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    Things that can go wrong mechanically...

    Recently Isaac wrote in about a breakdown on the road, which got me to thinking about my own experiences of what can go wrong. So I've decided to list the things that have gone wrong for me so that we can all be better prepared, etc.

    I'm breaking them into two catagories: things that relate to the motor and things that relate to the rest of the bike. Feel free to add anything I have missed.

    Motor- assuming your bike died and you haven't done something really bad, like blow the motor (you keep good oil in it and keep the valves adjusted, right?), here are some things that can go wrong:

    No gas- hopefully you weren't riding around with the petcock in reserve! And that your reserve actually works!

    no air- air filter clean? or did a mouse move in over the winter (I have found traces of seeds and mouse poison inside my airbox)

    no spark- when was the last time you changed your plugs?

    On a trip I made several years ago my harley started sputtering- the battery was dead. I made it to a dealer in Wilkes Barre PA and bought a new one. Only to have that go dead at Gettysburg- I push started the bike (no kickstarter) and made it to a dealer in Manassas, where they determined the stator needed replacing. After several hours and hundreds of dollars I was on my way. I went down to southern Virginia, then back to Vermont. I noticed the lights were very bright- the voltage regulator also needed replacing! Not things that you would replace as routine maintinance but things that can go wrong. You need to be lucky enough to make it to a dealer or rely on a helping hand.

    Also at the end of a long day a friend filled his bike with diesel fuel- don't do this! fatigue caused it- try not to drive so long that this happens to you (also remember to drink plenty of water on long hot drives)

    Also spark plug wires can carrode (sp?) over time and can create a weak spark. Itis a good idea to check your air cleaner from time to time, and pack some spare plugs and a plug wrench on long trips.

    Things that can go wrong to the rest of the bike:
    Flat tire! I once had a flat on a trip- I was in eastern oregon heading to the coast. Fortunately I was next to a gas station and they found a nail, pulled it and plugged it for me. Duh--- the tire was not tubeless! So 75 miles through the middle of nowhere to the next town and after gassing up it goes flat again. It was the rear, but you still can't drive a loaded bike with a flat tire. I had to be trailered to a shop where they patched the tube. Hawks are tubeless- so you should carry a tire repair kit and some type of inflation device on long trips. My tire could have gone flat in the middle of those 75 miles and I would have been there awhile (no patch kit/inflation device- I was lucky) Don't drive on bald tires! I have a friend (see chain break below) who never changes his tires until he sees the belts- he must have a death wish because he isn't poor).

    Chain breaks! This has happened to a friend and it was because he is terrible at maintaining his bike! Keep your chain properly tensioned and lubed, and definitely replace it when it needs to be- when his chain broke we were on a straight on Rt 100 in Vermont at speed and the chain locked up the rear wheel. He was able to keep upright but in a curve, who knows. We had just come through Appalachian Gap (rt 17). He was lucky- he was safe, but the bike needed a new swingarm, chain and sprocket set (which is what would have prevented the break) and rear tire (he skided for about 100 feet). The bike needed to be towed (kawi 600 ninja)

    Clutch cable breaks! This has happened to a friend. They need lube (throttle cables too), and occasionally need to be replaced (they stretch and wear)! I was able to loosen the cable at the clutch end to pull back enough to wrap around a bolt that we stuck through the hole in the clutch lever and he was able to drive it home (old triumph bonneville)

    Shift lever falls off! Believe it or not this has happened to two of my friends- the above mentioned bonneville and the ninja riders previous bike. When the lever on the triumph fell off he noticed it right away and was lucky enough to stop within sight of where it was. On the other bike it was long gone- but as he came into a town there was a dealer right there! Keep a visegrip in your tool kit- it can be clamped on and used as a shift lever if needed. Also there is a reason that bike manuals tell you to check the tightness of your bolts!

    Clutch pushrod welds itself to the clutch, then breaks! This happened to me on the harley- we were in Gatlinburg Tennessee in heavy traffic (redneck vegas ) It was like 100 degrees and I was holding in the clutch alot. The next day it broke on the blue ridge parkway. I was able to make it to the dealer in Roanoke for a replacement. They had never seen it happen before. If you are stuck in heavy traffic keep the bike in nuetral or park and wait for the traffic to clear- sitting in heavy traffic heats up the bike too (bad for air cooled harleys).

