Valve Adjustment and Extended Warranties | Questions and Answers

Maybe Not So Simple

I recently read your article “Valve Adjustment Simplified” on the Motorcycle Cruiser website and got a better understanding of the whole mechanism involved. It brings a couple of questions to mind however.

I’m doing my first valve inspection and possibly adjustment on my Suzuki C109 (just over 21,000km). I’ve read the manual three times, and it looks intimidating when it gets to valve adjustment. Particularly for my bike, since it has no adjustment screws on the valves and I have to replace the shims if the valves are out of spec.

What I need to know is; since I’m opening the cylinder covers, do I need to replace the cover gaskets? Or can I just throw the old ones back on?

The second concern is; would the valve covers allow access to do measurements with a feeler Gauge once I've removed the cylinder covers? It would seem highly improbable that I would have to remove the valve covers to do the gap measurements! Otherwise, what would be holding the camshafts down?
Farokh Hshams
Via email

Unless the valve cover gaskets—which are actually rubber O rings—are damaged, there’s no need to replace them, especially at $22.00 apiece. Assuming they look good, use a little grease to hold them in place and reuse them. You must remove the valve covers to access the cams and valves, but the covers themselves don’t retain the cams; that’s the job of the, uh, cam retainers. The covers are essentially a cosmetic piece used to keep oil in and dirt out of the valve train.

Save Your Dough

What are your thoughts about extended warranties? When I bought my Nomad 1600 in 2006, it had a 2-year factory warranty and I purchased a 4-year extension, for a total of 6 years of full warranty coverage. As of right now (knock on wood), I have never had a single warranty claim.

Now the 6 years is about to expire, and they want me to renew for 1 year at a cost of $499.00, or 2 years for $583.00. The bike is low mileage (9000) because I mostly ride my Gold Wing Trike. However, when I do want to ride the Nomad, I want it to be ready and in excellent repair. The bike has always been serviced professionally, kept in a covered and temperature controlled garage, kept on a Battery Tender charger, and meticulously maintained. Based on your extensive experience, at what point in age, or mileage, can you normally expect a bike to start giving trouble?
Via email

I have mixed feelings. As a rule, I’ve found that most serious problems occur in the first few years of ownership, and that few bikes ever have the type of mid-life crisis that warrants the cost of an extended warranty. That being said, I do know of at least one case where an extended warranty covered the cost of four stuck valves.

As to when a bike starts to give trouble, if I knew that one I’d be a wealthy man, but in the main, Nomads are notoriously trouble-free. A well-maintained one might go 200K or better without encountering any serious mechanical problems.

Blaum's Got the Blues

I've got a 2009 Triumph Speedmaster that started having problems with intermittent no-start situations a year after I got it (while still under warranty mind you). For no apparent reason, the bike just stalls and won't start again; though the lights work, the ignition switch is totally dead.  It's been in the shop now since May. The most recent time it didn't start—after being stored all winter—I took it out to change the oil, and....OMG, it started up on the first try! Then the bike stalled, started up again, ran for about 20 seconds, then stalled again. Like I say, the lights and instrument panel are lit, but the ignition switch is unresponsive. So I had it towed to the shop, where it started right up for them. The shop has tested all the obvious gremlins—battery, ignition, swapped out the ECU with another bike—yet it could not duplicate the no-start situation. Triumph is digging in its heels and wants the dealer to duplicate the no-start scenario before they send a new ECU. So the dealer will swap my ECU into another bike and run a new one in my bike, but if it's not the ECU, the next step would be wiring harness. Any suggestions or insights into intermittent electrical gremlins?!
Donna Blaum
West Boylston, MA

While a number of things suggest themselves—including finding a new dealer, and contacting your state’s motor vehicle department with the possibility of invoking their “Lemon Law”—I’m going to stay mum on this one, only because you were kind enough to send a follow-up detailing what the dealer did to resolve the situation. They did an ECU reflash, which wasn’t one of my original suggestions.

I do want to say that unless there’s a very good reason, no bike should be stuck in the shop for nearly three months, and anyone that finds themselves in that position should be on the horn to the manufacturer’s customer service department as soon and as often as possible until the situation is resolved. If it isn’t, their next call should be to their state’s MVD, and though I’m loath to suggest it, a good attorney. If anyone from Triumph, or the shop that worked on the bike, would care to comment on why it took so long to repair Donna’s bike, even if it’s off the record, I’d love to hear from them.