KLR maintenance

KLR Subframe Mod

KLR650 Subframe drill thru step by step walkthru

Enclosed is a step-by-step process for the replacement of the stock KLR650 �sub-frame� fasteners. 2x kits are available. I did not know both kits accomplish the same task, so I ordered both. One kit is a fastener replacement (the $5.00 kit). The other kit is the �drill thru� install (the 24.99 kit). I will illustrate installation both kits. The intent of the upgrade is to strengthen the sub-frame joint with stronger cap head (allen key) style fasteners. The upper sub-frame bolts are known to fail. This will “load-up” the lower sub-frame bolts and stress the fuel tank connection, wire harness, and exhaust system. This upper sub-frame fastener failure could be catastrophic to the rider and/or cause extensive bike damage. Both kits are available from:
I would recommend reviewing these threads prior to starting this mod:,721.0.html and,878.0.html
5.00 kit
The $5.00 kit will swap out the 4x sub-frame 10.9 grade fasteners with 12.9 grade fasteners of the same size. The shear strength capability, of the $5.00 kit fasteners, is 20% greater than the stock OEM sub-frame fasteners.
24.99 kit
The $24.99 kit will have the user replace the 2x upper sub-frame fasteners with a single larger, stronger single fastener. The 2x lower sub-frame fasteners will be the same as the $5.00 kit. The upper sub-frame bolt will be the 12.9 grade 10mm size. This modification will effectively double the strength capability of the upper sub-frame load bearing joint. The joint will now be a �double shear joint� (that is a good thing).This will minimize load transfer eccentricities, eliminates the fastener transition failure mode.

Start with a little research. Articles, clips, lessons learned, fastener data collected for summary discussion.

Kits as delivered. Lower baggie is the 5.00 kit the upper baggie contains the 24.99 kit

Cap fastener head 12.9 stamped on manufactured head. These are the strongest metric (non-aviation) fasteners available.

size M8-1.25 metric coarse

length measured at 30mm

that�s the size for all 4x fasteners

Instructions included with the $5.00 kit

Put bike on level lift, and strap it down.

Do not work from kick stand.

start to uncouple fuel line from tank

side panels

tank attach fasteners

tip here: drape rag at frame spine/tank gap frame here. That way, when manipulating tank off frame/tank pucks your frame spine finish will not be abraded by the tank!

all the stuff removed. Note more detail of these items removed can be found here:,950.0.html

I started from left side, lower sub-frame bolt. Swap out one at a time, so holes stay aligned. 12mm socket. Rotate counter-clockwise. Use a 6 point socket. Mine came off easy.

stock and kit replacement. Both same size.

tools for install 6mm allen head socked for torque wrench

add red locktite and tighten.

torque to 18 ft-lbs. If doing the drill thru upper frame mod don�t torque yet, just tighten

add OEM fasteners to all KLR replaced fasteners collection cup

getting full here…whew! Repeat process on opposite lower sub-frame side

lower sub-frame installed

upper subframe �cap style� fastener to remove

Upper frame fastener as removed. These were factory installed with loc-tite, as shown. Mine came off easy.

red loc-tite these.

install to same torque as lower sub-frame fasteners (18 ft-lbs)
All done with the $5.00 kit. The shear strength of the joint has increased by 20% for a $5.00 cost and the satisfaction that they have been installed properly!
Now for the $24.99 kit…I�ll focus the rest of the pitch on the upper �drill thru� process. This is tricky. First start with the bike on stand, seat, tank, panels are off.

Drill thru instructions supplied. Abit more detailed.

this is the task….preparing a hole and installing this 10mm bolt thru your upper sub-frame right about here. You�ll need to prepare (align, and step drill) the hole for install. That�s were thing can go wrong real fast. The installation part has a few issues also.

10 mm Bolt shank diameter = .3935 inch

bolt size = M10-1.5 Metric coarse thread, self locking nut included in 24.99 kit

bolt length 5.5 inches or 140 mm as shown. Those are the 2x drills provided in the Drill thru kit. The Bushing was also provided.

Smaller drill size = .3085 inch

larger drill size =.4025 inch. Remember bolt is .3935 inch. This will be a “clearance fit” fastener with .009 inch clearance. The Hole fill would be considered a “Class II”.

a view of the kit supplied bushing. This will go on the nut side of the bolt. It is not part of the drilling process

from the right side of the bike, loosen the clamp holding the carb intake boot. Use phillips screw driver and un-thread till clamp does not bind boot connection.

loosen the lower sub frame bolts 1x full turn, remove the upper sub-frame bolts. Remove both of them. It’s ok your frame will not collaspe.

grab the rear rack and gently push it back. Use a rocking motion. Keep and eye on your wire harness, exhaust, and carb boot. Your sub-frame will pivot about the lower bolts. Push enough so you have enough room to work those drill bits into the bike main spine upper frame holes

about this much. Now stop and secure your frame. I tightend the lower bolts abit. Your kinda stretching your wire bundles. So be careful! Right side of bike shown here

left side of bike shown here. Thats enough room to get your drill in there.

rubber boot comes off carb. No worries it will go back on easy

mask off area with rags to catch chips….Lots and lots of oily messy steel chips. Remember your carb inlet is exposed. Tape around that exposed area. Then tape again. If chips get in there, you may need a carb rebuild to remove those shavings and thats another story

start with the smaller drill in kit. Try to keep bit level and �pick-up� threaded hole. Go slow! Use cutting fluids on tip so it does not get hot. If you see smoke from fluid, your going too fast. Should take you about 15 min with just this bit to go 1/2 way thru. Then goto other side and repeate till the holes connect in the center. No turning back now sparky!

another view of drilling operation. Slow and steady, pull drill back about every 60 sec to re-lub and vacuum chips. Use magnet also to clear chips.

Once you are about 1/2 way thru, You�ll need to switch sides and start on opposite side. Hopefully, the holes will align. Mine did Whew!

hole is drilled thru with the .3085 inch diameter drill. Will need to open up to .4025 inch.

pass one done

use shop vac to pick up chips

I had difficulty starting the �big� drill, so I opted to use an intermediate size step drill method to remove a bit more. The center drill is .342 inch. This step made the last drilling operation easier.

step drill

final drill

bolt fits here. Slides in easy

like this, thread side extending

now I need to open up these 2x remaining holes on sub-frame.

same process, much easier this time…use compressed air and magnet to remove chips from work area. Realign the frame holes now. Easy, just pull rack forward. Check that carb boot engages back on carb. Inspect muffler also. It may have came loose

We will need some of that high quality waterproof marine grease. This will assist in resisting joint/bolt galling and more importantly assist in preventing water ingress into these closed-out joints.

