Tenere Valve check, and adjustment, c/w top tip update

Well, I tore into it tonight.  I was going to wait, but after reading, and re-reading the Yamaha manual, I decided to go and do it.

I’ll get this out of the way first.  This is a flat out ignorant way of designing things.  Having worked on a few other bikes.  I have to say, besides the body panels, hinged tank (nice!), air box, and throttle bodies (t.b.) coming off easy, the rest is a royal PITA.  Yam did not leave any room to manoeuver.  To top things off the manual says that you should remove the clutch cover and its odd 27 bolts…seriously?  Luckily some forum members pointed out that the alignment marks are perfectly visible through the access hole for the crank bolt.

In the case of valve check, this does not have to come off.  However, if you’re pulling your cams, it does, as the tensioner needs to come out, and you need to put a screw driver in the motor somewhere (timing chain guide, page 5-22)

Is it possible for this to get any better, scratch that…worse?  Yes, yes it can.    The timing marks on the cam sprockets face to the right of the bike.  You guessed it, right where all the electrical gubbins are.  Brilliant.  So I will do this valve adjustment using the force.

Yes they are only due every 40km, but most of the guys that own these will clock that in 2-3 years.  Quite a few guys elected to skip their initial valve check, but based on past experience, I figured that my ex. valves would be tight.    Might as well sort it out now, if they are out of spec (SPOILER ALERT!!) they are!!, then why not fix it now, put them to the middle of the range, and not worry about the next one.

Right about now the bavarian faithful (boxer boys only) will get on their soap boxes, point and laugh at us tenere owners.  Their valves are easy to do, and take 5 seconds to check, and 7 to adjust.  Granted the boxer is a doddle to do, but luck for me, I have all winter to do this.  Besides, in 37km, I have had no major issues with the bike (well except the final drive seals going, thanks to the swing arm plug falling out about 25km ago, and a shit load of crap, and dust collecting, and wearing down the seal.  The $6 plug should be here any day, and will be super glued, and duct taped in place for good measure).  Would I trade it for a GS for easy of maintenance?  No, not really.  I do all my own work, so it really does not matter.  Besides, I don’t want to get side tracked here beating the reliability horse to death again.

Usual disclaimer as per my other posts.  I’m a muppet, and this is my way of looking at the task at hand.  Read at your own risk.  This is a fairly straight forward job, but with very little room left to work with, and little room for mistakes.

Make sure the bike is as clean as possible.  Mark all male/female connectors if you’re not sure where they go.  Take pictures as you go, I’ll help down the road.

No need for special tools.  You will need an allen key (the old school L shaped one).  As mentioned above, compressed air is your friend.  Clean well around the t.b before pulling them off, as there will be a bit of crud there, that might fall into the intake ports.

Plastics off, tank off (disconnect all elec. and fuel from t.b rail)

Air box off, t.b’s off.  There was some crud at the entrance to the intakes, but I was being careful with the t.b’s. when pulling them off (throttle cables off).

I cleaned up the intakes, covered them with rags, and tie-wrapped the openings, to keep all the crap out.  I then busted out the air gun, and blasted all the crap out of all the nooks and crannies.  Any loose dirt that was around was taken care of.  I marked all my high tension coils and associated cables, unplugged, and set aside.  Again, good blast of air here helps.  The allen bolts that hold the cover in are not accessible by regular socket.  I broke out the dollar store special allen key, and loosened off the front bolts.  Before backing them all the way out, I blasted it with more air.

I loosened up the various metal lines (clutch, and brake), moved the wires out of the way, so I could have as much space as possible to work with.  Even with all that moved, that bastard was tight to get out.  I’m super psyched to try to keep my new gasket intact, when it goes back together.

Valve cover off, I followed the Y manual to find TDC on cyl 1.  Manual says that you will come up to mark K, on the crank, turn 71 deg. to reach mark T.  Then they have the balls to tell you to get your x-ray glasses out, look through all the electrics, plastic tray and the frame to make sure the cam gear timing marks are lined up properly.  Well SHIT!

