2011 Voyager Transmission [Archive] - Kawasaki Motorcycle Forums

2011 Voyager Transmission

theMucker
10-29-2011, 03:46 PM
I have a 2010 Voyager ABS and really like the bike. But I've found it too noisy for highway comfort. So I bought a pair of 2011 stock mufflers and they really made a nice change. They're quieter at highway speeds and have a nicer sound than the 2010 mufflers when riding at lower speeds. Now I'd like to address the noisy transmission. I can live with the clunks when changing gears (even though it's the first Kaw I've ever ridden that sounds like an old Shovelhead when changing gears) , but the whine in 2nd through 5th gears is horrible. 4th gear is especially annoying any time the tranny is under load accelerating or decelerating. It whines like an old pick-up truck in reverse! I know that Kawasaki changed a transmission shaft and most of the output gears in the 2011 transmission and I'm considering swapping my tranny parts for the upgraded pieces. But before I go through the expense and effort I'd like to find out HOW MUCH of an improvement the factory made in the upgrade. So I'm asking the riders out there if any of you have had the opportunities to ride a 2009 or 2010 model and a 2011 or 2012 Voyager; have you noticed a significant improvement in transmission whine reduction between the older and newer model?

HELLMAN
10-30-2011, 12:18 AM
I hope you get some reply's to this Mucker. I love my 2010 voyager, except for that trashy transmission noise. It's a shame they continue to put out a transmission like that with all the technology out there.
The dealer would not let me test ride the bike before I bought it. Should have walked out the door right then.

But I liked it's looks and feel as I set on it. I bought it and traded in a 1997 gold wing. My first 3 or 4 miles, it was horrible transmission noise. Turned right around and went back to the dealer and got the mechanic to ride it and he came back and said it is normal when it is new and should get better. I fell for that BS and believed them. It is NO better. I complained to Kawi corporate headquarters and they said it is normal and there transmissions can take anything you want to throw at it. But if I was worried to take it back to the dealer and have them check it out. I did not do that. I wish I had went back and said fix it or give me back my money, and tell them I'll by another when they fix the transmission noise.

5,200 miles on it and I still cringe when shifting from 1st to 2nd or 3rd to 2nd. Got into a habit to look in the mirror to make sure there is nothing fell out on the roadway.

theMucker
10-30-2011, 08:41 AM
I hope you get some reply's to this Mucker. I love my 2010 voyager, except for that trashy transmission noise. It's a shame they continue to put out a transmission like that with all the technology out there.
The dealer would not let me test ride the bike before I bought it. Should have walked out the door right then.

But I liked it's looks and feel as I set on it. I bought it and traded in a 1997 gold wing. My first 3 or 4 miles, it was horrible transmission noise. Turned right around and went back to the dealer and got the mechanic to ride it and he came back and said it is normal when it is new and should get better. I fell for that BS and believed them. It is NO better. I complained to Kawi corporate headquarters and they said it is normal and there transmissions can take anything you want to throw at it. But if I was worried to take it back to the dealer and have them check it out. I did not do that. I wish I had went back and said fix it or give me back my money, and tell them I'll by another when they fix the transmission noise.

5,200 miles on it and I still cringe when shifting from 1st to 2nd or 3rd to 2nd. Got into a habit to look in the mirror to make sure there is nothing fell out on the roadway.

Like yours, my dealer does not give test rides. But I'd read the magazine reviews and I've owned quite a few Kawasakis over the years and they all had good-to-great transmissions. I'm also a motorcycle mechanic, although not at a franchised dealership since the early 80s, and I've worked on and ridden hundreds of motorcycles over the years. Prior to buying my Voyager, I have NEVER ridden a Kawasaki with such a noisy transmission. My Voyager has over 5000 miles on it and nothing in the transmission noise has changed since the day I bought it, so there is no reason to expect that it'll quiet down with more miles. I've talked with my dealer and he acknowledged that the tranny is noisy and that he's talked with the Kaw reps about it. They admit that it's noisy, but that it's part of the design and in no way a sign of imminent failure. So it is essentially NOT a flaw and therefore will NOT be covered under warranty.

