First Service 2021Meteor 350

SamC

Getting there...
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Meteor53
With many years experience wrenching on my own bikes I decided to do the 500 km (300 miles) first service myself.

I was not able to find a service manual to purchase and Royal Enfield USA customer support did not reply to my email asking for torque specs and tappet clearances. When I asked my dealer's service department if they had the proper specs from Royal Enfield to perform everything called for in the owners manual for a first service the reaction was one of "deer in the headlights" because they had not done one yet.

So I decided to do it myself. At this time the only videos I could find were made in India. There are several that show how the oil change is done so I won't cover that.
I could only find one video that included valve adjustment for the first service even though the owners manual call for it at 500 km (300 miles).

A YouTube video from India, filmed in what appeared to be a RE dealer's shop, showed tappet clearances of .08 mm intake and .18mm exhaust. To be clear, I do not know for a fact that these are what Royal Enfield specifies. I am not saying these are the correct specs. Only Royal Enfield knows for sure. However, with 340 miles on the clock my Meteor's gaps were .07 and .18, so I adjusted the intake to .08 and left the exhaust alone.

First Service parts:
First Service Kit
I don't know if the USA dealers have these or not. I purchased a first service kit from a parts supplier in India. A highly rated business and it arrived in about a week. It was 50 bucks including shipping. This kit included the RE brand oil filter, o-rings for the oil strainer cover, oil filter cover, and the cover on the port side for the crank shaft 17 mm bolt. Also included were the valve cover gasket and the three sealing washers for the three bolts that fasten down the valve cover. (note - the replacement washers were of noticeably better quality than those that were on the bike). What was NOT INCLUDED was the copper washer for the 17 mm drain plug. Also not included - and understandably so - black RTV sealant as used by the factory for the area around the "plug" on the valve cover gasket (once you see the valve cover gasket you'll know what I'm referring to here).

How to do the first service tappets.
Tank removal to access tappet adjustment
Remove passengers seat - 4 hex bolts
Remove drivers seat - 2 10mm bolts
Remove long bolt holding the back of the gas tank to the frame - 8mm port side, 10mm starboard
( From here on it is helpful to have a block of wood, such as a 6 inch piece of a 2x4, to help prop up the back of the gas tank to make it easier to disconnect things attached to the underside)
Port side, disconnect the fuel hose and the adjacent electrical connection - no fuel will come out of the tank however there is a bit of fuel in the hose to worry with
Starboard side, pull off the two hoses that are side by side near that rear section of the tank. At this point the tank can be removed by raising the rear and sliding in back a couple inches.
Removing the Valve Cover
Perhaps an experienced mechanic could skip removing some of these things but here is what I did :
- *take pictures for reference later*
- remove spark plug ( clean around the plug to make sure nothing falls into the cylinder)
- disconnect fuel injector plug-in electrical connector
- remove coil assembly, held on to the frame by three 10mm bolts starboard side. In order to remove this assembly you will need to disconnect 4 or 5 electrical connectors and a vacuum hose. Each connection is unique so it is not possible to make a mistake when you reconnect. Pictures are very helpful though for reassembly.
Remove Valve Cover :
- three bolts on the top
- two small hex bolts on the port side for a small cover plate
- pry gently on the valve cover to break it free - everything is aluminum so be gentle - I wrapped a paper towel around a flat blade screwdriver to keep from scratching the finish
- remove the valve cover by lifting it up and then out
Adjusting The Tappet Clearances :
- finding top dead center (piston at highest point, both intake and exhaust valves closed. This is the traditional method but the problem is, from my observation, that there is no well defined marking on the timing gear or the 17mm crankshaft bolt / surrounding flange.
ALSO - I was not comfortable turning the engine using the 17mm crankshaft bolt, not knowing if it was a right hand or left hand thread. Therefore I put the bike in 2nd gear and rotated the back tire by hand, until I was able to observe both cam lobes in the "down" position, and feeling the slack in the valve clearance by wiggling the rocker arms with my fingers. With the spark plugs removed the engine can be easily rotated this way.
- Intake valve nearest the rear of the engine
- Exhaust valve nearest the front of the engine
- measure the clearance (gap) before making adjustments. (I record this in my maintenance log as reference each time; this info can prove valuable in the future)
- if the gap needs to be adjusted, loosen the 10mm nut to allow the screw to turn, insert the correct size feeler gauge, finger tighten the screw until a slight drag us felt on the feeler gauge, then Re-tighten the 10mm nut. Check the gap after re-tightening. Sorry I don't have a torque value for this but it felt like 60 to 80 inch pounds when I loosened it; not a practice I would recommend but I just used my muscle memory when I tightened the nut, having done I don't know how many of these types of valve adjustments on old bikes I've owned in the past (CX500, 1st gen Goldwing, BMW airheads)
The New Valve Cover Gasket:
- clean the engine surface with a cloth or a sponge and some carburetor cleaner or some rubbing alcohol (spray it on the cloth not on the engine)
- remove the factory RTV sealant from the engine surface around the gasket "plug" using a plastic scraper or a credit card - remember that this is an aluminum engine and if you use a stainless steel razor blade it's pretty easy to make a mistake and scar or gouge the aluminum - I had a fairly new credit card with the edges still sharp and it worked very well - scrape the RTV towards the outside of the engine, try to avoid getting RTV flakes in the engine.
- clean the groove in the valve cover where the gasket goes
- clean the VC surface where the gasket/washers for the VC bolts go
- use new washers or do a good job of cleaning the old ones if they are still healthy

