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Old 07-29-2003, 12:37 PM   #1
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Default Re: Working on your own bike, things to know!

I don't change my tires or recalibrate the TPS on my ECM but I do everything else myself. Good maintenance recordkeeping is your best friend if you do your own wrenching and ever need to make a warranty claim.
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Old 07-29-2003, 01:18 PM   #2
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Default Searching for Manuals

If you have fast internet/printing access, it's worth a try searching for downloadable shop manuals on line.

I've seen one site with the factory shop manuals (very nice documents) available in PDF format. You could download it and search it through Adobe Acrobat. Pretty cool.

However, I know not how legal this is, if that bothers you. Not legal cause it's copyrighted? Legal for your use only but you can't sell it? I just don't know.
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Old 07-29-2003, 01:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Working on your own bike, things to know!

Congrats! Aspiring to be your own wrench is an investment in yourself. Like rider education, you can transfer what you learn to your next bike.

First, be realistic. Only you know what your mechanical abilities are. Most things can be done at home with a good place to work, the right tools and some dilligence, but getting in over your head can mean lots of downtime and additional expense if you need a shop to rescue you.

As for service info:

Of course your owners manual will have the basics like oil and filter change intervals.

The official factory service manual is usually a good investment. These run around $50 - $70. The Suzuki rags are generally well done. Clymer and Haynes manuals can vary in quality, but it never hurts to have additional perspective.

Invest some of that cash you'll be saving on shop fees on some quality tools. Sears is your friend Sometimes specialized factory service tools are invaluable, other times a few regular tools and some ingenuity are just as good.

Find a good GSXR community. There's probably several on the Internet - yahoogroups.com is a good place to start. Many communities have bad "signal to noise" ratios (off topic threads, flame wars, etc), but a good one can offer an incredible amount of knowledge and can be your best source of info. There may be a club in your area you can join too. Of course with a bike like that, just going to a track day might net you some handy friends

Good luck!

BTW - If you are interested in the extended warranty extension, try haggling with your dealer. They might come down substantially. $1500 seems steep on a bike that shouldn't give you much grief if properly cared for.

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Old 07-29-2003, 01:20 PM   #4
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Default Extended Warranties Good For.....

Most Japanese bikes are as reliable as doorstops.

Don't the extended warranties seem like revenue enhancement for the dealer rather than a good thing for the rider?

Any comment on this from someone who's worked at a dealer?
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Old 07-29-2003, 02:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Working on your own bike, things to know!

I have had my Honda Valkyrie for almost a year and a half, put 9,000 miles on it. It has not seen the dealer since the day I bought it. With the help of the shop manual and the VRCC (Valkyrie Riders Cruiser Club) tech board...even someone as mechanically limited as myself can keep her running well.

Ask yourself this question-"would you rather leave your ride in the hands of some young kids who are learning on your bike, or do the job yourself and know it was done right, with TLC"?

I realize there are some good, experienced bike mechanics out there...but they are rare in my opinion. Also, they are under a time restraint to get the job done (quick is better) whereas you can take your good old time. Think about it.
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Old 07-29-2003, 03:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: Working on your own bike, things to know!

How-to articles were once a motomag staple, but no longer. When I got serious about bikes in the early '80s, I found everything I needed in Joe Minton's Motorcyclist articles (along with a shop manual). Shim-type valve adjustment, carb synch, brake maintenance, fork tweaks, etc. etc. were all covered.

Motorcyclist and Sport Rider are the only mags that regularly run how-to articles, and they archive them on their websites. The latter's Andrew Trevitt tackles moderately difficult tasks and describes them particularly well. Motorcyclist devotes too little space to their "How-To" column to make it useful for more involved tasks. In 2002, for example, they described in 750 words and 9 small photos how to check valve clearances but not how to adjust them. Duh.

For principles of operation and general workshop procedures get Hugo Wilson's Motorcycle Owner's Manual. It's an inexpensive little book but well-written and lavishly illustrated with color photos. You'll find it at the usual places.

Consider the factory shop manual your bible. Follow the maintenance schedule, pay close attention to minutiae such as torque specs, cable routing diagrams, and disassembly sequences. Highlight info you find important and use the margins for notes to make a job easier next time.

To prevent "leftover" parts, meticulously set fasteners aside after removing them. I use ice-cube trays and fill the little pockets with fasteners in the order I removed them and cover and label them with masking tape so I know exactly what goes where at reassembly time. I currently have 2 entire trays filled with ST1100 parts while I do 32,000 mile service and repair a coolant leak.