That�s the stuff I�m talking about sparky!

lube that bolt with waterproof grease

like this

work it in

needed to give a few taps with hammer, as drilled holes were not perfect aligned

all the way in

thread side

place that bushing in thru threads. Mine did not fit. Needed to grind and open it�s hole abit.

engage that self locking nut. No loc tight needed with this nut. Torque to 33 ft-lbs. Re-tighten that carb boot, retorque those lower subframe bolts to 18 in-lbs. Use red loc-tight on those.

humm….I have 4x extra sub-frame bolts available…I could give them away or…let me check the size of these foot peg fasteners

8.8 grade..not too bad

12.9 is 50% stronger material for same diameter

length = 30 mm

30 mm here too!

same diameter and thread. Whoo hoo!

check torque. Torque to 13.5 ft-lbs

prep fasteners for installation. May need to remove these at some point so Blue loc-tite is best for this application

install foot pegs with new improved cap style fasteners

more bolts for the collection cup

work area when finished….What a mess…
Kit review and lessons learned:
1. The upgrade gives piece of mind that no sub-frame failures will occur over the bikes life
2. I would recommend the �drill thru� mod only for those with machine shop experience
3. I would recommend the $5.00 kit for those not confident in the drill thru mod. You still gain a 20% increase in sub-frame strength.
4. I would recommend upgrading your foot pag fasteners with the 12.9 cap style.
5. Although my install was successful, may things can go wrong, such as:
5a drill breaks in hole
5b chips get into carb inlet
5c holes do not align
5d overheat the steel frame and change the temper of the material
6. The drill thru mod effectively doubles the upper sub frame fastener strength and increases the lower sub-frame strength by 20%.
If I had to do this again I would:

study up on drilling

Add an additional step drill. 3x steps total. The last drill would be a size W or .385 inch

Then final cut step would be with a piloted reamer. A piloted reamer gives a mirror like surface finish of an RHR of 32. The reamer has a pilot of .385 inch and a final cut size of .4005 inch

use cutters like these designed to open up holes in steel. See the reamer here: Reamers%20-%20Straight%20Shank,%20Straight%20Flute&fam=HIGH%20SPEED%20STEEL%20REAMERS
see part # 99-708 The reamer costs $20.00 and is 7 inches long
You can buy these 12.9 grade bolts here:…25&cs=81&cm=23
fork me I�m done!
KTM maintenace

LC4 Bearing How To

How to replace the LC4 left side main shaft bearing


KTM maintenace

LC4 Valve Inspection


KTM maintenace

LC4 Water Pump Rebuild

Rebuilding the LC4 Mechanical Water Pump

If your water pump is leaking coolant into your engine, it�s time to replace your water pump seal and bearings right away. Coolant is corrosive to various internal parts of an engine, so it is best to address the problem as early as possible.

How does one know if coolant is getting into one�s engine you ask? Symptoms of coolant getting into the engine include evidence of milky or opaque looking oil and quite possibly a noticeable loss of coolant in your radiator. LC4 mechanical water pumps are notorious for seal failures, so this is the first place you should look in searching for the source of your problem if you observe milky oil in your engine.

One caveat… it is possible under very rare circumstances that condensation can cause your oil to look a bit milky. This could occur under unusual riding practices that prevent your engine from fully warming up, such as: Ride 2 miles, stop. Time elapses, start the bike and ride another 2 miles. Let the bike sit for two days. Repeat. It would also be more likely to occur in cool, damp environments than in desert conditions.

In my case, I had no evidence of coolant getting into my engine, but I chose to rebuild the water pump partially for preventative maintenance (since I already had the rocker cover off for another procedure), but mainly because I wanted to learn how the pump works.

Rebuilding the water pump is not particularly difficult, but it does require some basic tools, and some mechanical aptitude. If you are the kind of guy that can (or has) swapped out your main bearing in your pre �03 LC4 engine, then this won�t be difficult at all. The parts for rebuilding the water pump totaled $47.37, whereas purchasing a new water pump costs around $165.00. It took me about 2 hours to do.

The KTM Factory Manual is fairly simplistic regarding this procedure, and they devoted a total of nine sentences, one diagram and one photograph to the task. It is my hope that this technical article will be a more thorough and clear document that may aid and guide others contemplating doing this procedure.

I recommend that you read this entire article before beginning the procedure. This will give you an overview of the steps involved, and will afford you an opportunity to assess your skills and decide whether or not you are prepared to tackle this procedure.

First off, this is the list of parts I procured. This includes all of the major components to rebuild your water pump. The only items I didn�t replace were the water pump housing and cover (and the 4 associated case screws), the water pump shaft and the rotor screw. You may decide to forego some of the items I�ve listed below, but until you have the water pump disassembled, you won�t know what shape it�s all in and what you�ll need. Since I wanted to get back on the road ASAP and with peace of mind, I decided to do a complete rebuild. Here�s the list of the parts I bought:

There’s something I would like to mention about parts prices. If you wrench on your bike quite a bit, you are probably buying parts on a regular basis. There are ways to get discounts that can really add up. For example, I get a 25% discount on KTM parts, so I paid $47.37 for the above list of parts instead of $63.12. It�s worth shopping around to get a break. If you don�t know where to start, ask a known wrench monkey from the asylum about the ins and outs of discounts.

Here is a list of recommended tools and supplies. Some are absolutely required, and some will just make the job easier. I used every one of the following to rebuild my water pump.

1 bottle or tube of Loctite 648 Retaining Compound

This product is not so easy to find. You�re unlikely to find it at a local hardware or auto supply store. You might find it at a local machine supply shop, but I wouldn�t count on it. An on-line eVendor is probably your best bet. A quick Google search came up with this:

I have no affiliation with the above business, nor am I recommending that you necessarily purchase from them. I am merely giving an example of one possible source for this product.

1 bottle or tube of Loctite 243 (the readily found blue medium strength Loctite)

A pair of straight snap ring Pliers (ideally one that can convert to do both directions � squeeze and stretch). You can find these at a Sears or many Auto Supply stores.

A torque wrench: Ideally a 1/4� drive low value one (in/lbs). These are not inexpensive, but if you�re going to be wrenching on your bike, they are a great investment to make. I bought mine (a snap-on) on Ebay for $75.00. It even came with a recent calibration certificate.
4mm Allen key
5mm Allen key
6mm socket
9mm socket (3/8� drive)
16mm socket (3/8� drive)
17mm socket (3/8� drive)
1/2″ deep socket(3/8″ drive)
5/8� deep socket (3/8� drive)
15/16″ socket
3/8� to 1/2� drive adapter
Rubber mallet
Gasket Scraper
Razor blade
Orange wood sticks
(ask your girlfriend, wife or manicurist about these)
A couple of scrap pieces of wood

In order to remove the water pump, you will first need to remove the rocker cover. If you haven�t already read Creeper�s excellent guide on how to do that, you should click here. Creeper’s Guide to Re-sealing the LC4 Rocker Cover

Step 1
Before you actually do remove the rocker cover however, I recommend that you remove the top two hoses labeled #1 & #2 (of 4 total) in the photograph below. The 6mm socket will take care of the bigger hose, and a pair of pliers will handle the spring clip on the smaller hose.

Incidentally, you can remove the hoses after you have the rocker cover off, but then you�ll have to be more careful in order to prevent accidentally spilling any coolant into the open rocker box.

If you�re like I am, you don�t like doing any extra, unnecessary work. With that in mind, you won�t need to remove the lower two hoses (labeled #3 & #4 in the photograph below) from the water pump cover in order to remove the water pump, but feel free to remove them if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Step 2
Be careful to pull the hoses from the water pump cover slowly, and have a bucket below to catch the coolant that will drain. I started by removing hose #2 from the water pump housing, and I held a funnel underneath the end of the hose to direct the coolant into a bucket waiting below as I slowly pulled the hose off. Some coolant will drain from the hose, and some will gush out of the pump housing. Just let it drain out for a minute before going on to hose #1.

Sake (the MotoKitty) says please make sure to mop up any spilled coolant and dispose of the used coolant in a safe manner to prevent accidental poisoning any kitties, doggies or other curious critters ; )

Step 3
Since you diligently read and followed Creeper�s instructions , your engine is at or close to TDC-C, and therefore the slot (or groove as KTM refers to it) in the camshaft driving screw should be aligned vertically or nearly so. You should, therefore, be able to lift the water pump up and out of the engine case without difficulty. You should not have to force anything. When the slot is properly aligned, the water pump should just lift out. To see the slotted (or grooved) driving screw, scroll down a bit to the next photograph.

