The VX800 FAQ: Chassis
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8. Chassis

8.1 Fuel petcock

Most VXes one finds these days have a vacuum-operated fuel petcock with just two postions, ON and RES. There is no off position. Most modern petcocks are designed so that if the engine is not running (i.e. no vacuum) then fuel will not flow. This means you don't have to remember to shut off the fuel manually when you stop. Many bikes also have a "PRIME" position, which overrides the vacuum disable, since otherwise starting can be difficult with no fuel in the carburetor float bowls. The VX does not have this feature.

But the first models (or possibly all years) of the VX had a more traditional ON/OFF/RES petcock (with OFF in between ON and RES). Apparently there were enough complaints about fuel in the cylinders that the upgrade to the vacuum petcock was done as a "customer satisfaction" upgrade, and retrofitted to most bikes. Apparently the knob isn't keyed on the shaft, because it was apparently fairly common for the knob to be put on backwards after the upgrade, causing the ON and RES indications to be reversed. When correctly installed on a vacuum petcock, turning the knob clockwise should move you from ON to RES. If yours turns the other way, your RES setting won't work.

The Suzuki number for the petcock replacement kit, if you dealer can't seem to find it, is 44300-45810.

Be warned that the vacuum line for the fuel valve plugs into a vacuum outlet which was originally used just for doing carb balancing. If you disconnect it to hook up the carb balancer, the fuel petcock will stay closed, and your engine won't run. You'll need to make a T adapter for the vacuum line, or run from a different fuel source,

There have been several reports of a nonfunctional "reserve". This allows all the fuel in the tank to be used with the petcock set to "ON". Then when the petcock is turned to "reserve", there is no fuel left in the tank. So far the people affected on the mailing just live with it and keep closer tabs on the fuel level. [ Anyone found a fix? -pgf ]

8.2 Brakes

The only warning I've heard regarding the VX brakes is this, from Rob Opiela (paraphrased from a couple of mail messages):

"I was backing out of my parking spot, hit the brakes, and heard a clanking sound and had no brakes. On the ground was one of my front brake pads. I heard a click on Saturday after a rather hard ride... I looked at the calipers and I noticed nothing wrong. But when I backed my bike up this morning, the pad fell out. This was the first time all weekend that I backed it up after the Saturday ride. On the brake pad, there are loops on either end that have a pin going through them to secure them to the caliper. These loops broke off. Both of them. So, nothing is wrong with the caliper it seems. Time for some EBC greens."

Various riders have had success with various aftermarket pads -- I've tried EBC Black, and EBC sintered pads, other people use Ferodos. No one has complained about any of them. I found the EBC Black pads to have less bite than the stock pads, but it could have been my imagination -- others swear by them.

Many people that have switched to stainless braided brake lines seem to like them. That being said, when I installed a stainless front line, I didn't really notice a difference. Before bothering, be sure that your existing line is properly bled. Tap the banjo bolts, to dislodge air bubbles. If the lines have any air in them, they'll feel like mush. On the other hand, if the rubber line is very old, it really may need replacing.

From Ron Lotton:

"With the stock lines the brake felt spongy, allowing a delay between when I applied the brake and when it would bite. Also, I would have to pull the brake lever almost to the point that it touched the handlebar to get maximum braking. With the new stainless steel brake line, the brake works immediately and in direct linear response to how hard I use it." "I have since discovered that many companies that deal in hydraulic hoses can make one up for you. Check your local phone book. A friend just had one made up locally at a place that makes high pressure hydraulic hoses for heavy equipment, like bulldozers. A line for his KLR 650 cost him $40..."

Brian Smith used Goodridge parts he ordered from Dennis Kirk, and sounded similarly happy with the results:

        Front brake:

            Part No. 19-2700 34" universal brake line       1 ea.

            Part No. 19-2545 3/8"-10mm banjo hose end       2 ea.

        Rear brake:

            Part No. 19-2697 28" universal brake line       1 ea.

            Part No. 19-2545 3/8"-10mm banjo hose end       1 ea.

            Part No. 19-2539 3/8"-10mm banjo hose end       1 ea.

He re-used the stock banjo bolts, but purchased new crush washers.

Raffaele Belardi reports that at least one place makes ready-made lines for the VX:

"FrenTubo makes a specific kit for the VX (and for many other bikes). Lines cut to the right length and terminals already correctly oriented. Installation straightforward. I don't know if you can find them outside Italy, and I don't know if they have a web page, but here's their address.

