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Old 05-23-2011, 06:30 AM   #1
Kestrel OP
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XR250L - Smoking a little on decel... Questions.

ADV,

Having issues with an XR250L I recently picked up... I ended up having to ride it home three hours as opposed to towing it like I had planned - it was a little wheezy and almost 'missing' higher in the rev range, which I suspected was due to the bike being jetted too lean.

For the backstory...

Made it home without too much trouble. It had been a pain in the ass to start at first, but I suspected that was again due to probably slightly tight valves, overly lean stock jetting, as well as me just sucking at kicking bikes over. Dug into the beast and adjusted the valves - they were a little snug and out of spec, but not terribly so. I had actually adjusted it terribly loose - apparently I wasn't on the compression stroke to find TDC. Bike tapped like crazy, and I turned the beast off after realizing my error. Let it cool down, and readjusted again in just a few minutes. Much better.

Cleaned / reoiled filter. Replaced the spark plug - it was terribly black/rich and smelled like gas. Did an immediate oil change with some Mobil1 10W30 full synthetic that I had left over from my old SV650 oil changes. Found that the idiot had put the filter in backwards. He said he had just changed it with Amsoil about 200 miles prior, with receipts to prove it, so I am guessing that given the freshness of the change and the total mileage on it at that point (320mi), it was probably not a big deal. Anyway, checked oil prior to leaving and after arriving back at the house. It hadn't used a drop.

Went through a couple more maintenance items... Replaced a leaky float bowl gasket, and rejetted the bike with a 40 pilot and 125 main. Given that the bike is running stock exhaust along with a simple Uni-Filter, that should be appropriate. The previous owner had turned the fuel screw many, many, turns out to compensate for the Uni-filter. We're talking 4-6 I'm guessing that he was rich on the bottom end, but lean up top. That would be consistent with what I found with the sooty black spark plug. Started wonderfully right after making those changes - the valve adjustment and the jetting. First kick.

So.. Here's the not so fun part.

Post jetting and valve adjustment, the bike ran much better. I recently dug into it again to check a few more things. I was trying to tweak the fuel adjustment screw to get it just right, as I had noticed some popping on deceleration that I was not a fan of. Ran great at WOT, with some popping on decel. I suspected the bike was too lean, and adjusted the fuel screw a bit more. Out of curiosity, I checked the oil at the same time and was shocked to discover that I barely had drop on the end of the stick. Shit shit shit, not good with an air cooled bike. Maybe responsible for the popping that seemed to appear, lean from overheating.

Filled it up with some Rotella I had on the shelf... slightly overfilled, so I used a syringe to pull out of the excess. Seemed to be some black mixed in with the newer oil, which I'm hoping was simply older oil mixing and not metallic. It didn't appear that way. Apparently, in the 350 miles since that first oil change, the thing had consumed damned near a quart of oil. That's about the amount that I put in - probably 3/4-5/6 a quart or so. That's a little distressing. There is no obvious smoking from what I can tell. After getting it buttoned back together, I started it up and looked for obvious signs of smoking. From what I can tell, I get a very trace amount at higher revs, as well as a tiny bit after releasing the throttle. It didn't appear substantial.

And now for any XR experts out there... Is this typical? I rechecked valves at the time of the oil fiasco discovery for shits, to find them slightly loose. (Checked cold, as per manual.) Readjusted, and the bike runs great. Hell - it lofts the front wheel better than it ever did before. I suspected worn rings may be responsible for the oil burning, as the bike has 9800 miles on it at this point, but given the performance, I suspect that the compression can't be all that terrible.

As an FYI, I use this bike mostly for commuting along with dual sport exploration of the area. Most of it is 50-55mph and under. Stock XR250L sprockets, 13/40, and do keep in mind that the XR250L has different 4/5/6th gears than the typical R. It is geared much better for the street. I've heard that XRs can use a bit of oil at higher RPMs, but I can't say I've been revving the living shit out of this thing either. Moderate beatings at best, nothing too harsh.

