Voyages on Two Wheels – 22 May 2012 – Motorcycle Status Update
I still need to do quite a bit of packing, but I figured I’d do a bit of writing here and there to take my mind off everything that’s going on right now. I don’t like going through all my stuff for a number of reasons and while I’m looking forward to having everything done, I’m not looking forward to the process of moving. I’d much rather pay someone else to make it all magically happen if I could. Ah well, why not write up a report on what’s happened with the bike recently? Yes, I just turned the odometer over the 18,000 mark as I’ve already written, but there actually has been quite a bit of work done and it’s much better because of it
You might have noticed a few things missing above. Things like a windshield, wind deflectors for the grips, and saddle bags. I just wanted to see how different it would be and it did make a huge difference – the bike felt much quicker That said, I’ve reinstalled the saddle bags because they’re so unbelievably handy. The grip deflectors and windshield will go back before I head up to Utah as well just to make the move easier and you can expect to see them during cold weather and for longer trips to reduce fatigue. For now, though, I’m enjoying the breeze in the nice weather
There has, however, been actual maintenance done on the machine lately. One of the first things I wanted to address ahead of the move was the front brake. I could see that the pads were about 50% worn, but that’s not really a bad thing. The really bad thing was the color of the brake fluid in the master cylinder that I could see through the little window. I don’t know how long it had been since it had been serviced, but I’d never done it and I’d had the bike for a year. The recommendation is to flush the system every year at minimum which doesn’t cost much and is pretty easy to do at home.
Now, I was trying to be somewhat logical and intelligent and I figured that if I was going to flush the old brake fluid, I might as well yank the caliper, clean it out, replace the pads, and lube everything up with caliper slide lube. Getting the caliper loose was ridiculously easy, but cleaning was a bit more difficult. Actually, it just took some Simple Green, Scotchbrite pads, and time. There was a whole bunch of brake gunk in there and I think I’ll actually do the clean and lube bit a couple of times a year After the pads were replaced, it was time to tackle flushing the hydraulics…
No, that really doesn’t look right
Brake fluid should be clear with a slightly golden hue. What came out of the brake system on my bike resembled a mixture of orange juice and apple sauce. Now, I happen to have been riding this bike everywhere for the past year like this
Once the brake system was flushed, bled, and everything was reinstalled, I took the bike out for a ride and was in for a couple of pretty big surprises. The first surprise was how much better the brake lever felt. There was much less sponginess and slop. It was a huge improvement!
The other surprise was just how much less effective the front brake pads can be before they’ve had a chance to bed in on the rotors! I swore I’d “upgraded” to anti-STOP brakes Well, it wasn’t all that bad if I’m honest – I just had to factor in another 1/3 of the braking distance and brake early The front brake is now much better overall
I could’ve had the shop do this, but I’m thinking it would’ve been a bit expensive based on shop time alone. I figure somewhere around 1.5 hours which would’ve been a bit over $100. I spent about $40 on a tool with a built-in wrench and check valve so the flushing would be much easier, $8 on brake fluid, $2.50 on caliper lube, and $30 on pads. I came out a bit ahead on this one, but the next time will be much less expensive and much easier as I’ll already have the experience on what I need to do
A couple days later I figured it would be a good idea to take care of the oil change. Now, I’ve had the shop do this before (about $70 total), but saving money is a big concern these days and the videos I’d seen on YouTube made it look pretty easy (click here to see how it’s done), so I figured I’d give it a go. I got three quarts of Motul 20W-50 motorcycle oil for about $8 per quart (yes, I’ll probably get something cheaper next time, but this stuff’s been good to me) and I can’t remember how much I paid for the K&N oil filter but it wasn’t too much.
The oil catch pan I’d bought didn’t quite fit, so I got a baking pan from Wal-Mart for about $1.00. The whole thing took somewhere around an hour because I was taking my time. It was a piece of cake and gave me piece of mind I didn’t take pics, but I also replaced the air filter. It only took about five minutes, but the part was about $20 which was more than I’d like to have spent, but it was the cheapest I could find it.
