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There is a correct time and place for honing motorcycle cylinders (versus a rebore), just like there is a correct time and place for valve lapping (versus a valve job).
Honing motorcycle cylinders is NOT a replacement for a rebore. Essentially, the one and only time it is appropriate to hone cylinders (and do nothing else) is if you have measured your motorcycle cylinder piston clearance, including taper and out-of-round, and everything is well within specification.
Okay, so things are within specification and you bought yourself a new set of rings. You have also checked ring end gap. Why do you need to hone at all?
Because, over time your rings have smoothed out those piston walls to a fine polish. Honing is done to recreate the condition of the cylinder walls as they came out of the factory – essentially, a cross hatched pattern such that oil can travel along the grooves and lubricate the piston rings during engine operation.
Sounds crazy, but you are actually creating the tiniest imperfections in the cylinder wall surface such that oil can get in there and the rings don’t run dry.
A quick honing, which should consist of 10-15 seconds of spinning the hone inside the cylinder while moving the hone in and out (with the use of honing oil), will not take off enough metal such that it will impact motorcycle cylinder piston clearance. Remember it is a cross-hatch pattern you are creating, that is all.
You can spin the hone in both directions and be sure to check periodically for the desired cross-hatch pattern. Finally, make sure you clean the cylinder thoroughly when done. Although honing is and shouldn’t be enough to change piston clearance, it will take off small amounts of material that shouldn’t be allowed to then enter the engine during operation. This is why it is important to clean things up good.
So that is it, the basics of honing motorcycle cylinders.
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