Please advise. Worn rings perhaps? Worse things? Given that it was run with probably a third of the oil it should have had, am I looking at serious damage? I cannot say for how long it was low like that. I had been noticing more popping on decel, which I can only assume can be attributed to the bike getting hotter and hotter due to not enough oil, thus running leaner. I plan to flush out the old oil today, and do a filter change while I'm in there. Like I mentioned, the bike still seems to be running great. I'm going to keep the riding local in the meantime, however, until I can figure out what, if anything, is wrong with her.

Thanks!
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:46 AM   #2
TheOtherBart
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It's probably fine. If you really burned that much oil in that little time you'd have been mosquito fogging the whole neighborhood. A little oil makes a LOT of smoke.

The only way I can get an accurate oil reading on my XR250L is to check it a few minutes after stopping from a decent ride. I check it when I stop for gas, or when I get back home. It will be right where it's supposed to be on the stick when hot, then I come back when it's stone cold and I'm low. If there isn't a puddle under the bike the oil couldn't have gone anywhere. I'm assuming the difference is thermal expansion of the oil but I have to admit I'm not really sure.

I've screwed around with my bike a lot (Supertrapp exhaust, removed the airbox and replaced it with a pod filter) and as a consequence I've never quite gotten the jetting right. I'll keep tinkering this summer, it's fun. Three years ago about two hours into a five hour ride it started detonating, bad. It sounded like I had giant baseball cards in the spokes. I just happened to be going through a little village when it happened so I pulled into the gas station, checked the oil (it was fine) and pulled the plug...bone white with beautiful little aluminum globules all over the insulator.

Luckily I had my toolkit and jets with me, so I sat there at Casey's General Store and dropped in the fattest main I had. Babied it the rest of the way to the new house.

I say all that to say this: I left the bike sitting after that for over a year because I figured I'd effed it up and it would just be a timebomb waiting to go off. Finally decided that I might as well ride it as long as it ran, and if it blew I could deal with it then. It fired right up, seems to run fine (except for what I suspect to be ridiculously fat jetting on top), and hasn't given me any trouble since. Those little engines are very tough and understressed.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:04 AM   #3
mudgepondexpress
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Yes, the little XRL uses quite a bit of oil if you run it at highway/freeway speeds. Mine, when fresh, would suck a quart in 600 miles or so.

Jetted correctly, it is an easy bike to start, cold 2 kicks, warm, 1 kick, even straight out of storage. Mine is a 93 with a pipe/uni/opened airbox. I use mikuni main jets and have it very close (I am up 2 on the pilot jet, 1 shim on the needle, and 6 steps up from stock on the main..using mikuni mains!). The mikuni jets have a lot more steps between the kehien jets and are both cheaper and easier to get.

You can find a mikuni/kehien (sp?) conversion chart. They are very lean from the factory...even that uni caused it to run too lean. Some say they have rev limiters...I have never touched it. With too lean jetting (stock) it would miss bad at high rpms, kind of like a rev limiter...but once I jetted up it will rev its guts out.

Smoking on Decel only is usually valve guides/valve seals, smoking on acceleration is usually rings.

Kenny
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudgepondexpress View Post
Smoking on Decel only is usually valve guides/valve seals, smoking on acceleration is usually rings.

Kenny
+1
Oil in the combustion chamber brings on detonation and its attendent issues.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:13 AM   #5
Kestrel OP
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I appreciate the advice - that does make me feel a little better. I haven't done a ton of highway speeds, as I can't recall ever taking the bike over 65mph. Maybe once? I've generally kept it around 50-55 for the commute, so I suppose it still could be sipping a little oil.

I know that the little XR is indeed a dry sump bike, and I've been told that I can't check the oil as I normally would.

How does one go about checking oil on this beast? The manual suggests warming the bike up and pulling the dipstick. I believe the oil on a dry sump can get trapped in other parts of the engine.. What is the correct procedure?
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
I appreciate the advice - that does make me feel a little better. I haven't done a ton of highway speeds, as I can't recall ever taking the bike over 65mph. Maybe once? I've generally kept it around 50-55 for the commute, so I suppose it still could be sipping a little oil.

I know that the little XR is indeed a dry sump bike, and I've been told that I can't check the oil as I normally would.

