What the hell happened to my bike?

The bike: '83 Kawasaki KZ-750 LTD.

I put my bike up on its center stand and went to work for a few days. I came home to put in new spark plugs and take it out for its first trip.

First problem: When I put in the new plugs, the boots don’t fit. The new plugs are the ones recommended by the manual for the Canadian edition. (The bike was originally bought in Canada.)

Second problem: Two of the boots removed themselves from the wires. They seemed to just be jammed inside without any means of holding them on. I guess I’m going to have to replace the wires (and probably replace the boots at the same time so they fit on the new plugs).

Third problem. It doesn’t shift into neutral any more, and it doens’t de-clutch. I left it for a week and now it’s stuck in first gear, the rear wheel spinning as the engine tries to start.

Naturally the third problem is the major problem. How could that happen in a week of storage, being untouched? It drove fine on the 20 km trip from the previous owner’s house to my house, and then it just breaks? I don’t even know where the clutch is on the bike. Are there any simpler fixes than ‘take the whole bike apart’?

Did you remove the wires by yanking them off by the wires themselves (as opposed to gently pulling on the boots)? It almost sounds like you ruined the wires.

Heh. I’ve removed spark plug wires a lot in the past… I definitely lifted the boots up. My #2 wire came apart but managed to hold itself together when pushed back together. My #3 wire, though, is barely holding contact (and likely was barely holding contact the whole time). The #1 and #4 are fine.

Probably not coincidentally, the #2 and #3 are the shortest two wires, and most difficult to access.

it couldn’t happen , if as you say, it wasn’t touched. someone or something touched it. do you live alone?

No, I have roommates who have access to the same garage. But the bike hadn’t been moved, and I doubt they have the technical expertise to dismantle my clutch while making it look identical. I guess it’s possible, but it seems highly unlikely.

What would happen if they where to stomp on the gear selector pedal without using the clutch? Could that cause some internal problems?

  1. There are two types of spark plug tips: a barrel type like what is used for most cars, and a thinner threaded type, like is used on most Japanese motorcycles. The barrels are threaded onto the ends of most motorcycle spark plug sizes. If they are still on, then unscrew them and see if the plug cap fits.

  2. Resistor plug caps, like what comes stock with most motorcycles, are threaded into the wires of the spark plug cables. Try scrwing them into the wire. If they fall back out, then you may be able to cut off about a quarter of an inch of cable and try again. Of course, you will want to make sure that the wires are long enough before doing this.

  3. It sounds like the clutch got stuck while it was sitting. If I was working on it, I would probably put the clutch in while in neutral and shift into first while idling the bike. This obviously could cause the bike to take off, fall over or both, so You’re on your own if you choose to do it.

Thanks for your help, everybody! The bike’s running like it just came off the showroom.

  1. I couldn’t figure out what you mean by barrels at first, and was trying to unscrew the thinner threads out of the old plugs to screw them in the new ones. Once I figured out that the barrels were already on the new plugs and had to be removed, they fit perfectly and are now in place.

  2. I stripped a bit of rubber off the thread cap and twisted the boot back on the wire. It’s holding tight enough to create current flow.

  3. All I had to do was stomp on the shifter with the engine off, and the neutral light came right back on. It’s running fine now.