Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seat Lock Issue

All this talk about seats got me thinking about the one unresolved warranty issue that I have with my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. The seat doesn't stay locked down; hasn't since the day I got it on April 1 (almost six months ago) and hasn't magically corrected itself after 13,000 miles ... not that I should expect it would.


I wouldn't call this a big issue. It's not as though the seat is going to blow off and it doesn't even appear to be unlatched when it, in fact, is. Honestly, it has not slowed me down once. It's just that every so often out on my travels, I find that my seat has come unlatched. Unlatching seems to be very random and here's the kicker ... I can not replicate it. I've shook it violently, bounced up and down on it, pressured it forward and backward, nothing; I have never once been able to make the dang seat come loose or unlatched on purpose!

Am I the only one with this issue? Apparently not. I was surfing a Versys 1000 thread on Adventure Rider and some guy from South Carolina reported the same issue. Then, others responded that the issue was addressed in an MCNews Article. I have yet to find that article or have anyone point me to it. Okay, so that's only two known guys with the issue, me and this other dude.

So, it's obviously been a long time, but I did report this to my dealer very early on and it was taken up to Kawasaki as a warranty matter. Kawasaki's response? It's adjustable ... adjust it ... lol. Well, it's now been to my dealer twice for "adjustment" and the seat still comes unlatched. I'll discuss this so-called "adjustment" in more detail later.

As mentioned earlier, this issue is so close to being a non-issue that it may not even warrant a post (certainly not one this long; oh, and no pun intended). All I normally do is push it down a little and, click. I even reach around and do it on the fly. Here's my biggest concern that keeps me personally focused on the problem: very simply, someone could pick up my seat and walk off with it. Maybe then sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Hey, it goes for $318 new at Bikebandit! Don't ask me how some scurrilous bastard would ever know the seat is not latched; however, I do furnish plenty of opportunity given how many "el'cheapo" hotels I stay at while traveling. And, in fact, it's been more than a couple times that I forgot to check the security of the seat before crashing for the night, only to find it unlatched as I load up the next morning. Crikey!

Anyway, I think it's safe to say that my dealer isn't going to get this problem remedied, or at least anytime soon. As I prepare for another considerable journey early next month, I'm looking at some of these minor issues that are more on the annoying rather than substantive side (e.g. the Rattly Side Cases) with an eye toward getting them taken care of.

So let's take a look at what we're dealing with ...

Here's a shot of the underside of the seat pan. As you can see, it has eight rubber pads and a couple hooks in mid-length. I do think the pads require some consideration in this matter. The main locking clasp, to which the locking mechanism grabs onto, is toward the rear.


A closer look at the locking clasp. Not much too it. Is this whole issue fixed with a bend of that clasp? Maybe bending it back a little, but bending it a fraction too much and the seat won't be able to be removed. It may get stuck on the locking striker. I'd rather not mess around bending things. Alternatively, shimming the clasp could result in the same disaster so I'm not going to mess around there either.


The locking mechanism is located in the tail area under a panel. The locking cylinder (that to which the key is inserted from under the tail section) connects to the locking mechanism via a simple sheathed cable approximately 10cm in length. The bracket on the seat pan (above) slides into the oval where it is locked in place by the Striker (that is, the latch).


Here's a peek at the locking mechanism, cable and locking cylinder from under the panel.


Key turns locking cylinder, locking cylinder pulls cable, cable pulls striker, striker releases seat. Woo hoo! Pretty simple.

So now the question is, "Where are those adjustment points that Kawasaki believes to be present?" Okay, to be straight, I asked my dealer this question since they adjusted it already. They advised that the point of adjustment was the bolts where the locking mechanism connects to the belly of the panel ... an adjustment procedure that I didn't find in the Service Manual.

Hmmm....not seeing that.



Maybe they meant the locking clasp was adjustable. Nope, that doesn't appear adjustable either.


So, I've found no adjustments on the locking clasp, locking mechanism, locking cylinder or the cable. Let's just conclude that the dealer has maxed the adjustment range. But the seat still comes unlatched, so now what?

Well, my next step was simply to examine the operation of the locking mechanism and then working back to all the individual components and how they operate. Ya know, just sorta looking for something loose or seemingly missing or just plain not right. Remember, this problem occurs totally randomly while the bike is being ridden and, after many attempts, I have never been able to replicate it. So, no matter what, I'm still going to be in "hit-or-miss" mode.

The first thing I noticed, while blindingly obvious, is that there is absolutely no way for the seat to come unlatched when the Striker is positioned forward. In that position, the angled tip of the Striker is situated through the locking clasp bracket preventing the seat from being lifted. The angle is on the top, so that has nada to do with it.

The next thing was to look a little closer at the locking mechanism itself. Not very complicated, but I do have some useful observations.


Above, Striker/Spring is relaxed (locked position). Below, Striker/Spring is being depressed by my finger (unlocked position).


