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Thread: Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step

  1. #1
    Senior Member Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
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    Jun 2013

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step

    I have reached around 4500 miles, so it was time to do the valves, oil change, chain adjustment and a couple other things. I've done valve adjustments on numerousDecided to take pictures of the valve adjustment procedure for you folk who are on the fence of doing it yourself. This took me about 2 hours including taking pictures, drinking beer, etc. Honestly, rather than paying someone $400 to do the work, set a couple hours of your weekend aside and go for it. You'll surprise yourself and find that it's a lot easier than it looks. There are videos showing much of the same information, but I decided to do a more "wordy" step by step with pictures so people can print it out and use it if needed. Anyhow, let's get going here: Make sure the motorcycle engine is COLD. Let it sit OVERNIGHT before adjusting valves.

    First, grab yourself some tools and the Honda Service Manual. This How-To will tell you the real world what you need to do / not need to do -- but if you get stuck, you'll want to refer to the manual and it'll walk you through the process. Plus, it has all of the specs on the valve gap that you'll need. The manual will tell you to remove the lower cowl -- but it is completely unnecessary. I skip that step.

    Quick disclaimer: When I say "left side" I mean the NON-THROTTLE side of the bike. If I say "right side," I mean the THROTTLE-SIDE of the bike. In other words, LEFT and RIGHT are described as they are if you were sitting on the motorcycle.

    Valve Clearance Specifications
    Intake Valves: 0.17mm (+ or - 0.02mm) or 0.007in (+ or - 0.001in)
    Exhaust Valves: 0.28mm (+ or - 0.02mm) or 0.011in (+ or - 0.001in)

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0025-jpg
    Rags / Towel (on floor and to clean up coolant)
    Rubber Mallet
    10mm Wrench
    14mm Wrench
    12mm Wrench
    Rachet / Extensions
    10mm socket
    17mm socket
    Size 10 HEX socket
    Size 6 HEX socket
    Small Flat Head Screwdriver
    Medium Phillips Screwdriver
    Wire Cutters / Needle Nose Pliers
    Feeler Gauges
    Torque Wrench
    Zip Ties
    Drain pan
    Honda COOLANT

    Now that you've got all that done....

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0001_2-jpg
    Put your bike on the center stand, or a rear stand (like I have). It makes it easier to work on the bike, and you'll be going from the right side to left side on a regular basis. It's nice to have the extra room.

    Now we need to drain the radiator and take it off to access the valves.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0002_2-jpg
    Remove the set-screw from the cap, and remove the cap. Remove the upper hose, as well as the smaller "overflow" hose behind the cap. Both will drain some fluid, so be sure to put it in your drain pan and put a rag below.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0004_2-jpg
    Now remove the lower radiator hose by unscrewing the clamp as you did the other side. Twist the hose to remove it, or use the small flat blade to "assist" it off. Drain the coolant and zip tie it to the frame facing upward and out of the way.

    Now the radiator is mostly empty, you'll need to remove it. There's only two bolts holding it in place.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0006_2-jpg
    First, remove the small 10mm bolt that I / the red arrow is pointing to on the bottom. The bracket is held on by the bolt at the bottom and simply slides onto a post on the bottom of the radiator. There's no "bolt" on the top of the bracket.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0007_2-jpg
    Now remove the 10mm bolt from the top of the radiator on the left side. The right side does not have a bolt. The "right side" of the radiator hanger is just a metal bar that slides through the grommet. Go ahead and slide the radiator (and wiggle it!) TOWARDS THE LEFT SIDE of the bike. This will separate it from the post and it will come off. Don't pull too hard, we need to disconnect some wires and plugs.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0008_2-jpg
    You'll be disconnecting this plug (I used my finger for it), as well as a hose from the bracket the bottom arrow is pointing at, and a "clip" that is inserted in the hole. All you do is squeeze them and pull them through, pretty simple.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0009_2-jpg
    Here's the parts that stay on the bike. The plug obviously plugs into, well, the plug. The arrow on the left shows the clip that snaps into the "hole" on the above picture, same with the arrow on the right, and the arrow on the bottom is pointing to the vent tube which is held by the circular piece on the above picture. It's easy once you get there, I promise.

    You're more than halfway done! Kind of.... now we need to remove the valve cover.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0021_2-jpg
    Use the smaller HEX head (size 6) socket, and remove the three valve cover bolts. Be sure not to lose the rubber grommet inside the hole.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0011_2-jpg
    Be careful not to damage the rubber gasket. It's pretty strong, but just take notice of it. I use a rubber mallet to remove the valve cover gasket to avoid prying on anything.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0010_2-jpg
    Congrats! Now you can see the rocker arms, valve springs, locking nuts and adjustment screws!