How does one go about checking oil on this beast? The manual suggests warming the bike up and pulling the dipstick. I believe the oil on a dry sump can get trapped in other parts of the engine.. What is the correct procedure?
What I do (which may or may not be the "correct" procedure):

1) After a ride, shut the bike down and take off my helmet, gloves, and jacket. That gives everything a minute to "settle"
2) Grab a couple of shop rags because the filler cap will be hot.
3) Use the rags to unscrew the dipstick, wipe it clean, place it back in the hole but DON'T SCREW IT IN.
4) Pick the bike up so that it's vertical, lean it back on the sidestand, pull the dipstick and take a reading.
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Old 05-23-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
mudgepondexpress
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Oops...205...

The Little Xr is wet sump...the 650 is a dry sump! Don't get that confused.

To check oil on the XR250L, get it warm then loosen the cap. Dry off the dipstick and stand the bike vertical with your left hand. Place the dipstick in the hole but DON'T screw it in. Pull it back out and check the level. The pan is weird shaped and will always read half low if you check it on the kickstand.

As for speed...when I am doing 60 mph on my speedo both of my freinds DRZ400's read 68 mph. I have ran mine on the freeway (15 miles each way, anywhere from 60 to 75 mph on my speedo with no issues (at 65 mph speedo, I am keeping pace in the fast lane). I have pulled mine to 85 mph on the speedo (who knows how accurate it is...it reads slow at 60 but could read fast at 85).

The faster you go, the more oil is eats...if you are really lean it will not last at speed. I hope you have a factory tool kit...there is no other way to get the plug out to check jetting.

Kenny
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:53 PM   #8
sporthog93
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I'm surprised that if you rode it home with the oil filter in backwards that you didn't ruin the head, rockers and cam. The oring part oil the filter should go out toward the cover. Someone correct me if i'm wrong but i don't think I am.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:15 PM   #9
Kestrel OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sporthog93 View Post
I'm surprised that if you rode it home with the oil filter in backwards that you didn't ruin the head, rockers and cam. The oring part oil the filter should go out toward the cover. Someone correct me if i'm wrong but i don't think I am.
I had no idea at the time. The saving grace was that he had also put the spring in incorrectly..

Seller's mistake...

Engine-->(seal)Filter-->Spring-->Cover

When the correct order should have been...

Engine-->Spring-->Filter(seal)-->Cover

The spring actually held the non-filtering end away from the cover, effectively bypassing the filter. Had he put the spring in, at least in the correct order, it would have forced the filter against the cover and possibly have starved the bike of oil. Thankfully the oil was just changed... It only had about 300-350 miles on it by the time I got home, made the discovery, and changed the oil / replaced the filter. Not long enough I suspect to really do any damage. Oil appeared to be in good condition when I drained it, as well.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
ADV,

Having issues with an XR250L I recently picked up... I ended up having to ride it home three hours as opposed to towing it like I had planned - it was a little wheezy and almost 'missing' higher in the rev range, which I suspected was due to the bike being jetted too lean.

For the backstory...

Made it home without too much trouble. It had been a pain in the ass to start at first, but I suspected that was again due to probably slightly tight valves, overly lean stock jetting, as well as me just sucking at kicking bikes over. Dug into the beast and adjusted the valves - they were a little snug and out of spec, but not terribly so. I had actually adjusted it terribly loose - apparently I wasn't on the compression stroke to find TDC. Bike tapped like crazy, and I turned the beast off after realizing my error. Let it cool down, and readjusted again in just a few minutes. Much better.

Cleaned / reoiled filter. Replaced the spark plug - it was terribly black/rich and smelled like gas. Did an immediate oil change with some Mobil1 10W30 full synthetic that I had left over from my old SV650 oil changes. Found that the idiot had put the filter in backwards. He said he had just changed it with Amsoil about 200 miles prior, with receipts to prove it, so I am guessing that given the freshness of the change and the total mileage on it at that point (320mi), it was probably not a big deal. Anyway, checked oil prior to leaving and after arriving back at the house. It hadn't used a drop.

