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Old 06-24-2009, 09:06 PM   #1
Snuggs0802
 
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Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

My '08 KLR has 20,000+ miles, and is now producing an intermittent engine vibration. The vibration will materialize while riding and feels as though the engine is acting like a kind of vibrator motor, then will taper off and disappear until the cycle repeats. I have not yet defined how long it takes for the cycle to repeat or how long the vibration remains in effect each cycle.

All other aspects of the bike have remained constant, therefore I do not believe that this vibration is caused by the chassis, drive chain, engine mounts, tires, or nerf bars (SW Motech variety). The vibration corresponds to engine speed whether the bike is moving or not.

This vibration comes and goes seemingly as something within the engine gets out of dynamic sync while running. Kind of like dialling in the horizontal hold on a television set (for those of us old enough to remember TV's with vertical and horizontal hold buttons, where you turn the buttons left or right until the screen stops rolling when it is in sync with the refresh rate).
I suspect the counter-balancer system. I believe that there is enough slack in the counter-balancer chain to allow the balancers to be off a degree or two, which in turn causes the counter balancer system to be out of sync in a cyclical harmonic way.
Another way to think of it is like a timing light on the timing mark of a running engine, except that in this case the timing mark is slowly moving back and forth on its own by some degree of error as it overrlaps and then repeats in dynamic cycles.
I have an extended warranty on the bike and so I returned the bike to the Kawasaki dealer. They confirmed excessive vibration when the bike was given to them. They pulled the left side outer case cover off and claim that the counter-balancer chain is tight and in sync. The dealer says the counter-balancer chain is tight and there is no way the chain could have jumped teeth. They further claim that the doohickey still has adjustment room left in it and the spring has tension. In short, the dealer claims that everything relating to the counter-balancer system is just fine. The dealer says they bike ran fine after the case cover was reinstalled, but the vibration returned after they ran it a few minutes, consistent with my own experience. The dealer also checked the motor mounts and found none loose.
The dealer spoke with Kawasaki and they seem to think that the nerf bars (SW Motech) are causing a vibration. I am almost certain this is not the case. For one, the abnormal vibration, when it occurs, is generated by the engine, not the nerf bars. The nerf bars have been on the bike for several thousand miles prior to this problem occurring. While I will agree that the nerf bars do tend to accentuate vibration produced by the engine, normal and abnormal, they do not themselves cause any abnormal vibration. I am quite familiar with normal vibration, having put over 20K miles on this bike, and this vibration is 10 times more than normal and is definitely produced by the engine. I will nonetheless remove the nerf bars just to prove the point, so that Kawasaki cannot use the bars as an excuse.

Has anyone else out there had a similar problem with their KLR, of any year model? What were your symptoms and what was the cause and cure?
Thanks
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:16 PM   #2
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

Has the doohickey been changed on yours? Inspected is one thing, but even the '08s need to be upgraded. Every 4-5 thousand miles mine needs the doo adjusted. It always runs smoother afterward. 32K and counting so far.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:37 PM   #3
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

i would pop the side case off and look at the doohickey spring, you'll be able to see if the spring has tension or not without yanking anything else off. that will also tell you if the dealership actually did what they said they did.

check over all of the bike for a missing bolt/screw, especially in the nerf bars, but check all over (muffler, sub frame, engine mounts!, etc). a missing bolt could cause some funkiness and gawd knows the klr likes to vibrate things loose.

is the vibration dependant on a specific rpm range or is it across the board? when i installed happy trails nerf bars they made the noise of an angry swarm of bees at 4000rpm, one of the support bars was resting on part of the frame, metal to metal, and you wouldnt know it to look at it, had to run my fingers along it to find where it touched. fixing that cured my vibes.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:54 PM   #4
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

The doohickey was redesigned in '08, and it appears that they no longer break. However, the spring that provides tension to the adjuster when the adjusting bolt is loosened has proven to have little or no tension on some bikes, even when new.
I adjust the doohickey at every oil change; 3,000 miles. The dealer said that it did not appear as though my adjuster had been moving. This may be due to a spring with no tension in it (although dealer says my spring had tension) or the doohickey was stuck.
To adjust it, I warm up the engine to operating temperature, shut-off, loosen the adjuster bolt until is feels physically loose (about 1 full turn), tap the socket with the handle of a screw driver, turn the adjuster bolt clockwise until snug, then back out again, tap again, then tighten to 5 ft/lbs, reinstall the rubber plug clocking the hex shape in the plug to the adjust bolt. The adjuster bolt has always remained tight between adjustments.
I had been hearing a rhythmic chain slack sound from the engine for the last 1,000 miles or so, which is why I suspect that the in the counter-balancer chain is either loose or stretched.
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:58 PM   #5
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

The vibration appears to be greatest from idle to mid way through the RPM range. i.e. the faster the engine runs the less vibration. I can see vibration in the nerf bars at certain RPM. This is normal since the bars were installed. the abnormal vibration is something new and is not noticeable in the nerf bars.
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Old 06-24-2009, 10:48 PM   #6
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

ive seen (online) 2008 and 2009 doohickey springs with zero tension, i wouldnt necessarily trust that the dealership did what they said they did, only way to be sure is to check it yourself. you rightly seem to think thats the problem, only one way to be sure is to take a peek.

i'd still check the engine mount bolts and frame bolts first though.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:14 AM   #7
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

You poor guys with doohickey problems. My DR650 has a gear driven counter balancer with no maintenance whatsoever. Just had to rub it in a little. I used to have a KLR too.