    Each cylinder will need to be done "one at a time" to check the valves. The valves need to be in a specific position to check them -- technically they need to be TOP DEAD CENTER on the COMPRESSION stroke. Never mind all that jazz though, there's a very simple method to make sure you are in the right position. So lets get to it.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0012_2-jpg
    Remove both "access covers" from the left side of the bike. The big one is a 10mm HEX, the small is a 6mm HEX. The big one covers the crank shaft bolt -- which is a 17mm bolt. You will only use this to "turn the crank" to get the motor into position to adjust the valves for each cylinder. The smaller one is a sight-window, which will let you see marks to make sure the alignment is correct.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0014_2-jpg
    Remove the camshaft inspection cover from the right side of the motorcycle. It's a plastic-type material, so be careful when removing it (and when reassembling it!). You will also use the guides behind this cover to make sure the motor is in the correct position.

    So now, I'll try to explain briefly the process before I add pictures:

    What you will be doing is putting a 17mm socket on the LEFT side bolt -- the one behind the big cover a couple pictures up. You will turn that nut COUNTER-CLOCKWISE while looking at the picture below.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0016_2-jpg
    There are marks on the flywheel inside there that will show up and say "1/T" or 2/T" (some say 2/S or 1/S -- the 1 or 2 is what's important). In either case, there will be a flat and straight very obvious LINE below the numbers (the number is telling you what cylinder you're lining up). You line that line up with the CENTER of the notch on the right.

    Got it? Okay, great! You have now moved cylinder NUMBER ONE to TOP DEAD CENTER. You now need to make sure it's on the compression stroke. How do we do that? Remember that plastic-like cover we just removed from the RIGHT side of the motorcycle?

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0017_2-jpg
    Make sure the line on the inside of the inspection cover lines up with the raised mark placed on the outside of the cylinder itself. The "outside mark" you should be using is the one on the bottom, or farthest to the rear of the motorcycle. Some manuals have this information incorrect. In a lot of motorcycles -- mine included -- there's a "range," in other words, two lines on the camshaft itself. Just center them over that mark. This isn't rocket science here, so just take your time and do your best, it will be good enough.

    If they don't line up, go back up a step and rotate the crankshaft with that 17mm socket 180 degrees and LINE up the stuff on the LEFT side AGAIN (make sure it's the #1 cylinder, not #2) and then come back to the RIGHT side of the bike and check.

    It's okay if it takes you three or four tries, just keep turning the crank clockwise until you find it, then go counterclockwise to fine-tune it and make sure you've got the #1 --- mark lined up on the left. Check the RIGHT side inspection window to see if it the line is there, and if so, you're good to go.

    I said it once before, but I'll say it again: The left side nut only moves the piston up and down through each "stroke." When you line up the "line" just below the "1/T/S" mark, you're merely placing the piston all the way to the top of the cylinder. The right side cover that you removed -- the plastic one -- makes sure that you're on the compression stroke. So you have to keep going back and for worth between sides of the bike until BOTH SIDES ARE LINED UP. Okay, got it? Now it's time to check the valve!

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0018_2-jpg
    Grab your feeler gauge -- read the specification, and make sure you are using the correct marking. I use inches, not mm. Whichever you use, make sure you are using the SAME MEASUREMENT TOOL on all the valves. Do not use INCHES on one, MM on another, etc.

    Since we've lined up Cylinder #1 -- which is ON THE LEFT -- we're going to check those first. The valve is under the valve spring there. The ones "on top" are your intake valves, the ones on the "bottom" (farther forward towards the front wheel) are your exhaust valves. There are four valves per cylinder, so the two TOP LEFT ones are #1 cylinders INTAKE valves and the two BOTTOM LEFT valves are the #1 cylinders EXHAUST valves.

    Grab the correct size feeler gauge and slide it between the bottom of the rocker arm and the top of the valve spring seat. I can't take a picture of it, but you'll see it when you get there. Use your flashlight. If it fits, but it's real tight, that means the valve is a tiny bit tight. If it slips right in and has very little "drag" on the feeler gauge, that means it's too loose. You want a fair amount of drag on the feeler gauge, but not a lot.

    The valve specifications will have a RANGE of what's acceptable. Since we're here, lets just reset them right back to the factory perfect specification, no reason not to.

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0019_2-jpg
    This picture is me adjusting the #1 cylinder inside EXHAUST valve. (The arrows are pointing to Cylinder #2's valves). The method is the same for all the valves. Loosen the lock nut with a 10mm wrench. Use your flat head screwdriver -- left makes the valve "loose," right makes it "tighter." Depending on what your valves were at, will determine which way to turn it. It's simple trial and error here, using the feeler gauge, screwdriver and wrench until you achieve the factory specification. Tighten the locknut when you're done, but don't over tighten it. Make sure to check the valve again after you tighten the nut as the screw can move.

    I recommend doing both of cylinder #1's INTAKE valves first. Then grab your torque wrench, and tighten them to the specified 14ft-lbs. Then do cylinder #1's EXHAUST valves next. When done with that, grab your torque wrench and tighten them to spec as well. Remember to check ALL of cylinder #1's valves when you are done. Make sure they are "good to go" when you say they are "good to go."

    Now you need to do cylinder #2.

    You will go back to the LEFT SIDE of the motorcycle where the 17mm crankshaft wrench is. This time you will turn it until you see 2/T/S --- in the window on the left. Line it up just like you did the #1, then remember to check the RIGHT SIDE OF THE MOTORCYCLE and look in the camshaft inspection hole and make sure it's lined up there too.

