Previous Page Home Next Page

10. Maintenance Procedures

The shop manual can be a little daunting to an amateur mechanic. This section contains some tips to ease the anxiety...

10.1 Front wheel removal/replacement

(from a post by Bill Eickmeier, augmented by pgf)

10.2 Rear wheel removal/replacement


10.3 Installing Progressive Fork Springs

(from a post by Robb Wong, augmented by pgf)

You'll need #10 weight oil; a chopstick with a mark of 180 mm from the tip; a front end lift/jack; plastic tube - about 1/2 inch or so...or a straw; hacksaw OR 2.5 inch spacers (I went to Home Depot and got 2.5 metal pipe fittings - 70 cents each and no cutting needed!)

Robb later reported: "...I painstakingly dripped... and dripped... and dripped... fork oil into the fork to determine the "precise" amount of oil that is used with Progressive springs, and using the Wong-micrometer - 150 mm from the top of the compressed tube. The answer is 12 U.S. ounces or.....about 350 ml for my european cousins."

10.4 Replacing Fork Seals

There's more information on fork seals and tools up above (in the "Fork seals" section :-), but here's a full procedure, contributed by Steve B:

Technically, it's not a difficult job, just time consuming. I was doing it in conjunction with a bunch of other projects on the bike, but I'd guess it takes about two hours if it's all you are doing. It also requires tools which you may or may not have (torque wrench, various allen wrenches, somewhat large metric sockets, and the like.) You must also fabricate two tools -- one to remove the damper rods, and one to seat the seals themselves. Materials for both of these can be had at Home Depot or Lowes.

10.5 Carburetor synchronization

( i don't remember who contributed this. -pgf )

Properly synced carbs are probably the most important and most often overlooked component in a smooth, responsive motorcycle. This description is based heavily on a description by Mike Heathman, edited heavily by pgf.

The cable between the two carbs is the idle sync. The sync adjustment is done at the front carb; there is a threaded adjuster with a lock-nut on this cable. The idle sync, once set correctly, seems to stay in sync for a long time.

The off-idle sync is also done at the front carb, via the threaded adjuster on the throttle cable. The VX uses a split throttle cable, where one cable comes from the hand grip and attaches to two cables which go to the carbs themselves. These cables are of very different lengths, with the rear being much longer. They will stretch at different rates, leading to the need for fairly frequent adjustments. The off-idle seems to need tweaking about every 4-6,000 miles -- certainly every time you adjust your valves.

To do the job you _NEED_ a set of mercury carb sticks. A cheap set costs about $50 and will work as well as an expensive one. (Mercury, including mercury vapor, is poisonous -- don't spill it, or suck on the tubes yourself.) What you are trying to do is equalize the amount of vacuum the two cylinders are pulling. Warm up the engine to normal operating temperature first. Although it's easiest to do most work on the engine with the tank removed, this job can be done entirely with it in place, which is handy, since then you don't need an auxiliary gas supply.

Draw vacuum from the rear carb at the line for the vacuum petcock. Use a tee fitting, so the petcock still works, otherwise no gas will flow. The front carb has a small screw, accessible from the right side of the bike. You'll have to remove the coolant overflow reservoir (plastic chrome doo-dad) from the frame to get at it. Just let it hang there 'til done. (Even this can be done with the tank in place -- there's just enough room to get the attachment bolts out if you lift the edge of the tank for the last little bit.) You need to remove this screw, which should be shown in your manual (but note that the picture in the manual was printed upside-down -- the screw is up high toward the rear of the right side of the carb), and insert a screw-in vacuum fitting, which you should have gotten with the mercury sticks. These fittings are 5mm diameter, if you have a choice when buying the sticks. Be warned that getting this fitting onto the carb isn't trivial -- it's a long reach, and you won't really be able to get a wrench on it to tighten it. Hand or plier tight is fine.

Once you've got the carb sticks attached, equalize the mercury levels at idle with the adjuster on the cable between the two carbs. Adjust your idle rpm at the same time, as changing this later will effect the sync. Be careful tightening the lock-nut as this can change the adjustment.

Either using a throttle lock, or by having someone else do it, hold the engine at about 2,000 rpm. Equalize the mercury levels with the adjuster on the front carb's throttle cable. Run the engine up to 4-5,000 rpm and make sure the levels stay together fairly well. Make your throttle changes gradually to avoid sucking mercury into the engine. Tightening the lock-nut on this adjuster is a pain as it always changes the adjustment. Play with it 'til you get it right. If the engine starts to get too hot, let it sit for 10 minutes and try again. Running a fan on the radiator may help too.

