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Thread: 1997 R850R Start-Up Clacking...Again

  1. #1
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    1997 R850R Start-Up Clacking...Again

    I'm annoyed with this tensioner business enough to post about it again. Here's a recap since my last thread on this issue.

    Original tensioner when starting -- click click click click click.
    New old stock "upgraded" tensioner when starting -- exactly the same.

    I am now on the second "upgraded" tensioner, which is one I unfortunately bought used on Ebay. It was installed last November less than 2,000 miles ago and initially worked great but, yet again, there are click-tick noises on startup which are steadily getting louder as the months click-tick by.

    What gives? I thought these things were supposed to be a permanent upgrade, clacky-noise-goes-away-and-never-comes-back kind of thing. Am I repeating the same egregious mistake by buying them not-brand-new and not-from-Boneyard or Motorrad? Are the Teutonic spirits within the engine mad at me for not buying Ze Correcten Partische from Ze Approved Sources?
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  2. #2
    I am by no means an expert, but I will share my thoughts for your consideration.

    The plastic chain guides/runners are known to wear out at high miles on these engines. My friend once lost a perfectly good R1150 GSA @ 150K miles because one of these failed. Complete engine disassembly required to replaceÖ couldnít be financially justified.

    You might take the bike to a knowledgeable tech to give it a listen.

    Hope this works out for you.

    Ian
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  3. #3
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    Forgot to mention in the post -- mine just ticked over 42,000 miles. From the general consensus I've read, that isn't very high for an Oilhead.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  4. #4
    Registered User CajunRider's Avatar
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    Is it JUST at startup, or continual?

    A leaking tensioner will rattle for a second or 2 after starting, but will quiet down once oil pressure builds up.
    A leaking coil (or plug cap if you have a central coil instead of coil over plug) will cause a constant tick due to part of your spark getting outside the cap and grounding to the head.

    Another option is to go to a manual tensioner if the new upgraded one still has the same problem. Oil can't bleed out of a manual one, but it will have to be adjusted occasionally.

  5. #5
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by CajunRider View Post
    Another option is to go to a manual tensioner if the new upgraded one still has the same problem.
    I've never seen a manual cam chain tensioner for an oilhead.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    I've never seen a manual cam chain tensioner for an oilhead.
    Me neither, how would you even adjust it when the tensioner is under the A-arm pivot? Fitting an adjustable tensioner in there would be tricky and then getting to it for adjustment would be a pain.


    It happens at startup and goes away after a few seconds. Completely typical stuff and there are many threads about the same issue. It seems like everyone but me solved it by buying the upgraded part once and never had the problem again.

    I ordered yet another left side tensioner. This time it's the aftermarket one from Beemer Boneyard since I've struck out twice with the OEM replacements.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  7. #7
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    Updating for posterity:

    The new aftermarket Beemer Boneyard tensioner fixed it. I don't know what was up with the used OEM ones I bought, but now it appears to be done making clacky left side noises. No noises on cold or hot starts, rode great all the way to Mississippi a couple weeks ago.


    I wonder if these tensioners just can't handle sitting on a shelf without oil in them. Maybe the check ball in the piston's oil valve rusts at the slightest hint of moisture and therefore buying any used or new-old-stock tensioners like I did is a bad idea.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  8. #8
    Back in the saddle again mikegalbicka's Avatar
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    Good job but a tough way to learn that lesson.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikegalbicka View Post
    Good job but a tough way to learn that lesson.
    What really stinks is that the first tensioner I bought was brand-new in the package, OEM parts. The package had just been sitting on the shelf for 3 years. That was enough to kill it.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  10. #10
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    If you buy a used tensioner - it's probably "used" because the previous owner upgraded away from it. The spring may have weakened, an oil bleed hole may have clogged, the check valve may have stuck, who knows.... It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to replace a known used part with an unknown used part.

    I doubt that just sitting on the shelf would kill one of these, they're pretty simple. Also, we KNOW that the "OEM part" was inadequate for the task (on the left side, due to oil bleed-down). Buying a new OEM part in this case would not be the recommended way to solve the problem.

