How long does a Motorcycle stay warmed up for?

I just picked up a Kawasaki 900 Vulcan Custom a few weeks ago, and have been treating it like a baby. This means that I adhere closely to the “3-5 minute” suggested warm-up time from the manufacture.

But surely I don’t have to wait that long every time I start the bike, right? Say I park at a store for 15 minutes; does the bike still need to warm-up for the same amount of time? If not, how long does the bike stay “warm-up” for?

Also, I’ve heard another good reason for letting the bike warm-up first is that it allows the oil to lubricate the engine first. Makes sense, but how long does that specific act take – surely it’s less than “3-5 minutes”? Also, how quickly does the oil drain from the engine? For instance, if I park my bike outside my house to open the garage, do I have to wait after starting up my bike’s engine before pulling it into the garage?

I hope my questions make sense; they did in my head!

Long time rider …

How long after you shut down will you burn yourself if you touch the cylinder? 15 minutes at least. That will give you a clue on how long the bike stays warmed up.

The manufacturer’s concern is folks who’ll start the bike after it sat overnight in near freezing temps & promptly wind it out to redline in first gear as they pull away. Don’t do that & you’ll be fine.

The problem is they have to write one sentence to explain a rule that applies adequately to folks in the tropics & in Canada, sensible folks & crazy folks, folks who respect machinery & folks who thrash it. So they write for the worst case.

Start up, put on your helmet, and ride away. Don’t accelerate harder than an ordinary car would or exceed 1/3rd of redline for the first 3 minutes (ie about 1 residential mile) when it’s cold out or 30 seconds when it’s hot out.

Great info, thanks for the response. I am curious though, as to what exactly “warming up” a bike does? Why should bikes be “warmed up,” but cars are off the hook?

Also, is is true what I heard about the oil in a motorcycle? How long does it take for that to work its way through the engine? And how fast does it drain after turning it off? I’m just paranoid of taking off too soon and having my engine freeze or something…

Bike engines rev at a higher RPM than cars, it puts a bit more strain on the motor than a car. No bike I’ve ever know has a 36 month/ 3 year guarantee.

I start my bike then put on my jacket, helmet and gloves. Push the bike other-way-around in the garage and then I’m off.

At 50,000 miles you might need to replace the engine rings if you punish your bike and don’t treat it like a baby. If you ride a bike 50,000 miles I commend you.

Go, have fun and keep it shiny side up.

As mentioned, warm-up is a relative thing. Just getting helmet and glasses on after starting the engine is sufficient except in extremely cold weather. Even after being parked for up to 1/2 hour, the warm-up is very short.
The modern motorcycle engine oils the top end quickly and efficiently. The oil drains down to the crankcase fairly rapidly, but you really don’t lose all the top end lube, even after a long time after shutdown. Take one apart some day, and you will find lots of oil still on the lifters and tappets and overhead valve train parts. Maybe you are worrying a bit too much.

You say that you have been treating your bike ‘like a baby’

IIRC, in your original thread, you got your bike new.

You probably need to be a bit less gentle on the bike, work the engine a bit by using engine braking, gearing down and up a lot, just stay within the recommendations on revs for the first couple of thousand miles.

There is the possiblility that if you are too knind to the bike during the running in period, that the piston rings will burnish a glaze onto the cylinder bores, and this is not a good thing.

It is not possible to get rid og cylinder bore glaze withut pulling the engine apart and blasting the bores, expensive and if you work your gears and engine, there is no need for it to happen.

If the cylinder bores become glazed, you end up burning lots of oil too and you end up with a hotter engine - its just not good, so remember, make that engine work, use the gears, rev it up and down, and try to avoid a constant cruise, using it on fairly short runs in traffic is absolutely ideal.

Red - A car should be warmed up in cold weather. Nobody bothers. The cars survive anyhow. Your motorcycle is substantially the same.

Air-cooled engines have more of a warm-up issue than water-cooled do. Overall the temperature control of an air-cooled engine is sloppier than a water-cooled, and so the machinery has to be built with more allowance for expansion/contraction. This CAN (not will) result in poor lubrication until the parts get warm & expand to their running sizes.

So as a general matter for bikes/cars from the 1970s & 1980s, warming an (air cooled) bike is more important than warming an equivalent technology (water cooled) car.

Your 2007 Vulcan is predominantly water cooled so that issue is immaterial. But it does affect a lot of “common sense” knowledge & writing on motorcycle web boards.
As to oil circulating, there is oil everywhere all the time. In any engine, car or motorcycle, it slowly drains from the top-most areas of the engine after shutdown. Those parts retain a thin coating of oil, not the thick cushion they normally have while running. It takes a few seconds, tops, for fresh oil to be pressurized up to the top of the engine after start. That fact is accounted for when they design these parts.