10.6 Footpeg removal

Brent wrote: "There's a nut on the backside that holds the footpeg mounting bolt in place. I've got a CA bike that has the charcoal cannister which hides the nut from view. I found out after I stripped one bolt trying to remove it. That's also a special allen bolt that cost about $5 at the local Suz shop. So beware!"

10.7 Headlight replacement

(from a post by Robb Wong)

Changing the bulb is easy - and will take less time than this explanation:

1) Kneel in front of the bike and look at the headlight. There are 3 basic pieces. The lens (glass thing), held into its caseing by a metal ring, that fits into (and holds the lens inside) the metal housing of the headlight.

2) On the right side middle of the headlight on the edge of the lens retention ring is a screw. DON'T TOUCH IT! THAT'S NOT THE ONE! That one fiddles with the aiming of your beam left or right.

3) The screws that hold the ring onto the metal headlight housing are located on either side of the housing just below the center. Remove each one and give the retention ring a slight twist and the lens and retention ring will pop off. Careful...notice that the metal headlight ring is "lipped" and you'll need it to "catch" when you replace the lens.

4) Holding the bulb, notice the wires running into the what looks kind of like a black cap (keeps the water out) and into an electrical plug. Slide back the rubber cover. The plug is held into the back of the bulb by a screw collar (I think) and/or a spring clip. Unscrew the collar and remove the spring clip (removes with finger pressure).

5) Now pull out the light element. Pull it out of the electrical plug (notice the flimsy 3 plug connectors).

6) DON'T TOUCH THE GLASS ELEMENT of the new light element. I use a paper towel or clean cloth. Drop the new element into the housing and replace all the bits you removed.

Whole thing should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Good luck.

10.8 Lubing the swingarm bearings

Mike Heathman wrote:

"It's really not that bad. Pull the rear wheel. Remove the shocks. Remove the three bolts that hold the rear-drive unit onto the swingarm and pull it straight back. The shaft will slide out of the U-joint and off it comes. Loosen the screw-clamp on the rubber boot on the left side of the swingarm where it meets the engine. There's a little metal access panel that you can now remove. Slide the u-joint off the final drive gear and pull it out through this access hole. Remember the orientation of the u-joint, which end was facing forward. Now you can access the end of the swingarm pivot shaft on the left side. The nut is on the right side beneath a little cover. Remove the nut, slide the shaft out the left side and pull the swingarm. Lube to your hearts content. You may have to remove the passenger footpegs along the way somewhere, I don't remember."

10.9 Brake rebuilding

This isn't a full procedure, just a tip regarding disassembling the rear caliper, from John Robitaille:

"The manual say to force compressed air into the banjo-bolt hole."

"The rear is opposed piston so you can separate the two halves. On the side with the banjo-fitting you can put a slim metal rod through the hole and push the piston. On the other side it is more difficult. I would either pull it out using vice grips - being careful to pull evenly (I did this) OR force compressed air in the cross-over hole once you have it disassembled."

"NOTE: there is an 'O' ring that fits in the cross-over holes sealing the two. I lost mine when I took them apart and the rebuild kits will not have this unless you explicitly make sure it's included."

10.10 Steering head bearing adjustment

Harry Burris wrote this about checking and adjusting the steering head bearings.

"First, the VX uses tapered rollers, unlike some bikes (most notably Honda) that persist in using loose ball bearings like a bicycle! Unlike ball bearings, tapered rollers have to be "pre-loaded" for proper function and long life. That means that the "Steering stem nut" (Suzuki's terminology) must be torqued to the manufacturer's specification (29-36 lb-ft) to seat the bearings, then backed off for the final adjustment. This nut requires a special socket to torque properly and you must take the upper triple clamp off to get to it. The "punch and hammer" method of adjusting the bearing is OK for minor adjustments and is certainly preferable to riding around with loose bearings, but I strongly recommend getting the proper spanner to do the job, especially if you are installing new bearings. For doing the bearing adjustment with the triple clamp in place, a "hook spanner" is the best tool for the job, and they are not at all expensive..

