I had a bad experience with Champion plugs and have shunned them ever since - a simple problem really, but frustrating and totally disappointing.
Many years ago I was prepping my 72 Triumph 650 Bonneville motorcycle for winter storage. I had mixed a little 2 stroke oil with the gas and rode it about 5 miles to get the gas/oil mix distributed throughout the system. I then changed the oil (no oil filter on the Bonnie), installed new Champion spark plugs, drained fuel tank, started the engine and ran till the carbs ran out of gas( prevents gumming up from stale fuel) and removed the battery. I put the bike in my basement (controlled climate) and forgot about it.
Come spring and I'm getting the itch to ride. I take the battery out of the refrigerator, charge it and install it into the bike. I put about a gallon of fresh high octane gas in the tank, turn on the petcocks, tickle (flood) the carbs (serves as a choke on older bikes) and turn on the key switch. The oil pressure light comes on and is bright and steady. I start kicking the engine over. The problem rears it's ugly head - the engine will not start........... It does not backfire, cough, sneeze or give any indication of trying to start, so I commence to trouble shooting.
I take the plugs out and look at them - they only ran long enough to run the carbs dry - I check the compression (good), I lay the plugs (attached to the plug wires) on the head and check for spark - good strong spark - I lift a plug away from the head while kicking - it throws a spark from the plug to the head up to about inch. Nothing wrong with the ignition system! I put the plugs back in a commence to kicking. Nothing! I take the plugs back out to check for flooding - they do not appear wet. With the plugs laying on the head next to the spark plug hole, I again check for spark. The plug on the left side is close enough to the spark plug hole that when it sparks, it ignites the mixture being pushed out of the plug hole. WOOSH! so I know it has an ignitable mixture!
I put the plugs back in and after about a minute of kicking with no hint of life, I resort to ether - still nothing. A friend comes over and watches while talking about going riding and finally asks what's wrong with it? He knows it has always been a easy starter and stone reliable, so I give him the rundown. He dumbly asks if I tried new spark plugs - I explain to him they are new spark plugs - just run long enough to run the carbs dry. He comments, then they are are not new, they are used.
Just to prove him wrong, I take the NGK plugs out of my Kawasaki KZ400, just run them in finger tight because I knew it would not start and I would be putting them back in the KAW. I climbed on, turned on the key and was pushing the kick starter to get the engine on TDC for a full stroke kick. Just as the engine went over TDC, it lit and sat there and idled. I couldn't believe it. I shut it off, put the Champions back in and kicked for about ten strokes - dead. I put the NGK's in and tightened them . We went riding and I rode all year on those plugs. I have not used Champion plugs since then.
A few years later Champion introduced "Copper Plus" spark plugs. It was then I delved into spark plug construction. I found Champion used a steel core while NGK used a copper core. Champion's new Copper Plus was a higher priced 'Premium' spark plug - it featured a copper plated steel core for improved performance and longer life. Why pay for a copper plated steel core when I could get a solid copper core for no additional cost. I actually prefer Nippon Denso spark plugs, but they are harder to find, so I use NGK.
Shop Owner and Mechanic with over 50 years experience