Went through a couple more maintenance items... Replaced a leaky float bowl gasket, and rejetted the bike with a 40 pilot and 125 main. Given that the bike is running stock exhaust along with a simple Uni-Filter, that should be appropriate. The previous owner had turned the fuel screw many, many, turns out to compensate for the Uni-filter. We're talking 4-6 I'm guessing that he was rich on the bottom end, but lean up top. That would be consistent with what I found with the sooty black spark plug. Started wonderfully right after making those changes - the valve adjustment and the jetting. First kick.

So.. Here's the not so fun part.

Post jetting and valve adjustment, the bike ran much better. I recently dug into it again to check a few more things. I was trying to tweak the fuel adjustment screw to get it just right, as I had noticed some popping on deceleration that I was not a fan of. Ran great at WOT, with some popping on decel. I suspected the bike was too lean, and adjusted the fuel screw a bit more. Out of curiosity, I checked the oil at the same time and was shocked to discover that I barely had drop on the end of the stick. Shit shit shit, not good with an air cooled bike. Maybe responsible for the popping that seemed to appear, lean from overheating.

Filled it up with some Rotella I had on the shelf... slightly overfilled, so I used a syringe to pull out of the excess. Seemed to be some black mixed in with the newer oil, which I'm hoping was simply older oil mixing and not metallic. It didn't appear that way. Apparently, in the 350 miles since that first oil change, the thing had consumed damned near a quart of oil. That's about the amount that I put in - probably 3/4-5/6 a quart or so. That's a little distressing. There is no obvious smoking from what I can tell. After getting it buttoned back together, I started it up and looked for obvious signs of smoking. From what I can tell, I get a very trace amount at higher revs, as well as a tiny bit after releasing the throttle. It didn't appear substantial.

And now for any XR experts out there... Is this typical? I rechecked valves at the time of the oil fiasco discovery for shits, to find them slightly loose. (Checked cold, as per manual.) Readjusted, and the bike runs great. Hell - it lofts the front wheel better than it ever did before. I suspected worn rings may be responsible for the oil burning, as the bike has 9800 miles on it at this point, but given the performance, I suspect that the compression can't be all that terrible.

As an FYI, I use this bike mostly for commuting along with dual sport exploration of the area. Most of it is 50-55mph and under. Stock XR250L sprockets, 13/40, and do keep in mind that the XR250L has different 4/5/6th gears than the typical R. It is geared much better for the street. I've heard that XRs can use a bit of oil at higher RPMs, but I can't say I've been revving the living shit out of this thing either. Moderate beatings at best, nothing too harsh.

Please advise. Worn rings perhaps? Worse things? Given that it was run with probably a third of the oil it should have had, am I looking at serious damage? I cannot say for how long it was low like that. I had been noticing more popping on decel, which I can only assume can be attributed to the bike getting hotter and hotter due to not enough oil, thus running leaner. I plan to flush out the old oil today, and do a filter change while I'm in there. Like I mentioned, the bike still seems to be running great. I'm going to keep the riding local in the meantime, however, until I can figure out what, if anything, is wrong with her.

Thanks!
10W30 is too light of an oil for that bike. 15W40 or 20W50 would be a better choice.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:17 PM   #11
Kestrel OP
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Originally Posted by GOZFST View Post
10W30 is too light of an oil for that bike. 15W40 or 20W50 would be a better choice.
I actually swapped to 15W40 Rotella dino oil earlier today, along with a filter change. Much quieter as far as valve noises were concerned. Given that the other oil was also a full synth, it was likely even thinner than a traditional 10W30. I dumped some Rotella in a day or two back when this first happened, and flushed it out today with a nice full oil change. The oil that came out actually looked pretty darn clean, with no traces of metal whatsoever, so I'm guessing that the little XR is probably going to be OK. Seems like I avoided any sort of meltdown.

The bike does seem a little happier with the thicker 15W40 Rotella, and much quieter. Still burning a little oil, however, as my helper observed as I went down the street... Apparently a little on decel, as well as a little bit on hard acceleration. I suspect it'll need a teardown at some point.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep a more vigilant eye and just top off with more Rotella as is necessary. Thanks again ADV for the help and suggestions.
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