Step 4
Okay, now you should have the pump extracted from the engine case, and dangling by the two rather stiff radiator hoses. Remove the four 5mm Allen Head bolts from the cover, and gently pull the water pump cover off of the water pump housing.

Step 5
Now�s a good time to clean off the old gasket from the mating surfaces of the water pump housing and cover. You can use a gasket scraper, a razor blade, and some acetone to clean the surfaces of the old gasket material. Try not to scratch any of the metal surfaces. Now you can leave the water pump cover to dangle like so until you�ve rebuilt the water pump:

Here�s the Water Pump housing removed and ready to be rebuilt:

Other than a little gunk on the rotor, mine didn�t look to be in too bad shape, but the cover gasket was completely shot, and I�m surprised that my cover hadn�t been weeping coolant already.

Step 1
Remove the 4mm Allen Head bolt and washer from the rotor (impeller) side of the housing. I used a crescent wrench on the engine side of the pump shaft to keep the shaft from spinning while you unscrew the bolt. Clean the rotor screw of the residual Loctite gunk that you�ll find on the threads.

Step 2
Pull the rotor straight off of the shaft. You may need to judiciously use a pair of pliers as I did. It didn�t take much force to pull it off, so you should be able to get it off without mangling it if you are intending to reuse it during in the course of the rebuild.

Step 3
Next, you want to use that pair of snap ring pliers, and remove the two circlips from the camshaft side of the housing. Please refer to the photograph above. The inner small circlip requires the snap ring pliers to be setup for spreading force, and the outer large circlip requires squeezing force.

Now, unless you have access to a hydraulic press, here�s where you have to get a little creative. I actually could have gone to MotoMike�s shop to use his press, but I didn�t want to take the easy way out. I wanted to do the whole job with the kind of simple hand tools that most of us probably already have. So here�s where the scrap wood, comes in handy:

Step 4

I straddled the pump housing over two pieces of scrap wood that I setup on top of a third piece. I found that a 9mm socket along with a 3/8� to 1/2� adapter would be the perfect size tool to press the water pump shaft out of the housing and seal.

You want to make sure that you press the shaft out towards the camshaft side of the housing, NOT towards the pump cover side. A couple of good taps with the rubber mallet should persuade the shaft and associated bearings to exit the housing.


Step 5
Now take a 16mm socket, and using the rubber �persuader,� tap out the old seal:

Step 6
Now, clean up that water pump housing. I used a combination of brake/carb cleaner, acetone, paper towels, Q-tips, and orangewood sticks. Orangewood sticks are the wooden sticks used on cuticles during a manicure. They are great tools for working on metal surfaces. They won�t scratch the metal, and they can scrape off all kinds of junk rather well. You can shape the edge of one with a knife to get into tight spots. Using orangewood sticks is a trick I learned in my assistant camera days. We would use them to clean film emulsion gunk off of the delicate movements and gates of motion picture cameras.

Step 7
The final step in the disassembly process is to remove the two grooved bearings off of the water pump shaft. I found a 5/8� deep socket fit over the shaft and onto the inner bearing race pretty well.

After a few more taps with the �persuader� the bearings will begin to migrate off of the shaft. I then turned the shaft/bearing assembly over, and supported the bearings with the 5/8� socket while tapping the shaft out the rest of the way with a 9mm socket and the 3/8� to 1/2� drive adapter. Sorry, I didn�t take any photographs of that last step.

Here�s a great idea I got from MotoMike: put the water pump shaft in your freezer for an hour or so before you press the new bearings onto it.

The KTM Factory Engine manual instructions say to �Cover new shaft seal ring with Loctite 648 and press in with printing facing outward.�

The first thing I wondered is which way is �outward?� I assume they mean that the side of the new seal with printing on it should face you as you press the seal into the housing. I have to say that as far as I could tell, the seal looked symmetrical, and appeared to be identical on both sides. There was, however, some pretty minimal and tiny �printing� on one side of the seal only.

Step 1
I covered the outer circumference of the seal with a bead of the Loctite 648, and pressed it in with a 17mm socket and the �persuader.� I had to give the seal a few good whacks to get it to seat evenly and flush with the flange that it rests against in the housing. The seal seems fairly durable, but be careful of the delicate �lips.� Mine doesn�t look any worse for the wear after being �persuaded� to seat in the housing.

Here�s� the new seal installed:

Here�s a less than clear piece of instruction quoted from the English version of the KTM Factory Engine Manual:

�Properly lubricate new grooved bearings, and press in to stop with the open sides facing each to them.�

I have a few �issues� with that line of instruction. First of all, the bearings specified are sealed bearings, with identical sides. There are no �open� sides at all. So there�s no lubricating to be done, and no particular orientation to adhere to during installation. Perhaps the original bearings have been superseded at some point as Creeper has suggested might be the case. All I know is that the bearings I removed from my �02 640 Adventure�s water pump were exactly the same type of sealed bearings as the new ones.

Step 2
Okay, so now you can retrieve the water pump shaft from your freezer, and put a light coating of oil on the shaft. I placed the first new bearing on a flat piece of scrap wood, and started inserting the shaft down into it. The idea is that the flat scrap piece of wood will support both the outer and the inner races of the bearing as you press the shaft down into the bearing. I used the rubber mallet �persuader� to drive the shaft down until it was flush with the bottom of the bearing � please refer to the first photograph below.

Step 3
Now put the second bearing down on the wood, and place the shaft + first bearing assembly on top of it. A tap or two, and the shaft should sit flush with the bottom of the second bearing� as in the second photograph below, but wait� we�re not done yet.

Step 4
I found that a 1/2� deep socket that fit over the shaft well, and contacted only the inner race of the bearing. The socket can therefore be used to support the bearing (on the inner race) in order to drive the shaft down to seat the bearings. I placed the shaft/bearings assembly onto it.

To put it another way, the idea is that the socket�s edge will only make contact with the inner race of the second bearing you have fitted onto the shaft � please refer to the two photographs below. A few taps with the �persuader,� and the bearings should now be flush with the flange that will mate with the seal once installed in the pump housing.

Here�s what the bearings will look like when they are properly seated on the shaft:

Step 5
Now install the small circlip (part #2 on the diagram at the top of this guide) to retain the bearings on the pump shaft:

Step 6
At this point I put the pump shaft/bearing assembly in the freezer for a couple of hours hoping that it would help ease the installation into the pump housing. I do think it helped. When it�s good and cold, take the assembly out of the freezer, and coat the circumference of the bearings and the shaft with a little oil. You should also lubricate the lips of the seal before you insert the shaft.

Before beginning the insertion process, make sure that the spring rings that rest under the seal lips on both sides of the seal are securely in place.

Step 7
Place the pump body on a flat piece of scrap wood, and use a 15/16� socket with a rubber mallet to drive the shaft/bearing assembly in to the pump housing. The idea here is that the 15/16� socket will make contact with the outer race of the bearing only.

I found this step to be a bit tricky. Take your time, and make sure you drive the assembly in straight. It will take a little force to drive it all the way in, but you want to make sure the assembly is going in straight and not cocked. If it starts to go in cocked, try to tap on the high side to straighten it out before it gets too angled. You may have to back the whole assembly out and start over if you can�t correct the angle of entry to be true and straight.

You may need to stop and look at the underside to see how the shaft is mating with the seal periodically. I found the seal had a tendency to fold the lip over on itself causing a poor seal against the shaft. I had to back the shaft out several times before I finally was able to seat it properly at the critical stage of penetration with the aid of a flathead jeweler�s screwdriver. I used the screwdriver to carefully make sure the seal didn�t fold over itself as the shaft pushed through. Be careful not to damage or puncture the delicate rubber seal with the sharp edges of the screwdriver.

