My wife and I go out for a ride a couple of weeks ago. She is leading, and we are round about ten miles from home (just got started). Oil light flickers, I freak and hit the kill switch and coast to the next intersection. While I wait for her to notice me missing from her rear view, I do a quick survey. Check the oil level, and it is good, but it is gray.
No good. We call my father in law (who is awesome) he comes out with a trailer we load it up, take her home.
Bike history: Two previous owners, who did a grand total of 6,000 miles. (I doubled their mileage in maybe a year and a half) Then it sat for 2.5 years in a basement. Guy I work with kept telling me to buy the bike, back in 2005. I kept telling him no, it's not the bike I want. Finally I told him look if you want to sell it to me for $2500 I will take it. He says okay (who knew? listed for 5,000 at that time). After I pick up the bike, it is evident I should have actually looked at it first. Oil filter - original. At this point I conclude I will get my money's worth, beat the piss out of it, and buy the bike I want. I still decide to look at what are the common issues with the bike, and any note worthy information. Come to find out that what sounds like timing chain noise, is timing chain noise. The automatic cam chain tensioner tends to wear out, and the chain slaps.
Today: Tear the bike down, remove the right fairing (the left gets removed for oil changes, the right is never removed for maintenance) and there is a hole in the right side of the block. Look through that hole and can clearly see the timing chain. Finally get the head removed after removing everything in the way. No question as to why the head gasket was leaking. The timing chain not only wore through the exterior, but also wore through the interior, to the head bolt on the exhaust side.
I always expected a catastrophic failure. Regular maintenance , but flogged her every time I rode her. This result is really unsatisfying. Not to mention I will miss having a bike to beat on.
Moral to the story though, if you have this era bike, and you hear the timing chain slap, fix the tensioner. I did but obviously too late.