As I understand it, a dealership charges something very close to $500 to do an oil change, air filter change and spark plug change for a Roadliner/Stratoliner. And I have no doubt that a lot of people who don’t consider themselves particularly mechanically inclined are simply stunned by the cost of maintenance that is supposed to be done twice a year. And I also have no doubt that it isn’t the fear of doing the work that scares people about this job; it’s the fear of the unknown and the fear that you’ll start taking stuff off and get stuck somewhere and end up with a bike you can’t even ride to the stealership. The purpose of this tutorial is to show Roadliner and Stratoliner owners what this critical maintenance job entails and hopefully encourage you to give it a go.
You do not need to drain the gas tank to do this job, whether you decide to completely remove the tank (because there are two fuel shut-off valves) or whether you decide to just swing the tank over to the left side (because you then leave the fuel lines hooked up). I had less than a gallon of gas in the tank and was easily able to move the tank. It was actually a lot less awkward than I had guessed when I actually picked the tank up.
There is a procedure for the complete Roadliner/Stratoliner gas tank removal (i.e., disconnecting the fuel lines) available on Youtube. See parts 1 and 2 at the links below:
The part number for the Yamaha air filter (“element, air cleaner”) is: 1D7-14461-00-00. The final two zeroes are frequently omitted. You will also need four spark plugs. The stock plug is an NGK (5129) DPR7EA-9. Amazon sells them for $2.60 each and they’re eligible for super saver shipping.
Here are all the tools I used to do this job:
You’ll need assorted pliers for removing various hose clamps and electrical connections (you don’t need the exact pliers I’ve got, just something reasonably similar); a socket wrench with a 10mm and 12mm socket, and extender bar, and a universal/wobble joint will be helpful; Allen wrenches or bits in 4mm and 5mm; a 17mm wrench (and I found my ratcheting 17mm wrench VERY helpful); a phillips and regular screwdriver; a spark plug gauge; a magnetic pick-up tool is helpful. Hopefully you have the spark plug tool that came with the bike – if not you’ll need an 18mm deep socket. I don’t have the little length of 3/8″ rubber hose shown (I’ve got a picture of it below), but that may have been the most useful tool of all.
Here’s the procedure to remove the tank, replace the air filter, and replace the spark plugs:
1) Remove the seat using the ignition key.
2) When you have the seat removed, you will see two 10mm nuts on the rear of the tank and under the seat that secure the tank to the frame. Remove them. I put my screws and bolts in small plastic cups, and will often have several cups for each series of nuts, bolts etc. so I don’t get them confused with other stuff as I keep taking more stuff off.
3) Remove the three chrome 5mm allen head bolts that secure the chrome gauge assembly that sits on top of the gas tank to the tank. Turn your handlebars as needed to give yourself room for the two bolts on the front.
4) Now place one or more towels under the chrome gauge assembly between the chrome and the gas tank and slide the towels all the way to the top to protect your paint from accidental scratching or denting. Place another towel on the handlebar neck for further protection (I tied it with string to keep it out of my way).
5) Now gently pull the chrome gauge assembly down a few inches to expose the four electrical connectors and disconnect all four of them (from left to right, you will see a small white, large black, large white, and small black wire connectors). I inserted a small-bladed regular screwdriver into the tab and then used that screwdriver to somewhat help pry them off.
For the record, you do NOT have to remove the smaller white connector on the far left side YET. It does not connect to the gauge assembly. That said, it DOES connect to the underside of the gas tank. So it WILL have to come off before you pull/move the tank. But the second time I did this job, I actually found it easier to remove all the gauge assembly, remove the bolts securing the tank, pull the small white connector out of the gas tank frame it mounts to, and then have a little more wiggle room to pull the connector end off so I could pull the tank. Just don’t forget and try to rip the tank off the bike if you do that.
Btw, when you disconnect these leads, both of your trip meters will be set to zero and your clock will be disconnected. If you need to note mileages, do so before you disconnect the leads.
6) Now you can remove the chrome gauge assembly and put it in a safe place. Hopefully it won’t be a place that makes your wife yell at you for bringing your motorcycle parts into the house.