Ultimately you are hoping to get the seal to look like this when properly seated:

Step 8
Now use the snap ring pliers (in squeeze force mode) to install the large snap ring to retain the shaft/bearing assembly in the housing:

You�re almost done!

Step 9
Reinstall your old rotor after you�ve cleaned it up, or install a new one if you bought one, and use a new washer for the rotor screw. Use some Loctite 243 on the threads of the rotor screw. You will need to use the crescent wrench again to hold the shaft steady from the other side as you tighten the 4mm Allen Head screw.

Step 10
Next, install the two rubber O-rings. It will be obvious when you are installing them, but the thicker one goes in the wider groove, and thinner one goes in the narrower groove:

Step 11
If you haven�t already done so, clean off both the mating surfaces of he pump housing and the pump cover, and make sure they are oil free and dry. I used a combination of brake/carb cleaner and some paper towels. Hold the gasket in place with the four 5mm Allen Head screws, and screw the cover onto the pump housing as follows: First screw the 4 screws in finger tight, then torque them to 10Nm (7.38 ft/lbs or 88 inch/lbs) in a diagonal pattern, like this for example:

1 3
4 2

Step 12
Clean the machined cradle (where the water pump housing mates with the seam of the rocker cover and head case) of any oil or residual gasket material � refer to photograph below. Align the pump shaft�s key with the slot or �groove� in the driving screw, and carefully slide the pump down into the machined cradle in the engine case.

Congratulations� you�re done! Now just seal and install your rocker cover as per Creeper�s guide, and check your valve lash, and that�s it, other than adding some coolant to make up for the coolant you drained for the procedure. You might want to lean the bike way over on the left side to try to get some coolant to find its way to the water pump to prime it. Be careful, and have a friend help you if you can.

That wasn’t so hard was it? Go ahead and grab yourself a beer. You earned it.

I would like to thank Creeper for his great work on all of the technical guides he has written for the benefit of all LC4 owners, and also for proof reading my first attempt at writing a technical article. I know I can�t approach Creeper�s precision and concise explanatory style, but at least I know from his example of excellence what I�m striving for.

I would also like to thank MotoMike for his great suggestion regarding putting the shaft in the freezer prior to installing the bearings, and for lending me his pair of snap ring pliers and a bottle of Loctite 648.


Motorcycle FAQ

Motorcycle FAQ
for,, and


Is this FAQ official?
Where is the official FAQ?
There isn’t one.
Who are you and what qualifies you to write this FAQ?
I ride a motorcycle in the San Francisco Bay Area and I read and contribute to and I frequently see the same frequently asked questions asked, so I thought I’d make this page as a handy reference for the answers.
Where did you get the answers to these questions?
Some of them I made up. Others I plagiarized borrowed from posts on the Internet because they answered the questions so well.
How many times has this FAQ been read?
This is the 662nd time this FAQ has been downloaded since January 1, 2001. It was downloaded 3265 times in 2000.


What motorcycle licenses are required?
In most states and countries, you need a separate license to operate a motorcycle.
Do I need insurance?
The law thinks so, and anybody you injure or whose things you break in an accident might think so.
What’s the California law on… ?
You can look it up on line.
Can I ride in car pool lanes?
In the United States, Yes. Unless the lanes are marked “Buses Only” or “Closed,” motorcycles are allowed in high-occupancy vehicle lanes, even if there are no signs saying “Motorcycles OK.”


How do I get my motorcycle driver’s license?
In the US, go to the DMV and take the motorcycle written and riding tests.
What’s the best way to learn to ride a motorcycle?
In the US, the best way is to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation‘s Basic Rider Course.
In California: The Basic Rider Course is required if you are not yet 21 years old. If you pass the test at the end of the course, you get a certificate that you take to the DMV. This lets you skip the DMV’s riding test. Call 1-800-CC-RIDER for the times and locations of classes near you.
Riding a bike can’t be that difficult. Why do I need special training?
Please read “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”

Safety Gear

In addition to my motorcycle, what equipment do I need?
Plan to spend $500~$1k on safety gear:

  • Helmet – the best helmet for you is one that you can afford, that fits, and that you’ll wear. A $100 Snell and DOT rated helmet is just as safe as a $500 one … but not as comfortable on long trips.
  • Jacket, Pants – Leather looks sexy; cordura is functional. Shorts and a T-shirt are an invitation to skin grafts. Jackets can be had relatively inexpensively at pawn shops or through Internet retailers.
  • Gloves – Protect your hands.
  • Boots – Protect your feet and ankles.
Do I need to wear a helmet?
Only if you value the contents of your skull.
Why do I need to wear a helmet?
When you fall, it will protect your brain from a concussion and your face from nasty road rash. When you ride in certain states and countries, it will save you from a ticket.
But I like to feel the wind in my hair!
I’d rather miss the wind in my hair than risk the wind in my brains.
What other safety gear is recommended?
  • Wind protection for your eyes, if you wear a 3/4 helmet.
  • Ear plugs. An hour at highway speeds will subject your ears to enough wind noise to cause some hearing loss.
  • Some men wear a sport cup when riding.
  • Reflective vests seem to help people see you better between dusk and dawn and in the fog.
  • Headlight nd taillight modulators.
What’s a headlight modulator?
An electronic circuit that makes the headlights flicker at a rate of about 4 cycles per second during the day to make your motorcycle more conspicuous. This helps cagers see your motorcycle and perhaps decide not to turn left in front of you.
What’s a taillight modulator?
An electronic circuit that makes your brake lights flicker for a second or two after you apply the brakes. This attracts attention to your motorcycle when you slow down. This helps cagers see you and perhaps decide to stop before they hit you.
In case it’s cold and my glasses should fog up on the inside, causing me to become effectively blind and a danger to myself and everyone around me, should I use an anti-fog preparation on my glasses?

Choosing your Motorcycle

I’m a new rider. What kind of motorcycle should I get?
The common wisdom is that you should buy a used bike for $1 to $4k depending on what you can afford. A “naked” standard bike — one without expensive fairings — won’t suffer much damage when you drop it. When you have a year or two of experience, then you’ll know more about what kinds of motorcycles there are, how you ride, and what you really want.
What are the different kinds of motorcycle?
  • Touring bikes are big and heavy, but have enough luggage for a long trip.
  • Sport-Touring bikes are not so big and have not so much luggage, but have better handling.
  • Sport bikes, also known as crotch rockets, are small, fast, light, and covered with shiny, cool, and expensive plastic. They are light and easy to handle, but their go-fast handles are very sensitive. A sport bike will try to kill you if it senses that you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Standard or “naked” bikes are competent at everything. An excellent choice for a beginner.
  • Cruisers (such as Harley-Davidson) are low and long; their primary purpose is looking cool. They tend to be big and heavy.
  • Enduro bikes have suspensions that can soak up big bumps and tires that can deal with mud and gravel. They’re good for long cross-country trips on dirt roads. Because they’re tall, they are a handful to handle in parking lots, but they tend to be sturdy and can usually deal with being dropped.
  • Dual-Sport bikes have big knobby tires and can go anywhere a street bike can go as well as almost everywhere an off-road bike can go.
  • Off-Road bikes have big knobby tires and can climb around on goat trails.Since they don’t have things like headlights or turn signals, they aren’t allowed on public streets.
How do I tell whether a used motorcycle is in good shape?
Check out the Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide.
Does the crotch rocket style generally come with better handling (compared to a standard street style) or is it all looks?
Oh yeah, It’s night and day. Handling, brakes, power, the works. That’s why people buy sport bikes.
How comfortable is that leaning forward posture, especially if you are on there an hour or more? Is much of the weight of your torso braced on your arms?
Different models have different amounts of forward lean and different foot peg position (also important for comfort). Your comfort on a particular bike depends on the length of your arms/legs, the position of the various controls, your physical condition, and how you sit. At speeds of 45+ mph the wind supports you quite a bit. I can ride all day at freeway speeds on my VFR but the VFR has a relatively mild lean and low foot pegs compared with say a Ducati 996 or a GSXR-750.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of shaft drive and chain drive?
Chain Drive is light, highly efficient, inexpensive, and allows you to relatively easily change your motorcycle’s final drive ratio. However, it requires regular lubrication, cleaning, and tension adjustment.
Shaft drive is heavier, almost but not quite as efficient, somewhat expensive, and makes it impractical to change the final drive ratio. However, the maintenance intervals are much farther apart.