Again, I can live with a tranny that clunks during gear changes like an old Shovelhead, but the whine is too pervasive to ignore. Trading in the Voyager isn't an option that I consider for a variety of reasons. Doing so would be a BIG hit financially, because it's too new and I'd be absorbing the lion share of it's depreciation for the life of the bike. And I really like my Voyager in almost every other respect. I prefer a cruiser styled touring bike, with a V-twin engine over the multi-cylinder models. I don't like the near-automotive complexity of the BMWs and Goldwings. And the HD and Victory's are, in my opinion,too expensive and not to my taste. AND I think the Voyager is really pretty, with excellent touring accommodations.

I'm fortunate in that I am a motorcycle mechanic, so upgrading the transmission with the 2011 parts won't cost me anything in labor (other than a weekend's time in the garage). It would cost about $900 in parts and that ain't something to sneeze at. I've already bought a used pair of 2011 OEM mufflers to quiet down the exhaust. But I'm considering biting that bullet, during the winter, if it'll fix the tranny whine. But first, I need to get some feedback on the 2011 transmission; is it actually significantly quieter than the 2009/2010 models?

buzz
10-31-2011, 06:09 PM
Mucker,
I had an 06 1600 Classic that began to have troubles at 25K miles. Thought about trading her in.
I read a lot of info on the new 1700's when they came out. Engine heat, tranny and belt noise were the most often sighted problems. I think the belt tension issue had/has been resolved and there was a retro fit kit offered to reduce the exhaust heat but the tranny noise still lingers.
I test rode a 2011 earlier this year at a local Kawa event. I was amazed at how loud the shifting noise was!! I thought it was going to explode. Another rider behind me pulled next to me during the test ride and asked what the **** the banging was. I was trying to convince myself this was my next scoot, but the tranny thing was definate deal killer for me. Riding a 2000 Concours now and and very, very pleased with it.










Like yours, my dealer does not give test rides. But I'd read the magazine reviews and I've owned quite a few Kawasakis over the years and they all had good-to-great transmissions. I'm also a motorcycle mechanic, although not at a franchised dealership since the early 80s, and I've worked on and ridden hundreds of motorcycles over the years. Prior to buying my Voyager, I have NEVER ridden a Kawasaki with such a noisy transmission. My Voyager has over 5000 miles on it and nothing in the transmission noise has changed since the day I bought it, so there is no reason to expect that it'll quiet down with more miles. I've talked with my dealer and he acknowledged that the tranny is noisy and that he's talked with the Kaw reps about it. They admit that it's noisy, but that it's part of the design and in no way a sign of imminent failure. So it is essentially NOT a flaw and therefore will NOT be covered under warranty.

Again, I can live with a tranny that clunks during gear changes like an old Shovelhead, but the whine is too pervasive to ignore. Trading in the Voyager isn't an option that I consider for a variety of reasons. Doing so would be a BIG hit financially, because it's too new and I'd be absorbing the lion share of it's depreciation for the life of the bike. And I really like my Voyager in almost every other respect. I prefer a cruiser styled touring bike, with a V-twin engine over the multi-cylinder models. I don't like the near-automotive complexity of the BMWs and Goldwings. And the HD and Victory's are, in my opinion,too expensive and not to my taste. AND I think the Voyager is really pretty, with excellent touring accommodations.

