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Vegas Vulcan
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was speaking to Guy the tech at Sherm's, home of the Sherm's Gorilla Clutch for the Vulcan 1500/1600, and found him to be very knowledgable. I asked him about the knocking noise that is so prevalent from the lower left side of the engine in so many Vulcans. He said it could be that the balancer dampers are bad.

He explained that there are 8 rubber dampeners that are inserted in the balancer. If these get old and dried, which can happen from oil additives and certain types of oils, and excessively running in hot climates they won't function. They are found behind the gear on the balancer shaft which turns the stator.

Has anyone heard of this before?
 

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I've watched them be replaced on a Nomad. Owner thought it might be the answer to a different problem. Turned out not to be which explained why the ones he replaced didn't look any different then the new ones.
 

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Balancer Dampers

I just recently went for that solution in my 2006 1600.
I've had three different Kawi mechanics check it out. They all said the same thing. They didn't hear anything unusual. I finally got one mechanic to take a look. He showed me the left side counter balancer. It had some brown scoring on the inner race, so it was obvious that we needed to replace it. $550 bucks.
I am sorry to report bad news, but this won't cure it either. It seems to help lessen the severity of the knock, but it still knocks.
Everybody seems to tell me this is normal. Personally, I feel a little embarrassed, and I'm not buying it. I sure am open to experince though.

Loud pipes for the cure?
I don't think so.

I just have a sneaking feeling that whatever ails this engine is going to take between 2 to 4 thousand bucks to fix. I can understand why Mother KAW won't adress it.
I like everything about this bike except the knock which I admit is beginning to drive me sorta' nuts. What's puzzling me is that nobody seems to have a specific answer to this common problem. Hasn't anyone torn one of these completey down yet?

My guess is that what we got here is either piston, rod end, or main bearing tolerance.

I've pretty much convinced myself that if I can't get this resolved, this will be my last Kawi'.
I'm pretty dissapointed with Kawasaki's lack of explanation so far. I sure would appreciate anybody's expertise on this.

Anyway, sorry Dude, this won't cure the problem.
 

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Pinson, Alabama
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I only have 8500 miles on my 2008 1500. I do not hear any knocking.

When do you hear it? at idle, cruising, WOT?
 

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I listened to the audio and Bluemeanie that sounds much worse than what yours sounds like or at least to me it does. That sound byte was not even close to yours.
 

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My '07 Nomad knocked so bad I took it back demanding they do something about it. Mostly heard at idle, goes away completely at speed or as power is applied. Disappears while decelerating down a slope in first or second gear. Customer Support suggested I visit another dealer's service department which I did. That service manager said it was worse than most and thought there was something wrong but Kawi still insisted no problem - forget it.

They use straight cut gears on the engine to clutch setup. Some engines have a bit more slack in the gear train and they just knock with the engine pulses while not under load. Aggravating noise - kind of embarrasing. They claim it's no problem and I haven't had any trouble with it. I hate to admit it but removing the muffler silencers did make it more bearable and I do like the sound of the mufflers now. Still, it doesn't sound good for a nice bike like the Nomad.

I'm now more concerned about the turn signal lenses falling off.

Ray
 

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As time goes on, I'm becoming more convinced that it's a matter of sloppy tolerances. I haven't heard any other v twins (other brands) bang and clank like this except for Harley's that were on their last legs right before they burned a rod bearing and locked up the engine.
I'm just surprised that nobody seems to really know the specific cause. A lot of speculation and just plain guessing.
So far what I've found that it isn't: 1. It isn't the clutch 2. It isn't the cam or tensioners 3. It isn't the engine mounts. 4. It isn't the counter balancer rubber insert or the gear itself (although the damper gear race was scored which required replacing the gear $550 bucks.) This did not cure the knock. It did lessen the severity of the knock though.
Good luck Bros, and I'll share anything new I find.
Are the new Triumph Thunderbirds any good? I could own one for the money I've got tied up in this 1600 Vulcan.
 

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Vegas Vulcan
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1,161 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That video is of my engine and it stills sounds like that but really hasn't worsened recently. I heard this sound when it was brand new but not near as pronounced as today. The motor has 31,000 miles and other than the noisy knocky sound the bike has been perfect. I believe this sound is more prevalent in the 1600 motor than the 1500, at least from what I've seen. I've changed the oil every 2000 miles with the exception of one 5000 change when I was running synthetic.

I've checked the screen and the magnetic oil plug and have not found any internal engine material there; other than a trace amout of graphite dust.

I haven't been so easy at times when riding this bike. I have definitely worked the engine hard and hit the redline ignition cut off more than a few times. But the way it runs, especially with the true dual exhaust, is very satisfying. I definitely expect another 30,000 miles before any major problem. Well... I hope anyway.
 

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I am shopping for a used MS and was looking for info when I stumbled across this thread. This is my first post, but I wanted to add some input. I have ridden several meanstreaks, but never owned one. I have however owned two ZX9r, one ZX6r and two KFX400s. To varying degrees, they have all knocked. My first ZX9 I purchased used and it was subtle, but the knock was still there. My second ZX9 I purchased brand new. It knocked so bad after the first 2k miles that I made an *** of myself at the dealership demanding they do something about. I eventually just learned to deal with it and it ran like a champ for 25k miles (sold it). I realize that these all have entirely different motors but I have always heard that kawis knock. And my experience has confirmed this. I can only assume it has something to do with loose tolerances.
 

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I am shopping for a used MS and was looking for info when I stumbled across this thread. This is my first post, but I wanted to add some input. I have ridden several meanstreaks, but never owned one. I have however owned two ZX9r, one ZX6r and two KFX400s. To varying degrees, they have all knocked. My first ZX9 I purchased used and it was subtle, but the knock was still there. My second ZX9 I purchased brand new. It knocked so bad after the first 2k miles that I made an *** of myself at the dealership demanding they do something about. I eventually just learned to deal with it and it ran like a champ for 25k miles (sold it). I realize that these all have entirely different motors but I have always heard that kawis knock. And my experience has confirmed this. I can only assume it has something to do with loose tolerances.
The last Kawi I owned before this was a Voyager 1300. Made plenty of top end noise with dual overhead cams, but no knocking. Then I went back to a Honda 1100 Sabre. Go like hell, and tight. Very slight valve noise. No knock of any kind. Also own a vt750 Shadow ace. No knock at all. Trouble free.
I didn't like riding two up on the Sabre though. It did ride very stiff, and the seat was tough on the passenger. I fell in love with the 1600 vulcan. I feel like I made a big mistake though. I juust basically rode the thing around the block and said "I'll take it." I didn't take it out and wring it out for 30 or 40 miles like I always had done with everything in the past. Reason being, after having owned Hondas and Kawasakis since I first started riding bikes in 1968, I trusted them, and revelled in the Japanese perfection demonstrated by how they engineered their machines. Now, all of a sudden I have this knocking banging thing. You have to modify the air intake and re map the ignition for substanstial bucks $$$ (just like the Harley guys) to get any real decent performance out of it. You have to put ear drum busting pipes on it to keep the insesscant sound of the rattling rods from driving you nuts.
It's mighty dissapointing. That's all. Where did the Japanese perfectionist Engineering go? That was the thing tht always made me so proud to own a Japanese motorcycle. Looks to me like Kawi is just getting complacent and sloppy.
 
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