Another issue is oil viscosity. In cold (ie 30 degree F) weather, oil gets thicker. When the owners manul says “cold” they mean 30F or maybe -30F, not 50F like you have in the Bay Area overnight.

If the oil somebody has installed is for much hotter weather than they operate the bike in, it’ll drain off after shutdown but then be thick & gooey in the crankcase the next morning. So if they start it up when it’s 30F out & immediately (ie within a few seconds) red-line it, there may be little good free-flowing oil circulating yet. Under that scenario, some incremental damage might result. That is the disaster scenario the owner’s manual is trying to warn you away from.

I don’t think it has ever been cold enough in the Bay Area (at least since the last Ice Age), for you to have the slightest reason to be concerned about any of this.

Start the bike, put on your helmet & ride away. Accelerate sanely & obey speed limits for the first minute or two.
Start your car, put on your seatbelt, turn on the radio & drive away. Accelerate sanely & obey speed limits for the first minute or two.
Same warm-up requirement, same warm-up accomplished.
And as casdave said, if you are treating this machine like a delicate flower, you are at some risk of harming it. It is meant to survive mistreatment by crazy bastids. Just be less than moderately crazy & you’ll be operating well within the design envelope. And it’ll run great for another 100K miles, which is an eternity for a bike.
Relax dude, this is about fun, not worry.

And the rubber side down.

I have the worst case scenario. I was using my air-cooled Honda 250 as a daily driver in the waning days of autumn which eventually turned into a Wisconsin winter. As winter worsened not only did I find that I had to bundle up more and more, but the bike was getting harder and harder to start on cold mornings. Eventually the morning temp hovered around 0 F and I had to REALLY crank on the throttle and rev it up upon starting or it wouldn’t go at all, the battery would die and I would spend half an hour pushing it around the lot trying to pop-start the blasted thing.

A few weeks of a northern winter eventually took its toll on the bike and the engine started spewing oil everywhere one day - and I mean GUSHING oil. I tried replacing the oil seal to no avail. It was something worse. I still haven’t replaced the engine on that bike, but I still have it in case I find a running engine to put back in it.

This is an extreme case, most people don’t drive a motorcycle in the dead of a northern winter - for a good reason. I really abused the hell out of that engine that winter. Avoid what I did and you should be fine.

Heh. I have 80,000 miles on the XJ600. (Only about 17,000 on the R1.)

The majority of cars should be driven as soon as possible to take them up to temperature quickly. Consult owner’s manual.

I know more about car engines than motorcycle engines. In a car, the crankshaft is litterally sitting on the bearing when stopped. When the oil is cold, it is much more viscous, so it is harder to force the oil in the space between the crankshaft and the bearing. When the oil warm, and therefore less viscous, the spinning of the crankshaft pulls the oil under it, so it “floats” on a layer of oil. Capilary action forces the oil through the space between the crankshaft and the bearing.

In short, warm oil lubricates this small space much more readily than warm space. As said upthread, the engine is warm until it cools down (snarky, yes, but you can usually tell by the sound and/or feeling the engine [put your hand near it, not on it, if it’s questionable.])

To the OP:

On a carburated bike, if it starts without using the enrichener (few modern motorcycle carbs use a true choke) then it is still warmed up. That means around an hour and a half with no wind, or a 1/2 hour or so if it is windy. On a water cooled bike, it may not matter, but if the radiator is mounted high as on most dirt bikes, and the engine low, the coolant will thermosiphon, and the bike will cool quickly if the radiator is exposed to the wind.

BMW being an exception:

BMW offers a 3 yr warranty on all thier bikes. They only recently milage capped that at 36,000 miles. A few crazy bastiges were putting over 50,000 mi on the bikes in that amount of time. Not that nothing ever fails, but engine rebuilds are rarely needed before 1000Kmi, and often not even after 200Kmiles. They also still supply parts for bikes that have not been made in over 3 decades. (not cheaply though!)

BMW owners tend toward anal about maintaining them. It is a chicken and egg thing though…the owners maintain them because they DO last so long…but part of the reason for the longevity is the maintainance they recieve.
Disclosure: I own two BMW motorcycles. (and two of different brands as well) Due to differences of opinion with the manufacturer, (not issues with the bikes) I probably won’t own another BMW…I certainly will never buy one new.