I'm fortunate in that I am a motorcycle mechanic, so upgrading the transmission with the 2011 parts won't cost me anything in labor (other than a weekend's time in the garage). It would cost about $900 in parts and that ain't something to sneeze at. I've already bought a used pair of 2011 OEM mufflers to quiet down the exhaust. But I'm considering biting that bullet, during the winter, if it'll fix the tranny whine. But first, I need to get some feedback on the 2011 transmission; is it actually significantly quieter than the 2009/2010 models?

gentry
10-31-2011, 10:19 PM
I ride a 2011 Voyger. My bike is sweet! I have about 5k on her and she is quite and very smooth compaired to the 02 Sabre I road. I hear normal sounds when shifting normally no bangs,pops or grinding.

theMucker
11-01-2011, 08:29 AM
Mucker,
I had an 06 1600 Classic that began to have troubles at 25K miles. Thought about trading her in.
I read a lot of info on the new 1700's when they came out. Engine heat, tranny and belt noise were the most often sighted problems. I think the belt tension issue had/has been resolved and there was a retro fit kit offered to reduce the exhaust heat but the tranny noise still lingers.
I test rode a 2011 earlier this year at a local Kawa event. I was amazed at how loud the shifting noise was!! I thought it was going to explode. Another rider behind me pulled next to me during the test ride and asked what the **** the banging was. I was trying to convince myself this was my next scoot, but the tranny thing was definate deal killer for me. Riding a 2000 Concours now and and very, very pleased with it.

Thanks for the input. While I appreciate the info some riders are offering, yours is the first to really give some idea as whether or not the 2011 tranny parts might make my Voyager quieter. After all, if I were to go ahead and do the upgrade and then found that it wasn't improved, THAT would be really BAD!
So you found the tranny in the 2011 to clunk bad. Did you notice any other noises, like a whine?

theMucker
11-01-2011, 08:31 AM
Hi Gentry. So you don't hear any loud clunking OR whining from your 2011 transmission? I wonder if these things can really vary so much in the sounds they emit.

gentry
11-01-2011, 09:13 AM
Define whining, The belt does whine a little. I think it is normal for the 11 Voyger. I don't hear it while I am on the road. I do keep the tension on the belt in specification. Or it could be my hearing is shot to ****!

theMucker
11-01-2011, 12:30 PM
Define whining, The belt does whine a little. I think it is normal for the 11 Voyger. I don't hear it while I am on the road. I do keep the tension on the belt in specification. Or it could be my hearing is shot to ****!

It is not the belt. If the whine was caused by the belt, it would not vary according to gear selection or load. It would only vary according to road speed. With automobiles SOME automatic transmissions do it, but not many. But MOST manual transmissions still do it, to varying intensity, whenever you're backing in reverse. Modern cars and trucks are much quieter than pre-1980 models. But if you were to take pretty much any manual transmission car or truck of the 1960s (or before) and backup in reverse, you'll hear the same sound I hear coming from my Voyager transmission in 2nd through 5th gear. Sixth gear may whine some, but at those road speeds, it's not apparent. Each gear varies a bit in how loud and pervasive it is, but 3rd and 4th are the worst. Any time the transmission is under load (accelerating OR decelerating) it whines and the greater the load, the louder it is, so as a result, decelerating isn't as pervasive as using strong acceleration.
The riders who've switched to significantly louder exhaust systems will probably never be bothered by the tranny whine. I've switched to the 2011 OEM mufflers because they're quieter than the 2010 pieces, so of course I'm never going to be drowning out the noise with louder pipes.

Fattire
11-02-2011, 08:51 AM
Was it hard to switch out the pipes? I've just bought a used 2010 (1,159miles) Voyager, like everything about it, but was a bit shocked at the muffler noise....I like a quiet bike. is this something I can do myself? do i get the 2011 pipes from my kawa dealer?..........I haven't ridden my bike too much yet, but haven't noticed a 'whine' in the trans.....

theMucker
11-02-2011, 02:43 PM
Hi John,
Swapping the 2009/2010 mufflers for the 2011 (or later) pieces can't be easier. It's easiest if you remove the saddlebags first and they're just 3 bolts each. The headers stay in place and all you do is remove the heat shields and mufflers. It's very straight forward. Use Never-seize on the bolts and slip-joints at the header-to-muffler mounts and your done. No alterations in the fuel injection are needed.
Buying them from a Kawasaki dealer would be very painful to the wallet, but if you're patient and post in the various Kawasaki/Vulcan/Voyager forums you'll probably be able to get a pair cheap. I paid $150 for mine and they were like new.
Please let me know if you notice a whine in the tranny.
Ken "the Mucker" Sexton
LI, NY

