Spark Plug change at 16,000 miles? Yep...

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  • Spark Plug change at 16,000 miles? Yep...

    I'm at 21,000 miles and just now got around to checking my plugs. The maintenance schedule says to replace every 16,000 miles... and this just didn't sound like a priority. However, after taking a close look at my old plugs, 16k seems like a reasonable interval on the OEM NGK BKR6E-11 plugs.

    Here's a side by side comparison of a new one with my old one. It's a little hard to tell but the "V" notch in the center electrode is worn down considerably. The sharp and clean edges on the new plug are now rounded and the notch isn't as deep, presumably due to the top of the electrode being worn down. I checked the gap and it's a hair over 0.044" which is out of spec (the manual says 0.043" max). Could you run this another 16,000 miles? Probably... but the plug is clearly incapable of sparking as strongly as a new one.

    I've had excellent experiences with NGK plugs and as far as I'm concerned they're the best daily driver plugs on the market. There are better off-road and racing plugs, but nothing better for a daily vehicle IMO.

    I decided to try the iridium version of the OEM plug; NGK BKR6EIX-11 as pictured below. Not only is the electrode a different metal, it's a different shape and much smaller. If you know anything about electricity, you know that in order for it to arc across an air gap the electrodes need to accumulate a charge that is greater than the breakdown voltage of the air gap. How do you efficiently accumulate charge and increase the concentration... you make the electrodes small; forcing the same number of charged particles into a smaller volume by definition increases the concentration and thus enhances the conditions for arcing.

    This is why the dulled edges of the old plug make it less effective... this is why the iridium plugs use smaller electrodes... and this is also why lightning rods are pointy. Only by using a harder metal like iridium can the electrodes be made smaller; if they did this with the common electrode material (some kind of steel alloy?) it would wear down to nothing in 10k miles or so.

    I wouldn't expect noticeable improvements in power or fuel economy with iridium plugs, but the value and price justification is a quicker, stronger, and more reliable spark over 100,000 miles instead of just 16,000.

    Click image for larger version

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    George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

  • #2
    I just changed mine at 25,000. Nipiondenso came out NGK's back in. Had one plug at .044. The rest were at the top end of the gap. Not a large differnce in how the bike ran but a noticeable difference.

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    • #3
      Man i am coming up on 50,000 haven't changed mine yet but the bike has been sluggish lately bet its time will get on it next weekend.
      2018 DCT non tour, Pearl Stallion Brown, Double Darksider #856, Live To Ride, Love my Wing, IBA Member# 63744 Yellowbird Alias Coppertone

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      • #4
        Originally posted by sorcerer View Post
        I just changed mine at 25,000. Nipiondenso came out NGK's back in. Had one plug at .044. The rest were at the top end of the gap. Not a large differnce in how the bike ran but a noticeable difference.
        Were the Denso's OEM on your bike?

        Out of curiosity I did a little Wiki'ing on these companies. Both are Japanese and both grew up around servicing vehicle manufacturers. Denso is now the largest OEM servicer, worldwide, by revenue. NGK is only 1/10 the size of Denso but they're the largest provider of OEM vehicle spark plugs.

        George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Yellowbird View Post
          Man i am coming up on 50,000 haven't changed mine yet but the bike has been sluggish lately bet its time will get on it next weekend.
          I'd be very interested to see a closeup pic of your electrodes if you wouldn't mind.

          My camera doesn't take good pics in closeup mode... but it has a high Megapixel resolution. What works best for me is if I take a pic at "normal" range, and then use the computer to zoom in... and then save the zoomed image as a new picture file.

          George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Yellowbird View Post
            Man i am coming up on 50,000 haven't changed mine yet but the bike has been sluggish lately bet its time will get on it next weekend.
            I hope you didn't wait that long to change your brake and clutch fluids.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by srt8-in-largo View Post

              Were the Denso's OEM on your bike?

