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Camchains and raiders of the lost forums


There’s a job out there for anyone who can make sense of online forums

(Travels with Guido number 375, May 2024, Guy 'Guido' Allen)

honda cbx1000

Here’s something that gets your attention, the racket of loose camchains in a Honda CBX1000. You already have six pistons and 24 valves hammering away, so the addition of wandering chains is maybe just one audible angst too many.

Of course it’s at its worst at idle when cold, so you’re in fear of seeing several expensive components (presumably in gangs of six) exiting stage left in a cloud of burned oil.


As it settles down and you point the thing at the horizon, life takes on a happier hue. The engine has smoothed out and, once up to operating temp, cheerfully launches the plot at the horizon with a howl and authority that definitely gets your attention.


Today, the issue has been how to settle down the camchain noise, which should be a simple enough adjustment. There are in fact two external bolts for this very purpose: ­ one at the rear for the long A chain from the crankshaft to the exhaust cam, and another at the front for the secondary B chain between cams.


But here’s the thing: the owner manual reveals none of that. Nor does the factory shop manual, as it’s written for highly-trained mechanics who already know this stuff. In the absence of a more user-friendly manual from the likes of Haynes or Clymer, muggins resorts to that reliably deep pit of confusion – the internet and its forums.


By far the best option out there is the excellent USA-based forum at CBXclub.com. But you need to remember these people are enthusiasts rather than communicators, so the hunt for the info you actually need is full of traps and detours.


Muggins here wants to know the factory procedure for adjusting the camchain tension. In similarly old Japanese multis, it’s often a case of releasing a spring-loaded adjuster at the rear of the barrels with a bit of forward tension on the crankshaft and then nipping it up again.

However the nature of web searches means I get diverted down a weird byway where people are discussing ways to circumvent the factory method and get a more accurate result. It seems to involve tipping forward the engine, which in turn means releasing the exhaust headers (six), carburetors (six), horns (two) and assorted mounts. Oh and maybe the drive chain? It’s a huge job and will take days.


Then the discussion moves into the options of modified tensioners, aftermarket tensioners and home-built versions. It’s astonishing and you can’t help but admire the dedication and perhaps the creativity.


People are happy to debate and discuss the subtleties of this, some from the advantage of practical experience. But I suspect they’re few in number and, maybe, have no other interests.


While I admire their technical nouse and experience, I also wonder how many people attempt to follow them down the rabbit hole and end up lost and in the dark. Some will simply give up with the semi-disassembled machine and take up something they understand better. Clay target shooting looks good.


Others like me start to wonder if the bike really is that difficult and, if so, should we simply sell it and move on?


Then, after another hour of very determined searching, we finally trip over a couple of pages that outline the factory procedure on using the two available adjustment points. Yes!


Of course that, too, raises some obtuse debate among the members. However the basic advice is there, bless them.


Next time I need some information, I want someone else to deal with the culling and info overload. A web or social media forum guide, or info hunter, maybe more Raiders of the Lost Ark in style than art gallery tour. Really, we don’t want to look like obsessive nerds…

Is anyone out there up for the challenge?


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