One of those days

A bit of backstory…Peter and I were going to go riding this past weekend with Rhiannon and her boyfriend, but P’s twisted ankle was acting up again and we decided a long ride wasn’t the best idea. We still wanted to do something, though, so we planned to do Summit Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

On Saturday, I spent the day doing a tune-up on the DR: oil change, chain cleaning, bolt tightening…and, of course, valves. Everything was going smoothly until it came time to remove the magneto plug — you know, the innocuous liittle cover that comes off with a large flathead screwdriver. Only this one didn’t come off. Apparently some previous owner decided that that stupid little plastic cover had to be torqued to like 5 million newton-meters. Total nightmare. We finally got it off using the air compressor with a flathead impact screwdriver bit. Ugh.

So I finally got to the valves…the DR has four on a single cylinder. There’s not a lot of room to work, and by this time, the sun was right in my eyes and blah whine complain. But it got done and I put everything all back together.

Sunday morning, Peter goes to start the bike and the decompression lever isn’t working (so he can’t kickstart the bike). After a bit of puttering around and reading the service manual, we realized we had to open up the bike again. So much for going riding. Peter ordered us a pizza while I got the seat/tank/valve covers off again. It was immediately apparent that the decompression lever was nothing more than a little extra cam lobe that opened up one of the four valves for easier kickstarting. When I’d done the valve adjustment on that valve, it seems that I’d unscrewed the adjust screw (to fit the feeler gauge underneath) and then tightened it to spec. What I should have done was unscrewed the adjust screw, tightened it all the way, then backed it out to spec, because my method left just a titch of free play in the rocker arm — the decompression lever cam lobe wasn’t able to affect arm. SO…I redid the valves. Fine. Seemed to work. We put the bike back together.

Peter started the bike…and we instantly heard a weird noise. Coming from the valves. Both of us lunged towards the ignition to switch off the bike. And off came the seat, tank, and valve covers once again. Sigh. This time, the locknuts were loose. Apparently 650cc thumpers really need them some tight locknuts. So I redid the valve clearances AGAIN and really tightened the locknuts. We put the bike back together.

Things looked good, so we geared up and started out to actually go on our ride (a much condensed version, though, as it was already after 2pm). On Highway 17, I noticed the DR smoking a little bit on deceleration. I figured it was just crap burning off (I had to use a lot of PB and WD40 to get some of the bolts off), but it got worse as we exited 17. We pulled over into a hiker parking area to inspect.

Well, some total frickin’ moron put the intake valve cover on upside down, leaving just enough space to leak oil. So….off came the seat and tank.


We found a nice shaded spot and got to work. Everything was going well until…..well, naturally, one of the two valve cover bolts was stuck tight. Now, I’d just put that same stupid bolt on not an hour before, and I can guarantee that I didn’t overtorque it, so god knows what was going on there. But that shit was not coming off. All we had on us was the XT’s crappy 10mm open-ended wrench that came in the bike’s toolkit (I think that wrench is made out of aluminum foil, seriously. What the hell?), which we promptly pretty much ruined. We tried the toolkit pliers and eventually the pliers on my Leatherman. No luck.

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Just as we were about to give up, a local guy in a pickup drove by and asked if we needed help. “If you’ve got a 10mm socket on you,” I said. “Actually, I do. One minute.” he turned around and parked next to us. Turns out the dude had like a full toolset in his truck. When the socket didn’t help (we’d stripped the bolt pretty well with the pliers), he busted out a pair of vice grips. That did the trick and the valve cover was off! Hooray! Thank you, nice man with vice grips.

Moral: The toolkit on your bike sucks. Replace it with real tools.

So we turned the valve cover around, swapped the destroyed bolt with another 10mm bolt on the bike that was easier to get to, and put the bike back together. Yeesh.

In my defense, I think it’s really stupid that the valve cover can fit back on the bike upside down and the only way to tell is looking at it from underneath. I mean, really. Lame.

So then we actually went riding, but this entry is getting long and boring and I want to go to lunch. Your patience will be rewarded with Actual Photos Of Us Riding On Dirt, thank god, after all that drama.

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