The following needs to be considered within a framework created by myself. I suppose a good starting point wound be that I’ve always wanted a motorcycle but for one reason or another never bought one. My life situation now, is such that if there is something I would like, I now can afford, and having no interferences from next or near of kin, I buy. So my fantasies turned to my daydream motorcycle into reality.
I suppose if you know anything about the evolution of two wheeled vehicles, you could guess my age, and my recent acquisition of this bike was to attempt to slow the march of time. “My” ideal motorcycle is the subject matter of this writing, the Suzuki S40, a “Thumper”.
I absolutely did not rush when shopping for this bike; I took my good old time. I developed the requirements below listed.
· It had to be small enough that if it fell over, I could pick it up.
· The seat had to be low enough that would allow me to get on and off comfortably (I like the BMW’s but the march of time mentioned above causes difficulties, the seat is too high)
· It had to have enough power to ride on an Interstate if I so chose.
· And if I so chose, it had to be able to go off road.
There were several categories of motorcycles that I had already disqualified.
I did not want a Hog, I did not want a Crotch Rocket, I did not want a Phallic Symbol, and I didn’t want a Boat (a boat is like a Hog but it doesn’t make as much noise (like something from Japan that has wings made out of yellow precious metal). Oh, one last thing, if it cost as much as a car, forget it!
So on with my story, the above requirements drastically reduced my choice of bikes, so much so that my choice was only what color.
I’ve had a fantasy regarding the acquisition of this daydream. My fantasy: I walk into a Motorcycle Dealership in the middle of the winter and say, “I want that one, make me a deal and I’ll buy it cash”…they made me a deal, I bought it cash.
My daydream now turned into reality, I actually start riding my new toy (never
mind that it was December 23, in Cleveland Ohio). It’s not like I’ve never been on a bike before but I do consider myself a novice rider. First a slight digression: the oil in the crankcase.
Now I’m really smarter than I’m going to come across (not too much, just a little bit). One of the things I have been doing (even though I have been told that it’s really not necessary), when I buy a new car. When I get it in the driveway, I change the oil. I change it 100 miles there after, 500 miles there after, and then on 4000 mile intervals…and guess what, cars I have owned and driven in excess of 100,000 miles did not use oil (Hay, I’m Old School, from the days when cars didn’t even have seat belts. You could work on them yourself, not any more!). So I’m going to do the same thing to my new motorcycle. The first item on the agenda is to find the oil drain plug. The picture in the manual leaves something to be desired. My reasoning: if there is a plug on the bottom of the engine and 1) it looks like a drain plug, 2) oil comes out when it is unplugged, then this causes me to conclude that it must be the oil drain plug…well…I come to find out, not exactly. Read on, the brilliant screw-up I am about to describe actually had some very positive results.
On the bottom of this engine are TWO drain plugs. The manual doesn’t say why, (doesn’t show two either) but I suspect it is because of the instructions on how to store the bike for the winter. These instructions are to fill the crankcase FULL…right up to the top of where the oil is added. The plug that I undid is probably to drain the winterization oil. The real oil drain plug isn’t obvious; it looks like it’s one of the bolts that hold the case together.
Ok, I drain the oil out of the wrong plug and add two quarts of new oil (I did not change the filter). By my Polish calculations (I’m allowed to do this because I’m 100% Polish) the drain I used leaves about 2 quarts in the crankcase, I now add two more quarts…Hmmm, let’s see, 2 quarts + 2 more quarts = 4 quarts (that’s 2 quarts overfilled). I just can’t understand what the manual is saying about the oil sight gauge, and yes I was surprised about how little oil drained out.
I ride the bike around for 100 miles and repeat the process, except this time I add three quarts of oil (now 5 quarts overfilled). Oil starts gushing out someplace on the bottom of the bike, I think some gasket-seal someplace has failed, or a cracked case…Oh stool! (Those weren’t my exact words). I’m not too upset because it’s a brand new bike and is under warrantee, I call the dealer and explain the problem. It wasn’t until that time that I realized the fact of the TWO drain plugs, I feel like King Dumb Ass.
After finding the “real” drain plug, I drained the oil, and added three quarts; all of a sudden the manual makes sense about what the sight gauge is supposed to look like. The oil stops gushing out the bottom.
The above episode allowed me to do some kitchen sink evaluation of the engineering of the oil sight gauge. The way the manual reads, is to check the oil
level after the motor has been running, shut down, and set for a couple of minutes. Yea-yea, but…if the appropriate amount (as per the manual) of oil is in the engine, what will happen is that there will be NO oil showing in the gauge with the engine running. Since this bike does NOT have a low oil pressure light, I really don’t like this.
Because of my seeming stupidity I now know that five quarts of oil didn’t hurt anything, and that the bike will hold four quarts without blowing it out the breather, so guess what I do: Because I want to see oil in the sight gauge with the engine running, I put in three quarts. Not only that, the oil I use is very economical when purchased by the gallon, I use rototiller oil (works great for thumper motorbikes too, Shell Rotella) (I had a Volkswagen diesel, Rotella is the oil I used) (Isn’t that why it’s named Rotella…because it’s for rototillers?)
The situation involving the oil only took the first 100 miles to figure out, so how does the bike ride? Keep in mind that I am a novice motorbike rider and I do not have a broad basis of comparison. Following are several things I really like about this motorcycle, and a couple of things I don’t like.
· The bike is quite. Not like the purr of a BMW, it “thumps” (I suppose that is why one piston bikes are nicknamed thumpers). One of the reasons I do NOT want a Hog, or a Phallic Symbol, is I really don’t want to let the whole neighborhood know I’m coming.
· The low-end torque is fantastic! Un like crotch rockets, the engine doesn’t have to be revved to high RPM’s for fast acceleration. (It’s not a drag racer anyway)
· Even though it isn’t the smoothest bike in the world, it does NOT vibrate like some thumpers have been known to do. Cursing at 50 mph in 5th gear, it is just fine.
· It is very easy to push or pull around (only weighs 350 lbs); I can wheel this thing into and out of my garage almost as easily as a bicycle.
Things that are disappointments (disappointment is a better word than dislikes because I can live with a disappointment):
· Top speed is only 75mph. Seems to me that for 650cc it ought to go faster, I have been told that the BMW 650 single will do about 100, but hey, that bike is advertised as having 51 hp, the S40 has only 31.
· Gas mileage is about 45 mpg; I have a buddy who has a 1200cc Harley, and he says he gets 55 mpg.
A note about the top speed: Again I am a novice motorcycle rider…75 is fast enough! I have had this bike on the Interstate, it will keep up with traffic, but I really don’t like going that fast. For tooling around the countryside on a sunny day, it does just fine. So I can’t out jump Evel Knievel…so what! All in all, I couldn’t have bought a better first bike.
Oh, oh-oh. One last tid-bit. My mom (who disapproved of motorcycles) had moved out of the house and into a retirement community, I kept this acquisition secret from her for a while. But (some background), my Grandfather came directly from Poland…he NEVER owned a car! Only motorcycles (wrecked all of them…probably why my mom didn’t approve). When I finally told her, I showed her the bike and said “Jothdik would approve of this bike” she agreed.