Knocking On Heaven's Door? - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Knocking On Heaven's Door?

I'm such a paranoid owner...

That said I am really concerned that my engine is knocking. It's been noisy for years, especially after the earshave, but now I get a lot of (what appears to be) tappet noise at around 2k rpm, and when idling it sounds kinda like a light knock coming from the lower-end of the crankcase. I've adjusted the MCCT's plenty of times, keep good fresh oil in it, but have definitely ridden it hard and long. Had it for just over 2 years and have put 8000+ miles on it (13k->21k)

It runs fantastically well, pulls all through the rev range, but these noises scare me and makes it anxiety inducing to ride it, I can barely enjoy it listening to all the little clicks, taps, and clacks just drives me nuts and makes me sad... The knocking seems to go away off idle, then the tapping gets loud around 2100 rpm, then above that it runs out and sounds pretty good.

Am I crazy, or is this bike on its way out?


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Old 08-03-2018, 07:25 PM
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Old 08-03-2018, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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already replaced my balancer bushings

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Old 08-04-2018, 08:42 AM
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I don't tear into motors and do valve jobs, swap pistons, hone cylinders, and etc. I have been riding motorcycles for over 30 years. I am a farm boy with experience trading and running tractors, and I've had over a dozen different motorcycles. I've run a lot of stuff, but I'm no engineer or mechanic. I have done valve adjustments on other bikes. I've done clutches, too; but every time is like the first time! So, take what I'm about to say w/ that in mind.

My opinion is that this is an inherently noisy motor. This is Kawasaki's first production v-twin! When this was designed back in the 80's the goals of the project were different than they are today. Kawasaki seemed to want a powerful, efficient, and low-maintenance bike. They were largely very successful. The sound of the motor wasn't really top priority as far as design goals. I don't think that "Harley's formula" for success was as well understood at that time--certainly not by the Japanese.

I think there are a couple of things you *can* do:
  1. Keep an eye on the drain oil at oil-change time. If you're seeing large pieces of metal, rubber, or plastic that's bad!
  2. Get a mechanic's stethoscope, so you can pin-point the location of the noises that you're hearing. It might give you some piece of mind or allow you to do further research. Likely it will let you eliminate one thing or another. Of course may make your anxiety worse!
  3. Get a louder exhaust? Yeah, I know that doesn't really fix anything, but what you don't hear won't bother you?

Really, it comes down to your needs and expectations. I use mine primarily for commuting back and forth to work. If something would happen to it, I'd get a ride home and go recover it with my trailer. I'd be inconvenienced, sure; but it's not like it's gonna ruin my vacation, trip, what have you. You just don't hear about these motors grenading all over the place left and right, so I'd say don't worry about it.

I recently got back from a 600 mile weekend, so it's not that I wouldn't trust it, and yes--mine has some undiagnosed noises at times too. I'm running one MCCT, and one OEM cam-chain tensioner. I'm planning to swap out the other tensioner as soon as I get one made up, but I'm just kind of ignoring the noises for now. My plan is to continue ignoring the noises if they don't go away after that. . . .

If it bothers you, and you can afford it, there are lots of other bikes out there--maybe it's time to try something else? At the end of the day nobody really needs a motorcycle. If it's giving you more stress than pleasure, it's probably time to find something that you'll enjoy! Chances are that it's not gonna be as much bike for the price, though.

When I was shopping for this bike, I was also thinking about the Yamaha (Star?) Bolt. I don't like sitting in traffic on an air-cooled (or really any!) motorcycle, but I really don't like air-cooled! Lots of people do it though, and I just don't hear about that many problems. I'm pretty sure it's just my issue. At the time I'd just gotten a Kawasaki 454 for my son, and I was kind of jazzed about having "matching" bikes. That didn't really work out, but it was a factor in my purchasing decisions. . . . Maybe something like the Bolt would catch your eye?