    Your pack, held on by a bungee cord, finds its way into your wheel/and or chain- this has happened to someone I know. It can lock it up. Make sure anything you put on your bike is very secure. I once had to back track several miles to retrieve a rainsuit from the middle of the road! Fortunately I was in a rural area!

    Anyone else have a breakdown situation not adressed here?
    '88 Hawk GT
    '89 Harley FXSTC
    2008 Yamaha V-Star 1300 tourer

    http://www.hawkgtforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=948

    "...my performance ain't perfect, but its loud, and its fast..." -Widespread Panic

    #2
    i just get alot of flat tires.

    well... just the rear tire... its usually a 4" long self tapping phillips head screw. (had that happen to 3 tires... 4th one was a 4" nail.)

    Comment


      #3
      Good thread. I'm making this a sticky.
      1988 "BlackHawk" project
      1989 "RallyHawk" is Chuck's now!
      1988 "The Gray" Tempest Gray Metallic stocker

      I can't tell you how peaceful it is. Shinya Kimura
      People who know ride Hawks. Riot

      Comment


        #4
        This must have happened to other listers.

        A minute into a long return journey at night my bike breaks down at a set of lights miles from home. Push it to the side onto the pavement to hopefully get some light to see if I can see whats gone wrong. Engine spins over but doesn't fire. Seat comes off, limited tools come out, take out the easiest spark plug to get at and check if its sparking. Yes it is, meanwhile seat and tools all over the pavement and its getting darker.
        In the back of my mind I'm still thinging of how else am I going to get home and what about leaving the bike. Anyway back to the bike, what could it be if its not the Spark plugs, Kill switch & tank is half full of petrol..................petrol !!! is there any getting to the carbs? No because I forgot to turn the petcock back on when I started my return journey.... Doh!
        "Life may begin at 40, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 150."

        • '88 in Candy Flair Blue + '90 in Italian Red
        • Ohlins Rear Shock
        • F2 front wheel
        • VFR750 rear wheel
        • Hiperform seat&headers
        • MSMotorsport Seat Cowl
        • Steve Lenac Tokico six pot caliper

        Comment


          #5
          well done

          a friends chain fell off when he had a shop put a new one on (that story should go in a "lil repair shop of horrors" thread)
          i have had a throtle cable brake on me
          ran out of gas once because i didnt switch it back to the main the last time i filled up
          i have also run my front sprocket down to lil nubs and when that happens the chain will skip over the teeth on the sprocket and the rear, well its alluminum so when they wear down they start to brake off

          i have also herd about air pumps that run off the spark plug hole
          cool little gadget, that and a tire plug kit would be perfect for flat tires on long trips

          i will try to find the website i saw the air pump on the other day.
          1988 & 1991 hawkgt, 2005 rc51

          Comment


            #6
            JR:
            There is a check valve of some sort built into the stock electric fuel pump. No need to turn the petcock to the "OFF" position as with a lot of other bikes. Its a safe habit to be sure, just not needed on a Hawk.
            -I'm sorry....I did not know she was your sister.
            -If Buckleys cold mixture went rancid......how would anybody know????
            -Dont piss off the quiet guy with the chain saw.

            Comment


              #7
              It was my Honda NTV (a close cousin of the Hawk). There was just enough fuel in the float bowls to get me a mile down the road before it stopped.
              "Life may begin at 40, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 150."

              • '88 in Candy Flair Blue + '90 in Italian Red
              • Ohlins Rear Shock
              • F2 front wheel
              • VFR750 rear wheel
              • Hiperform seat&headers
              • MSMotorsport Seat Cowl
              • Steve Lenac Tokico six pot caliper

              Comment


                #8
                Couple common perplexing Hawk problems:

                Bike loses power at higher RPM's: pop the tops off the carbs and see if the diaphragms have become unseated or torn.

                No headlight:the starter switch often sticks slightly.It's not uncommon at all for a wire to come unsoldered from said switch either.

                Not starting: check the red harness connector behind the right frame rail,for some reason it comes loose somewhat frequently on Hawks.