    Note that the tensioners were all the same (per the MAX parts fiche) in the R bikes (850, 100, 1150, AND the first run of 1200s up into 2007) - so if a selected "upgraded" part was intended for these years, no there isn't going to be any improvement.

    It's only the "Real" upgrade that fixes it. Yes it's a hard (and expensive) lesson, but sometimes we just have to bite the bullet the first time.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls1150 View Post
    If you buy a used tensioner - it's probably "used" because the previous owner upgraded away from it. The spring may have weakened, an oil bleed hole may have clogged, the check valve may have stuck, who knows.... It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to replace a known used part with an unknown used part.

    I doubt that just sitting on the shelf would kill one of these, they're pretty simple. Also, we KNOW that the "OEM part" was inadequate for the task (on the left side, due to oil bleed-down). Buying a new OEM part in this case would not be the recommended way to solve the problem.
    By "new OEM" I meant the BMW factory R1200 Hexhead tensioner -- the newer design with the 15mm head that's used as an upgrade for Oilheads. The new-in-the-package old stock one I bought was completely unused, no oil on it, still in the package from Rubber Chicken Racing Garage with a purchase receipt from 2017. Tom told me that it's a genuine BMW part with a factory 2-year warranty. I bought it through the MOA Marketplace from another MOA member who bought it from Tom and never installed it. After I installed it, it worked for a few weeks...then the clicking returned.

    The one from Beemer Boneyard is not BMW; according to them it's aftermarket and Euro Moto Electrics seems to sell the same one under the EnDuraLast brand. When I swapped that in and replaced the used "upgrade" BMW one, the upper parts of each definitely had a different surface finish (the BMW one is more matte gray and the Boneyard one is more shiny silver) and the hex section of the Boneyard tensioner was slightly taller than the BMW one despite them both being 15mm across the flats.

    I'm not really frustrated about the known-used tensioner failing; that was me being foolish. But I am bothered by the new-old-stock one failing. If this Beemer Boneyard tensioner doesn't hold up, I'll probably be so mad that I'll melt it with furious laser vision.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  12. #12
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Thanks for the clarifications, and my apologies for getting persnickety!

  13. #13
    Registered User kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by senseamidmadness View Post
    Me neither, how would you even adjust it when the tensioner is under the A-arm pivot? Fitting an adjustable tensioner in there would be tricky and then getting to it for adjustment would be a pain.


    It happens at startup and goes away after a few seconds. Completely typical stuff and there are many threads about the same issue. It seems like everyone but me solved it by buying the upgraded part once and never had the problem again.

    I ordered yet another left side tensioner. This time it's the aftermarket one from Beemer Boneyard since I've struck out twice with the OEM replacements.
    It's not hurting your bike in any way and as the oil drains out of the adjuster, it's going to take a second to build pressure again every time you start it. It's just like lifters in an American V8. They might be noisy on startup, but they're going to be quiet in a couple seconds.

    My Boxster does the same thing. So does my hexhead and so did my oilheads, even after swapping the tensioners. Unless the new adjuster somehow can keep full pressure against the cam chain after the oil pressure goes away, it's gonna happen. You're gonna get that clatter on startup with any oil pressure reliant tensioning device.

    I"m not trying to rain on your parade, but what you appear to want, silence on startup, might just not be possible given how oil pressurized tensioners work.
    Dave Swider
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  14. #14
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    It was my understanding from reading the numerous threads on this that the upgraded tensioner should eliminate the noise on hot restarts. Did I get the wrong impression?

    With the original tensioner, the one that was in the bike when it left the factory, the clicking noise was significantly louder and happened on all startups regardless of temperature.

    What's weird is that my R1100RT makes zero clicking noises and has almost double the miles. It still had its factory tensioner and a few months back I replaced it with a new BMW updated one as a preventative measure. It makes no clicking noises on either hot or cold starts and never has since I got it.
    Owner of the saddest 1997 R850R you ever did see, a less sad 1996 R1100RT, and a fairly happy 1980 Honda CB750K.

  15. #15
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    You could try a different oil or heavier grade of oil. I donít know where you are located but if itís in the areas that have been so hot, the oil could help dampen the initial clatter.
    There was a thread in F-Twins about this. My F800GS has a clatter when starting if not run every day.

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