Overheated Motorcycle Engine Problem(s).

Well it finally happened, I overheated the motorcycle engine. I wasn’t sure when, but didn’t suspect I could overheat the TaoTao TBR7 motorcycle’s engine with it only being 83F outside.

With it being not hot outside, you might be asking how did I overheat my engine and what were the symptoms? Let me break it down how I overheated the TBR7’s engine and share what I learned today. Hope this overheated motorcycle engine experience helps you.

High Temperature, Overheating Motorcycle Engines Conditions Warning.
Air cooled engines can over heat at slow speeds.

Air Cooled Motorcycle Engine Overheating Easily?

I didn’t think so. Although the outside temperature wasn’t high, it does seem weird that my TBR7 overheated.

I was riding around. Recently changed the engine oil, and the oil brand was trying to see if the fresh motorcycle engine oil helped with the TBR7’s shifting issues. I have shift problems, especially after the engine warms up, but this will be another post.

TaoTao TBR7 dual-sport motorcycle outside.

I drove back roads, farmland and visited a game preserve today—nice knees in the breeze kind of riding. I received a text from my Son saying he was heading home after work, so I thought it was time for me to head home too.

The Sun was out, and I didn’t want to get home too soon. So I set the GPS to no highways and road home. I found myself in the middle of a city. As expected, the GPS took through one of our local cities rather than using the highways to go around. I was OK with this but started noticing it was getting warm.

The heat was coming up from the asphalt, the traffic was slow-moving (sometimes at a standstill), and the Sun was beating down on me. I was happy, just riding my bike and taking in a new way to see the city I only previously drove through in a car.

Felt cool enough but didn’t think about the heat on my engine.

It was a long line of traffic. Single lane, I was turning right, and everyone else was going straight. However, being a crowded city and traffic moving, my path was blocked by the cars.

I am not comfortable with lane splitting. We inched up and crawled up, so technically, I was never standing still too long. I finally got to my turn, and then it happened.

TBR7’s Symptoms Of Overheating Motorcycle?

If you have additional symptoms of an overheating air-cooled motorcycle engine that you would like to share, please leave a comment.

What I Saw, And Felt, With My Motorcycle Performance:

1 – In hindsight, I realized the motorcycle was idling lower. It was losing engine RPMs.

2- When I tried to go forward and make my turn, the motorcycle engine bogged down and lost power. I did what I usually did and twisted the throttle more.

The throttle increase moved the motorcycle faster, and it was then I realized something was wrong. The amount of power I received in return for the amount of throttle twist I did wasn’t normal.

3- I couldn’t shift the transmission into 2nd gear, which was the first sign I wasn’t going to all change gears.

I had to drive down the side of the road for a while in 1st gear; till I could find a safe spot to pull over. I then noticed the smell.

The smell of an overheated engine. It smells like walking into a fast food restaurant that hasn’t changed its oil in a long time, like hot dirty oil. 🙁

My Overheated Motorcycle Engine Fix?

Commons sense tells me overheating is caused by one or more factors. Heat production and heat transfer. The heat production is from the internal combustion and friction of the moving parts.

Heat Transfer occurs with the air moving over the heat transfer parts of the engine, thereby cooling the engine. The engine increases its surface area to maximize the air cooling effects of air coming in contact by using engine cooling fins.

Motorcycle engine cooling fins.
Air cooled motorcycle engine with cooling fins.

These fins increase the overall heat transfer surface area of the engine. Notice how many around the actual cylinder area?

So, how do you cool down a motorcycle engine quickly?

My choices were:

  1. Reduce the production of heat. Stop the engine.
  2. Increase the heat transfer rate. Get air flowing over the engine.

What is my choice? The lack of power and inability to change gears out of 1st, well, the TBR7 chose for me. I pulled over and shut off the engine. It gave me time to think…

How long does it take for an engine to cool down completely?

After several minutes, I could still feel the heat coming from the engine and the exhaust pipe. Do I take a chance and restart the motorcycle and try moving it again?

How many times can an engine overheat? 

Overheating once is terrible. Restarting the engine and not getting up to speed to further cool down the engine could risk a second overheating event.

I wanted to be sure, so after seeing traffic moving smoothly, I tested to see if the engine was still overheated.

I quickly learned from this event; shifting problems were a symptom of overheating. I could not shift. The clutch lever didn’t feel like there was too much slack, so I didn’t adjust it. I just waited.   

Now the panic thinking was occurring. Can an overheated engine be fixed? How bad is engine overheating? Why is the bike engine overheating after an oil change? Was the new engine oil I was testing part of the reason the TBR7 isn’t shifting?

Overthinking the situation didn’t fix the engine overheating problem. Time did.

