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It varies, if you do a search you will find lots of comments. I think the weak area on these motors is timing chains and the tensioners. The cost to pull the motor and tear it down to replace these is quite an expense. Often close to what the bike is worth. These engines will start to use oil as the mileage gets up there. High speed interstate running and running low on oil will spell the end. One needs to regularly check the oil and top up, especially with high speeds. My 05 the chains and tensioners were shot with only about 18,000 mi. I had been using Belray semi synthetic oil at the time. I doubt oil type makes much difference.
 

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YMMV. It really depends on the luck of the draw more than anything. Some go 80,000 miles without major mechanical intervention. Others die an early death around 30,000 miles. There is no rhyme or reason behind it either.

The VL800 engine has a history of poor upper cylinder lubrication which leads to wear and eventually oil consumption. In some bikes it shows up before 20,000 miles. In others it doesn't manifest till 40,000 or more. It is rare to find a bike with an appreciable amount of miles that DOESN'T use oil between service intervals. When that happens, you just have to remain diligent and check your oil often, topping it up when necessary. Using some oil does not immediately spell the end for the engine. It just means you can't neglect checking it, otherwise you WILL kill the engine through oil starvation.

The engines also like to eat cam chains and cam chain tensioners. It is a chronic problem across all models and all model years. Repair costs are ~ $1200 (Us) as it requires a great deal of tear down to replace them.

A little less common are valve/upper cylinder problems. Because the valves rely on a mechanical adjustment to maintain proper clearance between the tappet and the rocker arm, it is an often overlooked or ignored maintenance. It is a time consuming and somewhat expensive proceedure. Most owner think 'if I can't hear anything, then there is no problem.' which is wrong. As the valves open and close, they are literally hammered into the cylinder head with every cycle. Repeat several thousand times per minute and the gap between the tappet and the rocker arm closes up. Eventually, they remain in contact with one another and the valve fails to close completely. This will result in a loss of power and eventually a burned valve. You won't notice or feel it as the loss and damage accrue over time. You won't hear anything either until it is too late.

There are a few other gotchas particular to the model, but they aren't near as severe as what was outlined above. Your best defense is to find the maintenance schedule, read it thoroughly and do what is recommended at each interval. Use quality components and check your oil often.
 

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The engines also like to eat cam chains and cam chain tensioners. It is a chronic problem across all models and all model years. Repair costs are ~ $1200 (Us) as it requires a great deal of tear down to replace them.
Sometimes with VERY FEW miles on the bike....mine jumped timing because of a sloppy cam chain at around 12,000 miles. No warning, just a bang when piston met valves while starting it. (thank god I wasn't on the interstate! Which is where I would've been if it hadn't failed when it did)
 

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No such thing exists. Sorry.
 

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Sometimes with VERY FEW miles on the bike....mine jumped timing because of a sloppy cam chain at around 12,000 miles. No warning, just a bang when piston met valves while starting it. (thank god I wasn't on the interstate! Which is where I would've been if it hadn't failed when it did)
Vulcan riders developed a cam chain tensioner mod that keeps the chain appropriately tight. The mod was easy to do. Has anyone developed a similar mod for the VL800? If not, why?

Ride Safe!
 

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I understood the chain in the 800 was under a spring loaded tensioner...
Yep! You're right. I just looked at the fiche. Our fellow "Gear-Heads" could make a better spring. However, digging down into the motor to do the upgrade would be a "Bear". The Vulcan upgrade/fix is easily done with the engine in place and every self-wrench riding a 1500/1600 Vulcan can and should do it.

You could do a vl800 upgrade/fix during an engine swap. But, there aren't enough people that do an engine swap to make manufacturing the part worth while. For most that do swap engines, they'd rather just roll the dice.

Oh well.

Ride Safe!
 
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