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Old 08-06-2014, 09:46 AM   #1
airheadpilot OP
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Super Tenere Cam Chain Tensioner Failure

A couple of weeks ago I went to hop on my 2012 Super Tenere (54K miles) to ride home from school. I hit the start button and it fired for a few times and then abruptly died. Bummer. Tried again - nothing. Tried WOT - nothing. Tried letting it sit for 20 minutes - nothing. Tried roll-starting it on a hill - nothing. Tried every combination of starting routines that I could think of doing in a parking lot with no tools, basically until the battery was dead. Solid cranking, but not one single combustion event. As the battery grew more dead, it displayed the "14" error code on the dash, but I think that has more to do with the dying battery than anything else. In the end, my buddy came and rescued me and took me and the bike to my dealer. I was thinking fuel pump, TPS, or some other EFI failure.

Last Friday, I got a call from the dealer. They had a hell of a time diagnosing the problem. The bike's computer didn't tell them anything revealing, the EFI system seemed to be fine, the bike had spark, etc. It was only when they took the valve cover off that they realized the problem. The cam chain had jumped a few teeth on the sprockets and the cams were out of phase with the crank. What's more, this had resulted in piston-on-valve interference and I now had bent valves. I'm looking at a complete top-end rebuild and many pennies.

The bike is out of warranty. Of course I didn't spring for the Y.E.S. coverage - it's a Yamaha, not a BMW after all. The service manager asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to fix it. I figure that, whatever I decide to do next, the bike is worthless to me broken. If I decide to sell it, I want to be able to say that it's totally fixed and in good condition. He's going to work with Yamaha to see if they'll cover some or part of it. He's had some luck with them doing that in the past for "shouldn't have happened" failures, even when the bike is out of warranty. As of this writing, no word yet on the total repair estimate or timeline, and no word whether Yamaha is going to chip in, and for how much.

I've taken really good care of this bike. It hasn't been babied - it's my year-round do-everything commute and touring bike - but I rarely run it to redline or excessively lug it, I change the oil and filter on schedule religiously, and it gets every maintenance on time and in full. I always let it warm up a little when it's cold before riding away - at least until the "LO" on the temperature gauge changes to a numerical value. When I had it in for the 50K service, it got a clean bill of health. I have been noticing over the last few thousand miles that, when cold, sometimes there would be a little cam chain clatter on start-up for one second, then go immediately away once the oil pressure came up and the tensioner did its thing. The consensus from both the dealer and what I've read here and elsewhere on the Interwebs is that, as long as the clatter goes away immediately there's nothing to worry about. It would seem that is not the case.

The thing is, I feel kind of let down. Not by my dealer - they have been a fabulous shop in the sales, parts, and service departments. But by Yamaha. Of all the motorcycles I have owned, I've purchased exactly two brand-new from a dealer. Both were Yamahas and both were higher-end, expensive models that were intended to be Yamaha's attempt at "flagships" in their respective classes - my 2005 FJR1300 and my 2012 Super Tenere.

The FJR was a fantastic motorcycle. Other than a rear shock when the stock one wore out, I never made any performance modifications of any kind; probably the only motorcycle I can say that about. It was everything I wanted in a sport-touring motorcycle, and I only sold it because I wanted something a little more nimble for my urban commuting and I wanted something a little more open to exploring unpaved roads and dealing with the East Bay's pothole-infested roads. But it was a ticker. Around 45K miles, it started developing the ticking that some of the 2005's became known for - caused by faulty valve seals that caused the guides to wear out and the valve stems to wobble around in the head. I ended up needing an entirely new cylinder head, which Yamaha covered every penny of despite the bike being out of warranty, which was awfully nice of them. Still, between the negotiations with Yamaha, waiting for parts from Japan, and the actual shop work time, I was without my bike for nearly six months. I thought that every manufacturer is entitled to slip up occasionally and that was the exception that proved the rule, if you will.

While I like the Super Tenere a lot, it has not been as good of a bike as the FJR was in its particular market segment. The suspension was pretty good, but not as good as I thought a full-size adventure bike should be, and I ended up upgrading both the forks and the shock. The fuel injection was really disappointing, however. The throttle-by-wire was really abrupt and jumpy, and it surged right where I wanted to cruise on the freeway. At the time the ECU re-flashes weren't available yet, so I went with a full Arrow exhaust system and a Power Commander V with Autotune. That helped a lot, although it still surges sometimes at slow speeds, mostly at the transition between on-throttle and off-throttle, which is annoying. Plus the Arrow muffler is pretty loud, and I wish it was quieter. All in all, I was a little disappointed that I had to spend a few thousand more to get the bike as good as I wanted it to be off the showroom floor, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least it was a Yamaha and would go for 200K miles as long as I took care of it. And now this.

