I have replaced the head gaskets on 4 Japanese cars in the last year. All 4 cylinder engines, two Hondas, a Mazda 626, and a Mitsubishi Mirage. All with over 200,000 miles. None of them showed significant cylinder wear. The only thing they needed were new head gaskets, which were disintegrating.
I recently helped a friend who does a lot of iron butt ralleys rebuild his FJR1300. Right after break in he ran Motul oil. He left the enginer bone cold stock. After 100k when we pulled the engine apart it looked brand new! Goes to show if you use good gas, good oil and don't mess with it just maybe those engineers know what they are doing..
For example, I've been using the same hammer for over 50 years. I've replaced the handle a time or two, and I put a new head on it a couple of times, but I've used the same hammer day in and day out for 50 years!
It's a good thing they last longer - when I was a teenager I thought nothing of swapping engines between cars - one look under the hood of my wife's Accord Hybrid and I know my mechanic is going to make some $$ servicing it.
As for bikes the two stroke twins of my youth seemed to have a Mean Time Between Re-bore of about 10,000 miles. Hopefully my new Buell XB12X will be much better.
I believe advances in metallurgy, better engineering, and synthetic oil has at least as much to do with longevity as EPA restrictions. Motors built in the old days had cobby castings, poor metal quality, and sloppy tolerances. Build the same motor with modern metals and better assembly techniques and it lasts 3 times longer. Think Panhead to TwinCam and you get the picture.
And I'm sure that there are a few 90+ year old smokers out there who have seemingly beat the odds. Very few. Why do you suppose that Methuselah, Moses and some of those other Bible characters lived for hundreds of years. It was because the environment was free of the chemicals and crap that we now breathe, eat and drink.
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