General Maintenance

Tips on fairing removal
ABS Plastic repair (seat cowl tabs)
Recommended engine break-in procedure
Brake and Clutch fluid replacement
Coolant replacement
VFR cartridge fork service
Front fork alignment
Air Filter replacement options
Care and Feeding of your drive chain

Tips on fairing removal
by: Dan Michael

I was removing the fairings from my 1991 VFR the other night. I never had a problem with this before. I first undid the dzus along the "lower center fairing" and the plastic "quick screws" just under the turn signals. I then undid the center "middle fairings" dzus and removed them. The "upper fairing" now has 1/2 inch cracks on both sides at the forward slot under the turn signals :-(. Moral of the story? DO NOT REMOVE THE PLASTIC QUICK SCREW ATTACHING THE UPPER FAIRING TO THE LOWER CENTER UNTIL AFTER REMOVING THE MIDDLE FAIRINGS. These screws support the forward slot attachment in the upper fairing, preventing it from twisting when removing the middles. A moment's carelessness while the bike safely sat in the basement has been my undoing. DOH! The cracks are small and can be repaired, but this is my first damage to the bike, and I am not happy.

ABS Plastic repair
by:Marc Lemieux

While removing my seat cowl to facilitate the installation of a high exit r/s STAINTUNE pipe on my '90 VFR I broke off a rear tab (again). Having had it repaired once previously by a technician at Blackfoot Motorcycle here in Calgary I took it back to him to have him repair it again. I thought some of you (all of you?) on the list may be able to benefit from his repair methodology as I have not seen this particular method mentioned on the list. So, here it is:


- Crazy Glue (specifically CYANACRYLATE (sp?))
- 100% Baking Soda

Clean and/or sand the surfaces where the glue will be applied. Apply CYANACRYLATE glue to the surfaces. Carefully reattach pieces ensuring they are properly lined up. Immediately apply enough baking soda (to the unpainted side) to cover the excess/squeezed out glue. The baking soda produces a chemical reaction (don't ask me what kind!) with the glue and the plastic to create an immediate and strong bond. To reinforce the joint (or any weak area, ie cracks), clean/sand, spread glue around area of crack, cover with baking soda, wait a few seconds, brush off excess baking soda and Voila! You can also sand it if desired.

Not that it probably matters, but he used Arm & Hammer 100% Baking Soda.

The last time he reinforced a crack in my middle fairing he used a Loc-Tite CYANACRYLATE glue product.

He mentioned that the results vary with different types of plastic, but generally speaking it works well. You may want to test the method in an unobvious area of plastic.

With all the talk of broken plastic I thought it timely to share...

Recommended engine break-in procedure

Motorcyclist magazine asked four of the top engine builders in the country what they do to ensure peak power output and optimum engine life. This is most of the article, (all of the break--in procedure).

From MOTORCYCLIST Feb. 1991. titled GIVE IT A BREAK-IN (How to make your bike run stronger and live longer).

The first few hundred miles of a new engine's life have a major impact on how strongly that engine will perform, how much oil it will consume and how long it will last..... We ask four top engine builders what they do to ensure peak power output and optimum engine life..........piston ring and cylinder seating is critical to get a proper seal for power output and oil consumption.....If the wrong type of oil is used initially or the breakin is too easy, rings and cylinders could glaze and never seal properly. A fresh cylinder wall needs some medium to high engine loadings to get the piston rings to seat properly for good compression but don't lug or overheat the engine either. Use high quality low viscosity oil (Valvoline 30 weight eg.) no synthetics, too slippery, if used during initial breakin the rings are sure to glaze. Initial run should be used to bring oil and coolant up to temperature only, with little or no load, then shut off and allow to cool right down. After thorough cool down (ambient temp), start up and ride under light loads at relativly low rpm 3000-5000 rpm, keep out of top gear, lugging is more detrimental than high rpm. Key advice, constantly vary load on engine, a constant load is not ideal for breaking in bearing tolerances. This run should last only 10-15 minutes before another complete cool down. The next run should be slightly higher rpm, 5000-7000 and under light to medium loads using short bursts of acceleration to seat the rings in early. Again 10-15 minutes of running should do it and again avoid top gear. Allow to cool right down. The third run should consist of light to medium engine loads with a few more bursts of medium-high rpm, 8000-9000 rpm max, and lasting just 10-15 minutes varying the engine load and avoiding top gear. Next while the engine is still warm drain the oil and change the filter. This gets out the new metal particles that are being worn away. Al Ludington from Vance and Hines feels most of the metal particles will break away within first 50 -75 miles, get them out soon after. To ensure the rings seat well, use same high quality oil and don't be shy about short duration high rpm blasts through the lower gears after the oil has been changed. A few more 15-20 minute sessions should be used to work up to the engine's redline gradually increasing the engine loads. After some definite hard running and 250-500 miles it's a good idea to check the valves. After 500 miles retorquing the head is suggested. Switch to snythetic oil but not before 500-1500 miles. Most of the engine experts warned of the danger of breaking in the engine too easily and ending up withwith an engine that will always run slow whether it is from tight tolerances, inadequate ring seal or carbon buildup. Engine load is more detrimental than rpm, so avoid lugging the engine but rev it freely especially in the lower gears. Muzzy summed up his break-in concerns most concisely: Basically, be sure not to get it too hot but be sure to seat the rings properly. Its that simple...........

