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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I think it's about time I need to do some maintenance on my 500. I'm starting to get the first indications of wheel bearing issues. A little "buzzy" feeling in the handlebars from time to time (varies with speed), and a very little bit of audible noise.

BikerBill, this one is for you...

I was reading in the "highest miles on a 500" thread you put in some different wheel bearings from a bearing shop. Did they hold up better than OEM bearings? If so, do you have the specific info or part numbers on them? I have the info for OEM bearings, but seeing what else might be available.

Bike only has a little over 13K on it, seems pretty short for bearing life, but I've only had the bike since about the 10.5K mark, so unsure of the history before that. I do know the PO stored the bike exclusively outside (as do I for lack of inside parking. The better half's car gets the garage, but it keeps her happy).
 

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If memory serves, I had to replace the original bearings at around 19K (I was returning from my very first IronButt ride). I had noticed that the front end had a jarring feeling when pulling into a gas station. I removed the bearings and took them to a local bearing house and they matched them up to one of theirs. I don't have the bearing info but there are numbers etched into the bearings that identify them. Those replacement bearings lasted over 100k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Mine doesn't have the jarring feeling, or the loose/sloppy feel if you shake the front wheel. But when riding, after you get up to about 20, there's a buzzy feeling in the handlebars that comes and goes as your speed goes up or down. At the slow point when you feel it, it's on and off rapidly, pretty much in rotation with the wheel. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, but it feels almost like half my tire has an entirely different tread pattern than the other half.

I have noticed I can feel the vibration more when I'm coasting down to a stop or for a turn. Using the brakes seems to dampen the feeling.

I put the bike up on my bike jack today and gave a pretty decent but quick inspection. Here's what I found (or didn't find):

Neck bearings seem good and firm. No play in that area, and the bars take a bit of a push to move them, not just all loose and flopping around.
No abnormal wear on either tire.
Brakes aren't dragging on either wheel. I did have to adjust my rear brake a bit as it was a little too loose for my liking. Front brake pads are like new, I replaced them about 2K miles ago.
Both rims roll nice and true (checked with a fixed point of reference while the bike is in the air, wheel spinning)
While I was checking rim trueness, I also gave a look for out of round on the tires themselves. Everything looked good there.
Front wheel has no noticeable noise or grinding feeling when spun by hand with the bike in the air.
Rear wheel has no noticeable bearing noises, but my chain does seem a little worn. I didn't see any evidence of unevenly wearing sprockets, based on the amount of slack in the chain, or if it was there it was so small I didn't see it. Readjusted chain to loosen it a bit. I believe I had it set too tight, so backed my adjusters off about 1/2 turn each. Also lubed chain while I had it up.
Adjusted my air pressure down a bit. Max pressures are 40(F), 42 (R), I usually run 36-38 (F), and 38-40 (R). Tried 30/30...

After test ride....
Air pressure going back up. Tires sounded like a set of super swampers compared to what I'm used to. The bike also felt all around softer and less responsive.

After test ride #2
Back to normal for tire noise (almost none). Only rode in my neighborhood so I could run without a helmet and actually listen to the bike. My neighborhood basically consists of a dead end street (that I live at the end of), and a small loop around the block on the other side. Max speed: 22mph.
I could not only feel the vibration in the handlebars, but could faintly hear something as well.
Even with the freshly lubed chain, I could definitely hear it spinning as it rolled around the sprockets... Might be time for that as well...

Yes, I spin wrenches in a m-cycle shop sometimes, but there is still more to learn, and this one is starting to baffle me.

All of the telltale things I look for seem to not be there or shows everything in good working order. But the bike just doesn't feel right....

Anything I'm missing here?
 

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The way I found the bad bearings was to grab the wheel where it passes between the forks (where the fender bolts to the forks) and give it a shake. I felt the play in the bearings immediately.

If the chain is wearing unevenly it can come through as a rhythmic vibration as the chain goes over the tight spots. Check the chain slack at several places and I’ll wager that you will find your vibration.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
BikerBill does it again!

Chain and/or sprockets appear to be my issue...

Here's what I did:

With the bike on the ground, I measured chain slack. Then moved the bike back about 1 foot (measured by the side stand), and measured again. Repeat until I ran out of driveway (about 14' in my case).

I have a difference of about 3/8" in slack measurements. That would be enough to cause a vibration, but has me puzzled.

Why wouldn't it show when I had the bike in the air on my bike jack?

So, front wheel bearings off the list (for now), chain and sprockets on the list.

Recommendations for chain and sprockets?

I wouldn't mind sacrificing a little of the pep for better fuel economy, so a ratio change wouldn't bother me (within reason). I'm also on a pretty tight budget, so hopefully these parts aren't too expensive. Partzilla shows me 331.69 for an OEM chain and sprocket kit, and that's out of my budget for a while.

Edit add on question...

If the parts are out of budget, at least for now, how long would the bike still be safe to ride? This is my only transportation to and from work, and it would be at least another 2 weeks before I could think of getting an alternative way to and from. My daily ride is about 23-25 miles each way, with most of the main speed limits varying between 45 and 60 mph, depending on the route.
 

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I believe that I can help you on that chain and sprockets issue, considering that I had been chasing this very issue as recently as this spring. I think that I spent about $160 on all pieces. (Remember that the OEM does not have a master link and requires removing the swingarm to install it.) You can get a less expensive chain but will be replacing it more often, along with the sprockets.