No matter, I pulled the plugs out of the motor, took a long terminating screw driver, and stuck it into the plug hole in cyl 1.  I found TDC that way, and checked that my T mark was lined up.  Both Cam lobes (in. and ex.) were pointing out, slightly above the engine case.

The valve clearance was checked (three times no less), and found to be tight for the most part (see pictures).

Shim kit is on its way, and I will be pulling the cams out to do the work.

UPDATE!! to an UPDATE!!!!!!!

Super dooper top tip, from my motor rebuild here: 


If my little mind can grasp the yamaha manual, the T mark is only for checking the valve clearance. See page 3-5 and on in manual.
Remember, T mark is TDC on cyl#1. Then you turn it 270 degrees, and you have cyl#2 at TDC.

For shim adjustment.  Set the bottom to K. As per page 5-16. Pull the cams, make sure your camshaft marks are aligned on the case, and the hole on the intake camshaft, aligns with the mark on the intake cam cap (closest to the chain)

To sum up:
THE K MARK IS FOR PULLING CAMS. This is where the top and bottom are in alignment.

Resume scheduled blogging…

Talked to Jaeger22 and Bernie regarding a strange step in the Y manual regarding cams.  PG 5-16 ‘Removing the cam chains ‘ states the following:

  • align the K mark with the crank case mating surface
  • Check the alignment marks on the cam sprockets and cyl. head surface
  • Check that the hole on intake cam match the mark on the intake camshaft cap.
  • Remove the timing chain tensioner
  • Loosen the cam shaft caps from the left to right, in a criss cross pattern
  • Remove intake cam
  • Remove ex. cam
  • Tie up chain out of way

Good, so far… then they tell you to remove the cam shaft sprockets…what the hell for?  If everything is marked (top and bottom) replace the tight/loose shims with proper sizes, put the ex. cam back in (keep the cam chain tight as possible), intake cam back in, make sure your original marks line up, tighten the caps from right to left.  Install the tensioner. good to go.

Whatever.. the cam sprockets do not need to come off! Jaeger, Bernie, and myself are on the same page.  It’s just a step for total disassembly, and has nothing to do with the actual adjustment of the valves.

That out of the way, the cams are in the right position.  Marked the living bejeesus out of the ex. in, and crank gears.   I removed the 4 bolts that hold the electrical tray in place, which gives me a good peek at the timing marks on the ex. sprockets.  While there, I removed the large metal engine mount at the front which will give me better access to the front of the motor.


Got to it today.  Gears and chain marked.  Tie wrapped the chain to the bottom guides, to keep it in place. Removed the cam chain tensioner, intake cam, and the exhaust cam.  Tie wrapped the chain to the frame so it would not fall down.

IMG_7832-2 IMG_7831-2

IMG_7827-2 IMG_7835-2 IMG_7834-2 IMG_7837-2

The intake shims were sized anywhere from 205 to 208.  Exhausts were 199, and 198.  I took the intakes down to 205, and the exhaust down to 195.  Replaced the exhaust cam, put the chain over (marks lined up nicely), tightened the cam caps.  I then installed the intake cam, and fitted the chain over.  I started to tighten the caps from right to left.  When I was about half tight, the intake sprocket jumped one tooth.


Out came the cam again, and this time I moved it back one tooth from the mark.  I tightened the caps down, and the sprocket sat down perfectly on the mark.  I tie wrapped the chain to the intake sprocket in two spots to make sure it did not move further (Yamaha does state to do the same in one spot)

On to the cam chain tensioner.  Good god this was a pain.  You need to press down on the plunger, while turning it ccw.  Once you get close to a cut out groove, you somehow have to fit the supplied snap ring into the groove.  Now if you’re an octopus, this might be an easy job, but for one person to pull this off, it’s an absolute pain.

Installed the tensioner, and then used a large flat blade screw driver to push the left guide against the tensioner, which unseats the snap ring, and sets the tensioner.

I was now ready to spin the motor to check the new valve clearances.  All intakes ranged from .125 to .15.  Exhausts were .23 to .25  Perfect.

Next up the gasket.  I used some gasket maker to first hold the gasket to the cover.  This promptly failed.  I then took the gasket and positioned it on the block, but kept the four rubber holes for the s.plugs on the actual cover.  Carefully placing the cover at a slight angle to the right, eventually produced results.  I slowly placed the new gasket into the grooves of the cover, and made sure the gasket seated correctly all around.  I installed the bolts that hold down the cover.  Torqued to spec.