So that's it, sure a lot different than keeping under 4000 rpm for 500 miles then under 5000 rpm for 1000 miles. Maybe bike manufacturers are being super cautious at the expense of your motor's performance? I think that they take the cautious route that works over time (1000 miles, or about 20 hours of break in) versus a faster route that can be more easily screwed up. FWIW, on the VF1000R, the slower break-in showed better leakdown at 4000 miles than at 1500, and I suspect that the go-slow method of the factory recommendations are looked at more for simplicities sake than for other effects.

Brake and Clutch fluid replacement
by: Charles Martin

Drape towels and rags over any areas where you may spill fluid since it can remove paint. Remove the fluid from your reservoir with a cattle/horse syringe (Turkey Baster will work here as well, just don't let your SO catch you! ed.). Refill reservoir with clean fluid. Put a clear plastic line on the caliper's bleed bolt. 1) Loosen the bleed bolt slightly. 2) Squeeze the lever. 3) Snug up the bolt. 4) Release the lever. 5) Check reservoir fluid level. Repeat steps 1-5 until clean fluid comes out the line. Once the fluid coming out is clean. Tighten and replace the cap on the bleed bolt. Add fluid into the reservoir up to the full line and put the cap back on. Of course you'll want to do both calipers on front before putting the cap back on the reservoir. It's a tight squeeze but you can get to the clutch's bleed bolt without removing any fairing pieces on a '94 VFR. You will have to remove the tail piece to get to the rear brake reservoir on the '94. The whole process doesn't take much time as long as you don't allow air to be introduced into the line. If you allow air to get in the line, you'll be doing steps 1-5 forever trying to get it out.

Editor's note: Many list members have reported favorable results using a MityVac(tm) to bleed brakes and clutches. This device attaches to the bleed screw and sucks fluid through the lines, draggin air bubbles w/ it. They are available at Most Wal-Mart stores for ~US$30.

Another alternative is to use a 'Speed Bleeder'. Here is a post from Brendan C. Guy on the issue:

I picked up a set of Speed Bleeders
My local dealer had them in stock. $15/pair ($6.50 each off the website).

They go on in place of the stock bleed-screw-valves. They contain a small one-way valve inside the bleed-screw (but are NO larger/longert than stock). You crack them open, then just pump the brakes until you're satisfied with the fluid that's coming out (don't forget to put a tube over the screw, just as always).

Easiest, fastest, slickest one-hand no-brain solution ever. They've even got a patent on the things!

Coolant replacement
by: Christopher Leach

Every so often on the list, the subject of coolant replacement comes up. It is generally agreed that you should replace your coolant annually, especially if you store your bike for any period of time. Replacing your coolant is very straightforward and I would recommend simply following your Clymer's or Honda manual for your particular model (I have also included a step-by-step from John Purcell below). However, the discussions tend to develop over the 'best' type of coolant to use. A number of people recommend using 'Water Wetter' instead of standard Ethylene Glycol-based coolants. I run water and Water Wetter in both my '93 VFR750 and '94 RVF400. Of course I live in Northern California where is doesn't freeze and the RVF sees track duty where glycol coolants are prohibited. It seems to do it's job of lubricating the water pump and 'lowering the surface tension' of the water to improve cooling efficiency. I can't verify that last claim but I haven't had any heat-related problems racing in the Central Valley during the summer (100+F). But of coruse remember that Water Wetter DOES NOTE provide any anti-freeze properties. Others have noted that Honda Dealers sell 'Honda' coolant for something like US$6 per quart. Naturally, the dealer will tell you that the Honda product is best for your bike. Claims to this effect have been noted by members who have heard horror stories from late-model Gold Wing owners who have experienced water pump failure after less than a year of ownership. The Honda position being that one should run coolant which in addition to being safe for aluminum engines, is also 'silicate free'. 'Honda' coolant satisfies both of these requirements. But fret not from the idea of US$30 coolant changes. Many cage coolant products which are labeled as 'Extended Life' (Such as Prestone Extended Life. It's the orange stuff.) also satisfy these requirements, for a fraction of the cost. Ratio will depend on the desired level of anti-freeze protection you need. I would recommend purchasing a coolant tester (looks like a turkey baster with a cylinder inside) which will tell you the temperature protection level based on specific gravity. You can't go wrong w/ a 50/50 mix though.