7) At this time you need to pull the other half of the connectors you just disconnected off the frame. Use needlenose pliers to gently squeeze the tip together and pull off each of the four connectors. You have to disconnect all four connectors from the frame in order to lift the gas tank:
8) Pull off the small hose that fastens to the gas tank near the connectors.
I tied all five of these things together with a rubber band to make sure nothing slipped down and that they would be out of the way when I re-installed the tank.
9) Remove the two 12mm bolts beneath the connectors that secures the front of the tank to the frame. You may need to use a universal/wobble joint with your extender bar, but it seemed like a standard extender did the job as long as you are careful.
10) Remove the small plastic chrome gas tank trim located on either side tank. There are two 4mm allen screws on each side holding them on.
11) You are now able to move your gas tank off to the side at this time. You could go to some additional fairly great lengths and disconnect the fuel lines, OR you could simply get a couple of stools and lift the tank to the left side as I will show in a picture. But…
If you are going to replace or check your spark plugs, I advise you first replace the left rear plug at this time before you move your tank (you can do it later, but what you will find is that you can’t access that plug if you’ve got the tank swung over to the side with the fuel hoses still connected). I used the plug tool that is included in the tool kit and put a 17mm wrench on it. And I was able to easily lift and manuever the tank enough to take off the old plug and put in the new one. When I put on the new plug, I applied anti-seize compound and used about a 3″ length of rubber fuel hose (that I stuck onto the non-threaded end of the plug) to easily screw in the new plug. The gap is .8 – .9mm (.031 – .035in). You need an 18mm deep socket if you don’t use the Yamaha tool. I’ve found that quite often the new plugs are pre-gapped, but check each one to make sure.
By the time you are finished replacing all four of your spark plugs, you will never look at a short piece of rubber hose the same way again.
12) Now lift the tank off the bike and swing it to the left side of the bike. You want one or two short stools that are about the height of the tank to do this. I used two 24″ high stools and they worked fine. Your other option is to shut off the two fuel supply screws (by turning them IN or clockwise) and then disconnect the fuel lines so you can put the tank wherever you like (I KNOW you’ll get yelled at if you try to drag this into the house, though!). You would then need to re-route the fuel lines when you’re done. Good luck, but I didn’t go that route.
13) If you are only replacing the air filter, your life is now easy. There are a total of seven phillips screws holding the air filter box cover in place. unscrew them and there is you air filter. [Note: I accidentally stumbled across the Yamaha manual procedure for removing the air filter case detailed on page 4-13 and 4-14. After I’d removed it, of course].
If you are replacing or checking your spark plugs, you’ve got a fair amount of work still ahead of you.
You will see a bracket near the handlebar neck that is held in place by three or four allen head bolts. That’s the red arrow labeled “1”. Has to come off. You’ll see two electrical connections (labeled “2” and “3” in the picture above; you have to disconnect them. There are also two small hoses underneath the electrical connectors that have to be disconnected. Then there are seven or eight phillips screws, including an annoying one at the very front bottom of the air filter case near the handlebar neck. Just when you think the damn air filter case is finally off, you’ll be crushed to see that you’ve only taken off the top half of the damn thing.
There are a total of six hoses that must be disconnected (including the two mentioned in the paragraph above). Four hoses are attached to the lower part of the air case (two larger hoses at either end and two small hoses located on the left side of the bike). Oh, and seven or eight more phillips screws holding it to the bike. Disconnect all four hoses and remove all the screws. Finally you can remove the air filter case. If you are like me, you will wonder at this point if you will be able to ever put the damn thing together the way the crazy fool who put this thing together at the factory intended. For the record, it actually all went back in fairly easily.
The four arrows in the picture above of the bottom half of the air filter case show the locations of the four hoses that have to be disconnected to remove the air filter case.
14) Now you’ve finally removed your air filter case and exposed your spark plugs, and you can even see the two rear plugs now. If you followed my advice, you’ve already done the left rear plug. If you haven’t done that left rear plug yet, I now advise you to wait until you do the other three plugs, re-install the air filter case, and put the tank back on but BEFORE you start bolting the tank on. The right rear plug is accessible inside the frame and easily accessible with that short piece of rubber hose as the pictures with step 11 show. Replace each plug using anti-seize compound and verifying the correct gap (also described on step 11 above).
