With me only just recently getting the engine out of my R1 not too long ago, this winter engine rebuild project is actually taking longer than I initially anticipated, simply due to circumstances. But I’m not crestfallen. As far as I’m concerned, my R1’s getting a second lease on life and much needed and deserved TLC, so I’d rather it be done right than rapid.
This last Saturday I was back in Rob’s shop again after last getting the R1’s engine out of the frame, this time to work on getting my vintage Suzuki’s engine back together so I can put it back on the chassis. Before I could get started though, Rob greeted me with:
“We got your R1’s engine cracked open.”
What’s left of my R1’s engine, with everything else in the bin beside it.
Rob split the case and showed me our top priority – the transmission. We pretty much expected the problem to have been the all-too-common -Yamaha -2nd-gear-problem (I’d provide a link, but it’s so common it’s an auto-fill search term in Google), but he went ahead and showed me exactly what that common problem looked like, which boils down to the gear’s dog clutches rounding off, causing the gear from slipping. He pointed out the rounded off dog clutches, and how it was also rounding off the gear it was mating to as well.
So definitely, second gear and (I believe it was) sixth gear will need to be replaced, as well as the shift fork. While he was at it, he also looked at the state of the other gears and whether any would be worth the time and money to also replace. I didn’t bother remembering what else Rob was recommending around the transmission, basically just giving him the ok to replace what he feels is best replaced at this point. We’re already in this deep, we might as well make the most of it.
We then moved on to the secondary priority, which was to have a look at the rest of the internals with the engine open – the crankcase, pistons, cylinder, con rods, etc. While I’ve never had a problem with the engine apart from it certainly burning oil for awhile now (I’ve been having to top it off), it does have over 60k miles so I wanted to know if that many miles on every component meant some things may also need refreshing.
Quite frankly, nothing really stood out to Rob as far as wear anywhere else in the engine that’s not expected after over 60k miles, save for one thing, which was definitely the reason I was burning oil: A sizeable gash on the #1 cylinder.
All the other cylinders were actually fine, and the same to the #1 cylinder as well if not for the gash. This was definitely the reason why my R1 was burning oil. In Rob’s opinion, throwing on some new piston rings should take care of up to 90% of the oil being burned, but even with the new rings the bike would still burn oil, just at a drastically reduced rate. Unless I really wanted to fix it, then that would mean boring out the cylinders, which meant replacing the OEM pistons with larger ones.
I asked Rob if there would be long-term problems if the bike continued to burn oil. Rob said there would be nothing really, just have to keep topping it off as appropriate. I told Rob that before we got to the point of where we are now, I have entertained the idea of modifying the internals of the engine for performance – bored out cylinders, larger pistons, balanced or lightened crank, etc. – but I’ve come to realize that it’s a point of personal pride that I can otherwise keep the engine mostly with original major parts as I continue to rack up the miles on it. So if I can keep racking up the miles on 60k miles-old pistons and cylinders et cetera, I would like to, only replacing components heading towards imminent failure immediately.
So at this point, we’ll settle for new piston rings, and honing the cylinders. We will be replacing some of the bearings as well (main bearing, big end), and whatever else could do with some refreshing at the head (valve seats, springs). Rob has inventoried all the parts to be ordered, and once received, they’ll put it all back together to get it ready for me to put the engine back in the bike.
Until then, I’ll be focusing on finishing the reassembly of my vintage Suzuki’s engine, and get that back on that bike.
Nearly ready to mount back to the bike.
I’ll be missing the start of our track season at Z2 Trackdays this March, but I’m not upset. I’m only excited to see what it’s like to ride my bike again, properly freshened up. It will be nice to not have to ride compromised, taking second-gear corners in first or third, or short-shifting out of them. I’ve already got fresh, sticky tires for this track season at the ready, and I plan on having Rob freshen up my suspension at both ends as well.
With a refreshed engine and functioning transmission on my R1, I can’t wait to see what kind of personal bests I can hit this track season.