    Repeat the same steps above for Cylinder #2 as you did for Cylinder #1. Be sure to double check everything before you're "done."

    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0022_2-jpg
    Place the valve cover back on the head. Make sure the gasket is in line and not sticking out anywhere. Put the top bolt in first, then bottom LEFT, then bottom RIGHT. This will keep it aligned. Do not over tighten, spec is only 7ft-lbs I believe.

    Be sure to re-attach the crankcase breather tube.

    Congrats! You have officially adjusted your valves! Now put all your inspection covers back on!

    Now all you need to do is reattach your radiator in the opposite steps you removed it! Be sure to plug the fan wires in BEFORE you mount it, or it'll be a real pain in the but. Make sure all the hoses are reconnected and tight (but do not over tighten!)

    Grab your factory Honda HP Coolant and fill the radiator to the neck. Leave the top off and start the motorcycle. The motorcycle will idle and it will cause some bubbles and "burps" to come out of the radiator. It will start to over-flow a little, that's okay. Rev the motor a little bit to help "burp" the air out of the system. After a minute or two of this, turn the engine off and the fluid level will likely drop. Refill to the neck, and repeat process. Do this until two or three times, until there's no more bubbles coming out. Refill to the neck and put cap on.

    You have done it, you are all done!

    Final note (edited):
    Quick edit for anyone who does this. (I added it to the top, but I'll write it here too).

    In most cases you may find that your valves are slightly TIGHT prior to adjusting them. They may be within spec, but on the tight side of spec. As a valve gets "loose," it gets louder. As in, more actual "ticking" noise coming from the top end of the motor.

    Why am I telling you this? If you take the time to ensure your valve clearance is set properly, the odds are you will have INCREASED (loosened) the valve clearances from their prior position, so you may hear a slight INCREASE in top end engine noise. Don't panic, trust that you did your job correctly. If it's excessively off, it will be excessively LOUD as well as alter the idle and the way the engine runs under load (as in, how much power it makes).

    Bottom line: If your valves were "tight" prior to adjusting them back to spec, expect them to be slightly louder than they were before. That's completely normal. You won't harm anything (well, generally speaking) with an overly LOOSE valve; But you will cause all sorts of problems with a TIGHT valve.

    Take the time to check, tighten, recheck, recheck, torque, recheck and recheck the valve clearance before buttoning up the valve cover. No matter the "sound," you will KNOW, without a doubt, it is in spec. Remember, USE THE SAME MEASUREMENT METHOD FOR ALL VALVES.

    ... (just to move attached pictures down)
    Attached Images Attached Images Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0013_2-jpg Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step-img_0015_2-jpg 
    Last edited by Antarius; 18th April 2015 at 10:08.

  2. #2
    Senior Member NCer's Avatar
    Bike: 13' NC700XD , 06' GL1800
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Nice!!! Thanks for the effort! Will come in handy soon
    ~ Lenny ~

    Positive emotions are worth every penny! Go for it!
    Ride on, my friend!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Heavy-H's Avatar
    Bike: 2012 Honda NC700X
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Flagstaff, Az
    Nice Job........... Thanks.............
    2012 NC700X 37000 and counting
    best MPG

    2005 Suzuki Hayabusa
    24000 and counting
    MPG? forget about it.....?

    2018 Yamaha Super Tenere ES....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
    Bike: .
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    Jun 2013
    No problemo, hopefully someone uses it. It took me a while to post it, lol.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ziggie's Avatar
    Bike: 2012nc 700x
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Thank you for all the time you put into this

    sent from my nc700x

  6. #6
    Member woodbar's Avatar
    Bike: NC700X DCT
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Somerset, UK
    Superb job - I was thinking of doing that when I got to 8000miles - you beat me to it.

    The most informative "how to" I have seen in a while!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
    Bike: .
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    There's better pictures in the Garage section, but a little more written detail here. On YouTube there's a pretty well produced how-to video as well, but it's not quite as in depth -- still very good.

    Between the three out there, hopefully we'll persuade someone to become a mechanic!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Old Can Ride's Avatar
    Bike: NC700X
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Webster, Texas
    Great job. Most folks will like this one.
    Why not seize the pleasure at once? -- How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, and foolish planning? Just do it. Shut the frunk up and Ride !!!!!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Fixed Idea Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
    Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
    L.B.S.'s Avatar
    Bike: CBR125R NC700XA
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Quote Originally Posted by Antarius View Post
    I have reached around 4500 miles, so it was time to do the valves...
    Just out of curiosity, why did you pick 4,500 miles instead of 8,000?
    Chillin' with Cybersix and Data 7 in Meridiana

  10. #10
    Senior Member Valve Adjustment Step-By-Step
    Bike: .
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by L.B.S. View Post
    Just out of curiosity, why did you pick 4,500 miles instead of 8,000?
    My manual says the first valve adjustment should be done at 4k. Then 8000 mile intervals from that point forward.

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