Vf1000RE rattling noise

I have been trying to track a rattle for some time now. Bike starts first time idles, perfectly and goes well throughout the rev range. The rattle starts off as as hardly noticeable and picks up as revs rise to 3,500. No noise if you rev the engine in neutral.
Rode today and noise was apparent in all gears. About 3km from home turned into another road and NO rattle noise through the gears??? Returned home and 2 km from home rattle appears again?
Not valves, checked fuel pump.
Any ideas what this intermittent problem could be? Something in the drivetrain ??

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Does it corrolate with speed or rpm?

Does pulling the clutch changes anything?

Yes - the rattle is related to engine speed. Off throttle or with clutch in there is no rattle. There is no rattle at idle or at high revs in neutral.

Two ideas.
(1) Clutch rattle. The old Honda fours were notorious for it. know it is different system but something could be worn or loose? Only suggest this as you said goes away when clutch pulled.
(2) Exhaust rattle. If not in engine. Loose baffles or connections. Tap entire length of exhausts very lightly at first getting heavier if no result but obviously stop short of putting dents in the exhaust. assuming you have checked tightness of all bolts and fittings.
(3) could also try tapping other parts of bike to see if you get a response but very risky for damage. Your call.

The clutch is on my list to look at but I can’t think of what might cause a rattle intermittently in the clutch. Slipper type setup or bearing?
As for exhausts I have checked them and they seem perfect. I have also checked all over for loose fittings that could cause the rattle.

If you haven’t already tried this method. If you have a mechanical stethoscope you may be able to tell where the rattle is coming from in the engine. If no stethoscope use a large screwdriver, handle pressed to your ear and blade on the motor will work almost as well. If you can tell which part of the motor it is coming from it would be a start. Intermittent problems are a pain in the arse to find. Hopefully someone has had this problem before and can tell you what to do. Good luck anyway and hope you find it before spending too much money and waste too much good riding time.
Cheers John

I know you have checked the exhaust, but if it’s a standard collector and hasn’t been apart I would check again. I had small and large pieces of the perforated steel break off and rattle around. They will rattle, stop and rattle again as exhaust gases rise and fall in volume and temperature.
I have pulled about 15 pieces out large and small. I probably should have split the collector.

Yeah - the exhaust is standard. I had the whole exhaust off last year and all seemed solid.
The rattle is also consistent in that the noise is not all over the place as one would expect from loose pieces in the exhaust. As revs rise rattle gets louder and faster which must be related to some spinning part in the engine/ clutch/ gearbox. Then sometimes it is not there.
Screwdriver test shows no odd noises when running and on sidestand.

I had a noise a few years back. Turned out to be a bent clutch plate. Biff fixed it for me. Again thanks again bill

Can you tell me what sort of noise your clutch made? By bent plate do you mean warped plate?
Lifter plate?

Still no success in tracing this noise. I now suspect it may come from the gearbox - but what would cause this at around 3,000 rpm in each gear. Gearbox is a bit clacky on shifts but otherwise ok. Any bad bearing, loose clip or other issues in the gearbox would surely be there throughout the rev range?? Any noise possible from sprag clutch?

Intriguing! I would think if it was gearbox that it would occur at different revs in each gear matching shaft or gear speed. I see you’ve checked exhaust, but about 20 years ago pulled down a FF motor that I thought was self destructing. Only when reinstalling the motor after a rebuild did I find the loose bits in collector which were making the noise.
During the rebuild replaced rings, refaced valves, recut seats, lapped, new con rod bearings. Motor behaved exactly as it had previously, including burning some oil. Previous owner reckoned it had always used oil from new?
Worth removing the exhaust and rolling, bashing with rubber hammer, and doing everything you can to detect loose bits of baffle? I wish I’d tried this at the time, would have saved me a lot of time and money.
You’ll have to pull the exhaust off if pulling the motor out anyway.

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Hi Speedy,
I have removed the rear mufflers and used a thin metal rod to probe the inside of the collector box from rear holes. No debris that I could hear or see. Knocked it with rubber mallet and no sound of loose bits. Mufflers have no rattles when I shake them. Thing is when I rev the bike at standstill there is no noise??

Hi Speedy,
Were you able to determine that you had loose baffles with the exhaust still on or did you have to take it off and shake it around? How did you get the loose stuff out?

Hi Downunder,
When the noise comes in at exactly the same revs every time then the rattle has to be related somehow to the motor. From the outlet of the exhaust mufflers back to the exhaust ports. From the exhaust ports to the whole engine and to the mainshaft in the gearbox and everything on either side of the mainshaft and the crankshaft. All these are the only parts and fittings that run at the same revs all the time. Keeping in mind that the camshafts turn at a 2-1 ratio. Anything after the mainshaft in the gearbox will spin at different speeds depending on which gear it is in. I am still thinking you should check your clutch basket assembly carefully as (I believe) there is a change when you pull in your clutch? As Speedy has also said, loose exhaust collectors can cause rattle problems but sometimes don’t show up while on the bike, and you have to remove before pulling the engine down. You can also check the clutch basket assembly while on the bike too. Again, I have made it very simple, and you may know all this, but you are having trouble finding the problem so just trying to be helpful.
Keep testing and checking and you will find it eventually.

As a matter of interest, how many Ks has your bike done?

Bike only shows only 27,000 kms but I have no idea if this is correct. Probably not after so many years but inside the engine is very clean . I have taken the clutch and slipper components apart and checked them carefully for wear and incorrect assembly but can find nothing wrong. Sometimes on downshift there is a clack which I presume is the slipper clutch working.
As it doesn’t do it when stationary I think it might be transmission shaft related but why at certain revs??
Almost like centrifugal force at certain revs is causing something to knock.
Thanks for your input as all comments will eventually lead to a solution.

have you tilted the bike left and right to see if the noise increases/decreases?
Johnboy had an issue with a worn selector fork,more noise when tilted than upright.

I only found it when I was about to replace it after the engine rebuild! From memory I decided to reweld around the rear pipe clamps to repair some cracks, and heard some noise. Ended up jamming some rod down into the collector, which freed up some strips of what I assume is baffle material about 50mm long? I jammed rods in until couldn’t free any more bits>
I ran that collector for a few years before fitting a 4/1, and had no more noises from it. I was certain in my case that the loose bits were causing what I took to be motor problems.
We hear all sorts of horror stories about cams, and camchains on these motors, but normally they only seem to give up when they are ridden into the ground.
As yours is a gear driven RE that eliminates cam chains. I’ve got an RE in bits now for a rebuild.
From your research, and comments from other forum members, it’s starting to seem like a gearbox issue maybe? Again, these gearboxes are pretty strong, there is a guy over this way that used to be on this forum who turbo’d his FF, I think the gearbox is the only part he didn’t have trouble with!
I hope you get to the bottom of it, give me a PM if you’d like to chat with another current RE rebuilder.
Happy Christmas to you, and all forum members!

Hi Bif,
No difference leaning left or right.
Took the bike out for a short ride today and the noise was all but gone?? Bike starts and runs very well so not affecting performance at all.
Maybe time to take all the fairings off and look for any vibration issues, bolts not torqued correctly, plastics vibrating etc, etc