TO WARM OR NOT TO WARM, THAT IS THE QUESTION
More and more bikes now sport fuel injection systems in lieu of that time-honored fuel/air mixer of the Jurassic era, the carburetor. Main jets, idle jets, needle jets and slides are headed strait down the path to moto-oblivion. Gone are the days of "tickling" and choking to get old faithful fired up.
Today, fuel-injection (FI)-equipped bikes start in a wink, and come to a nice idle without the need to fiddle with a choke lever and warm-up period. In fact, many motorcycle magazine tests of FI equipped bikes suggest that "upon starting, the rider can shift into gear and take off without delay." But wait a second. What about the oil? Don't we need to allow for the ritual warming of the engine to get its oil toasty and circulated throughout the motor's compilation of vital parts? If we start a modern FI equipped bike and quickly ride off, won't we be causing harm by zipping away with cold and relatively uncirculated oil?
Well, we spoke with a few engine and lubricant technical types to get some answers--and so we did. It seems that over time, motorcycle-engine metallurgy and internal design have changed. And so has oil. Most modern engines are machined internally to better capture or disperse lubricant depending on the engine's localized needs for lubrication. Oil has also changed in keeping with today's engines. We now have petroleum oil, synthetic oil and synthetic/petroleum oil blends. All oils these days contain a collection of strange ingredients known as "packages." These apparently can be tuned to meet certain manufacturers' lubricant recommendations. All the oil men we checked with said that today's engines and their recommended oils are designed to maintain enough of a coating throughout the engine so that indeed, a fuel- injected bike can be ridden away soon after starting without chaffing the engine's guts. Although in the interest of full disclosure, a couple of the oil gurus hinted off the record that just to be sure, a wise rider will take it easy on the throttle for a block or two from a cold start.
Here's our take on the FI starting issue. It's simple. Younger riders seem to adapt to technology easier than those a bit long in the tooth. Our suggestion is if the rider is 30-years or more, he should start his bike and let it warm for a couple of minutes before riding. Those 30 and under (being impatient anyway) should just start their FI-equipped bike, put it in gear and immediately wheelie away.
So now you know about oil.