The importance of not missing a bike service...

Author: Adrian   Date Posted:21 February 2017 

One of our customers was having some trouble with his bike one day.  He was riding down the highway and all of a sudden the engine cut out.  Now he missed his last service and was about 3,000 KM over... woops!  He called up road side assist and got his bike towed to his local bike shop (which is a well known chain of repair shops in Victoria) and they gave him a new battery and sent him on his way.  He was misinformed that the problem was a battery by road side assist and as such that is what he asked for.   He got home and a short while later the bike cut out again - he managed to ride it back to the repair shop and the mechanic took a look.  They weren't sure what was going on and at that point I told my mate to get the bike sent to us to get it checked over by our mate Frank who runs a bike repair service out of our warehouse.

As soon as it showed up Frank spotted there was some oil spray on the side of the engine and he cracked it open. This is what he found as soon as the valve cover came off.

Inside you can see that the cam shaft cap retainer is somewhat loose...

Here is a much better view of the retainer that has come loose in the engine.  It just slowly worked it's way up as it wasn't tightened properly at the factory.

The damage was well.. pretty bad.  The valve cover was totally destroyed on the inside.

The cam journels should be nice and smooth; same with the valve shims. A whole lot of uneven wear from the inside of the engine having the guts knocked around.  The whole inside was completely destroyed by what is clearly a factory fault because two small screws came loose on the inside. As the bike only had 30,000 'ish km's on it the previous mechanics had no real reason to pop open the cover to do any valve adjustments.  Though most any mechanic should have quickly noticed the oil spray coming out the side of the engine and possibly questioned why the bike's oil had run dry.

Total cost to buy just the new parts from Kawasaki was in excess of $3K but thankfully Frank managed to source a replacement engine with half the km's on it and at a fraction of the cost.  There is a few lessons to be learned from this though:

  1. Always maintain your regular service scheduling and make sure you take your bike to competent mechanics who can spot issues before they become a big problem
  2. Every week or so do a walk around and check your bike for any leaking oil or anything that seems out of place. Check your tyre pressure!
  3. Check your oil levels too.  If you don't know how make sure you have a read of your owners manual (there is a fair bit of useful info in there) or ask your mechanic

Now I'm not a mechanic and I probably didn't explain everything correctly with the right terms but for those of you who are mechanics I'm sure the pictures will suffice.