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Are There Any Known Problems With High Mileage Bulldogs?

Verfasst: Dienstag 4. September 2007, 09:40
von sully22252
I would like to know if there are any known problems to be expected with high mileage Bulldogs?
Early next year I have a 15,000Km trip planned, and rather than take something like my Varadero, this time I intend to take a Bulldog. I have two, one is brand new 2007 with only 1000Km on the clock and the second is a 2003 with just over 70,000Km on it. I would rather take the old one than run up a big mileage on the new one, but before I make a final decision, would like to know if there are any known weaknesses which the Bulldog has, for instance shaft drive failures, fuel pump problems, regulator/rectifier failures etc.
I have complete confidence in the engine and final drive as both have had oil (and filter) changes every 5,000Km from new, plus things like fork seals, wheel bearings etc have been replaced as required, although the clutch is still original plus the starter motor sometimes makes some strange noises, but both of these items will be looked at/replaced before I go.
Any comments/experiences which members have had of mechanical/electrical failures would be much appreciated.

Verfasst: Dienstag 4. September 2007, 12:18
von Axman
Hello Sully,

would you please be so nice to complete your "Profil" ?? We just like to know who we are talking to..

Now to your questions : the most commonly asked questions from newbies to the Bulldog are : "how relieable is it ??" and "are there any known weaknesses?"
To make a long story short : the Bulldog is one of the most reliable motorcycles I know of (and have owned)!! We have users here in the forum that have over 80.000 Km´s on the clock without any significant failures own Bulldog has 33.000 Km´s on it and not even the valves needed adjusting yet..and look at the compression diagram in my album!!

The only real Problems I´ve heard of are : the rear brake-pistons tend to "stick" thus resulting in over-average pad-wear (take the caliper apart, clean it thoroughly, put the pistons back in using special brake-piston-grease, and use better quality brake pads like "Lucas organic")
In the earlier models we heard of starter motor troubles resulting in a twisted starter-motor and a reset of the clock due to electric overload...Yamaha provided a "kit" to remedy this including a new ground-lead to the engine and a Condensator (I´ve never needed it). Anyway, there is a trick to starting the engine : always keep the button depressed as long as it takes the engine to run on both cylinders...if you release the button too soon, the engine can kick back, override the freewheeling device in the starter and thus cause the above mentioned problems.

And if you now take into account, that here in Germany the Bulldog is being ridden to its full potential (last month, coming back from Hamburg on the Autobahn - which I normally try to avoid - I kept it nudging the redline for almost two hours... and that is nearly 200 Km/h ! On my first stop at a gas station it idled perfectly, without any unnormal noises :P ) the whole motorcycle seems to be perfectly understressed...and I love it :wink:


from the Axman

Verfasst: Dienstag 4. September 2007, 20:47
von sully22252
Hi Axman

I think the Bulldog is probably the most underrated motorcycle there has been in the last 20 years, at least in sportsbike mad Britain, but then the rest of Europe is always more sensible when it comes to practical motorcycles you can enjoy and use every day. The Bulldog is the only bike I have gone back for a second (and now a third!) dose of, so that's how highly I rate it.

These are my 2nd and 3rd Bulldogs, I bought one new when they first went on sale in the UK in 2002 and I really enjoyed it. I only sold it when I swapped it for something I could ride around the world, although I think the Bulldog would have done it just as well. I too rode that first one 'flat out' as we say, for about 100Km one early Sunday morning, but then it went onto reserve, and I found I had got it down to about 19 miles per gallon, or 6.5Km per litre!

The reason for my question is that I'm going down to West Africa in January, and the round trip from home will be about 15,000Km. This will include about 1000Km of dirt roads, but I've got tyres sorted for that (SuperMoto tyres) and the rest will be tarmac. I imagine that at some stageon the dirt I will 'drop' it, as we say, so thats why I would prefer to take the old rather than the new.

I have stripped it and rebuilt it, the engine, clutch, gearbox, shaft drive, bearings, brakes etc. are all perfect or replaced and I am happy with. The concerns I have are for things which may have a weakness which is not obvious, like the starter motor, or maybe things like the fuel pump, which I know can be a problem on bikes like the Africa Twin, or shaft drives, which are a problem on GS's. I don't want to set off and have a breakdown 200Km down the road!

I've had another go at my profile, and I hope it helps you know who I am. Maybe I need to add some photos, I'll just have to work out how to do it!