Be prepared to take a lot of time to do stuff at first. Never tackle an ambitious job on a tight deadline. You don't want to take off on a long trip and find out the hard way that, in haste, you forgot to torque the calipers.
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Old 07-29-2003, 04:03 PM   #7
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Default Working on your own bike.

I find working on my own bike very fulfilling and Zen-like. I do the valve shims, cam chain, wheel bearings, tire changing, carb cleaning and synching, and anything else that comes up. I do this on my wife's 4 cylinder 89' yamaha Radian 600YX and everything so far on my Harley and it's got about 32,000 of my miles on it. Make sure you always have a good shop manual on hand and realize that it may take a little bit reading and re-reading before you understand what the writer is saying. Sometimes you'll find that you'll need to go to the dealer and clarify things that you don't quite understand with their mechanic. Before you do that make sure that you have tried to understand it through the shop manual so that you can talk intelligently with the mechanic. Valve shim clearance is really easy once you go through it the first time. Carb synching takes specialized tools but since the Suzuki has fuel injection you won't have anything to synch. Tire changing can be done if you buy some good tire irons at a Tractor Supply Store. Break the beads with a large vice. I do it with some sweat but it gets the job done. I balance by supporting the changed wheel on the axil between two old chairs and hand spinning. You might want someone with a spin balancer to do this if you are running high speeds. Good luck and feel the ZEN.
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Old 07-29-2003, 05:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: Extended Warranties Good For.....

I have worked at dealerships and have to agree. Extended warranties are not really an effective expenditure in most cases. They buy peace of mind, except when you buy one for an unreliable motorcycle. Since Japanese bikes are generally as reliable as doorstops, the extended warrantee makes little sense. When Japanese bikes aren't reliable, the manufacturer usually makes good on the problem. My experience with other brands has not been as positive, except, strangely enough, for Ducati, which stands behind their bikes. As for the cost of the extended warrranty, I think that $1500 is excessive. Last I remember, it should be $750 or less. Doing the scheduled maintenance isn't that tough, except for the valve adjustment. The GSXRs are shim/bucket and only need it every 15,000 miles, so you may want to find a mechanic for that job. But make sure it's not some kid who is inexperienced, or a mechanic who is rushed.

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Old 07-29-2003, 05:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Working on your own bike.

How often and under what circumstances do you find it necessary to synch the carbs? Does minor tweaking, i.e. shimming the needles or installing a jet kit require that the carbs be checked and/or synched? (Well, perhaps a jet kit isn't minor tweaking)...do you do it every so often (mileage) even if you haven't adjusted them? What brand/model synching tool do you use? I have limited experience working with the carbs but I somehow find them to be very intriguing and I'd like to get my elbows in a little deeper but I'm worried that I might really send things into the FUBAR department without synching them afterwards. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 07-29-2003, 06:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Working on your own bike, things to know!

I'll add my voice to those who've suggested that you get an OEM shop manual. You can get one inexpensively through ebay for nearly any bike or pirate one in PDF format from any of several websites that a perfunctory GOOGLE search will scare up for you.

I'd also suggest that you begine doing an ebay search on your bike for parts, etc. once a week or so. You have to learn how ebay works and develop a feel for who's good to deal with and who isn't but I've gotten some incredible deals there. I bought an entire engine for my FZR400 for $225 delivered to my front door that was pristine and runs like a champ even under racing stress.

Finally get some tools. Buy once, cry once. You'll need a laptop and Power Commander for fine tuning fuel management and ignition parameters (I recommend one of these very highly). A lift is almost a necessity. I built my own and I don't know how I lived without one before. I also have a tire changing stand which I think is a helluva investment. Get yourself front and rear wheel stands and an ATV jack (you can buy a great one at CHECKERS for about $50). If you really want to make your life easy get an additional front stand that will lift the bike at the lower triple clamp.

Good enough tools are not always the most expensive. I can buy an awful lot of Craftsman wrenches for what a set of Mac's costs. If there is a Harbor Freight near where you live they have some very servicable items there cheap as long as you know what's good and what isn't. The cool things about bikes is that they are light and relatively simple to service. This means that you don't need big, ass-whopping impact wrenches, engine stands, and million dollar computers like you do for cars and light trucks. And it's really nice to be able to lift your rebuilt engine off your work bench and carry it over to the bike all by yourself.

Good luck. I respect anyone who wrenches on their ride. I quite agree with the poster above who alluded to the Zen qualities in doing this. You will love your Gixxer even more after tearing into it a few times. I think that working on a bike reveals it's character to at least as much as riding. That's one of the reasons that even though I'm a sportbike guy I like Hogs - they are truly fun to tinker with.


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