Reassembly:
- you will need to fit the new VC gasket firmly in the groove in the valve cover. Some adhesive is needed otherwise the gasket will become dislodged when you turn the cover over to install - I'm not a big fan of spray tack so I put 6 dabs of RTV in the groove, pressed in the gasket and let it set up for an hour while I changed the oil.
- where the gasket "plug" fits in the engine put a medium spread of RTV as was done at the factory, make sure to cover the sharp corners where the "plug" fits and about an inch on the flat surface on both sides of where the plug fits.
- fit the valve cover with the gasket in place carefully - especially the "plug" - go ahead and screw the bolts in a little to help center the valve cover - press it down by hand before tightening the bolts - you can use a flashlight to visually inspect how the gasket is mating to the engine surface before tightening the three bolts. These bolts tighten to a "stop". It's best to make three or four passes, tightening all three bolts a little at a time putting even pressure on the gasket.
- install the little side plate on the port side

Now is a good time to take a look at the pictures you took before putting the coil assembly back and reconnecting everything.

OIL CHANGE

- remove the 17mm drain plug on the bottom of the engine to drain the oil - a new copper washer is always best but mine was in good enough shape I used it again.
- remove the cover plate for the engine oil strainer - bottom of engine, two 8mm bolts
- remove and clean the cylindrical oil strainer. It is plastic and held in place by an o-ring, so it doesn't need a lot of force to remove, fingers might do it, but I ended up using pliers
- inspect strainer for debris and clean ( mine had a few flecks if RTV from the factory assembly but zero metal)
- remove the three bolts attaching the oil filter cover on the starboard side. Be prepared for a couple ounces of oil to come out.
- remove the oil filter and inspect for debris (mine had zero - even ran a magnet over the filter and got nothing. Very impressive.)

Clean up the cover plates, fit new o-rings and put a light coating of oil on them. Clean the mating surfaces on the engine.
Put everything back together bearing in mind the engine is aluminum and the bolts are steel i.e. maybe 60 - 80 inch pounds of torque on the small bolts. and fill with 1.7 liters of 15-50 motorcycle oil. Oil specs are in the owners manual. Do not use automobile oil. I used Quicksilver full synthetic. API SN and JASO MA/MA2. Quicksilver is a product of Mercury Marine. About 7 bucks a quart.

Now my only problem is how to turn off the flashing wrench on the instrument cluster. If anyone knows the answer to that please let me know.
 

Alanrco

Getting there...
Location
Suffolk, UK
Seems a lot of work just to avoid paying £161 ($200?). I know in the states that you can do this without making the warranty void. Here in the UK have no such luxury. I think the price of the first service is quite high ( cost me £140 last year for my Honda Rebel) thought that was high also.

Do the tappets need adjusting after only 300 miles? That sounds like something you had to do with 1960s bikes.
 

Bluestrom13

Well travelled
Location
UK
Seems a lot of work just to avoid paying £161
£160 IS alot of money to some people... It isn't pocket change to me.
It's not just the money either. There's the physical task of getting it to the dealer. Not everyone lives within spitting-distance of one. I don't.
(My Himalayan cost £135, plus 160 miles round trip, plus a day being somewhere iI wouldn't otherwise have been).

The book says 300 miles.
Did you not get one with yours?
 