FrenTubo Via della Bastia 29 40033 Casalecchio del Reno Bologna - Italy Tel. (country code)-051-6192123 Fax (country code)-051-6192093

They make three kinds of kits: steel lines/steel terminals, steel lines/ergal terminals, kevlar lines/ergal terminals, in increasing price order. Ergal terminals weigh less than steel ones, and kevlar lines perform better than steel ones (less expansion under pressure), but you probably wouldn't note the difference on a VX.

I installed the steel/steel lines this summer. Big difference. The previous lines were probably the original ones (8 years old)."

8.3 Tires

The VX came stock (in the US, anyway) with either Dunlop K505 or a Metzeler ME-33/ME-55A combo.

Metzeler no longer recommends the ME-55 on the VX, since the tolerance in manufacturing the tires sometimes causes them to exceed the clearance to the shaft. (There's not much room there.)

Metzler currently recommends their "sport-touring" radials:

        MEZ2 110/80ZR18 front

             150/70ZR17 rear

for the VX800 now. They also say that the MEZ1 would be appropriate for the the VX, depending on your personal preference.

Other experiences:

8.4 Clutch

Here are a couple of notes on clutch replacement:

From Mike Heathman:

"I just installed a set of Barnett plates this last weekend, as well as new OEM clutch springs. Barnett doesn't sell springs for the VX. I found something interesting during the installation."
"The VX has a back-torque limiter built into the clutch. There are 8 springs that go into clutch, 4 for the back-torque limiter. The service manual shows the shorter springs go into the back-torque limiter and the longer springs into the clutch plate. That is NOT how mine were installed from the factory. The longer springs were on the back-torque limiter."
"I installed the springs the way the manual showed and my clutch is much improved. The horribly narrow engagement band is gone. Anyway, I'm not sure how much of it is the Barnett plates and how much is the correct spring installation, but I'm really happy with the clutch now."
"BTW, one final note. The clutch spring bolts are supposed to be torqued to 8-9.5 ft-lbs. I went out and bought a brand new inch-lb torque wrench to do the job. Unfortunately, all I could find was a ``clicker'' type wrench (I wanted a beam). I carefully torqued them all in 1 ft-lb increments, planning to stop at 9 ft-lb. They were fine at 8, but before the wrench clicked for 9 I stripped out a spring bolt. Taking out some bolts I had already torqued to 9, the threads were deforming. I got new bolts at the hardware store and torqued them all to 8 ft-lb. Now everything seems fine."

And another from Mike:

"The more important cluch adjustment [ the adjuster on the handle] is on the left side of the engine. Take off the left rear engine cover, it's held on with three bolts. There is a ball and ramp mechanism there for the clutch push rod. It's pretty obvious once you have the cover off."
"Loosen the clutch adjustment at the handlebar so you have plenty of slack in the cable. The end of the push rod is slotted for a screwdriver. Loosen the lock-nut on the push-rod and then turn in the push rod until you feel it contact something. Turn it back out 1/4 turn and tighten the lock-nut. Now adjust your cable slack at the handlebar."
"If the push rod adjustment is too far off, no amount of fiddling with the handlbar adjustment will improve things."
From Andy:

My clutch slipped only when cold or with some types of synthetic oil.

I have long thought that the clutch springs and the back-torque converter were at the root of this problem.

There are 4 heavy springs and 4 light springs on the clutch. The bolt sits on a long spacer and the spring rests against a washer at the top of the bolt.

I wished to increase the spring pre-load so the springs would press the plates more firmly together. To do this I needed washers that would slide over the spacer, be wide enough for the spring to sit against and still be narrow enough hat they would fit through the holes in the clutch pressure plate. And be thick enough to raise the spring pressure a little.

I used washers that are 5/8" across, and 1/16" thick and bored the centre hole out to 3/8" to clear the spacers on the clutch spring bolts. The washers are 18mm wide and 1.7mm thick and the hole is now 9.6mm.

I went for a ride this morning once the road dried after the first real rain we've had since the spring. The clutch now starts dis-engaging (gets you going from a stop) very smoothly and progressively. Very controllable and lots of feel. No clutch slip at all.

The clutch plates are still well within spec, it was just the springs that were the problem.

8.5 Gearing

One of the differences between the US model of the VX and other models is the "secondary reduction ratio". This affects the ration of every gear. The secondary reduction ratio for the US is 1.133, for all other models it is 1.096. This makes the US gearing just 3.4% lower than other models. The gear which is different between the models is pictured on page 4-2 of the service manual, labelled "Secondary reduction gear".