Observations:

  1. The Striker Spring imparts very little tension on the Striker itself. It's a small spring with an infinitesimal spring rate. To put it in perspective, the rate of tension on the spring in your ball point pen is probably five time the spring rate of the Striker Spring.
  2. The Striker itself doesn't fit very well in its slot/slide on the locking mechanism. See second picture up ^ showing the Striker literally at an angle inside the slide. At the tip where it locks, it can move side-to-side.
  3. The point where the cable connects to the Striker is a total phucking engineering disaster. I don't even know where to start. 
  • First, the anchor is not the correct type; rather, its the cylindrical type that you'd have on the end of a brake or clutch cable. The anchor does not fit this type of application. In fact, all it is is a hunk of metal on the other side of a slot in the Striker. (SEE ADDITIONAL INFO AT THE END OF POST)
  • Second, the anchor is a frigging huge hunk of metal for this application. It's more in the way of itself than an effective component of a locking mechanism.
  • Third, and this is a biggie, the anchor ISN'T ANCHORED; it's just sitting there hanging on by a slot in the back of the Striker and it doesn't even move with the Striker. Look at the photo directly above. The anchor/cable doesn't move with the Striker when I push it back; rather, it only pulls back when the locking cylinder is turned. 
  • Fourth, in addition to not being anchored, the cable itself is too long resulting in a ridiculously large gap between the anchor and back of the Striker bar when at rest.

Okay, I think we may have found the problemo or at least part of the problemo.

Basically, I do not believe that there is enough tension on the Striker to keep it from recoiling backward from the effects of rough pavement coupled with the rider imparting downward force on the seat from either rider weight or from the rough roads themselves. Together, I suspect it's only a split second of movement and the locking bracket on the seat is able to pull back through the oval hole in the panel.

Further, I believe that the limited tension, in and of itself, would be substantially (if not entirely) mitigated if the cable anchor was actually anchored to the Striker and the cable itself was the correct length. Had the cable/anchor been anchored to the Striker, the only way for the Striker to move backward (unlocked position) would be if the locking cylinder was turned using the key. The scenario in the previous paragraph shouldn't have an effect. Viola! Oh wait, there's that big gap to deal with. Snap!

Here's a good angle showing the gap. It should be noted that I can't do anything on the other side (back side) of the Striker bracket because the mechanism needs every bit of the travel of the cable to pull the striker back when using the key in the key cylinder.


I don't think we have an impossible situation here. Rather, here are what I think the corrective actions may be to get back on track:

First, the gap between the anchor and the back of the Striker needs to be filled, removing all of that initial play when the cable pulls back on the Striker. I have some hard rubber and vinyl bits (washers and such) that I believe I can use to slide in there and close that gap. Note that doing so will result in a shorter key turn to unlock the seat, but I don't think that should be an issue.

Second, the cable anchor (and newly introduced gap filler) need to be anchored/affixed to the back of the striker like it should have been in the first place. That action is going to take some thought. Could some epoxy glue be the simple answer?

Okay, let's take a crack at this...

Below is my rubber bits drawer. Everyone should have a rubber bits drawer, don't ya think? Of all the litter washers and things in there, I found a vinyl washer that fit the gap perfectly.


I put a slice in the vinyl washer so I could slide it on the cable between the anchor and Striker. The slice isn't so big that it'll slide back off. In hindsight, I may of been able to fit it overall a little better by squaring the sides. The locking mechanism and key cylinder function perfectly.


Now the issue is keeping the whole assembly anchored to the back of the Striker. This may take some trial and error, so I'm starting with the easiest approach .... glue.


Even though I used super glue, the Loctite brand still required 24 hours to fully cure before I reinstalled the locking mechanism and I gave it all that time. After installation, I found that the level of tension on the Striker was much higher, as in perhaps four or five times. If the glue actually holds, I think I've got this problem nailed because I can't see any bump moving that Striker under the new tension level.

However, we need to hit the road and make sure my remedy works. I don't have any major plans until next week and then I'm off on a 4,600 mile trip. It may take awhile to report back on this, but the seat is going to have a lot of opportunity over the next several weeks to come unlatched. Hope it doesn't.

UPDATE:

The seat stayed locked down the entire 5,300 miles of my recent trip out west. On that trip I had 22 miles of washboard surfaced dirt roads that destroyed my GPS mount, but the seat stayed locked. I think I have it fixed.


_____________________________________
Additional Info:

I mentioned in the thread above that the type of anchor on the cable is incorrect. I'm subsequently advised by an expert that, "yes it is incorrect," and that type of anchor is called a barrel-nipple anchor. The correct style of anchor for this application that requires alignment with a hole, grove or fork looks like the one in the photo below. It is called a pear-nipple anchor. There you go!


The expert is my son who operates a mobile bicycle repair business when not working his regular job as a plumber. He sees his fair share of cable repair and replacement.


4 comments:

  1. So, just discovered your blog this many months later....

    I'm the South Carolina guy that brought the issue up on AdV Rider. I ended up just bending it. Problem solved.

    Great blog by the way.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! The blog doesn't get a lot of looks and when someone posts it sorta makes it worth all the work.

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    2. You've posted some great stuff.... Very appreciative of your posting pictures as well. I'm kind of jealous, I'm a old geezer experienced rider, but a crappy wrench, even after 30 odd years. So seeing your input and explanations is great. Thanks for the effort.

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  2. Hi Bill,
    Lookong after risers I ended up on you blog. Interesting stuff by the way.
    I also had the same problem with the seat. Instering a thin washer between the locking clasp and the underseat solved the problem.
    CHeers

    ReplyDelete