Below, observations and lesson’s learned.

It’s a pain to do this valve adjustment.  But, if the tolerances are brought right into the middle of the range,  the next service adjustment (80km) can be skipped.

A few tips:

  • Clean the bike well.  Before pulling the t.b, either blast around the back of them with pressurized air or clean them off.  There’s quite a bit of crud that gets trapped back there, and the minute you pull the t.b’s it wants to swan dive into the intake ducts.
  • loosen off the 4 bolts that hold the electrical tray in place.  This will give you a bit of an idea of how the gasket is sitting.  The large bundle of wire is strapped to the frame via a strange plastic clip.  Instead of trying to break that clip, simply cut the electrical tape around the plastic, and that will give you some movement on the bundle.
  • Unclip the three metal lines from the left side of the frame (brakes, and clutch), undo the bolt that holds them to the frame as well.
  • Leave the plugs in for now.  Once the cover is off you can pull all the plugs, as it’s a bit easier, and more accurate to turn the motor to find TDC.  Before pulling the cams, put the new plugs in, so nothing can fall into the motor.
  • When pulling the valve cover and gasket, leave the old gasket on the cover.  It’s solid enough from the factory, and has almost no wear.  It’s easily reusable, and it makes it easier to install the cover and gasket back on.
  • Mark your gears, and associated spot on the chain.  It will give you a clear idea of where things need to go.  When re-assembling, use the tie wrap trick suggested in the Y manual.
  • Cam chain tensioner is a an absolute nightmare.  Who ever designed this POS that requires three hands to put back to gether… I HATE YOU!
  • sync your t.b while the tank is up.  Easy, and makes your bike smooth.

A competent mechanic, should be able to do the check in about 2-2.5 hours.  The adjustment would take longer, probably for a total of 4 hours of labor.  It took me much longer than that.  But the next one would be a hell of a lot easier.  Personally, I’d rather do it myself.  I get to wrench on my bike, and have the satisfaction that it’s been done right, and  that I didn’t drop $600 at the mechanic, and wonder how well the work was done.



Below: area prepped, ready to work. Wires tucked out of way.

IMG_6043-2 IMG_6051

Above: Intakes cover, and tie wrapped.

Below: Let the fun begin!


Above: Valve cover ready to be unbolted

Below: Looking to the front of the bike


Below: harness and misc. wires tied up, and pulled out of way.  cover on its way out


IMG_6053 IMG_6056

Above: TDC finder!

Below: My results, written down on a box.  Not good.



19 thoughts on “Tenere Valve check, and adjustment, c/w top tip update

  1. Tenerest:
    Started to do this weekend (just to check) while i was putting a set of plugs in Got everything torn down and the cover loose
    Got spooked because the cover was going to be a pain wrestling it out the back
    Bolted the cover back down (will do another day) and put back together
    One question though…..
    It looks like if you remove the front large motor bracket the cover can come out the front rather than the back


    • Hi Tim,

      the front bracket will only aid in the valve work. The cover will not come out the front.
      That said, if you loosen up the large wire loom on the right, you should have zero troubles.
      One tip. Leave the stock gasket on. Do not remove it, like I did.
      Another side note…If you’re easy on your bike, your valves will probably be ok till about 60xxx km without issue.
      I’m not easy on my bike (Usually ride it like I stole it) hence 5 out of the 8 valves needed adjustment.


  2. Thanks much for taking the time to prepare this Greg. Do you think removing the front wheel and forks along with the engine brace might allow better access to the engine from the front side? In truth I am not looking forward to this job.

  3. A word of caution. I dropped some crud onto the tops of the intake valves. I thought I had got it all out but hadn’t. As a result my valves bedded down after checking the valve adjustments and firing the bike up and my tick-over speed dropped off dramatically and the bike kept stalling. After a while I re-checked the valves and found all the inlets to be tight (logically !!) I reset them to mid range and my bike was transformed. Strong tick-over and massively improved mid-range power especially in T mode. It was a lot easier to do it a second time though – except the CCT – it was a complete bas***d.
    HTH Ray

    • before I tear off the intakes, I like to use pressurized air to clean the area up.
      Then either tape off the intakes, or plug them with rags.