Riding your Motorcycle

What’s the preflight inspection?
Before every ride, check…

  • Tire pressures.
  • Tires for wear, cuts, and stones.
  • Engine oil level
  • Coolant level.
  • Headlights, brakelights, turn signals.
How do I steer/stop this thing?
Please see the “Training” heading.
What is countersteering?
Countersteering is the technique of physically pushing the motorcycle’s handlebars in the direction opposite from that which four-wheeler-based intuition would tell you it should go. It is the most efficient way to steer a motorcycle in everyday driving and in emergencies.
What’s this about shaft-driven motorcycles not countersteering or wheelying?
Balderdash. It’s a boring old joke used to start flamewars and confuse newbies.
What is a stoppie?
A stoppie is when you stop with the front brake in such a way that you purposely bring the rear wheel off the ground. The opposite of a wheelie per se.
What’s a high-side? What’s a low-side?
A high-side is where the bike suddenly regains traction after beginning to skid and spits the rider over the bike – the rider typically exits on the high-side of the bike – the side not closest to the ground. A low-side is simply where the bike loses traction and skids into the ground with the rider remaining on the low side of the bike – the side closest to the ground.
High-sides are usually more severe. The most common high-side accident scenario is where the rider loses traction at the rear wheel (due to excessive power or overbraking), the bike starts to skid, the rider regains traction suddenly by releasing the brake or chopping the power, and the bike immediately regains traction and spits the rider over the bike and tumbles. The key to avoiding this is learning not to chop the power and not to overuse the rear brake.
What’s a Tank-Slapper?
A violent oscillation of the front steering. All steering systems on motorcycles have a nautural frequency (or speed) where, given an initiating disturbance, they will tend to oscillate quickly from side to side, each oscillation bigger than the previous. At its worst, the steering will be hitting the stops very rapidly – thus, the term “tank slapper.” Damping prevents this from happening, by the rider’s arms and sometimes helped by a hydraulic steering damper. The newer sport bikes with their steeper steering geometry are more susceptible.
The most common slapper scenario is to be accelerating rapidly from a corner over broken pavement where the front wheel is barely touching the ground. A combination of bumps in the pavement and the rider attempting to steer the bike while the front wheel is slightly off the ground can cause an intial disturbance that is exactly at the natural oscillating frequency of the steering and overwhelm whatever damping the rider or bike is providing. Most people seem to be able to “ride them out” however.
Of course, worn steering bearings, worn tires, accident misalignment, poor suspension setup, etc. can all make the bike more susceptible to this problem.
What’s the proper technique for waiting at a stop light?
Keep your motorcycle in gear. Watch the rearview mirror for that idiot who keeps hitting motorcycles that are waiting at red lights.
How do I deal with a Left Turn on Arrow Only intersection when the sensors won’t trip the light?
You can’t change lanes: the driver’s handbook makes it clear that that’s not legal. You can’t leave the bike and push the pedestrian crossing button, for that’s abandoning your bike. Common wisdom has it that if you wait through three cycles, then the light is obviously malfunctioning, and you should treat it as a stop sign. The safe thing to do is to wait until there’s a green light for the other lanes and then to proceed. Cops have been known to give tickets in this circumstance. Subpoena them and challenge the ticket in court.
What do I do when it rains?
In the SF Bay Area, “winterizing” a motorcycle means packing your rain gear in the saddlebags. When it rains, slow down a bit. Be aware that the first rains in the season will cause all the accumulate oil and spooge to float up to the surface and make the roads really slick for the first hour or three.
Keep practicing your panic stops. Be aware that since there is less traction, your rear wheel will even more readily lock up, so be gentle with it until you get a feel for its traction in the wet.
What do I do in the wind?
Loosen up on the handlebars. Let the bike lean into the wind. Loosen up on the handlebars. The bike will do the right thing by itself. Loosen up on the handlebars.
What should I do on groovy pavement?
Loosen up on the handlebars. Let the bike squirm. Loosen up on the handlebars.
What is lane-splitting?
Also known as lane sharing, it is the practice of riding between lanes of cars.
Is lane-splitting legal?
In California, it’s not exactly illegal. In most other states it’s illegal.
How do I lane-split safely?
When traffic is stopped or moving slower than ~20MPH, you can split between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. Keep your speed no faster than 15MPH over what the traffic is doing. Watch out for holes to either side of you because holes attract lane changes.
When should I “lay her down”?
Almost never. Tire rubber has immense traction; plastic, steel, and chrome have next to no traction at all. If you’re on your bike and in control, you stand a much better chance of stopping in time or swerving out of the way than if you just let the bike slide.
Anything else in particular should I watch out for?
Avoid Volvos, SUVs, minivans, and people talking on cell phones. People in Volvos drive as if they were in the safest cars in the world and seem to be disproportionately dimwitted on the road. People in SUVs drive as if they have super powers, the right of way, and diplomatic immunity. People in minivans drive as if they were in little sports cars. People talking on a cell phone drive as though they are talking to the President and nothing else matters. None of them can see you—or would care if they did.
Why the heck are some people so inclined as to take exits at the very last moment?
A bird sings, Grasshopper, and a dog barks.—Bozo