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Old 08-04-2018, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate your input, GDI. I don't have a garage anymore so taking the motor out and lugging it upstairs into my apartment is only for a worst case scenario. I do get overly worked up about this bike (I've asked this question before) but for some reason yesterday was a particularly difficult day for me. My opinion of this bike worsens with my mental state, but I reckon the same thing as you: ride it and ignore the noises. It hasn't cropped up any new concerning noises (other than when the exhaust wasn't bolted on tight and the muffler started falling off, THAT was a concerning noise) so I can typically rationalize the noises as normal until I get myself worked up into a tizzy.

Sometimes it's worth it to hear from somebody else tell me what I've told others about these bikes being noisy. Dual overhead cams, counterbalancers, cam chains, thin walled castings, they all add up to a real clatter box.

Maybe I'll start wearing earplugs, I notice that the noises always sound worse when I wear my helmet but sound OK when I take it off and walk around the bike.

Again, thanks.

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Old 08-04-2018, 11:01 AM
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Doesn't sound too bad, I've heard noisier VNs on video. I do hear something low frequency, but I think it may be exhaust thump.

Stick a stethoscope on a good engine and you'll hear ALL the timing chains and rocker arms. Like a clock. ...*ting-ting-ting* covered by a steady hiss.

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Old 08-04-2018, 12:17 PM
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The Vulcan is a noisy bike. After mine "broke in" I could pick out all sorts of worrysome sounds while riding. Then, went to my first Gathering, and got to hear about a dozen other VN's. Mine seemed quiet compared to a several of them.
Yes, wear earplugs. Not just to muffle out those motor noises but to save your hearing.

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Old 08-05-2018, 07:46 PM
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Definitely not MCCT noise. It's got a deeper tap to it than the "ting" sound which is higher pitched than MCCT related noise. (I can hear your MMCT's though, need adjusting).



That's what mine sounded like 4 or 5 years ago when I had ACCT's before I bought the TOC's. It's got a high pitched tap. Your noise is a deeper tap, and I'd do a valve job. It's easy enough to adjust them and may fix it. If you adjust them and it doesn't fix them, then yes..... you have a reason to be suspicious of that engine. They are noisy, but don't knock.

I had a 94 that made that knock in the front of the engine near behind the starter and the oil pump was going out. Eventually blew the crank bearing after knocking for a while.


EDIT: I just went outside and took a video. You can hear these engines are very noisy, BUT they don't knock!



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Old 08-06-2018, 08:52 AM Thread Starter
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I wonder sometimes about my oil pump, or maybe the water pump, but I don't get the oil light even at a very low rev and the bike doesn't go above the halfway point on the temp gauge. Never heard of a valve job on this bike, thought the HLA's made that unnecessary? Also good ear on the MCCT's, I adjusted the front jug after taking this video but need to do the rear jug too. I keep 'em a little loose I think, I way overtightened them one time and the engine lugged because of it, so now I'm cautious.

Either way, I guess I can just keep an eye out for any issues that arise, but I can't reasonably tear the engine out to do preventative maintenance now that I am without a garage. Oil pump requires a case split, water pump can be done without, but that's definitely a big job.

Sell it privately so it's off my hands? Unethical. Trade it in to a dealer? Slightly less unethical, but not worth it. Ride it till it dies then rebuild or buy another bike? Probably my current course of action. Of course, all these are very pessimistic outlooks, better just to get out and ride and see what it does. It runs great for now. :shrug:

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Old 08-06-2018, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ubertalldude View Post
. Never heard of a valve job on this bike, thought the HLA's made that unnecessary? :
'Valve job' is more detailed than 'valve adjustment', on a valve job the valves and valve seats get re-ground and seated, then it still gets a valve adjustment. But yes, the HLAs handle valve adjustment on the VN.

I still don't hear any serious knocking going on.

One way to pinpoint a rod knock.... Remove the plug wire(s) from a cylinder, if the knock stops, that's the cylinder with a rod knock. Harder to do on our twin cyl. though. You would have to raise the idle rpm to compensate for the dead cylinder. But if the knock disappears, you'll know it's a rod.

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