The bearings are adjusted properly when the front fork exhibits a slight amount of "drag" when you attempt to move it either way from center position. This is properly checked with the forks initially at the straight-ahead position. The forks should not "fall" to the side by themselves with properly adjusted tapered roller bearings. If they do, the bearings are too loose. And if your bearings are loose, not only will they contribute to wiggles, wobbles and other handling problems, they will also rapidly beat a "detent" into the bearing races, especially the bottom one. Suzuki gives a torque of 200-500 grams at the handlebar end (about 1/2 to 1 lb.) to get the fork moving from center. Of course, a shop mechanic (myself included) will not actually hook a spring scale to your handlebar to check the drag - he will just do the "nudge" test - making sure that it takes a little bit of effort to move the fork off center. And, as Michael pointed out, the fork should move smoothly through center, it should not snap into and out of a center detent.

Once you are satisfied that the bearings are properly adjusted, the chrome "acorn" nut that holds the triple clamp in place (also locks the adjustment nut down) should be torqued to 36-58 lb-ft.

As for replacement of bearings just to be on the safe side, I think that it is a good idea to at least take the front end apart and check, clean and repack the bearings every couple of years. They can be inspected and replaced at that time if needed."

Brent Yamamoto also said this, regarding replacement of the head bearings:

"I think I'm one of a number of people who have replaced the steering head bearings. The only special tool I used was a large long bolt with large washers and nuts on it. I used this to press the upper and lower bearing races into the steering head. The only other thing I did different was to drill and tap a hole in the steering head stem to install a grease nipple. Ends up using a lot of grease to fill up the entire steering head, and can get a little messy due to no grease seals on the bearings, but now a couple squirts with a grease gun keeps my bearings well lubed. I did have to take the lower triple clamp to the dealer to have him remove the old inner bearing race pressed onto the bottom of the steering stem. Since I had the new bearings, I had him install the new race at the same time."

10.11 Rear shaft oil seal replacement

Rinse Osenga contributed this description of the procedure for replacing the oil seal on the front end of the drive shaft -- see page 4-2 of the service manual.

Tools, parts, materials

Special tools needed:

Parts needed:

Consumables needed:


Now we have come to the check/inspection part:

Now the removal of the oil seal:

Finally comes the repair itself:

Now come the easier parts again:

10.12 Carburator removal

This procedure was contributed by Jim Chen. Click for Photos.

The service manual provides ZERO help on how to remove the carbs - its instructions are "remove carburators." I found the best way to actually remove the carbs is as follows:

Rear Carb:

  1. Remove the tank and side panels (helps to have the bike on the center stand).
  2. Remove the hoses to the rear airbox and remove the mounting bolts for the rear airbox (don't need to remove the rear airbox).
  3. Loosen the connections between the engine and rear carb and rear airbox and rear carb.
  4. Remove the clamp between the engine and rear carb.
  5. Unfasten all the cables and hoses to the rear carb.
  6. Work the carb out from the right side of the bike squeezing it past the rubber between the engine and the carb (this is where removing the clamp is critical - otherwise it gets in the way). Also swearing a lot helps relieve frustration at how wedged in the darn thing is.
  7. Wipe the massive amounts of sweat from your brow and tend to the scrapped/bruised knuckles on both fingers before moving on to the front carb.
  8. Swear because you forgot to mark which cables and hoses go where (makes reassembly fun AND exciting). {Ed: Rick Blunden says to count the number of threads to the locknut to assist in syncing the carbs after reinstallation.}

Front carb:

  1. Loosen clamp between front airbox and front carb and engine and front carb.
  2. Disconnect cables and hoses for front carb (this time remembering to mark where each cable/hose goes).
  3. Remove front carb from the right side of the bike.
  4. Marvel at how much easy that was compared to the rear.

10.13 Float valve/needle replacement

This procedure was contributed by Jim Chen.

As far as the float needles and valves go, the procedure is pretty much the same for each (again, front is slightly easier).

  1. Empty carbs of fuel (OUTSIDE - or your wife will be really really mad that you spilled gas in the house - trust me on this one!!).
  2. Flip the carb over to expose the bottom end.
  3. Use a REALLY good screw driver to remove the four screws holding on the bottom of the carb.
  4. Lift the cover straight off.
  5. Remove the pin holding the float onto the carb (for the rear, you may have to place the carb on the side and use a hammer and nail to get the pin out.
  6. Remove the float and inspect it for damage.
  7. Remove the screw holding in the needle and valve.
  8. Pull out the valve (the needle will fall out once the retaining screw is removed).
  9. Remove the rubber washer and fuel filter mesh off the old valve and put it on the new valve.
  10. Insert the new valve and needle and lock in with the retaining screw.
  11. Reassemble.

Now just put everything back on the bike, balance the carbs and you're set!!

Took me three days to do the whole thing start to finish. {Ed: Jim later clarified - three afternoons - "not hard, just involved"}

10.14 Rear spline inspection/lubrication

This procedure was contributed by Paul Fox.

