town riding with extended periods of stop-and-go traffic, riding in a dusty environment or frequent racetrack use is considered severe duty for an engine. If your owner's manual doesn't offer oil-/filter-change intervals for such conditions, then you should consider shortening the normal intervals. For our own motorcycles, few of us here would run a bike longer than the owner's manual recommendations. As one staffer's father said, "Oil's cheaper than main bearings." Act accordingly.

Caring For Carbon
Thanks for the advice on bike cleaning/detailing in the past few issues, but there's an extra question I'd like answered: What's the best way to clean/detail/protect those pretty little carbon-fiber bits? Is it any different than working on regular paint? And for that matter, what's the best way to get rid of scratches?
Grant Scheffner
San Antonio, TX

Detailing maven Eric Putter replies: "First off, keep it out of the sun," says John Mitchell of Carbon Spider, a small carbon-fiber specialty shop in California. For aftercare Mitchell recommends treating the trick bits just like painted surfaces: Wash with mild detergent, use a cotton t-shirt [or, says one editor, microfiber towels] for drying and lay on a nice coat of wax. Here's his trick for filling those nasty, white scratches: Dab a permanent-ink pen in the crevice and wipe off the excess ink with rubbing alcohol-voila!

Three or five?
I've heard the saying "five-angle valve job" bandied about for many years, especially in racing circles. I know what a standard valve job is, but I'm confused as to what the five-angle part means? Can you help?
Vince K.
Salt Lake City, UT

We dug into the Motorcyclist archives for an answer to this one, and found it in a piece titled "20 Questions: Four-Stroke Performance" from our June '89 issue. Basically, a five-angle valve job is an improvement over the standard three-angle valve seat, which itself is an extension of the old-fashioned automotive one-angle valve seat. Just as the three angles create better flow between the valve face and seat, the extra machining on the five-angle valve job adds one cut to blend the seat into the combustion chamber and another to smooth the transition from the port to the seat itself. The normal seat-face angle is 45 degrees, while the standard top and bottom cuts of the three-angle seat are 15 degrees wider and narrower. While tuners normally do not divulge the exact angles and widths they use for a five-angle job, and the blending that's done after the cuts are machined makes it difficult to measure, something on the order of two additional 15-degree angles should be close. Claims are that the five-angle valve job improves flow an average of 5 percent over a good three-angle cut.

I'm new to the streetbike scene and would like to know your picks for the best Web sites for roadracing coverage.
Marc O'mera
San Francisco, CA

We published three of our picks in last month's Surf Report, but you can't go wrong with Superbike Planet (www.superbikeplanet.com), Roadracing World (www.roadracingworld.com) or Cycle News (www.cyclenews.com). The first two are primarily roadrace and sportbike-oriented, while the third covers all forms of two-wheeled competition. A simple Google or Yahoo search will pull up all sorts of roadracing-oriented sites, including riding/racing schools, publications, clubs and organizations. It's a good place to start.