Sprockets:
J-T Sprockets
Front JTF512.17
Rear JTR1490.42
This link is their fitment page: JT Sprockets: Catalogue (but DON'T use their chain)

Chain:
Regina 520 ZRP 110 links

You'll probably be okay riding until the replacements come in. Simply adjust the chain where it is at its tightest.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
sounds good, and definitely more within my budget. I'll be checking those links out tomorrow more in depth.

A quick question on the JT Sprockects... I see they also offer a rubber cushioned version... have you tried it?

And a quick search on the chain shows it only available in gold... is that what you're running?
 

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sounds good, and definitely more within my budget. I'll be checking those links out tomorrow more in depth.

A quick question on the JT Sprockects... I see they also offer a rubber cushioned version... have you tried it?

And a quick search on the chain shows it only available in gold... is that what you're running?
I have not tried the rubber cushioned one as it appears to be a new item in their catalog. The link shows it only in 16T. However the KLE500 sprocket might fit. I might have to try it next time.

The chain I listed is the one I am currently using. In almost 2,000 miles I have not had to adjust it except after the initial run-in.
 

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chain length

Sprockets:
J-T Sprockets
Front JTF512.17
Rear JTR1490.42


Chain:
Regina 520 ZRP 110 links"



If I have changed sprockets (just the front one), how do I tell how many links I need in a new chain?:serious:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, paycheck is in the bank, some money to buy parts with, and I can't find where to buy the sprockets on the company site. Are they only available through outside vendors? I'm finding them on eBay pretty cheap, so may just order there. Looking at less than $40 for the sprocket set.

Since when everything comes in, I'll be trashing the old chain, no need to remove the swingarm. Break out the handy HFT electric cutoff tool and that chain will be off in no time! No, seriously, I probably will pull the swingarm and save the chain for now (at least until I can take a closer look at it).

While I have it down, I wouldn't mind punching a hole and adding a grease fitting for the swingarm bushings. Any thoughts?

Also, automatic chain oilers... thoughts?
 

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Well, paycheck is in the bank, some money to buy parts with, and I can't find where to buy the sprockets on the company site. Are they only available through outside vendors? I'm finding them on eBay pretty cheap, so may just order there. Looking at less than $40 for the sprocket set.

Since when everything comes in, I'll be trashing the old chain, no need to remove the swingarm. Break out the handy HFT electric cutoff tool and that chain will be off in no time! No, seriously, I probably will pull the swingarm and save the chain for now (at least until I can take a closer look at it).

While I have it down, I wouldn't mind punching a hole and adding a grease fitting for the swingarm bushings. Any thoughts?

Also, automatic chain oilers... thoughts?
Do you shop on Amazon? All these parts are available thru Amazon.

Grease fitting for the swingarm? I don't think it is necessary. Each time I have inspected the swingarm bearings (60k, 108k, 178k) I was pleasantly surprised at their condition. Pic of the swingarm shaft: https://www.vulcanforums.com/forums/11-general-vulcan-talk/4977-highest-miles-vulcan-500-a-6.html#post2284737

Chain oiler: Hidalgo has had a ScottOiler installed since around 80k miles. It really helps. There are others out there too.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I price checked amazon, but eBay was cheaper for me. I don't have an account with Amazon, which may affect my prices there.

I did find one seller on eBay who has both sprockets, and with separate shipping on each, it came out to around $38. I googled his actual business and i'm going to call him in the morning to see if he will combine shipping for me to save a couple bucks. Since he also has a salvage yard, or at least more parts, I'll see what else he has that might fit the bike as well.

Let me get my chain and sprockets, and I'll start a new thread over the oiler... That might be another check or two away...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Update:

Ordered my sprockets, and they've been here for a little while. Finally opened the package and... Proper 17t front and 40t rear, not the 42t I ordered. Hmmmm....

After talking to the seller,at first he offered me the choice of a swap (I pay return postage), or he'd refund half my money and I keep the 40t. Very pleasant fellow to deal with really. Ended up on the phone for better than an hour just talking bikes and general shop talk. At the end, he just refunded the purchase price for the rear sprocket (both sprockets came from him, so I basically paid for the front sprocket and combined shipping).

Guess I'm going to try out the 17/40 combo now.

My only question now is do I need to adjust my chain down to 108 links, or is there enough room in the adjusters to handle the extra chain running at the spec 110 link chain?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again Bill!

I noticed in the new rear sprocket thread that you had ran the 17/40 combo before, but didn't care for it much.

How much of the low end pep did you lose?

Any other changes I should be aware of after the swap?
 

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Thanks again Bill!

I noticed in the new rear sprocket thread that you had ran the 17/40 combo before, but didn't care for it much.

How much of the low end pep did you lose?

Any other changes I should be aware of after the swap?
The 'loss of pep' on the low end wasn't as noticeable as the 'loss of power' at highway speeds. I could not stay in 6th gear due to winds, altitude (3,500ft), a huge 'honkin' windshield, and 75+ mph speed limits. I found myself constantly downshifting into 5th (which is numerically identical to the original 6th at the 17/40 ratio). Of course I have Hidalgo loaded to nearly max GVWR most of the time too. :wink2:

Come to think of it I haven't used the 17/40 setup since before the restoration. At that time I was running pod air filters. That generates quite a bit of noise from the intake valves. I have since reinstalled the airbox, which quietens things a lot. I may give it another try later on just to see if it could work.
 
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