The wear problem in the VX rear end is caused either by grit and corrosion in the pin/bushing assembly, or by uneven wear on the ring splines, either of which causes the driven joint to ride further and further to the left, i.e. away from the wheel, and toward the drive assembly.

The driven joint is held to the wheel by retainer plates that ride in a groove around its outer edge. This lets it rotate slightly as the rubber bushings holding the mating tubes compress slightly under load. The constant motion of the retainer plates relative to the groove, along with pressure pushing the driven joint to the left, causes wear both on the side of the groove and on the plate itself. Once this wear starts, the splines on the joint and drive assembly will wear in such a way as to make the problem worse -- force against the tapered splines will force the driven joint sideways, away from the wheel.

When the wear gets bad enough (about a millimeter, maybe two, total) the outer casting nubs on the driven joint (the back side of where the pins mount) will start making contact with a protrusion on the inside of the drive casing on the bike. This is metal to metal contact. (You can see scrapes from this contact in picture 3, below.)

The good news is that since there are only three retainer plates, and the driven joint can be inserted in 6 different orientations, you can wear it out twice before having to replace it. :-) You'll want to replace the retainer plates though (and probably the locking plates that hold them on as well).

This is all clearly a bad design, and not an expected wear item -- my bike only has 40,000 miles on it, and the shop manual doesn't mention even inspecting these parts. The solution is to ensure that the pins and bushings are clean enough, and lubed, to minimize sideways pressure on the driven joint. I'm not sure you can do much more than that.

As for the wear on my splines -- I'm a little worried that lining everything up again, with new retainer plates, and a fresh area on the joint's groove, will cause fast wear on the "high" spots of the spline teeth. I'll be opening it up soon to check on this, and to relube.

Click for Pictures of the Driven Joint Problem

10.15 Fuel tank removal

This procedure was contributed by Rick Blunden.

  1. Run the fuel low in the tank before you remove it. It is much lighter and easier to handle without a lot of fuel sloshing around.
  2. Remove the seat by turning the key on the lower left side of the bike by the passenger foot peg mount and lifting the seat at the rear and sliding it to the rear.
  3. Remove the rear cowl - Pull the white electrical connection apart for the tail light. It is located on the left side of the bike under the swoopy handle.
  4. Unscrew/remove the two phillips head screws in the top front of the cowl.
  5. Unscrew/remove the two allen head screws at the base of the swoopy handle.
  6. Lift the swoopy handle and its two flat rubber shims up and away from the cowl.
  7. Gently pry each side of the front of the cowl sideways to get the two plastic studs on each side to pop free from their grommets.
  8. Lift the cowl to the rear and up and away from the bike.
  9. Remove the tank - Unscrew/remove the two 10mm hex head screws at the rear of the tank on top of the seat bracket. Note that the groove in the bracket faces the front of the bike.
  10. Remove the bracket, rubber spacers and steel washers from underneath the bracket.
  11. Prop up the rear of the tank with a small piece of 1" thick wood.
  12. Remove the fuel hose from the petcock tube by gently prying/sliding it to the rear of the bike. Pushing on the rubber hose is more effective than pulling on it.
  13. Remove the two rubber vent hoses from the bottom right rear of the tank. Your bike may have just one. My CA bike has two.
  14. Gently lift the rear of the tank enough so you can remove the rubber vacuum hose from the petcock. If you have ON, OFF, and RES stickers on your cowl, you have a manual petcock, and it will not have a vacuum hose.
  15. Put a thick towel over the front of the tank to keep from chipping the paint if you bump the tank into the triple clamp.
  16. Lift the rear of the tank 2-3" and slide it to the rear and up and off the bike. Place the tank far away from the bike and prop it up so it does not rest on the petcock dial.
  17. Put a little Vaseline on the petcock and tank fittings so the hoses are easier to remove next time. Do the same with the grommets for the cowl and on the brass connections inside the plastic connector for the tail light to keep them from corroding.
  18. Put a little white grease on all threads before you replace screws, nuts, and bolts to keep them from rusting.
  19. The front of the tank sits on a rubber sleeve. My tank was a little loose on the sleeve. A 4" portion of a bicycle tube held in place with a rubber band on the sleeve makes a simple shim. I prefer "broccoli" bands, but "celery" bands are ok, too:-).
  20. Be careful replacing the allen head screws that secure the swoopy handle. They are easy to cross thread, and there are not many threads on the frame fittings.

Previous Page Home Next Page