              Out of curiosity I did a little Wiki'ing on these companies. Both are Japanese and both grew up around servicing vehicle manufacturers. Denso is now the largest OEM servicer, worldwide, by revenue. NGK is only 1/10 the size of Denso but they're the largest provider of OEM vehicle spark plugs.
              Yup Denso's were factory. Kind of surprised me, I was expecting the NGK.

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              • #8
                I do all my routine maintenance but some how missed the Spark Plugs ? well at 50,000 miles finely got them out today. Got the new ones in and got the pop i was missing my wing is running great. Surprisingly the old plugs didn't look that bad but the gaps were at .55 to .60. Used new OEM NGK BKR6E-11 will change them on time here on in.
                2018 DCT non tour, Pearl Stallion Brown, Double Darksider #856, Live To Ride, Love my Wing, IBA Member# 63744 Yellowbird Alias Coppertone

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                • #9
                  I'm a bad bad man! I change mine once a year over winter which is when I do my air cleaner, front forks, brake and clutch fluids and just give my bike a good going over. I do my engine oil and rear drive oil as recommended through out the season. I am averaging between 37,000 and 38,000 miles a season.

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                  • #10
                    Thats a great way to do it going to have to remember that. ill be doing my air filter in December just thought i read somewhere spark plugs would last 50,000 speaking of front forks thats the only other job i not yet done. all my other fluids have been changed new OEM brakes pads installed all most there. I do ride all year down here in florida did have a lot of time this year during the rainy season to get things done. Its hard to find the time to work on my wing if the weather is nice work all week and ride on the weekends. here a picture of my old plugs

                    2018 DCT non tour, Pearl Stallion Brown, Double Darksider #856, Live To Ride, Love my Wing, IBA Member# 63744 Yellowbird Alias Coppertone

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                    • #11
                      Yellowbird, at least your old plugs have good coloring on them, so the bike is burning correctly. This is my 4th GL1800, and on every one of them, I change out the original NGK spark plugs at 25,000 miles......and at the same time replace the OEM air filter, installing a new K&N air filter. For the spark plugs, I will only install the NGK Iridium spark plugs. When the new plugs and the new K&N air filter are both installed at 25,000 miles, I leave them alone until the bike hits 100,000 miles on it......then replace those NGK Iridium spark plugs again, with new ones of the same Iridium plugs, and I remove...clean...recharge...and re-install the K&N air filter.

                      50,000 is way too long to leave the OEM spark plugs in there, as you have found out. The 16,000 interval suggested by Honda is way too soon. I believe that most riders/owners have found that 25,000 works quite well. But if you install the NGK iridium spark plugs in there, they can be left alone for 75,000, and when removed...they still "look" good, but it is wise to replace them.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for the pic Yellowbird. I can't really see the electrodes... but those gaps DO look wide... 0.055 to 0.060? You're worse than I am

                        MMR, I'd tend to agree with ya. Even though I saw some wear on my plugs, the bike was still running fine and they most likely had some miles left in them.
                        George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

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                        • #13
                          Modern high performance engines with computer controlled fueling and electronic ignition will continue to run for years if we never replace the spark plugs but a slow and steady decline in performance and fuel economy will result and slower starting will subject the starter and battery to additional wear.

                          The engineers who designed and build the engines and have all the equipment and budget for testing their performance have good reasons for the service intervals they provide for owners. I trust them.

                          I follow the recommended service intervals.
                          Harvey Barlow
                          Crosby County, TX
                          2010 Goldwing Level II Pearl Yellow (sold at 93,000 miles)
                          2014 Goldwing Level II Pearl Blue (sold at 27,000 miles to forum member)

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                          • #14
                            Harvey, I see your point. However (another word for but), there are incidents where the Honda manuals are wrong, and Honda refuses to change their printed words. This is true with every manufacturer. Yes, their engineers design and build the product, but...(another word for however)...they are not the ones out there putting all the miles on these bikes. The very little testing they did...on the road....is less than 1 % of what we as a collective have done...including you. A very simple example is.....Honda has it all wrong for the front tire pressure for a GL-1800. The correct pressure should be 40 psi for an F6B, or 41 psi for a regular Wing. I know, because I was the test rider for 2003 for Dunlop. There are members of this forum that have spent countless hours and miles improving on things that Mother Honda tells us is right...only to be proved wrong....and we have benefited from the time/labor/miles of these forum members.