8.6 Exhaust

Apparently the exhaust system is constructed in such a way that several owners have had trouble with loud rattles from internal rust or breakage. After replacing his pipes, Roland Oliynyk took a hacksaw to the old ones, "13.25 inches from the muffler mounting holt towards the header. Upon opening up the exhaust pipe, I found the culprit, both sides, there is an inner pipe between the cross-over and the restricted section of the header pipe. Both were loose and I extracted the pipes with pliers." It seems like some screws drilled in from the outside might cure this rattle, which Roland described as "It would make you think you were driving a Harley - more like engine clatter but a sharper sound. It would be intermittent - I think dependent on the heat in the pipe or the loose piece jammed for awhile. Noisy enough to hear at highway speeds (without ear plugs)."

Chuck Wright advised that according to the manufacturer its Cermachrome finish will provide "near lifetime" protection on exhaust pipes as will as lower temperatures significantly. Costs about $150 - $225 depending on configuration.

If you ever have to replace one of the VX pipes, you'll be amazed at how expensive they are. They list for something over $400 each. Discount suppliers seem to have them for closet to $300 each, which is still high. (One person got the left pipe from Parts Depot, in Vincentown, NJ (800-245-3101), for $305.)

Jardine makes a Rumbler exhaust for the VX, recently installed by Roland Oliynyk. Story so far? "I think they are much LOUDER." :-) Mike Heathman installed these as well, and rejetted his main jets because he decided he was running too lean: "I went from a 132.5 to a 130 main jet in the rear and from 122.5 to 120 in the front." (He also has UNI foam air filters on his bike, btw.) The contact information Roland sent the list when he ordered his exhaust was:

"Jardine Exhaust Systems (Motorcycle division). Jardine Motorcycle systems are made by Summit Industries in Corona, CA. Tel 909-371-1744 E-mail address:"

There is a Dutch company which sells exhausts for the the VX -- see A number of people have ordered exhausts from them in a bulk order as of 9/1999, so more experience with them should be available soon.

Sito, another European company, makes one too:

Editor Tom, Chuck Wright and Kit Doran have installed PipeMasters exhausts on their VXs with good results. Click here to see pictures of the pipes, before and Click here to hear them.

If you want to install a slipon muffler onto the existing pipes a lister going under the handle "memjoda" writes:

the VX stock exhaust can be replaced with slip ons by cutting the pipes past the crossover just before the next weld toward the outlet. The inner pipe can then be removed and replaced with a 45 degree turnout for 1-3/4 inch pipe ($3.59) from Trak auto. The expanded end is a perfect friction fit into the existing pipe. The JC. Whitney 01PG7567P ($34.99 ea) will just fit over the outlet side and its mounting bracket fits perfectly on the bottom of the passenger peg pivot bolt. The J.C. Whitney exhaust pipe heat shield 01PG 3521A ($14.50) will cover from the cut stock pipe to the chrome muffler. The downside is that they are very loud and the passenger pegs no longer fold in.

If you really just want to make your VX louder (Editorial comment: I really can't believe I'm including this in the FAQ, since I don't condone the practice of making bikes louder for the sake of noise. Loud pipes don't save lives, they just annoy neighbors. -pgf), try this tip from Henry Spragens:

"First try drilling the centers of the four welds around the periphery of the mufflers. Start with a 1/8" drill to test the results. If it gets too loud you can screw a sheet metal screw in the hole to quiet it down again. Work your way up in drill size if you like the results. It's acceptably louder, low-pitched and rumbly if you do it that way. Mine are drilled 3/16" in all 4 welds on both mufflers. Taking a sharpened hunk of re-bar and knocking the baffles out makes for a barky, flatulent, "Honda 450 with straight pipes" kind of sound."

8.7 Speedometer Cable

Yes, it's true. The front wheel needs to be removed to replace the speedometer cable, because you can't get at the retaining screw otherwise. There are instructions for removing and replacing the front wheel in a later section of this FAQ.

Fred Dalton sent in this tip. I did the same thing, using a HELP replacement cable, and it worked fine. (Be careful crimping on the new cable end -- you only get one, or maybe two, chances.)

"My cable broke about 4000 miles ago. I went to the automobile parts store (pep boys) and found a repair kit for car speedo cables. It was in the area of the store with all the "HELP" brand parts. It was about $10, and came with a crimp tool (it was cheapo, I used my electrician wire crimpers). The part that crimps on had to be ground down a bit in the bench grinder to fit right. In all it was a 10 minute job. Has worked well."

Paul Fox recently (Feb 2001) sent a caution that car speedo cables have not worked well for him.

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