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Old 07-16-2009, 05:20 PM   #8
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

Here is an update ... The Kawasaki dealer found that the counter balancer chain sprocket on the front balancer shaft is cracked and slipping slightly on it's shaft. The result is that the balancers are out of sync with each other, and the crankshaft, causing the vibration which cycles about every 45 seconds from extreme to perfectly normal.
Kawasaki has not done much of anything to honor my extended warranty or to solve this problem. Granted the cost of repair will be covered by my extended warranty, but if left up to Kawasaki, I doubt the bike would ever be fixed; not this year anyway.
Kawasaki just kept telling the dealer to check the motor mounts, the frame, remove my nerf bars, etc., all despite the fact that the symptoms are clearly a balancer issue. Granted, all those things needed to be checked in a process of elimination. But after they had been checked and proved not to be the cause of the problem, there was no further support from Kawasaki to solve this problem.
It was the Kawasaki dealer, who, in dealing with me in good faith on this problem, took it upon himself to order a new balancer chain, doohickey and spring (under the premise that the chain might have stretched beyond spec; remember 20,000+ miles on this bike). Even after new chain etc. was installed however the vibration continued just as it had before.
This is the kind of trial-and-error expense that Kawasaki apparently will not do, hence leaving it up to the dealer to foot the bill.
The dealer was about to pull the motor and start tearing it down when he decided to have one more look at the C-B system, That's when he noticed the sync marks out of sync., (eventhough they were in sync just just moments before when the bike was reassembled and test ridden). and surmised that it was not possible for the chain to jump a tooth; it's a new chain. That's when he noticed a crack in the front sprocket. The front balancers spin on a shaft that passes all the way through the block on the front side of the cylinder, from the fly-wheel side of the engine to the clutch-side, with a balancer on each end (there is a second balancer/shaft behind the cylinder near the starter motor).
To test the theory they tried to turn the balancer on the clutch-side of the shaft while the balancer on fly-wheel side should be held in place by the balancer chain, however they could turn the shaft and see that the sprocket was slipping on the shaft.
Apparently the sprocket is pressed onto the shaft, and both are spline'd which makes me wonder if the shaft is not also damaged, or perhaps the sprocket is slipping on it's hub while the hub remains solid to the shaft.
At any rate the dealer says it's an easy fix once they get a new sprocket.
It remains to be seen whether or not this will solve my vibration problem, but I sure hope so. I would like to be back in saddle in time for the 2nd Annual Beyond EPIC Labor Day weekend Extravaganza - Hill Country 500, Sep 5-6, 2009.
At any rate, assuming this is the problem, it's a new twist in the KLR's achillies heel... namely the counter balancer system.
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:41 PM   #9
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

kudos to the dealer. A bike motor should last more than 20K miles, eh!
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:11 AM   #10
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

Glad they found the problem Snuggs.
Hope to see you at the Epic Ride!
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:27 PM   #11
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

I got my KLR back today and it is running normally again after the dealer replaced the left front counter-balancer/sprocket assembly. I asked to see the old part, mostly to allay my fears that the shaft it sits on might not also be damaged. In fact, the balancer on the fly-wheel side of the engine is a single cast piece which includes a splined bore at it's center that slides on to the front counter-balancer shaft. The sprocket is pressed onto the balancer. The sprocket cracked and spun on the balancer, not on the shaft, so the shaft is fine.
Seems to be running just fine after 50+ miles ridden today.http://www.twtex.com/forums/images/s...happyrider.gif
First thing I did was ride home and put my SW Motech nerf bars back on the bike, suffering no ill effects or abnormal vibration as a result (these were first thing Kawasaki insisted must be causing the vibration, rather than their crappy balancer system).
http://www.twtex.com/forums/images/s.../icon_clap.gif
I am compelled to give honorable mention to the dealer in question, namely Texas Powersports on HWY 290 west of austin, about a 1/4 mile west of the Nutty Brown Cafe. The owner is Glenn Smith. Glenn is a great guy to do business with; very straight forward. I've purchased two KLRs from Glenn, despite the fact that his dealership is 32 miles from my house in Cedar Park. I just could not deal with the other Kawasaki dealers in Austin & Georgetown, but I like doing business with Glenn.
I do believe that Glenn's perseverance with this problem made the difference between getting my KLR fixed pershttp://www.twtex.com/forums/images/smilies/thumb.gif, as apposed to leaving me to fend for myself with Kawasaki.
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:29 PM   #12
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Re: Engine Vibration Problem in '08 KLR650

great news snuggs!
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