      Yes the oem cct is a collaboration between satan, hitler, and stalin.
      Get an aftermarket cct and forget it 🙂

  4. Greg-thanks for the great write up. I’m running into a problem with the index mark on the exhaust cam sprocket. I put paint marks on the sprockets and chain but to my horror, my paint mark on the exhaust side was rubbed off during reassembly. So following the manual, there are two index marks on the sprockets that are supposed to be flush with the cylinder head surface. However with both cams and cam chain installed per the manual, my exhaust cam mark is about 5mm below the cylinder head (which equates to about 1 tooth off). If I try to rotate the cam CCW a few degrees to get the mark lined up, there’s a pin in the cam that hits the cam follower. I could try rotating the cam CW to come back around but I don’t know where the pistons are in relation to the valves and don’t want a valve hitting a piston. Any ideas? Thanks! Steve

    • hi Steve,
      I’m drawing a blank this morning. The pin is your auto decompression pin. I don’t remember that one getting in the way.
      If the bottom of the motor is at TDC, then you should be able to rotate the exh. cam so the outside line of the sprocket lines up with your engine case, and the same with your intake.
      Dont forget the tie wraps on the intake cam, as it will skip as you’re tightening the caps. Once everything is snug as a bug, check your marks, manually spin the motor (by wrench!!! i.e. manually 🙂 to TDC again, and check the marks. One or two turns to TDC should should show the marks being in the right spot.

      let me know if the above helps,

      • Thanks for the quick reply. Update: I must have received a visit from the cam chain fairy last night. I took a different approach and made sure there were 4.5 chain links between “E”” and “I” as per the manual. Figured if I was a tooth off, this distance would be wrong as well. Distance was correct so I went ahead and installed the intake cam and magically, the index mark on the exhaust sprocket is now lined up. There must have been a tiny bit of slack in the chain which is eliminated once the intake cam is installed. Now if I can the new POS cam chain tensioner to reset, all will be well! Thanks again!

  5. This was a really excellent write up, thanks a lot. I had a lot of trouble getting the cct to compress because I was putting too much force on the end. Turns out it needs only a slight amount of pressure before turning the housing. Also, if you know a friendly shop that specializes in dirt bikes, the shims are the same type as used in most 450 MX bikes. They generally have a selection of shims available including odd sizes that you can’t generally buy. I only needed to adjust 1 valve after 67,000km and changing from a 191 to a 188 put the clearance exactly where I wanted it.

    • You’re welcome.
      good to know about the shims. I doubt mine will need it at 90k. Time will tell.
      I still scrapped the 2012 OEM tensioner, and went to a manual one.
      alternately you can purchase the 2014 and up tensioner which is a much better design

  6. I traded in my 2012 at 16k before it needed this for a 2015. So I got a couple of years. Thanks to you…I feel more confident! I understand what you did with the screwdriver and how you did it to find TDC. But how do you tell your at TDC this way? Guessing screwdriver pops up then as it starts to go down, then mark the height and spin the motor around again to that height of the screwdriver? Thank You in Advance. Also, what did you use to mark you chain and cam sprocket?

    • hi Joe, the more I do the job, the better I get at it. Go figure. Read my post about the motor rebuild. The book has an extra step that’s confusing for checking the valve gap.
      From the motor rebuild post: THE T MARK IS FOR CHECKING CLEARANCE ONLY!!
      THE K MARK IS FOR PULLING CAMS. This is where the top and bottom are in alignment/not running interference.

      I have not bothered using the screw driver method. If you follow the book, when you find the T mark, and the cam lobes are orientated correctly (as per book) you’re good to go.

      Regarding the marking, I used paint on white out (I know, i’ll be hard to find) or white touch up paint (in a pen) works well.

      Good luck. Any questions, feel free to ask,


  7. Hi Greg, thank you so much for posting this!!! I’m working on mine now. What did you use to pull the lifters out? I don’t want to scratch them. Thanks,

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