15) Before I replaced the rest of the plugs, I took the time to polish the valve covers – as I was finally able to reach all the stuff that had resisted my oversized ape fingers before. Now it’s all shiny where only God will be able to see it:
God likes His chrome shiny. There will be no dull, oxidized chrome in heaven.
16) With the tank off the bike (at least, mostly off), none of the plugs were that bad to reach. Use a piece of rubber fuel hose as I described and you will find that you can start threading them very easily. I used the spark plug tool from the Yamaha tool bag for all four plugs, and used a 17mm wrench to loosen/remove them and tighten/install them. You could also use a socket wrench with a 17mm socket, obviously. I used one of those fancy ratcheting socket wrenches that only need 5 degrees of angle to turn and had absolutely no problems.
I did some reading online looking for a procedure for all this stuff (never DID find one, btw!) and saw people complaining about not being able to get to plugs. But that was because they either didn’t use the rubber hose like I showed you or they tried to replace the left rear plug with the tank swung off to the left side like I warned you about. If you do it the way I describe, you won’t have any major problems.
Let me say more about that left rear plug. I removed the tank and looked the job over, and I had decided to tackle that left rear one first because it clearly looked to be the hardest and what I didn’t want was to replace the first three and then not be able to get the last one. But with the tank swung to the side, I found that simply could not reach that left side rear plug. I was sitting there gloomily thinking that I would have to disconnect the fuel lines after all – which seemed like a major pain in terms of what would have to come off to get to them, in terms of re-routing those fuel lines back to where they belonged, etc. So I put the tank back onto the bike and started to work out the disconnect of the fuel lines. But the last time the tank had come off the original owner had not got my fuel lines rearranged back into the “this is how it should look” position, such that the bottom fuel shut off screw was virtually impossible to access to shut off the fuel supply. So on the one hand I figured I had to take the tank completely off to get to the left rear spark plug, only I couldn’t shut the fuel off so I couldn’t take off the tank. I was in a Catch-22. I thought of crying, but I prayed instead. And then it suddenly struck me, like an angel whispering in my ear, that with the tank on the bike but on loosely it just looked like there might well be enough room to get that plug off with the tank completely loosened as it was but positioned on the bike. And sure enough the hardest plug was suddenly as easy as pie when I used the procedure I described above (step 11).
17) At this point, it was time to put it all back together again. I actually decided to wait until after I had the spark plugs done and had the air box case all cleaned up and installed to install the new air filter. I figured it would end up being cleaner that way, rather than having me screwing around with the components in pieces and having it lying around exposed.
Before I re-installed the air filter case, I cleaned it up and used my compressor to blow air through the tubes. The rest is just doing what you’ve already done in reverse order.
And we’re back to beautiful again:
Nothing about this job was particularly “hard,” I’d say after having done it. It was just that a lot more stuff had to come off or be disconnected than my sensibilities approved of. There were a couple of times that I was glad I had taken these pictures, as I didn’t have to remember how and where everything went.
I had to EARN that spark plug change. I had to prove I was WORTHY to replace that air filter. There are two things that make this bike more of a challenge than any other vehicle I’ve ever owned: one is the newness of the bike and the second is the sheer size of it. My 1983 Suzuki 1100e was so easy to maintain compared to this bike it is positively disgusting. Maintenance is getting harder and harder on whatever you buy these days, but motorcycles have to have all the same things that a car has to have but packed into a lot more miniature of a package. And when you’re trying to cram a 1.9 liter high performance engine that is literally the size of a car engine into that package, too, well, you end up with some crazy maintenance stuff. That said, it turns out that our bikes aren’t that much different from the (also really big) Honda VTX 1800. I came across this thread where a VTX guy starts pissing on the Stratoliner thinking that he’ll have a lot of agreement from his VTX pals. But it turns out that most of the VTX guys who responded said he was a basically ignorant ass and that the Strat is a great bike and that the maintenance is actually about the same for these two behemoths. I’ll return the favor and say that VTX 1800s are great bikes and there are about as many reasons why you should prefer one over a Roadliner as there are reasons why you should prefer a Roadliner over a VTX. I was pleased to see so many VTX guys come to our bike’s defense.