Alanrco

Getting there...
Location
Suffolk, UK
My bike goes in next friday for the 300 miles. It's a 110mile round trip for me (hoping that the UK weather stays fine). I would do my own service except for the tappets. My Honda Rebel has done 5000miles in its first year and no tappet sound from that. In the UK, unlike in the US, your warranty would be void. I think the cost is high for a first service. There was a time when the first service was included in the initial price. But as you know, everyone gets milked these days. My anual service for my car only cost £250. Bikes are not the budget ride they used to be despite a 100mpg.
 

Bluestrom13

Well travelled
Location
UK
It's irrelavant here, but my Kawasaki 750 went 19 years, and 38000 miles, and never needed adjustment. But that's gone now.
I bought the Himmi knowing what I was getting into. It was 2nd hand Jap Bike money, I'll regard it as that and do future services myself.
Someone I know has put 13000+ miles on his, since January this year. Imagine what that would have cost to service at a dealers.
 

SamC

Getting there...
Location
Meteor53
My bike goes in next friday for the 300 miles. It's a 110mile round trip for me (hoping that the UK weather stays fine). I would do my own service except for the tappets. My Honda Rebel has done 5000miles in its first year and no tappet sound from that. In the UK, unlike in the US, your warranty would be void. I think the cost is high for a first service. There was a time when the first service was included in the initial price. But as you know, everyone gets milked these days. My anual service for my car only cost £250. Bikes are not the budget ride they used to be despite a 100mpg.
 

SamC

Getting there...
Location
Meteor53
I wanted to thank you for your comments. Thought I should note however RE "5000 miles in its first year and no tappet sound" - this does not mean the gap between the valve stem and the camshaft is correct. As the valve seats wear the gap narrows. Too much wear on the valve seats and the gap between the valve stem and the cam shaft can become so small that the valve never quite properly closes. Over time this damages the engine. But the valves are quiet, and it is not until there is engine damage that you begin to notice a bit of a rough idle at first. So this is where the old saying comes from, "Slappy Valves Are Happy Valves". At least when the tappets are clicking a bit you know that the valves are closing properly.
I assume your Rebel has bucket and shim valve setup. Most Japanese bikes do. When inspecting the gap, if an adjust needs to be made, the camshaft needs to be removed and a new shim of the appropriate thickness needs to be installed. Not that big if a project really, provided you have an array of different thickness shims on hand. If not its another trip to the dealer to get the size needed. The Royal Enfields, all models, have a simple nut and screw adjustment. All you need is a 10 mm wrench, a screwdriver, and a feeler gauge.
Now that I have puzzled my way through the whole process without the aid of a service manual (which RE so far does not offer) I can probably do the next tappet adjustment at 6,000 miles in about an hour. My dealer told me the service, including oil change, would cost between USD $ 200 and $ 400. Another person posting on YouTube said their USA dealer quoted them $ 550.
But more than the time and effort it takes to go to the dealer, the money spent at the dealer, and the lack of trust many of us feel towards dealer service, there is, for me, a very gratifying feeling after having performed the maintenance to my own satisfaction, without hurry. Shop technicians are paid a set rate for a given job and the faster they can do them the more jobs they can do in their day. Having worked at an auto dealer as a young man I know for a fact that this leads to mistakes made and corners cut. NO thank you. I'll just do it myself and know it was done right.
 

Bluestrom13

Well travelled
Location
UK
Now my only problem is how to turn off the flashing wrench on the instrument cluster. If anyone knows the answer to that please let me know.
He's speaking Indian, but even I could tell what was happening. Enjoy!...:)
(Plenty more on there if you have time to spare.)
 
Last edited:

Alanrco

Getting there...
Location
Suffolk, UK
I hear you, SamC.
We are basically on the same page. Dunno if you have owned a Honda but their engines have a enviable reputation. As the biggest bike manufacturer in the world their resouces are phenominal. Trying to do a tappet job on this liquid cooled bike would be a nightmare. But having said that, and considering the years of riding I have done I have never had any sort of engine problem You know as well as I do that increasing fuel consuption, burning oil, poor performance and worrying sounds are excellent indicators of a bugening problem. I did a lot of work on bikes in the 60s, you had to and then I could not afford regular services.My previous bike, a Honda Shadow 750 did 15k before I sold it and it was no problem at all. I'm lucky that at my age I'm in a good position to pay the stupid prices that dealers hand out.

I brought the Meteor because it has the classic look of those 60s bikes, so it was a nostalgia buy. I just hope that the mechanics of this bike has the, 'built like a bullet' 2021 style(excuse the pun 🙂) rather than the 60s bikes. As it is not a sports bike it should fare well. I HOPE🤔🤔🤔

All the best 👍
 
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