With the engine off, rocking motorcycle back and forth, and with some ‘force,’ I could shift between 1st and 2nd year. Getting into 2nd was a good sign.

I restarted the engine, and it came back to life with some power. RPMs were higher, and not wanting to waste time, I quickly got moving.

I needed airflow over the engine, and as long as traffic was moving, I got this overheating problem under control.

Now the engine was still scorching; I could feel that on my legs and feel the limited response to throttle demand. I needed to continue moving to both cool down the engine and not stop in the middle of traffic. My goal…

Overheating Motorcycle Engine Prevention!

When I came to a stop, I ensured I downshifted into 1st gear, and I then flicked the motor kill switch. The engine stopped, and turn flicked the kill switch again, so I didn’t forget when I tried restarting the motorcycle.

My TBR7 has the stock battery, and TBR7’s are not known to have strong restart capability with those batteries. I recently got the TBR7 to kick start using the kickstarter(TBR7 Kickstart Post), but I wouldn’t like trying this in the middle of city traffic.

To my surprise, each time I restarted the TBR7, its engine came right up. I just kept turning off the engine at stops and restarting when traffic moved again.

After some distance, I found a stretch of road home that didn’t have lights and limited traffic since it was more rural and back-roads. Kept the engine in the highest gear possible, limiting the number of explosions per minute heat production and keeping the speed as high as possible to ensure cooling of the air-cooled engine.

Engine shifting up became more manageable, but shift down felt like you had to stomp on the shifter. :/

I got home!!!! Stop the motorcycle!

Now Home, my wandering mind got focused on, How bad is engine overheating?  

Initially response, BAD! But then I had to figure it must be specific to each situation. How badly was the engine overheated? Oil type and weight? How long was the engine forced to operate overheated?

In my situation, I believe I avoided permanent engine damage by:

  1. Recognizing overheating symptoms early enough.
  2. Using name brand, proper weight of oil.
  3. Giving the motorcycle a chance to cool down.
  4. Preventing overheating a second time by stopping the engine at traffic lights and in traffic.

My overheating lessons learned are going forward. 

  1. Avoid stop-and-go traffic. My TBR7 is for pleasure rides, back country roads, and a little off-road fun.
  2. If stuck in stop-and-go traffic. Stop the engine for long periods of not moving.

My TBR7 long-term goal to prevent engine overheating problems:

  1. Continue to use only name brand, properly formulated motorcycle oil. Read my TBR7 Motorcycle Oil Type Post.
  2. Upgrade the battery. I might have avoided stopping the engine because I was unsure if the electric start would work with the TBR7’s stock battery. Or, install a battery trickle charger.
  3. Keep the engine cooling fins cleaner. Face it, unless I ride in the rain or go through a puddle, the bike doesn’t get cleaned.

    The dirt and gunk on the cooling fins prevent good air-to-engine contact. I need to keep the engine area cleaner.
  4. Look into oil coolers. There are two types, one that works on the pump suction side and another that works on the oil supply side for the engine head. I like the supply-side oil cooler version so far.

I hope this post helps you. My lessons learned with helping me avoid future engine overheating problems by noticing the symptoms sooner and taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.  

TBR7/Hawk250 Engine Oil Coolers? What are your suggestions? Yes, No, which one? Please leave a comment.

Thank you.

FYI: I believe good engine oil saved the day for me. be sure you use good oil. After the break-in period, I moved from conventional oil to synesthetic. And the new oil I am trying now, due to all the good things I heard, is Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 15W-40 Engine Oil.

Overheating Engine Update, I now help cool down my motorcycle by increasing the cooling on the motorcycle oil directly.

My Motorcycle Oil Cooler Installation Kit.
Update: To prevent overheating in traffic, I got An Oil Cooler.

Read More: TBR7 Motorcycle Oil Cooler Installation.

Click To See My Recommended
TBR7 Upgrades

Picture of me, as a New Motorcyclist.
Just Me…Newly Licensed.

Hi I’m Tom, A New Motorcycle Rider and Blog Author.

I am a new rider(Pa Learners Permit at the end of 2020, and I received a Pa Motorcycle License in 2021 after passing a Motorcycle Safety Course).

I bought my first motorcycle, a TaoTao TBR7, at the beginning of 2021 and have been doing upgrades on that motorcycle since.

I added to my motorcycle collection by buying a Boom Vader Gen 2 in 2022, and that Grom-Clone motorcycle has been upgraded by me as well.

I continue to ride my Boom Vader Gen 2 motorcycle as well as my TaoTao TBR7 dual-sport bike.

Read more on my About Me page.

Fun Fact: I’ve only been on one group ride.

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