Was it hard to switch out the pipes? I've just bought a used 2010 (1,159miles) Voyager, like everything about it, but was a bit shocked at the muffler noise....I like a quiet bike. is this something I can do myself? do i get the 2011 pipes from my kawa dealer?..........I haven't ridden my bike too much yet, but haven't noticed a 'whine' in the trans.....

gentry
11-05-2011, 11:29 PM
Ok, There is a whine in my 2011 trans. I finally got to ride today . It is in most of the gears 1-5 but it is a low in amplitude. No bangs while shifting. O by the way I had a great ride just wish it was longer.

theMucker
11-06-2011, 08:36 AM
Ok, There is a whine in my 2011 trans. I finally got to ride today . It is in most of the gears 1-5 but it is a low in amplitude. No bangs while shifting. O by the way I had a great ride just wish it was longer.

So it sounds like your tranny has a low amplitude, acceptable level of whine. I could live with that. My wife and I took a chilly ride on our Voyager yesterday and we enjoyed it. The Voyager really is a nice, comfy tourer. The winter is approaching and I'm leaning toward doing the 2011 tranny swap. Even with the expense of the 2011 tranny and muffler corrections, I think it's place in my garage is well justified. Hmmmm... maybe while I've got the top-end off I'll do a small bump in compression too. And a bit of porting in the heads can't hurt either... HEY! The labor is free and this is what I do. The winter layover can be soooo boring and adding a bit of OOMPH! to my touring bike wouldn't be amiss.

Fattire
11-08-2011, 01:32 PM
ok, I finally heard the 'whine' sunday when out for a spin.....is not very loud, compared to noise out the pipes.......

Highwayman2011
11-08-2011, 03:56 PM
It must be me, I have a 2010 Voyager and I like the sound the mufflers make. I have the clunk on the one-two shift and the whine in the lower gears. I think the noises are all part of the riding experience, If I wanted an appliance I would have bought a gold wing.

tooeagle
08-08-2013, 01:26 PM
The Mucker - I know this is a really old post. But I'm just curious. How did this come out? I have a 2010 Voyager, absolutely love the bike, except for the grinding tranny noise. Last year, I took it to an independent motorcycle mechanic who loosened the belt slightly. (Dealer "mechanics" are morons!) That almost completely eliminated the "whine" so many people are complaining about. But the noisy transmission is just something inherent to these engines/tranny combos and he tells me the Kawasaki's claim that they "fixed" this problem on later models is just false, just as they supposedly improved the heat problems. They came up with a "fix" for that as well, but it did little to help the problem. All large v-twins have these problems to a certain extent. And, otherwise, these bikes are so much better (mechanically and comfort) than competing brands (including harleys), especially out on the highway.

Also, I wanted to point out that it really helps to ride with ear plugs. I don't even hear the clunking and tranny noise anymore, and the plugs I use still let me hear traffic and things you need to hear while riding. It makes for a very enjoyable ride.

I'm curious, though, did you ever change out those parts you mentioned, and if so did it do any good?

HELLMAN
08-10-2013, 12:15 PM
tooeagle, I do the ear plugs also, very enjoyable. Now I don't hear the whine, or the clunky tranny.The biggest complaint now is the horrible heat comming from the engine. Wish I was a design engineer for Kawi, Needs much bigger cooling system, and or lower thermostat size so it would allow lower temp circulation. I keep a pretty close watch on my belt adjustment, I found that when accelerating the belt will tighten and be just a little looser when setting still, so I have it adjusted about a 1/8 inch more play than called for in the book. Seemed to quiet the whine down somewhat.
I have added a voyager trike kit to the voyager and have about 2,600 miles on it and love it on the highway, but not so much at slower in town speeds, seems to be to rattle noise over the bumps and a little harder (stiffer)riding than it was with two wheels. Overall, I give the trike kit a 8.