I don’t actually have any pictures from another event either, but my bike finally had into the shop a couple of weeks ago. The manual specifies valve clearance checks and adjustments every 4,000 miles. Those checks cost about $250 – $400 depending on the shop because they have to take the seats off (easy), remove the gas tank (pretty simple), and then removing the air intake system and carburetors Once that’s done, the timing covers have to be removed and all the normal valve checks can be completed. Once that’s been done and everything’s put back in its place, it’s time to synchronize the carbs which is fairly easy.
Well, I know these valves (the kind with overhead cams) are supposed to be a bit noisy and that I’d feel a loss of power if they started to get tight. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that valves always get tighter over time. If they get too tight, bad things happen. Anyway, I’d kept an ear on the motor and hadn’t noticed any significant loss of power, so I let it go for a while longer than normal. OK, it was about 9,500 miles since the last time I had them checked which was when I first got the bike
Aside from figuring it was time for the valves to be checked, I thought I might want to lube the cables. This is normally a piece of cake and easily done at home. I’ll have more on that in a future post, but the thing I noticed was that the pull cable on the throttle (the one that gets pulled to go faster) had developed a bit of an issue up by the adjuster near the handlebars. It had a weird kink and I figured it might be better to replace it sooner rather than later and I should probably go ahead and do the other cable (the one that’s pulled when the throttle is closed) while I was at it. While figuring out what I’d have to do to replace the cables, I noticed that the pull cable was starting to fray near the carburetor I also noticed that I’d have to remove the tank to change out the cable. Well, the shop was going to do that as part of the valve adjustment, so I decided to let them do it.
Last, but not least, there was the matter of an oil seepage on the left side of the bike. It wasn’t much and never even dripped, but I’d feel better with that taken care of as well. We (the shop and I) thought it was coming from the shift shaft. That oil seal is a $15 part and it’s easy to replace, so I told ’em to have at it.
So, I got the bike back from the shop and was given some very good and unexpected news. Remember how valves always tighten up over time and the manual says to check my bike’s valves at no small expense every 4,000 miles? Yeah, I’m throwing that valve check interval right out the window. The mechanic who did the valve adjustment said they were still a bit on the loose side of specifications after 9,500 miles Then there was that oil leak… It turns out the shift shaft wasn’t leaking, but rather the timing inspection covers. The shop didn’t figure this out until after they’d pulled the linkage. As a result of the shift linkage being essentially rebuilt, the feel of the shifter is like brand new! Oh yeah – They also fixed the leak from the inspection covers while they were at it
I knew the throttle cables would feel different after being replaced, but I didn’t expect them to be that different! I swear it feels like someone removed a friction brake from the throttle that had kept it from moving freely! The shop also adjusted the rear brake (which I was planning on doing myself, but I’m happy to have them do it) and synchronized the carburetors so the bike is now running smoother and stronger
One of my good friends out in Florida had said he’d chip in $250 toward this service as a Christmas present (I’ve been putting it off for a while due to the expense) and that he’d just call the shop and do it with his credit card over the phone. Well, he called the shop, but he didn’t put up $250. He paid for the entire thing!!! JR is a great guy and I’m very thankful for this gift It was sorely needed and truly appreciated, especially with everything going on
This post is running long, so I’ll wait and do the write-up on the clutch lever replacement and all in a separate post in the near future. To sum this all up though, the front brake is much better feeling and stronger, the rear brake feels better after its adjustment, the throttle is smoother and not about to break unexpectedly, the shifter feels like it’s brand new, the oil has been changed, the air filter replaced, and the carbs have been synched.
I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way my V-Star is running and riding and I can’t wait to put some Utah miles on it
Have a great day, everyone
4 comments to Voyages on Two Wheels – 22 May 2012 – Motorcycle Status Update
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