Verfasst: Dienstag 4. September 2007, 20:51
von John w
Well said Axeman! :-D

I have only covered 18000 Km on my Bulldog, but I have done a few long trips. I have ridden for 10+ hours with very few breaks and the Bulldog has never had any problem with this constant use.

I love my Bulldog too - it's a great bike! :-D

Cheers ~ John W

Verfasst: Mittwoch 5. September 2007, 11:06
von Axman
Hello Chris,

did I get this right : you are planning a trip to South Africa - and back - on a standard Bulldog??
If yes, there are a few changes that I would (and have done to mine) make to the bike:

- throw the standard handlebar away...the bend and rise are not fit for humans...swap them, and the risers, for a tapered aluminum bar (Magura,Pro Taper or Renthal "Fat Bar") like on the newer Bulldog models...they survive a crash much better than the standard steel ones...and crash you will :?
- lay a set of new cluch and throttle cables parallel to the ones now installed and fasten them with zip-ties (now if a cable breaks it´s much easier and faster to install the correct, new one)
- upgrade your suspension!! Change the standard fork springs for progressive ones and use high quality fork oil (I would mix 10w and 15w) Swap your shock for a high quality one, made to your specs from (I´ve done it three years ago and it is the most satisfiying change I´ve ever made to the bike : great roadholding, lots of reserve - with a "click" or two you can soften or stiffen the ride!!- and that without sacrificing confort...look at my "Album")
- wrap your air-filter in "Filter-Skinz"...they are made of a gauze-like material and really help to keep dust and sand out of the filter...if dirty, just rip them off and throw them away. You get them in motocross-stores.
- I would not advise you to put SM-Tyres on the Bulldog for this long trip..why don´t you try enduro tyres like on the BMW GS ?? Continental K8o, Pirelli Scorpion or Metzeler Macadam would be my choice.. much better grip on dirt roads and they´ll last much longer than SM-tyres..
- I changed my seat too, as the standard one was too low for my liking and the "dip" in the seat was too restrictive and kept me from moving around... I went to an upholsterer and he changed the seat-foam (firmer), widened and hihgtened it a little bit and slipped a gel-cushion in for good measure...he charged 150€ for his efforts, but the aaahhhh-factor made it worth it :wink:

Sorry if I sound patronizing, it´s not meant to be, considering that you probably know all this anyway, just take it as "comparing ideas" :wink:


from the Axman

Verfasst: Mittwoch 5. September 2007, 19:18
von sully22252
Hi Axman
Thanks for your thoughts, you obviously think along the same lines as I do. I'm only going as far as Timbuktu, in Mali, and back, hopefully! Maybe South Africa next year!
I know it must sound rather odd to take a road bike rather than something like a GS, but I've regularly ridden large road bikes on dirt and gravel roads as I lived in Thailand for a few years, where once you get off the very good major road network you are frequently riding on dirt roads, where I learned the limitations of 17 inch road tyres off road!
I had thought about changing the bars for Renthal Fat Bars with new risers and as you also suggest this I will do it. I've replaced both throttle cables and the clutch cable, and as you suggest will cable tie in the old ones in case of problems. The forks are done already but I was hoping to get by on the old rear shock, but maybe I should invest in a new one. I can always swap it onto the new Bulldog when I get back. Having previously experienced the effects of a Saharan sandstorm on an air filter the gauze you suggest is a good idea.
Tyres are a problem, I've spoken with the Motorcycle tyre technical experts at Bridgestone, Pirelli and Avon in the UK, but the problem is that nobody does 17 inch full off-road tyres or even semi off road tyres that would fit, and hence the decision to fit SM tyres. Do you have a better choice in Germany, as if you do please let me know and I will see if I can get some brought in specially. I know that Supermoto tyres road life will be short but I will only be using them on the dirt sections, which add up to less than 1000Km.
The standard seat is very comfortable for 5/600Km but I'm having the seat re-foamed and recovered as a single seat, with a Gel pad. That will give me the room to move around, although I always use an AirHawk for long distance trips anyway.
Probably 95% of riders in the UK ride road bikes so will never consider a trip which could include bad road surfaces, and part of what I am doing is to discover the practicality of using a road bike for a trip which for 5% of the trip may involve some dirt roads and sand. So maybe the first real road bike to reach Timbuktu will be a Bulldog!
Many thanks for your thoughts.

