2009 must have been the year of the motorcycle - not only did I fall into a cool old Honda, but my buddy "donated" a 1997 Suzuki LS650 Savage to me as well! The story behind this is that his girlfriend purchased this bike as her first motorcycle. It is in very nice shape except that it needed new tires.
Suzuki calls this particular model their "Big Single" - it shares the same engine as the Suzuki Boulevard. Anyway, my buddy goes and gets new tires installed at the local stealership. On his way home, he stops for gas and can't get the bike started again. Back to the stealership he goes. After agreeing to their ridiculous charge to take the engine apart to find out what happened, he comes to find it's going to cost over $1,200 to fix - that's more than his girlfriend paid for the bike to begin with! So he tells them to put all the parts in a box and drags the bike home where it sits under a tarp in his backyard for a while. One day he asks if I would be interested in the bike - of course I am. So, we arranged for a day to go pick it up in PA and had a really great lunch followed by some of the best cannoli I ever ate...
Anyway, I stowed it in another buddy's garage and tore into it to see what had happened. Immediately evident is that the timing chain has snapped. Not so evident, is that the drive gear has also shattered.
Take a look at the new gear and what I took out.
Additionally, turns out that somewhere along the way the cam assembly went missing. Thankfully, Suzuki is pretty good about parts availability and I placed my order.
The fix should be pretty straight-forward. Replace the cam drive gear, re-install the timing chain and cam. Install new gaskets and button her back up. Here we have the drive gear replaced and the chain on. The screwdriver is holding the chain up while the cam is installed.
A few more orders for missing nuts and bolts as well as an additional eBay purchase (the oil filter cover was discovered to be missing, too) and the bike is back together. Thankfully, the valve timing is correct and she appears to be holding oil. I hate to say it, but this bike appears to have many more than the 5,000 or so miles on the clock - not only is the solenoid cable very stretched, but the clutch cable is all the way out on the both adjustments and still not completely disengaging the trans.
As for what happened to this poor bike, my suspicions are correct - the compression release has failed. This bike has a cable-driven compression release that is activated by a solenoid upon starting. The cable has a specific free-play tolerance. If the cable stretches too much, the compression release will not activate which may cause undue stress on the valve-train upon starting. Same is true if the solenoid does not actuate. Upon reconstruction, I found that the solenoid is not actuating every time the engine is started.
Here she is all back together - I need to sort out the clutch and solenoid issues and that should be it!