Maintaining your Motorcycle

What’s the best way to clean out the inside of my helmet?
Assuming that the liner isn’t removable, You can sprinkle some baking soda in there and sort of rub it around then vacuum it out. You wont’ be able to get all the soda out but you’ll get enough. Also, you can stuff the helmet with crumpled newspaper when you’re not wearing it. For a really stinky helmet change the paper every couple days. It will take a while but the paper will eventually absorb the odors.
How do I get the bike up on the center stand?
  1. Start with the bike on its side stand;
  2. grip left handlebar with left hand;
  3. grip frame member with right hand;
  4. place foot on center stand lever;
  5. pushing down on centerstand, tilt bike till both legs of center stand touch ground;
  6. push down hard with foot and lift/pull on frame member.
How often do I need to lubricate the chain? What with?
Every 600 miles or 1000km, either spray wax chain lubricant or pour some gear oil on it.
How often do I need to check the tension? How?
Every 600 miles or 1000km. Your motorcycle’s Owner’s Manual will have directions.
Do I need to turn the fuel valve off if parked overnight or longer? Does it do any harm to leave it on?
If the float valve is in good shape and everything else is OK, no, you don’t have to turn off the fuel petcock. However, if anything isn’t perfect you’ll have, at best, gas all over the bike and the floor. At worst, you’ll fill one cylinder with gas and the other cylinder will fire when you try to start it and you’ll go into hydro lock and bend a connecting rod. Do you feel lucky?
What’s the best money I can spend on making my motorcycle go faster?
A coupla hundred bucks on a track school.
What does it mean to “re-jet” the carburetors?
Carburetors supply a gasoline and air mixture to your engine. The gas comes out of little things called “jets” (usually a pilot jet, needle jet and main jet). If you modify your airbox or exhaust to flow more freely, you get more air going through your system. This often means that there is not enough gasoline, so the engine runs badly. “Rejetting” means replacing or modifying some of these jets so as to supply gasoline differently than stock, usually more gasoline than stock. If done correctly, this allows your engine to generate more power, run a little cooler, start and run smoother and get worse mileage.
I want to put bigger tires on my motorcycle. How can I tell what will fit?
No, you probably don’t want to put bigger tires on your motorcycle. They will probably make it handle worse, not better. To some people, bigger tires may look better, but to those in the know, they make the bike look like the owner doesn’t know anything about motorcycle suspension and steering.
What do “Cartridge Emulators” do?
Old style forks used damper rods to control oil flow, and thus damping. The damper rods are simply calibrated holes through which the fork oil is forced during suspension travel. Because of this, the damping rates are a compromise between what would be ideal for compression damping and what would be ideal for rebound (extension) damping. The oil passes back and forth through the same hole.
Cartridge forks have one-way valves, so that damping is tailored to the direction of travel. That way you can have separate damping rates for compression and rebound. The valves are usually controlled with a carefully tailored stack of very thin washers, who’s deflection rates control the damping rates. (They’re pushed aside by the flow of oil, and how much force is required to get them to deflect is what determines the rate of oil flow.) That’s the “shim stacks” you may have heard of.
Cartridge emulators replace the damping rods with cartridge valves. It’s generally not as good as a true cartridge fork, but they’re much better than damping rods.
What do “Steering dampers” do?
A steering damper is a miniature shock absorber for your steering. They look a lot like precision built versions of a screen door closing rod. It will attach on one end to the frame, and the other to some point which is steered, usually one of the triple clamps. (I’ve seen them attached to the fork tube below the upper triple clamp as well.)
They will slow down steering input, and their primary benefit is found on bikes which get their front wheels light or off the ground altogether under acceleration. They’ll help prevent you from turning the wheel while it’s light/off and thus produce a wiggle, wobble, or tank-slapper when the wheel is loaded up again.
What will catrtridge emulators and steeing dampers do for me?
Let you ride faster and still be within the performance envelope of your bike.

Keeping your Motorcycle

How do I secure my motorcycle?
Lock the steering to one side with the ignition lock. Use a disk lock. Use a large lock with a chain around something solid. If you use a disk lock, also get a bright ribbon that says something clever like “Remove Before Takeoff” so you don’t forget to remove the lock before you break your brake disk.
Keep the motorcycle out of sight … or in a brightly-lit area. Keep it under a cover, with a better lock than the other motorcycles nearby. Get a bike that is less popular with thieves.
Despite all this advice and all your best efforts, your bike might still get stolen.

Other Motorcyclists and Other Vehicles

Why don’t Harley riders wave?
Because they think you got the wrong kind of motorcycle.
Because more Harleys are ridden by poseurs than all other marques combined.
When should I wave?
When it’s safe. For instance, not in a turn and not when you’re concentrating on traffic.
What is a Squid?
squid (skwid) n. 1. a motorcyclist who exaggerates his riding ability by attempting dangerous tricks. 2. a motorcyclist who wears grossly inadequate safety gear, typically shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops. [Naval term for young sailor; typically one on leave with money to spend on a motorcycle. Believed to be an acronym for Stupid, QUick, and Inevitably Dead.]
Take the Squid Self Assessment Test.
What is a Cager?
Someone who is driving a car.


How do I ride with a passenger?
Don’t, until you have enough solo experience. After that, go slower and brake earlier.
How much experience should I have?
Some people are perfectly capable of carrying passengers right away; others need a year or two of riding experience. Unlike luggage, passengers are heavy, floppy, and move by themselves.
What do I need to tell my passenger?
Tell them not to ride with you. Tell them that if they’re gonna ride with you they have to wear safety gear (helmet, gloves, boots, leather or cordura jacket and at LEAST long pants). Tell them to look over your inside shoulder in a turn and never to put their feet down until you tell them to dismount. And HOLD ON.


What newsgroups is this FAQ for?,, and
Why those three?
Because that’s what the author reads.
What is
It’s a usenet newsgroup for discussing motorcycles and related topics with a specific focus on the San Francisco Bay Area.
What is it okay to post about?
Just about anything, as long as it relates, even somewhat tortuously, to motorcycles.
Are there any forbidden topics or content?
Just the usual: Spam, trolls, and binaries will annoy people, possibly enough to cause complaints to your ISP. If you notice that the topic has come wildly off-topic, then it’s best not to respond.
Can I post for-sale ads or links to online auctions?
Yes. Please say something like Ad: in the post title. And post it only in the appropriate newsgroups. It’s spam if you post it in a lot of places and any inappropriate places.

Useful Links

This is not intended to duplicate Yahoo or Google, just to list a few popular useful web sites.

General and Noncommercial

A Case for Smaller Bikes “DO YOU EVER WONDER why so many inexperienced riders crash, and often spectacularly? … It’s the sheer competence and ease of big speed the newer sportbikes are capable of.”

California Law Web Site “Vehicle Code” and “Streets and Highways” are probably the most useful.

Doc Wong’s Street Riding Clinics and Doc Wong’s Dual-Sport and Dirt Clinics Doc Wong is a chiropractor in the SF Bay Area who organizes free street and dirt riding clinics.

Everything Motorcycles @

Home of the Short Bikers mailing list, list of motorcycles with low seat height, techniques for handling a big motorcycle

The “Hurt” Report Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, a 1981 study of factors causing motorcycle accidents and injuries.

MicaPeak mailing lists and web pages

Motorcycle Tire-Changing

SF Bay Area Track Days Not only does it have all the track days, it has links to all the local folks.

SFBA Motorcycle Resources

Tony Foale Designs Motorcycle Steering and Suspension

Two Wheel Safety Training MSF classes in the San Francisco Bay area

The FAQ a FAQ for another newsgroup

Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide

Commercial or Brand-Specific

Inclusion here is for information only. It is not an endorsement, nor does it mean commercial support of this site.

Aerostich sells excellent cordura motorcycle riding suits, pants, and jackets.

CLASS Motorcycle Schools

California Superbike School With Keith Code, author of the “Twist of the Wrist” series.

CLASS Motorcycle Schools Here’s your chance to improve your riding skills and learn from the pros!

Internet BMW Riders Technical information about BMW motorcycles

Kisan Technologies make headlight and brake light modulators.

Motorcycle Leather Exchange sells new and used motorcycle riding gear.

Motorcycle Consumer® News is an online and print magazine with no advertising.

Silly and thus Worthwhile

Highway 17 Page of Shame A classic but now defunct web site about the commute over the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Spagthorpe Motorcycle Company, the web site of this legendary motorcycle company.

FAQ To Do List

This FAQ is growing. I will modify it as e-mails and posts on e newsgroups appear. Here are some things I’m thinking about … (This list in particular is about BA-specific things.)

  • recommended rides in the area
  • where to ride dirt bikes
  • list of area clubs
  • recurring events
  • links to dealers and stores
  • motorcycle roadside assistance providers and phone numbers

These are good ideas; some are, I think, worthy of a web site all by itself and beyond what I want to do. If you have some material finished and pretty much ready to go that you can e-mail me, please send it to me.