I honestly don't know what I want to do with the bike when I get it back. Some of that decision will probably be influenced by how much I have to pay out of pocket for the repair. I'm unemployed right now while I'm going back to school full time, and a several-thousand dollar repair bill is really going to hurt my savings. But even if Yamaha elects to pick up the bill, I'm not sure whether I will still trust the bike or not. I'm wondering if I really need shaft drive, 100-hp, traction control, and all the bells and whistles, and I'm looking at the new KLR650 with its reputation for bulletproof reliability (not to mention a carburetor!) and thinking that might be all I need after all, at least for the time being while I'm a student.

I'm not really looking for help here, although I'm happy to read your opinions, and I'll keep you updated on how it turns out. But I wanted to share at least, and if you start hearing cam chain slap on start-up, you might want to take it in right away and have the tensioner replaced, even if it's not due for a service yet.

Andrew
1972 R75/5
1983 R80ST
2012 Super Tenere
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:10 AM   #2
WRW9751
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airheadpilot View Post
A couple of weeks ago I went to hop on my 2012 Super Tenere (54K miles) to ride home from school. I hit the start button and it fired for a few times and then abruptly died. Bummer. Tried again - nothing. Tried WOT - nothing. Tried letting it sit for 20 minutes - nothing. Tried roll-starting it on a hill - nothing. Tried every combination of starting routines that I could think of doing in a parking lot with no tools, basically until the battery was dead. Solid cranking, but not one single combustion event. As the battery grew more dead, it displayed the "14" error code on the dash, but I think that has more to do with the dying battery than anything else. In the end, my buddy came and rescued me and took me and the bike to my dealer. I was thinking fuel pump, TPS, or some other EFI failure.

Last Friday, I got a call from the dealer. They had a hell of a time diagnosing the problem. The bike's computer didn't tell them anything revealing, the EFI system seemed to be fine, the bike had spark, etc. It was only when they took the valve cover off that they realized the problem. The cam chain had jumped a few teeth on the sprockets and the cams were out of phase with the crank. What's more, this had resulted in piston-on-valve interference and I now had bent valves. I'm looking at a complete top-end rebuild and many pennies.

The bike is out of warranty. Of course I didn't spring for the Y.E.S. coverage - it's a Yamaha, not a BMW after all. The service manager asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to fix it. I figure that, whatever I decide to do next, the bike is worthless to me broken. If I decide to sell it, I want to be able to say that it's totally fixed and in good condition. He's going to work with Yamaha to see if they'll cover some or part of it. He's had some luck with them doing that in the past for "shouldn't have happened" failures, even when the bike is out of warranty. As of this writing, no word yet on the total repair estimate or timeline, and no word whether Yamaha is going to chip in, and for how much.

I've taken really good care of this bike. It hasn't been babied - it's my year-round do-everything commute and touring bike - but I rarely run it to redline or excessively lug it, I change the oil and filter on schedule religiously, and it gets every maintenance on time and in full. I always let it warm up a little when it's cold before riding away - at least until the "LO" on the temperature gauge changes to a numerical value. When I had it in for the 50K service, it got a clean bill of health. I have been noticing over the last few thousand miles that, when cold, sometimes there would be a little cam chain clatter on start-up for one second, then go immediately away once the oil pressure came up and the tensioner did its thing. The consensus from both the dealer and what I've read here and elsewhere on the Interwebs is that, as long as the clatter goes away immediately there's nothing to worry about. It would seem that is not the case.

The thing is, I feel kind of let down. Not by my dealer - they have been a fabulous shop in the sales, parts, and service departments. But by Yamaha. Of all the motorcycles I have owned, I've purchased exactly two brand-new from a dealer. Both were Yamahas and both were higher-end, expensive models that were intended to be Yamaha's attempt at "flagships" in their respective classes - my 2005 FJR1300 and my 2012 Super Tenere.

The FJR was a fantastic motorcycle. Other than a rear shock when the stock one wore out, I never made any performance modifications of any kind; probably the only motorcycle I can say that about. It was everything I wanted in a sport-touring motorcycle, and I only sold it because I wanted something a little more nimble for my urban commuting and I wanted something a little more open to exploring unpaved roads and dealing with the East Bay's pothole-infested roads. But it was a ticker. Around 45K miles, it started developing the ticking that some of the 2005's became known for - caused by faulty valve seals that caused the guides to wear out and the valve stems to wobble around in the head. I ended up needing an entirely new cylinder head, which Yamaha covered every penny of despite the bike being out of warranty, which was awfully nice of them. Still, between the negotiations with Yamaha, waiting for parts from Japan, and the actual shop work time, I was without my bike for nearly six months. I thought that every manufacturer is entitled to slip up occasionally and that was the exception that proved the rule, if you will.

