Confessions of a Valve Adjustment Derelict
Very long story slightly faster and funnier, a few weeks ago I posted a pathetic plea for help solving the strangest set of symptoms that turned an appreciated and reliable motorcycle into a sputtering mess running on a single cylinder seemingly overnight. The short of it is everything is fantastic now, I can engine brake mercilessly again without drama, acceleration is spiffy like new, and she idles smooth and confident.
Given that I have 82k+ miles on her it's likely that there are several things that contributed to her poor running but the #1 thing that brought her back from the brink was - VALVE CLEARANCE ADJUSTMENT -
I can hear Skrapiron lecturing me through the internet cable... Valve clearance is critical for obvious reasons and I was simply hoping to find some other reason for the rough running that wouldn't involve having to reach a couple of those nearly impossible to negotiate valve cover bolts.
Having dug in and knocked it all out in a relaxed three hours that probably could have been done more efficiently in two I can honestly say it wasn't that bad (gets easier each time) and I'll just have to remember that 7500 miles from now when I'm avoiding it all over again.
I've ridden for two symptom free weeks now so I felt confident enough to post tonight that things are solved (and I felt guilty enough for not doing the adjustment 15,000 miles ago on schedule). For everyone who posts asking if there are signs of needing a valve adjustment I'd offer these:
1) Your valves are too tight if you're over 7500 miles and she sounds smooth as butter. That's what always suckers me... she sounds great, runs reasonably (just reasonably, not great... you won't know what great is till you do the adjustment correctly). But yes, as Skrapiron always says just do the adjustment on schedule and avoid the drama.
2) Your valves are too loose if the ticking gives you a headache. I've been there too... I always use the JPaige unscrew from the stop method and to buy a few more miles I applied the 'if 90 degrees is good, 135 should be great!'. This method of maladjustment is self critiquing and even though she runs reasonably the horrendous ticking will take all the motorcycle riding love away.
So there you have it, adjust the valves correctly on schedule and ride peacefully into the sunset. Wait an absurdly long time like I always have because of the reasonable riding and those hard to reach valve cover bolts and you'll eventually run into inexplicable symptoms with oil fouled plugs or worse. I'm thankful she's behaved beautifully for these last two weeks so I believe I dodged a burnt valve bullet and can still hopefully hit 100k miles by next fall.
Giddy up all you other Valve Adjustment Derelicts out there and git 'er done!