BMW maintenance

Oilhead GS Spoke Wheel Tightening


BMW maintenance

Oilhead Fork Seal Replacement

Replacing Fork Seal (oilhead)
I’ve busted another (it’s the 2.nd in 4 months) fork seal and I intend to replace it myself. I’ve searched the wisdom here and it looks simple. Just to make sure, can the wrench gods confirm the following steps:

a) With a 15 mm and a 19 mm loose the stanchion from the top triple clamp

b) once loose, the stanchion will move down inside the slider.

b) remove the plastic black band at the top of the stanchion.

c) unscrew the cup (is it a sort of dust seal ? is it screwn in?)

d) remove a retaining clip

e) pry the busted seal off. (anyone knows standard seal dimensions?)

f) Install new seal, reverse the rest of the operation

g) take front wheel and axle out, take air purge plug at top of stanchion out and drain fork leg at bottom drain plug.

h) fill 0.47 l of SAE 5 susp. oil.

Is it something like this or am I totally wrong? Why do these shites blow if there’s no susp internals inside? Are we supposed to purge the air regularly like on real forks?



jdiaz 10-07-2003 01:09 PM

Don’t remove the slider at all. Just remove the fork brace bolts, the axle, and the brake caliper, and the fork lower drops right onto the garage floor. At least, that’s how my memory remembers it. I do know that there is nothing positively attaching the slider to the lower fork leg.

The rest of your procedure sounds fine, although I wouldn’t even bother changing oil.



cj1150gs 10-07-2003 03:54 PM

1 Attachment(s)


Sorry, it may be my english. I am calling stanchion to the inner fork tube (attached to the top triple clamp) and slider to the outer tube (attached to the bottom triple clamp / telelever arm).

So do I need to loosen the lower (outer) fork leg? I though that, by releasing the inner from the top triple clamp, this inner would move down inside the (outer) bottom fork leg, allowing me to take the seal out by the top part. Hum… maybe a drawing…


I just redid my left fork seal, and the upper (shiny part) of the left fork, today for the 2nd time since doing both in Achorage early this May, I tried to do it with out taking the entire fork out of the mounts. But it will save you time and knuck skin if you just take the bloody hold thing out. Rememer to re-aline the front axel before putting the tire back on. i tighten the bolts that #4 on preivioius pict. withthe axel in then put the tire back on.

as for replacing the fork seal. by taking the entire lower fork off you will have the ability to remove the bad seal easier. they are really tigith fit. also be very careful on putting the new one back in not ot damage the inner seal ring part of the seal. I used a large socket for to evenly get the seal to sit flat on the metal o-ring that goes below it. I had BMW Anchorage show me how to do it with their BMW speciality tool, I used a large socket that just fit into the lower fork section. If you have a friend with mechanic shop they should have a large enough socket. .

in addition, i put a bit of extra grease on the top cap to help keep dust getting into the seal and wearing it out quicker. To get old seal out is a pain and you need a L shaped hook type of tool to pull it out. that is why i take the lower section, so i can use my feet and legs to get a good hold on the fork to pull the seal out.

thing to check while doing seal replacement
take the tiem to clean out any grime in the bottom of the fork lower section, i use a little but of desiel fuel as a solvent and clean inner part of the fork of and grime fork oil that did not drain out.

the uper part of the fork (shiny part) will slide in easily if the seal is sitting flat on the lower metal o-ring. also take out the tiny hex bolt on the top of the upper part of the fork to let air in as you re-insert the lower part back onto the upper part. and then when everything is at the right place tighten the tiny screw back to seal the fork.

In addition, you should check you upper fork section to see if there are any fine scratches… i had some bad ones from all the dirt roads i ride in Colorado, that could be the reason you seals are wearing out so quickly. And buy a pair of fork covers.

Remove front wheel and brake callipers:

Loosen the inner top from the top triple clamp:

Loosen the pinch bolts on the bottom triple clamp:

Lower the fork tube in the lower triple clamp, let the cup(dust seal ) rest agaisnt it and push down to extract the dust seal.

how it looks once out:

Now remove the air purging little bolt from the top of the inner tube. Then pull the inner from inside the outer. Beware oil spillage!

Now remove circlip:

Then pry the seal out with a big flat blade screwdriver. Protect the top of the outer tube with some plastic piece or something:

Bellow the seal there’s a large washer (rusty in my case):

Where it all seats (once cleaned):

All in pieces:

Now, when I took the inner from the outer I saw that the seal didn’t have any visible damage. The inner is also in good aparent shape without scratches… humm.. I begin to suspect crash is right. Let’s put the inners in the truing stand:

Shit. Crash is Right. About both inner tubes.

I didn’t have my feeler gauges handy. But I had a book 1 cm thick and a 100 pages :): . I can slip 2 pages but not three bellow the middle of the inner. So I guess it has a runnout of 2 to 3/10 mm. Is this acceptable? I can turn the inners inside the outers with no effort…

The Telelever A-arm looks OK. (Apart from the fact that it hits the Hepcko & Becker crash bars :splat.

I can’t see the dreaded cracks in the paint.

The grease under the dust cup is common practice on dirt bikes (real ones, that is). But the manual of my KTM says to put new grease in every 15 riding hours! So, I guess it is a good thing to do if we do ride off-road, but it should be at least inspected on a regular basis (like monthly?)

I borrowed a friend’s micrometer and built a pennytech measuring stand:

As expected, the tubes are more or less inside spec (0.016″)regarding runout. (one is at 0.015″ and the other at 0.018″).

Well then why does the shop manual say to do so?

BMW Shop Manual Page 31.9]
• Install fixed tube.
• Install washer (6).
• Push the lightly oiled shaft sealing ring fully up to
the stop on the slider tube, then press home by
tapping lightly and using threaded bush,
BMW No. 31 5 611, expander,
BMW No. 31 5 612, and reducing adapter,
BMW No. 31 5 613.
• Install retaining ring and dust wiper.
• Insert bleed screw (1).
• Bleed telescopic forks under zero load.

BMW maintenance

Oilhead Maintenance


BMW maintenance

Oilhead Starter Mod

Retrofitting Jump Starting Post to Oilheads

Hi everyone.

I just added a positive battery jumper post to my 1999 R1100S. I wrote up a brief “how to” for the R1100S board, but those of you with pre-2004 GS’s or other R bikes might find this useful as I suspect the process is nearly identical on all oilheads. It’s an easy mod and looks factory when you’re done (see last picture in this post).

The BMW parts you need (at least for the R1100S – other threads have listed parts for the GS – they may be the same) are as follows:

(7) 61137671355 Bracket
(8) 61137671354 Screw
(9) 61137672395 Protective Cap
(10) 07119931050 Washer

I don’t recall how much these cost as I got them a while back, maybe $25 or so. Here’s what the new parts look like:

Here’s the process:

1. IMPORTANT: Disconnect the ground wire on the battery. I know, I know, this probably means removing bodywork to get access to the battery, but this is really not something to fool around with. You’re going to be disconnecting a big wire that is ALWAYS hot and unfused, even with the ignition off. (Perhaps do like I did and make this mod when you need to get under the tank for other things.)

2. Remove the allen bolt holding the starter cover on and remove the starter cover. The bolt is a bit hard to fish out – it’s at the rearward end of the cover pointing forward. A small allen wrench and little hands work best. After removing the bolt, iIt helps to push the gear shift lever down to fish the cover out.

3. The stater relay is at the top with the starter motor below. The new jumper post is going to attach to the top terminal of the relay which is wired directly to the battery with heavy gauge wiring. Unscrew the hex nut on the top terminal and push wire aside. Again, if you previously disconnected the battery ground, this wire can touch things without consequence, but if you didn’t it’s “hot” and will spark like crazy if it touches any ground.

