Careful Joburg, the dust is killing your motor
Fire It Up is the largest-selling motorcycle dealer in the country, and the team have been a selling, buying and servicing force for many years. Obviously, they are very good at it. Collectively, they have many decades of motorcycle experience and will be sharing their knowledge with The Bike Show Website offering tips, advice, guidance and warnings regarding your motorcycle. For this week’s tip, we look into how Johannesburg air might be killing your motor.
The Highveld is a strange place. It is a mile above sea-level (1600 metres), and there is 17% less air so an engine will push 17% less power. It also plays havoc with your motor’s fuelling as fuel maps do not compensate adequately meaning motors are running even less efficiently at this altitude.
The most logical step to help offset this performance deficit is to fit an aftermarket air filter that allows better airflow and better performance. There is a problem with this, though, because Joburg’s strangeness doesn’t stop at altitude. It is also semi-arid, especially in the dry winter months; with less rain, less vegetation and the less than subtle addition of behemoth mine dumps everywhere creating a perpetual haze of dust.
Air filters are designed to handle a reasonable intake of grit, but the lingering dust in Joburg is silica, a man-made phenomenon so fine it can cause lung problems for people working with it and something the boffins that design performance air filters never took into consideration.
Motorcycle mechanics working in Joburg are familiar with its markings – a brown layer coating the air filter. What many of them don’t know, having lived a fill Joburg life, is that it’s not supposed to look like that. The filter works with a series of pores too small to allow dust to pass through, however, when pores get blocked, the remaining pores take up the slack and have a higher pressure of air passing through them. When an extremely fine grain of dust, like silica, is matched with a high enough pressure, they can break through.
The mechanic noting the brown layer of dust coating the air filter might also notice a fine layer of dust on the throttle bodies, where dust is not supposed to be.
Fire It Up has been working together with a company called Wear Check that analyses filters and oil samples to determine contaminates and causes of wear. It’s so bad that they’ve determined that the life expectancy of a Joburger is three years less than someone living at the coast. It’s a similar story with your motor.
Dirt in oil is responsible for more 60% of engine failures and particular in sportbikes where there is a RAM air intake. With modern superbikes, it is also a nightmare to get to the filter and therefore it is often overlooked. Bikes engines can be destroyed in as little as 5000 km if there has been high dust entry due to a poor quality filter or a filter that has not been maintained correctly. A recent survey Fire It Up did with 100 customers highlighted that the majority (80%) did not know how to maintain a filter that requires cleaning and oiling. A paper or OEM filter cannot be cleaned even though many technicians ‘blow them out’ with an air gun. Loose dust will be removed but not the dust in the filter.
It is for all of the above reasons that Fire It Up decided to import Sprint Filter which does not require oiling. A new polyurethane technology allows better filtration and a simple wash in soapy water, dry and re-fit. Sprint even offer waterproof and dustproof filters for adventure bikes.