#1) Pull the side plastic and black bottom plastic section.

#2) Open the Radiator Cap. Engine cold of course.

#3) Pull 2 cylinder drain bolts. These are located in the engine block below the radiator. You'll never see them looking at the engine head on. Lay on the floor and look up at the engine right behind the front wheel. You'll see 1 lone bolt in each of these cylinders. Unscrew them. Keep the drain pan and rags handy. It's a messy job.

#4) Pull the bolt in the water pump. The water pump is located forward of the gear shift lever. The bolt to pull is the one that doesn't look sysmetrical with the others. The water pump has a tube coming out of it back up to the radiator. When you pull the bolt the fluid is going to jet out almost horizontially.

#5) Put all the bolts back.

#6) Drain the reservoir

#7) Refill to the top of radiator neck.

#8) Start the engine without the radiator cap on. Warm the engine and rev it a little. The level in the neck will drop.

#9) Stop engine. Refill to the top of the neck again.

#10) Replace radiator cap.

#11) Fill Reservoir

#12) Clean up.

VFR cartridge fork service
by: Robyn Landers

For brevity's sake, I have decided to simply link to Robyn's site from here. Robyn's VFR fork servicing article

Front fork alignment
by: Kevin Glick

This job is best done with two sets of hands.

1. Remove wheel, fender, calipers.

2. Loosen ALL clamp bolts. including triple clamp top nut

3. Remove forklegs

a. Check fork legs for straightness (roll on plate glass)

b. Check axle for straightness. (roll on plate glass)

4. Reinsert fork legs with all bolts loose

5. Tighten the following in this order

a. lower pinch bolts

b. upper pinch bolts

c. top nut

6. Loosen upper pinches

7. Tighten upper pinches after settling

Steps 1-6 re-align the triple clamps, using the fork legs as
alignment mandrels. It is not at all important how high each
leg is in the clamps. (The above sequence 6-7 takes the "bow" out of the top tree
that was created when you tightened the top nut--do not skip it!!)

8. Put final torque top nut

8a. Repeat steps 6 & 7

9. Install wheel and axle

1st Tighten axle and THEN axle pinch bolts. Slide a
screwdriver through the holes in one side of the axle to keep it from
spinning while you tighten the nut.

10. Loosen upper and lower pinch bolts (excluding top

12. Set fork height (make sure that the forks are fully
extended when you are setting height) FYI STOCK height on 90-97
is 39mm from top (without fork caps) of tube to tree.

13. Tighten all pinch bolts

14. Remove spring caps and move forks up/down (you are
checking for binding) If you find binding repeat all of the above-sometimes
it takes a few tries.....if no binding--recap forks

15. Loosen the axle pinch bolts and the axle.

16. Check to see that the axle slides in and out smoothly
(If the axle slides smoothly you're done almost ready to GO RIDE)
(If the axle is not smooth--it may be bent--roll it on a piece of plate glass
to check) (if the axle is not bent repeat steps 10-16 as I said
sometimes it takes a few tries to get the ride height set equal on both sides)

17. If you've done this a few time and things still seem
"off" take it to computrac for a measurement.
If you don't want to do the full computrac thing then
send the entire front end to PK Suspension/GMD
Computrac (508) 620-5049 (Boston--I don't know if the
other locations do this) and he will make
sure that every tube and tree is PERFECTLY STRAIGHT
before he returns it to you. My front WAS bent-more than just the axle--it is the
straightest thing I have ever ridden now and this
includes MANY brand new bikes right out of the
box.(worked for dealership) I can lock the rear
(practice I rarely use it) on any type of pavement
cambered or flat and the bike will track
PERFECTLY straight (no slewing to the left or right) So
far this test has been run for distances
of up to 7 car lengths. Race take off tires I don't
care if I trash them the new ones are on their way.

