Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


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About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, Suzuki V-Strom 650

Favorite quote:

Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator. ~ Robert Orben

If It Ain't Broke - DUCT IT!

My Suzuki V-Strom just turned two in July, although I didn’t really start riding it until the later part of August, and I’m working on getting it to 20,000 miles by that point. It’s running like a top, as it should be, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.

One of the necessary pieces of equipment added in its early days was engine guards. After this addition, I noticed a slight scraping noise at about the 5300 RPM mark; not 5200 not 5400, just at 5300. After a quick search on some V-Strom sites, I found that this was a common occurrence and learned to live with it.

WhatchathinkinFast forward to earlier this summer; I mentioned to Brian that ‘that noise’ from the guards had become a bit louder, still at the 5300 mark. I had just changed the tires and brakes and, when I came back from picking up the bike, Brian took it out for a spin to see what I was talking about. He came back and asked ‘how long had this sound been going on like that?’ Having a very bad sense of time (if something happened in my life more than a week ago, it could have happened anywhere from a month to five years ago), I said ‘I don’t know, a week to a few weeks.’ He was a bit incredulous that I hadn’t mentioned it before. He brought the bike into the garage, set it on the center stand, and revved the engine to 5300 – the noise that came out was quite disturbing. He spent the next hour or more (there’s that time thing again) going over every nut and bolt on the front end of the bike; tightening, replacing, etc. No matter what, that noise was still there. He called me back out to the garage and, with a frown on his face, made his prediction that it sounded like the cam chain tensioner.

My eyes went wide and my jaw dropped. I had had a cam chain tensioner issue with my BMW, which caused its demise. Despite that, I went on to get another BMW, which I replaced with what I assumed would be a bulletproof motorcycle – Japanese bikes are almost maintenance-free and will run forever. How in the world, with just 18,000 miles, could this practical, beautiful motorcycle have such a problem? A call was put in to Steve, the head mechanic at Hudson Valley Motorcycles, and he asked if we could please bring it in.

The next day’s plan for a fun ride to Knoebel’s Amusement Park in Pennsylvania was put on hold. As we mounted up, Brian said that I should keep the revs under 5300 RPM to avoid any stress on the cam chain. It took me a couple of tries to get the rhythm of the quick shift. To help me out, Brian had planned a route to Ossining through Bear Mountain Park so I didn’t have to deal with any highway speeds as well as making it more enjoyable.WhatDuct

Steve came out and listened to the bike, raised his eyebrows then went back to get his ‘Suzuki’ guy for a second opinion. Dave took a listen and said, ‘I know what that is.’ You know how your mother used to say, ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it.’ Well, that was the case with this statement. It was said with the emphasis on the ‘I’ and not on the ‘that,’ which makes a BIG difference. In addition, it was said with a smile/smirk rather than a frown. He asked if these were Givi guards, which they were, and said that he had had several customers with the same issue. The spacer between the left and right sides of the guards had been crushed over time, causing the metal to rub together just about the 5300 mark on the rev marker.

There were smiles all around with a bit of a sheepish look on Brian and my face, knowing that we just took a 150-mile ride for no reason. Steve offered up some blue duct tape as a temporary fix (which was great as it matched my bike and my ‘stich) and we spent some time visiting with Duane, Corey (his son), Snappy (Corey’s French bulldog mascot) and Rich Sr., so it really wasn’t a wasted trip at all. We had a great lunch on Greenwood Lake and returned to Backroads Central. We covered the blue duct tape with some black to make it less noticeable and my V-Strom was, once again, the practical and beautiful motorcycle that it had been when new. So, if it ain’t broke and you don’t have to fix it – DUCT IT!