                            Edit: I will add that in the days of yore....Volvo would "listen" to the automotive techs that worked on their cars, and if you found an error in a service manual....brought it to their attention...they WOULD make the corrections, and send out the addendum for that manual. Volvo learned a long time ago to trust the techs that work on the cars, and read the service manuals.

                            I am not saying that Honda is wrong on everything. I am saying that a few things are in error, and Honda would benefit to listen to some of our people, and learn from the road experienced buyers, rather than their engineers. Personally, I would never change the spark plugs on a GL-1800 engine at 16k miles. I would never leave my engine oil and filter in the engine for 8k miles, and I would never replace the air filter on these bikes at the interval that Honda suggests.

                            If I did all that, it could mean replacing my air filter 4 times a year, my spark plugs more than 5 times a year, and the engine oil, ONLY 12 times a year.

                            Luckily for ALL of us, we each get to do what WE all think is best for our bikes...you...me...and all the owners, now that Honda no longer controls our maintenance habits.

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                            • #15
                              There comes, at times, points in arguments where differing views are expressed... and nobody is wrong.

                              I'll only use this space to thank the Honda engineers for making the plug change SOOOOO easy.
                              George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

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                              • #16
                                When I owned my '99 Honda VT1100T Ace Tourer, there were times when it was slow to start due to the slow speed of the starter. This was a carbureted engine with an electric fuel pump. Someone on that forum suggested installing iridium plugs and I did. The difference in cold start time was night and day in that it would fire off almost immediately after hitting the start button, compared to turning over 4-5 times before. The pleasant surprise was the big increase in pep and throttle response. It felt like it had an extra 5 hp. It hadn't even crossed my mind to install them in the Wing since it never has had a start or pep issue. I just rolled 30k mi., so think I'll go ahead and change the plugs and air filter during the winter months. I have noticed a slight pinging on steep grades in the higher elevations, that goes away with higher octane fuel. Maybe this is what it needs.

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                                • #17
                                  Interesting point about the start time... and this by itself may make it worthwhile to keep good strong plugs in your engine. Checkout my oil report thread.

                                  The GL1800 throws off trace amounts of iron, copper, and aluminum.... more than what some other bikes may. I'm wondering about the iron and copper being due mostly to cold starts... fewer revolutions before the oil pump being "turned on" should be a good thing, no?
                                  George - 2013 F6B Standard - Largo, FL

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                                  • #18
                                    [QUOTE=The GL1800 throws off trace amounts of iron, copper, and aluminum.... more than what some other bikes may. I'm wondering about the iron and copper being due mostly to cold starts... fewer revolutions before the oil pump being "turned on" should be a good thing, no?[/QUOTE]

                                    Fewer revolutions before the oil pump starts has very little, if any effect on the engine unless it has been stored a long time between starts. Parts inside the engine will continue to have a trace coating of oil remaining on them while idle. And with today's advanced additives being used in oils that are designed to cling and remain coated longer, this is even more so. All that an oil pump does is to replenish the oil supply to those parts as it is being slung or squeezed out from between the friction parts while running.

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by srt8-in-largo View Post
                                      There comes, at times, points in arguments where differing views are expressed... and nobody is wrong.

                                      I'll only use this space to thank the Honda engineers for making the plug change SOOOOO easy.
                                      Compared to the air filter, alternator and water pump.

                                      I swap my plugs once per year, usually about 30-40K miles.

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                                      • #20
                                        I changed my plugs today @ 40,000k / 24854 m, I think they look good.
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                                        GL1800 8A - TRIUMPH SCRAMBLER 900

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