While I like the Super Tenere a lot, it has not been as good of a bike as the FJR was in its particular market segment. The suspension was pretty good, but not as good as I thought a full-size adventure bike should be, and I ended up upgrading both the forks and the shock. The fuel injection was really disappointing, however. The throttle-by-wire was really abrupt and jumpy, and it surged right where I wanted to cruise on the freeway. At the time the ECU re-flashes weren't available yet, so I went with a full Arrow exhaust system and a Power Commander V with Autotune. That helped a lot, although it still surges sometimes at slow speeds, mostly at the transition between on-throttle and off-throttle, which is annoying. Plus the Arrow muffler is pretty loud, and I wish it was quieter. All in all, I was a little disappointed that I had to spend a few thousand more to get the bike as good as I wanted it to be off the showroom floor, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least it was a Yamaha and would go for 200K miles as long as I took care of it. And now this.

I honestly don't know what I want to do with the bike when I get it back. Some of that decision will probably be influenced by how much I have to pay out of pocket for the repair. I'm unemployed right now while I'm going back to school full time, and a several-thousand dollar repair bill is really going to hurt my savings. But even if Yamaha elects to pick up the bill, I'm not sure whether I will still trust the bike or not. I'm wondering if I really need shaft drive, 100-hp, traction control, and all the bells and whistles, and I'm looking at the new KLR650 with its reputation for bulletproof reliability (not to mention a carburetor!) and thinking that might be all I need after all, at least for the time being while I'm a student.

I'm not really looking for help here, although I'm happy to read your opinions, and I'll keep you updated on how it turns out. But I wanted to share at least, and if you start hearing cam chain slap on start-up, you might want to take it in right away and have the tensioner replaced, even if it's not due for a service yet.

Andrew
1972 R75/5
1983 R80ST
2012 Super Tenere
I would hope that Yamaha would step up. But if that doesn't happen is there really thousands of dollar shop bill?

If it's a KLR your considering they have the same issue with the thingamajig, cam chain tentioner, check it out.

The 2012 Tenere has been pretty solid all in all. But still a early model compared to the FJR that has been developed for sometime.

I would check with Yamaha to see if they have found any issues with other tentioners, updated part number would be where I would start.

I have a Tenere and choose to buy the Y.E.S. mostly for the chance that something like this developed. Maybe you can negotiate a deal with the dealer to buy the YES plan prior to competition.
You never know!
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:20 AM   #3
The_Precious_Juice
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Good vent

I hate it that a high value MC had a big issue like this.
Ideally, the S10 is a good all round transport.

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You will have to look at your long term savings and how long it will take you to finish college, and find work, and how much pay you will take home once you get back on your feet.

It is wise to have enough money in savings to maintaine your lifestyle for 6 months or something. Not sure.

__
The 2014 New Edtion KLR will need to be paid for brand new. Unless, someone is already tried of theirs.

It is just an improved suspension and narrow seat.

Judeging from how you put in "a few thousand more" into a $10,000+ MC, I doubt you will be happy with the stock suspension and new seat... and the mid 30s hp of a MC that weighs 140lbs+ less than the S10.

If you have to go team KLR, get a used one with the big bore kit, and Doh fix.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:29 AM   #4
OldPete
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Google cam chain tensioner yamahasupertenere, read the threads.

Guys are up-grading high mileage bikes to the 2014 spec.
Since Yamaha changed part #s they might admit to an issue.

I'll most likely be buying a '14 STen.
There is a reason that mechanical tensioners are on offer for many bikes.

Good luck
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:47 AM   #5
Pecha72
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even the most reliable machines are built by humans, and so they can fail. Sucks when it happens to you, and out of warranty. If it can be proven, that the part itself was faulty, and clearly this lead to the damage, then who knows the manufacturer might step up (but that has to be on a case by case basis.)
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:10 AM   #6
avc8130
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As I stated on the other forum you posted on...I think you may have gotten lucky.

It sounds like the chain may have skipped a few teeth, but it doesn't sound like you had valve/piston rape. Hopefully you just need a new CCT ($135 for the updated part) and you will be on your way.

The dealer will probably have a few hours into the diagnosis and repair, so I'd expect a $500 bill.

For those wondering, there are mechanical CCT available for this bike.

ac
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:14 AM   #7
pluric
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airheadpilot View Post
A



and I'm looking at the new KLR650 with its reputation for bulletproof reliability (not to mention a carburetor!) and thinking that might be all I need after all, at least for the time being while I'm a student.

