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Discussion Starter #1
My bike in question is a 99 650 Classic, but I think the question applies to most of us here.

So, there I was, stuck in traffic fetching lunch last week in what turned out to be 116 degree Arizona sunshine. Pretty, it was not. But as my right leg was reminded of the proximity of the exhaust heatshield I couldn't help but ponder what the thermal breaking point is for these bikes.

I see watercooled vehicles broken down on the side of the road all the time, heck sometimes even on fire. And it makes me wonder are those little cooling fins all that's needed to take care of business? Something tells me that being stuck motionless in triple digit heat is not the most efficient means of dissipation, but can these things handle the heat or is this something I should be looking out for?

(For what it's worth, I had an LS650 for years and nothing ever happened, but I never really took her out during the summer months.)

Not sure if it matters, but I'm running 20W/50
 

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I ride all summer in AZ and have never had an issue. Remember there is a pretty big difference between heat from the exhaust and heat from the motor.

Now if you are stuck in a big jam up on the 101 for an hour or two at 125* with no air flow over the motor, that may be time to pull off and shut the bike down for a few minutes.

For just regular riding, you won't have an issue at all...even on the hottest days. Slip on your cooling vest or cool tie and enjoy the ride.

I run a name brand 20W-50 synthetic. I believe that synthetics let things run a little cooler.
 

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It is extremely difficult to overheat a V Star 650 because of the enormous surface area of those fins, and why everyone confuses it for a much bigger bike. I'm on quite a few of these 650 forums and I've only heard of a handful of of people who have actually overheated their bikes and in all cases it was due to stupidity. One guy was warming up the bike to change the oil or something and left it idling in his garage with no airflow for over an hour until it got too hot and stalled. For another a little brother started it up for a prospective buyer who was looking at it and also left it running in a garage for more than an hour till it died etc.

I am the only one I know of that has actually overheated while riding but also some very extreme conditions. For me it took getting stuck on the Interstate between Santa Fe and Albuquerque where there is no off rams for about 40 miles and the traffic was slowed to a steady 5mph so I couldn't really stop and turn off the engine. I happened to be behind a pair of new big twin Harleys and they started stalling and having trouble about 45 minutes into this and after an hour they both turned around and went back on the shoulder. My bike was fine until about an hour and a half when also started stalling and having trouble idling. At an hr 45 mins it would not idle at all and would only run under throttle. I was almost to an exit by then and I pushed it a little bit further and when I got to a place to park it died and would not start up again. I had to call the girl friend to come and get me, even if it had kept running I was so beat by then I woulnt have been able to ride.

So it took almost 2 hours of 5mph traffic at triple digit heat at 6000ft altitude and 3% humidity to finally overheat. The worst of the worst of the worst conditions for an air cooled engine. Phoenix may be hotter and may also be low humidity but you are a good mile below me with more air to do the cooling, it will be harder to overheat there than here.

We rode around Death Valley from 8am till past noon and 120+ degrees with no problems. After leaving there we got stuck in a traffic jam in Las Vegas for an hour also with no problems. You'll be fine.

If your bike is overheating you will know it. Early symptoms are it will start to get harder to shift and it will feel "crunchy" is how I'd describe it. Quite a long ways after that it will start stalling at idle, thats when you know you are really pushing it and need to pull over asap.

 

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The biggest concern I've been warned about is overheating your clutch. It is a wet clutch, so it is bathed in the engine oil. Moving through air allows some of that heat to be transferred away from the engine and clutch. When you're stopped it can't do that. You've got a greater chance of burning your clutch out if you keep the lever pulled in while in stop and go traffic.

It's can be a pain in the butt at first, but I shift into neutral when coming to a stop light. I'll do the same thing when I get stuck in non-moving traffic on the highway too.

It came up because I asked a similar question about whether the bike was safe as long as I could take the heat coming off the motor. About 20% of the people in the thread said they will never shift into neutral because someone may be coming up behind them fast. The other 80% said those people are idiot, non-riders and they've seen clutches burn out all the time.

Since I started doing the neutral thing, I've never experienced temperatures as high as I did when stuck in traffic and holding my clutch in at stops.
 

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It takes a serious amount of abuse to burn up a clutch in these things. From my other post you can see how loaded down my bike is with the 2 up touring that most of its miles came from.

My clutch was slipping for years with all of that weight on there, gas it to pass someone and it would just rev faster and nothing happens heh.

After 40,000 miles of really bad clutch slippage I finally made the time to change it out. After all of that time the friction disks amazingly had half their life left. I estimate they probably could have lasted 60-80K before totally burning up. Very little time spent at stop lights though, who knows.

Old vs new:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the info fellas. It was just one of those things I never thought of until I did, and figured I'd ask since I don't know what I don't know.

Funny Sick Mick should mention the cooling vests.
I just picked one up maybe a month ago or so. OMFG, I can't believe I never knew about these things. It was like having A/C on a bike. So worth every cent.
 

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Oil coolers

Don't know if the 650's have them stock but if they don't definitely invest in one as oil is the best cooling medium at slow speeds. Here in California we can lane share and one of the specific reasons for that is so that a motorcycle engine can shed some heat, not to mention the fun of passing all the cagers stuck in their tin cans.
 
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