There is a small clip that is inside the wire terminal on the top terminal post – you’re going to be replacing this clip with the new bracket piece onto which the post will mount. The bracket has a shape that mimics the shape of the clip. (Gotta love German over-engineering.)

4. Put the wire terminal back on the post and tighten down the hex nut. At this point, you’ve got a nice bracket ready to receive the jumper post through the starter motor cover.

5. All that’s left is to drill a hole for the post in the starter motor cover. I measured, crossed my fingers, drilled a small pilot hole, saw how close I was, and then made a minor correction as I enlarged the hole. Or you might put something in the bracket that would mark the back of the cover when you test fit it. If you want to use my measurements, the hole is 12mm in diameter, and the center is 123mm and 26mm from the left/top edges of the cover. A step drill is ideal for drilling a nice hole.

6. Put the starter cover back on, screw the post in the bracket, and put the protective cap over the post. You’re done.

BMW maintenance

Oilhead Timing the easy way

Timing Adjustment – No Tools Needed
Well ok, not really no tools, but only two wrenches.

NO electronic tools needed, and NO electrical knowledge.

AND no need to remove the fuel tank.

Setting the timing uses a ‘feature’ of the 1150 Motronic ECU. It works on ’01 and ’02. But I do not know how widespread the ‘feature’ is across other model years.

Here’s the deal. You know how the crank pulley trips the hall-effect sensors right?

Well, if the ignition key is on, and the crank is turned slowly by hand, at the moment the crank pulley trips the hall-effect sensor, the Motronic will switch the fuel pump on for a moment.

Roughly the process is:

Ignition key off
Unplug the headlight
Remove the flywheel viewing plug in the bell housing
Remove the alternator belt cover
Rotate the crank by hand to the ‘ S ‘ flywheel mark
Turn the ignition key on – the fuel pump will cycle normally
Rotate the crank very s-l-o-w-l-y by hand until the fuel pump cycles again
(approx 5° of crank rotation)
The crank is now at the hall sensor trip point
Look at the flywheel marking to see where the timing is set
Adjust if necessary

Pictures and details to follow.

– Jim


Poolside 05-11-2005 03:07 PM

Tools needed

Turn the ignition off.

Reach up under the instrument panel and unplug the headlight. This step is optional, at your discretion. I prefer to unplug the headlight. If a timing adjustment is performed, the ignition key will be on a while.

Remove the black plastic front engine cover. Behind the cover are the crankshaft pulley, hall effect sensor adjustment, and alternator belt tension adjustment.

TIP: If an aftermarket shock is fitted, the shock may be too close to the front cover. If so, the lower mounting bolt may be removed to tilt the shock out of the way of the front cover. If a stock shock is fitted, there is enough clearance to remove the front cover.

IMPORTANT: Think about this. If removing the lower mounting bolt of the front shock, be sure the rear of the bike is weighted so that the bike will not tip forward. And, it helps to have another person to lift up on the front wheel to remove the shear load from the shock bolt.

After the front engine cover is removed, replace the shock bolt for safety.

Rotate the crank until you see the ‘ S ‘ flywheel mark in the bell housing hole. For clarity, this picture is staged with the technician on the left side of the bike. You may find it easier to do this from the right hand side of the bike.

Rotate the crank until you see the ‘ S ‘ flywheel mark. The ‘ S ‘ mark is 5� Before Top Dead Center (BTDC).

Turn the ignition key on. The fuel pump will cycle normally. And if you unplugged the headlight, the headlight will not be on.

S-L-O-W-L-Y rotate the crank. After about 5� of rotation the fuel pump will cycle again.

You can see that 5� is not very far. If you ‘feel’ that you over-rotated the crank by some amount, just reverse the crank 5 degrees and try again. This is a light-handed maneuver.

Take a look at the flywheel mark again. If the timing is correct, the ‘ OT ‘ mark will be lined up in the center of the viewing hole. The ‘ OT ‘ mark is Top Dead Center (TDC).

Ok. Repeat the last two steps a few times. The fuel pump will cycle each time the crank pulley crosses the sensor trip point.

Each time the fuel pump cycles, stop and look at the location of the flywheel mark. Slowly repeat the process of crossing the sensor trip point, and checking the flywheel mark. After some number of tries, the final location of the mark will be consistent.

The flywheel mark will be in one of three places. Exactly on TDC, somewhat ahead of TDC, or somewhat behind TDC.

PARALLAX ERROR: It is easy enough to position your eye exactly centered above the bell housing hole. The hole in the bell housing has side walls or ‘draft’. And it is easy to spot whether your perspective is lined up.

From a look at the pictures below, it is possible to determine that the camera lens is not lined up with the centerline of the hole. The camera lens is a little above the hole centerline.

What gives the high lens location away is the ‘draft’ visible along the bottom edge of the hole. Eyes will see the same thing if their perspective is a little above the hole centerline. Get your reading glasses, and a good light.

When your eye is lined up with the hole, it is natural to draw an imaginary line through the center of the circle. Take a look at the green line, is very natural to see where the ‘ OT ‘ mark is, relative to that imaginary green line.

Spark advance looks like this. Some amount ahead of TDC.

For example, this is what 2� advance looks like.

Spark retard looks like this. Some amount behind TDC.

For example, this is what 2� retard looks like.

The hall sensors are hidden from view. They are behind the crank pulley. The hall sensors are mounted to a circular plate. The circular plate can be seen around the perimeter of the crank pulley.

Spark timing is controlled by the hall sensors. Spark timing adjustment is done by changing the position of the hall sensors, relative to the crank pulley. Changing the position of the hall sensors is done by adjusting the circular plate.

The timing adjustment range is limited to about �5�. And about the middle of the adjustment range sets the timing to about TDC.

Loosen the THREE hex head fasteners that hold the circular hall sensor plate. Fully loosen the fasteners so that the circular sensor plate will slide freely.

People have reported that the plate on their bike was stuck in place or almost impossible to turn. If that is the case the fasteners can be removed fully and the plate can be freed by lifting it away from the surface. Some canned air and spray lube should remove any grit or debris, and keep the plate moving freely when loosened next time.

It is much easier to make small adjustments to the plate if the fasteners are very loose. If the fasteners are even slightly snug, too much force must be applied to the plate to move it. And when it does move it will overshoot the intended mark.

PAUSE: This just seemed worth stopping for. I did not really notice until working with these pictures. This is the UNDERSIDE of the front control arm. I am glad my friend lets me use his bike for these photos. My hands (and the camera) stay clean.

Adjusting the timing.

First, turn off the ignition key.

The timing is adjusted by moving the hall sensor plate. The full range of adjustment is limited to about �5�. The sensor plate can be moved to either end of the 10� range and the engine will start and the bike is plenty rideable.

Make a pencil mark across the plate and front cover and experiment. I am running mine at about 3� advance timing. The idle is smoother and the pinging is about the same. Though as the weather gets warmer the engine may ping less at 0� timing.

To advance the timing, move the bottom of the hall sensor plate to the right. A small flat blade screwdriver is used to slide the plate.

To retard the timing, move the bottom of the hall sensor plate to the left.

After moving the hall sensor plate where you wish, snug one of the fasteners to hold it in place.

Turn on the ignition key and repeat the previous steps of rotating the crank pulley until the fuel pump cycles. And check to see how the timing changed.

After all of this smooth sailing, there is one pesky gotcha here. When reattaching the plastic cover, it can sometimes be impossible to get the screws on the left side of the cover started.

Here is why. The oil return tube has two brackets that are held in place with two of the front cover screws. You can see the problem you will have if the brackets are not lined up with the screw holes.