.

Andrew
1972 R75/5
1983 R80ST
2012 Super Tenere
My previous KLR came apart in the head. I still bought another one and have a Tenere as well.
Even hedged bets lose sometimes.

Keep us posted as to Yamaha's response. I'm not opposed to kicking in some help $$$ to make up for money
I've never had to spend on mine. You know, Karma and all.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:33 AM   #8
MarkM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avc8130 View Post
It sounds like the chain may have skipped a few teeth, but it doesn't sound like you had valve/piston rape. Hopefully you just need a new CCT ($135 for the updated part) and you will be on your way.
The OP wrote:
Quote:
It was only when they took the valve cover off that they realized the problem. The cam chain had jumped a few teeth on the sprockets and the cams were out of phase with the crank. What's more, this had resulted in piston-on-valve interference and I now had bent valves. I'm looking at a complete top-end rebuild and many pennies.
This is not just a new CCT.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:48 AM   #9
avc8130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkM View Post
The OP wrote:


This is not just a new CCT.
Aww crap. I missed that. I would have expected his starting report would have included "clanking and crashing".

That sucks.

ac
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:32 PM   #10
danketchpel
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This is not the first time a Japanese company has had issues with cam chain tensioners. Early Suzuki DRZs had a similar problem as did Kawi Concours, plus a few other models/brands.

Companies like APE have been making replacement CCTs for some time now where they are needed. Personally I can't quite understand why these aren't 100% worked out by now, but I guess they aren't.

FTW, the KLR chain tensioner problem (doohicky) is on the counterbalancer chain, not the cam chain. The Cam Chain Tensioner works on OK on that bike.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:17 AM   #11
mrpete64
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extended warranty....

I rarely buy extended warranty deals but...for $400 for four more years...I think it will be worth it. I just bought the new 2014 ES. With all the "electronic" stuff it would not take long to have a four hundred dollar bill for some little electronic "thing" to go bump-in-the-night. BMW gives you a three year warranty but then charges you another eight grand for the bike. Maybe four hundred dollars more is...cheap!
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRW9751 View Post
I would hope that Yamaha would step up. But if that doesn't happen is there really thousands of dollar shop bill?

If it's a KLR your considering they have the same issue with the thingamajig, cam chain tentioner, check it out.

The 2012 Tenere has been pretty solid all in all. But still a early model compared to the FJR that has been developed for sometime.

I would check with Yamaha to see if they have found any issues with other tentioners, updated part number would be where I would start.

I have a Tenere and choose to buy the Y.E.S. mostly for the chance that something like this developed. Maybe you can negotiate a deal with the dealer to buy the YES plan prior to competition.
You never know!

It's called the DOOHICKEY and it's the counter balancer adjuster not the timing chain.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete64 View Post
I rarely buy extended warranty deals but...for $400 for four more years...I think it will be worth it. I just bought the new 2014 ES. With all the "electronic" stuff it would not take long to have a four hundred dollar bill for some little electronic "thing" to go bump-in-the-night. BMW gives you a three year warranty but then charges you another eight grand for the bike. Maybe four hundred dollars more is...cheap!
I agree. I bought an extra 4 years on my DR650 for less then that.
If anything it will almost guarantee nothing will ever go wrong
The Super Ten is very high on my "next up" list and I'd do the same again. Inexpensive piece of mind.

Keep us posted OP and how all this turns out for you.
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:27 AM   #14
WRW9751
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie bolted View Post
It's called the DOOHICKEY and it's the counter balancer adjuster not the timing chain.
Sorry Boys!
Not a KLR guy! Probably won't be!
I would seem most models end up with some sort of issue.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:02 AM   #15
Roadscum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpete64 View Post
I rarely buy extended warranty deals but...for $400 for four more years...I think it will be worth it. I just bought the new 2014 ES. With all the "electronic" stuff it would not take long to have a four hundred dollar bill for some little electronic "thing" to go bump-in-the-night. BMW gives you a three year warranty but then charges you another eight grand for the bike. Maybe four hundred dollars more is...cheap!
I agree, the $400 is cheap insurance, wish I had done that on my '12.

For the record, the list price on the S10 ES is $16,100 and the BMW GSA with premium package(you can order on w/o that pkg.) is $21,500. That's a $5,400 difference, not $8,000, in the US of course. For the extra $5,400 gets ya a skid plate, upper and lower crash bar, LED headlight, tire pressure monitor, fog lights, dynamic ESA, ride mode pro, and saddle bags mounts, 3 year warranty, Just say'n...

Paul
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