There are shorter methods for a simple re-alignment (certain
steps can be removed) but this one is the most thorough.

Collaborative effort
Kevin B. Glick
John Dahl

Air Filter replacement options
by: Christopher Leach

There can be many good reasons to replace your OEM paper filter with an aftermarket model. Indeed, the simple fact that the OEM filter must be replaced while an aftermarket filter may be cleaned and reused is reason enough for most. Performance issues are another reason to raise the issue of aftermarket air filters. An integral part of any performance enhancement (jet kit, exhaust, etc), is the proper selection of a new air filter. As shown in the table below, the OEM paper filters have very poor airflow rates. The fitting of a good aftermarket air filter is crucial to take advantage of higher flow rate exhausts and jets. I have included a table below which ranks various aftermarket filters against the OEM paper style. The table was posted to the list awhile back. Unfortunately, I do not know the original source.

                                Oiled Foam        Paper        Oil Bath      Oiled Guaze
                               (AMSOIL, UNI)       		                (K&N)

Large particle efficiency           5                5            5               4
Small particle efficiency           5                4            1               2
Airflow capacity                    5                2            3               5
Dust holding capacity               4                2            5               2
Load up characteristic              4                1            5               1
Backfire characteristic             3                2            5               3
Cleanability                        4                1            4 	          3       
Care and Feeding of your drive chain
by: Christopher Leach

To many on the list, this is an extremely volatile subject ranking right up there with what kind of oil you run and whether helmet laws are constitutional. But in the following few paragraphs, I'll attempt to sum up the major attitudes of the list.

First, there is the issue of chain slack. The bottom line is that your chain NEEDS (some) slack in order for the suspension to freely travel and in effect, do its job. From the '93 VFR manual, it states that the chain should have 1"-1.5" of slack when the bike is on the centerstand. This should be measured on the bottom length, halfway between the front and rear sprockets with the bike in neutral. It is a good idea to measure the slack at different places on the chain to check for kinked links, abnormal stretching, etc. For those of you without centerstands, Expect the chain to be a little tighter (closer to the 1" slack allowance) as the suspension is slightly compressed due to the weight of the bike. Again, check the slack at various points along the chain.

Then, comes the issue of chain lubrication. This discussion always involves a firestorm of controversy, but I will try to present most of the spectrum of views here.

Modern O-ring chains, if always operated in a 'clean' environment, would need minimal (if any) lubrication. This is because the manufacturer 'lubes' the chain at the time of production and then seals the lube in with the O-rings. With no other influences, the O-rings will happily keep the lube where it is needed and the chain lubes itself. Unfortunately, our bikes don't function in such a mild climate. Road grime, water, sand, salt, etc all serve to attack these O-rings and break them down. Once the O-ring fails, the factory installed lube is expelled and accellerated chain stretching soon follows.

So it would seem that the goal of O-ring chain owners is the protect these O-rings. The greatest step toward this end is periodic cleaning to remove abrasive bits that work up against the O-rings and shred them. Now opinions differ on how best to clean one's chain. Personally, I use a bowl of kerosene and a rag and liberally scrub the chain down every few weeks. Others apply release agents such as WD-40. Still others never clean their chains.

Then comes the matter of lubing. Many people claim that since the lube is trapped inside by the O-rings right where it needs to be, lubing is superfluous since A) the lube is already in there from the factory, and B) since the O-rings are there, your lube can't get past them anyway and will simply sling off. This camp goes on to suggest that the lube/wax will even attract more dirt since the chain is 'wet' from the lube. Yet the chain lube/wax group is large itself. Personally, I clean my chain with the above method, and then apply Honda HP-4 Chain lube. It's a very light lube and I have experienced no slinging or 'gunking' of my chain as the lube evaporates off after a few minutes. Does it do any good? I'll leave that to be debated further on the list.

And it's that sentiment which captures the true spirit of motorcycle maintenance. If doing things a certain way makes you feel better, then do it that way. There are WAY too many variables involved with chain wear to get hard numbers as to which methods protects a chain longest. Modern O-ring chains have progressed so far in recent years that you can expect good performance from your chain regardless (within reason) of your maintenance method.

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