The headaches of buying a second-hand motorcycle (Part 2)

We now continue the tale of Dodgy, a little Suzuki RF 400 that had been mistreated by a previous owner. For first time readers, you can read part one of Dodgy’s tale here.


The little Suzuki RF with front fork disassembled and the engine ripped apart before a new head gasket is fitted.

When we last ended off, the little Suzuki’s power plant had to be ripped apart in order to remove a blown head gasket. Mechanical MacGyver was able to source a decent second-hand head gasket from a local salvage yard. Luckily for us the Suzuki Bandit GSF 400 cc makes use of the same engine as little Dodgy.

The part had been fitted and the engine almost completely reassembled by the time I had returned home on Thursday. Now the valve timing had to be set in order for the engine to function properly and not bend those all important engine valves. Working on some dodgy intel (I see a theme developing here) and Mechanical MacGyver’s know how, we set about adjusting the dual overhead cam shafts on the engine. This had to be done multiple times as the engine would simply didn’t want to start. After the fourth time of resetting cam timing, we called it a day. Work will continue in the morning.


One freshly reassembled engine.

Friday morning was filled with frantic online searches for a RF 400 service manual, or at the bare minimum, some indication on what we did wrong in setting the timing. Once again the Bandit GSF 400 comes to the rescue, as the service manual contains the timing marks for the bikes’ mutual engine. Turns out we were off by less than ten degrees. With that error corrected Dodgy roared to life on the first try.

Now that the RF wants to run, it would be a good idea to get that front end back on the ground. The shock absorbers we had disassembled earlier can now be reassembled. New seals and fresh fork oil seemed to restore the vigor in Dodgy’s front end.


Back on the ground.

All the important mechanical components had been seen to. The engine, although running a little rich, is running smoothly and the front end sits correctly on the reconditioned front forks. Time for the fairing to be fitted and the bike to be returned to Training Wheels. Who had then opted to officially dub the bike Dodgy.


Saturday morning called for road tests and a few joy rides around the neighbourhood. A few more things needed to be done before Dodgy can be seen as 100% , but for now she is back on the road and cruising smoothly. So in essence, we were out of time and far over budget, but a man’s connection to a machine and the open road makes all this hassle worth while.


First trip for Training Wheels on his new ride, Dodgy.

We wish Training Wheels a safe ride and an enjoyable journey.



One thought on “The headaches of buying a second-hand motorcycle (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Heroes from our past | The Bike Addict

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