Oil is your friend

Although I’m embarrased to share this story, I hope that my mistakes might be a lesson to others so they don’t make the same amateur error:

The Kawasaki 440 LTD I’ve been riding the past few months had been stored for years before I got my hands on it. A routine tune up and the ‘Six Shooter’ (as I called it due to its six gears) was certified road worthy. After a couple months of riding I thought an oil supplement would help the engine, so I picked up a bottle from Canadian Tire and headed home to add it to the oil. After waiting about a half hour, I got a water bottle to drain 500mL of the used oil. Apparently half an hour wasn’t enough time for it to cool down, and the first drop that hit my hands burned. I dropped the drain bolt and frantically struggled to find it as I watched the bottle fill up. I managed to get it back on with some minor overflow. Simple enough, I thought, add some more of the supplement to make it up.

Several days later, as I cruised along the 401 on my way into Toronto, the engine suddenly lost power – fast. I tried to make it to the next off ramp but it cut out on me. I got on the shoulder and began to assess what had happened. Whenever I tried to start it up again, only a quick clicking noise answered. Could it be as simple as the battery, or perhaps a clog in the fuel line?

At this point I decided to push it off the 401 – yes, across 3 lanes of highway traffic – and up the next off ramp: Port Union Road. I tried bump starting it but couldn’t get the rear wheel to turn over. Now I was getting worried. Being Sunday all the motorcycle shops were closed, but I had it picked up on Monday and moved to Cycle World Superstore at McCowan and Shepard – I highly recommend these guys for any work or gear you need. They looked at it for a few minutes, then one of them took me aside and asked, “How attached are you to this bike?” Turns out, due to oil starvation, the engine had seized. Most likely top end was the prognosis. Recommendation: sell for parts.

Being the amateur that I am, I didn’t check the oil level indicator after having drained some and added the supplement. I guess the overflow could be described as more than a “little bit”: the bike was a liter short of oil. Enough to seize it on a warm day on the 401.

Lesson learned: always, ALWAYS, stay on top of your oil level. If it is low, stop the bike. Get some oil. Fill up the bike. This is the blood of your bike. It cannot live without it. And wait more than a half hour to let the oil cool down after a ride.

Of course I always have to learn the hard way. I can guarantee you my Honda Magna v45 will never be low on oil. Hopefully you won’t have to learn this lesson the way I did …

RIP Six Shooter

RIP Six Shooter

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