                I've known of a couple Hawks that have stopped running for no apparently good reason other than it seems as though perhaps the tankbag prevented the tank from venting.All happened on freeway rides in higher temps...some strangeness.

                Comment


                  #9
                  The stator connector on Hawks can easily corrode and heat up, melting the connector into a black mess. Three wires, all the same color, all do the same job. Check them every year. Connection is on LH subframe rail.
                  -I'm sorry....I did not know she was your sister.
                  -If Buckleys cold mixture went rancid......how would anybody know????
                  -Dont piss off the quiet guy with the chain saw.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Fuel Pressure Regulator:

                    My hawk would die intermittently--on the highway, where I would pull to the side, then after a few seconds, would start right up again. This would also happen as the fuel tank got lighter (closer to reserve). I'm guessing because it was only gravity feeding the carbs.

                    After pulling the tank and checking that there were no obstructions I determined it was the regulator by bypassing the regulator with a jumper wire. You can bet if I ever go anywhere far I'll pack an extra JIC.

                    Thanks for the thread, I will delici.ous this as it makes a good list of things to bring for a long trip.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      One somewhat minor thing I forgot, which can be major at night- is lights! A burned out headlight can turn a night time ride into a big problem. I have had to ride in the middle of a pack because of this. Pack an extra bulb for the tailight, headlight, and a directional or two. Also states have different laws- in some you have to ride with your light on (it is always on on the hawk)- others do not. I was once stopped because I had no headlight- it turns out it had burned out that day. Here is a resource for different state laws:
                      http://www.amadirectlink.com/legisltn/laws.asp

                      One other thing- make sure your radiator is full of the appropriate fluid! Overheating is bad for engines.
                      '88 Hawk GT
                      '89 Harley FXSTC
                      2008 Yamaha V-Star 1300 tourer

                      http://www.hawkgtforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=948

                      "...my performance ain't perfect, but its loud, and its fast..." -Widespread Panic

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally Posted by JR
                        No because I forgot to turn the petcock back on when I started my return journey.... Doh!
                        Did that on my 1st moto at a local supercross event on my KTM. Thankfully I was not charging for a big double when the bike ran out of fuel!

                        - Check for loose bolts from time to time.

                        Road vibrations , or even those from the engine can slowly work loose key bolts. Some cause plastic or fiberglass to fall off, others are MUCH more important!
                        89 Hawk GT (Just got it! YAY!!!)
                        03 KTM SX 125
                        03 Honda XR-50r
                        http://www.mxmatt.com (MX Photography site)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Speaking of things going wrong...

                          Just after logging off here yesterday, I got on my bike and immediately noticed that something wasn't right with the rear tyre - it felt flat. Pulled into a garage and extracted a 1" rusty nail which somehow had gone directly through about 1 1/2 inches from the centre.

                          Luckily, I found a local tyre centre that fixes bike tyres too: it cost me the princely sum of 10 to get it done.

                          Has anyone got the address of whoever designed the swinging arm? I wanna send him a kissogram (or blowjobbogram if they exist!). If it wasn't for the easy access, I'd have had a much higher bill.
                          Bang your head here for an instant IQ rating

                          Comment


                            #14
                            they did a good job when i paid $10 they used a tar strip.
                            1988 & 1991 hawkgt, 2005 rc51

                            Comment


                              #15
                              the kick stand switch. I lost 1 out of 2 screws. As I was going to pass a car the swtich moved. I engine then died. It died as if I had hit the kill swtich. I was going over 50 mph, the bike flet like I nailed the front brake. At least I pull the clutch without thinking about it. then i coasted to a stop about 50 to 100 yards away. Got lucky and had some man that was a painter stop. got some tape from him to tape the switch and then go going agien and made it to school in time too. The funny this it only got llike .50 cents to get a new bolt from the hard ware store.


                              then the VERY NEXT DAY I had one of my two carb cables come loose. I lost almost alll my throttle... I had some pilers and were able to fix it till i got home, when i was almost home it started runn odd i could only get 1/2 to 3/4 of my throttle. got home and was able to adjust so it completely work right.
                              A Link to the pics I have taken for the 2007 Scavenger hunt.

                              http://bikepics.com/members/deadlego/p2/

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