Verfasst: Donnerstag 6. September 2007, 12:46
von Axman
Hi Chris,

today I spoke with Tyre technicians at the Continental, Michelin and Metzeler Works at the respective factories...and it seems, that you really are out of luck..: there is no enduro-tyre or tyre with a larger thread that would fit the rims of the Bulldog.
When I explained your plans, the technician from Metzeler ( ) at least had an opinion to offer (no, not that you should make the trip on a more suitable bike.. :wink: ) He said, that he would advise you to use the Metzeler ME 880 "Marathon" in 170/70 R17 rear and 120/70 R17 58 front configuration. It has the widest thread of all Metzeler road tyres, has very good grip in all conditions and is extremely long lasting ( and no, I won´t get a comission.. :-D )

The other thing that came to mind was, that you definitely need a engine-case-protection. As is, the engine is completely unprotected underneath and I would´nt like to run into a stone, dip in the road, camel etc.. like that!! At the front of the engine, underneath the starter, there is a hole(?) going all the way through the cases which has no use at all (at least not on the Bulldog) As most of us here already have frame-protectors (look at my "Album") I made a engine-protector using this if the motorcycle tips over - or if I dismount rather abruptly and it falls onto the left side - neither the fuel tank nor the engine cases get scrached or damaged.
I would try to cover the underside with a thick aluminum plate that goes all the way back to where the swingarm pivots, using this hole as the frontmost ( :? ) attaching point, and in the back I´d use maybe one of the bolts for the footpegs or maybe there is enough space between the engine and the frame rails?? I´m sure you´ll find something.
There is another thing you should do : change the oil in the my technical vocabulary fails me...rear wheel gears?? (you know that "gearbox" at the left end of the swingarm that transmits the power from the shaft to the wheel :? :oops: ) the standard oil used here is very low quality...riding hard on german Autobahns or in hot weather causes the oil to foam and spill out of the little venting dome on top of the "gearbox"...and that´s not only a mess, you lose oil all the time too..change it for a high quality oil (I use Castrol but any other good brand will do) SAE 80 API "GL-4" (or higher)Hypoid Gearbox-oil or SAE 80W-90 Hypoid gearbox more spilling, no more worries..

OK, right now I´m out of ideas...keep me postet about your plans and changes..



Verfasst: Freitag 7. September 2007, 09:52
von sully22252
Hi Axman

Thanks for the enquiries you made on my behalf. Like you said, at least the Metzeler technicians didn't suggest I take a different bike!

I have looked on Metzeler's UK website and although the ME880 is listed, with a fairly comprehensive range of sizes, the rear tyre size is not sold in the UK in the size they have suggested, a common problem with tyres here. Tyres for sportsbikes are no problem but for anything else the choice is resticted. At least Metzeler had better ideas than Bridgestone, whose best suggestion was Racing Wets!

I think I will still go for the Supermoto front, an Avon Distanzia AM43 120/70ZR17SM, as it has the most aggressive tread pattern that's available, and should help with directional stability. I'll use a road rear, as traction isn't a worry.

I was planning to have an aluminium bash plate fabricated, which will be in addition to a long front fender extension from Ride In, crash bars, and carrying spare brake and clutch pedals, plus a folding gear lever and spare rear brake pedal. The new Bulldog I have is going to be donating quite a few spares, but at least it saves having to buy them all.

I have changed the final drive oil, surprisingly the former owner who had owned it from new had had both the engine oil and filter and final drive oil changed evry 5000Km.

Once it's ready to go I'll post some pictures. Many thanks for your ideas and suggestions


Verfasst: Samstag 8. September 2007, 01:51
von Mick P
Hi Chris

I have been with John W on the 10 hour rides with no problems with the dog and as john said well said Axman some good ideas.
I know you wont have much room but it might be worth looking at Durafix Easyweld Rods for aluminum you use them with a blow lamp easy to use and might be the thing that could get you out of trouble if you do have a spill there is a demo video so you can see how easy it is to use.
Its Just a thought you could repair a cracked case or there is always chemical metal no heat needed at all.

Wish you all the best :thumbright:

Keep us posted

Regards Mick P

Verfasst: Samstag 8. September 2007, 02:18
von WullDee
I'm very (!!!) interested in your ride report and your pics / movies!
Keep your head always up - I request you a lot of luck and success !!!