I passed a milestone today. I have ridden this motorcycle 25,000 miles since I bought it. You may recall that back in April of 2009, I wrote about another milestone passed, 10,000 miles at that time.
Remember that this is my first real motorcycle, not counting the old minibike I had when I was a teenager, so I have ridden only this motorcycle 25,000 miles. The milestone was passed on an evening joy ride near the house.
I bought the bike in September of 2007, so I have owned it about forty-four months. That is about 565 miles per month on the average, including two periods of not riding for a couple of months each. I do ride year around though to keep my skills at their meager level of development, and maybe improve them a bit...and because it is fun to ride, after all!
The bike has performed well over this part of its life. It has had a couple of oil changes -- now to a synthetic (Mobil 1, Racing 4T), a coolant change, and I am working on the third set of tires (one rear was retired far too early due to a puncture). I certainly get a lot of mileage out of the tires, especially, compared with some much more aggressive riders.
I was recently surprised, though, that I began to feel the bike acting as though it was misfiring. There seemed to be no problem evident with the transmission in neutral, and the exhaust sound was steady under all conditions. So what could be wrong here?
A clue to the jerkiness came when I was checking chain tension. I put the bike on the rear stand and rotated the rear wheel until the chain was tightest. The tension checked good there. The tension was, however, very much looser at other sections. That seemed strange -- after all, the chain was fine when it was new. What could be wrong?
I did a little research on line, which revealed that my chain was probably past its expected life. The tooth profile of the sprockets was still OK, so a new chain should do the trick.
The chain I settled on as a good mix of quality and price is an EK 520SRX Quadra X-Ring with 114 Links, part number 701-520SRX-114 and a rivet-type master link, part number 520SRX-MLJ. The prices were $57.10 and $4.80, respectively, plus about $12 shipping, from Amazon seller Powersport Superstore. The chain arrived in just a few days and I set to work.
I had bought a Stockton Tool Company Chain Breaker and Rivet Tool Kit (#28165) from Cycle Gear when it was on sale, and a cheap pneumatic grinder (#52847) and a pack of 2" cutoff wheels from Harbor Freight Tools, so I broke them out, deciphered the translated-into-English-from-some-foreign-language instructions for each, and began.
Since this is my first riveted chain replacement, I go slowly, learning the tricks of using the chain tool properly despite the cryptic instructions.
The grinder neatly removes the heads of one of the chain's link pins. The chain tool presses out the remains of the link, and I fit the new chain, rivet the master link, check the link according to the Kawasaki service manual instructions (easier to understand than the others recently read, by the way), tension the chain (nice and even, now), and clean up.
The first ride confirms that the chain was the issue with the "missing" problem. The bike almost feels like new now -- smoooooth -- and ready for the next 25K.
...I still wonder how far I rode that little minibike.