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February 9th, 2015, 09:57 AM   #1
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Engine knocking sound at low RPM

Hi all,

I'm totally new to 4T engines, and recently acquired a 2009 FE 450. It had that knocking sound at low rpm, and after a bit of research it all pointed to a faulty cam chain tensioner. I replaced the cam chain tensioner with a new OEM one, and I did the trick of compressing it with two washers on either side. After installing it, upon first start, the noise disappeared. Upon second start, the noise was back. I took the CCT out, reset it again with the two washers, replaced it as per the manual, and same thing. First start fine, second and subsequent starts the noise is back.

Anyone have any ideas what else could be the cause of the noise?
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February 9th, 2015, 11:48 AM   #2
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Disclaimer: I have NO IDEA! Please take this with a giant grain of salt! Please let me know in no uncertain terms if I'm being stupid!! Just going to throw this out there to get the cogs going, yeah?:

On the DR-Z the automatic cam chain tensioner is said to put unnecessarily high pressure on the cam chain, causing it to wear quicker than it needs to. Manual cam chain tensioners need slightly more attention but can be set a little slacker.

I'm thinking whether it's possible that the automatic tensioner stretches the chain taut at first, and then the overly tight chain then again loosens up by the increased wear of being too tense? (Doesn't really make 100% sense when thinking about it, given that it's "first start ok second start noisy" ... Wear is a function of time but the noise seems to maybe be a function of some internal state of the engine?)

Or! Maybe the automatic tensioner somehow relaxes between the first start and the second? That must be what's happening, right?

I don't know how they look or work on these bikes - is it possible to see at what position they end up at? Externally or by measuring? If it's a measurable quantity, then maybe measure it before first start, between first and second, and then after second start?

It'd be interesting to test with a manual tensioner. You don't happen to have a riding mate or know about someone in the vicinity that has a manual tensioner and would lend it to ya? - If I had one and you were in H÷fu­borgarsvŠ­i­, you could try mine heheh
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February 9th, 2015, 12:07 PM   #3
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Hey this post is potentially very useful for me.

Would you say that it's this same sound?:

Video I found just now:


My bike:


I had always thought that the sound in mine could be the bottom end clattering. Been kind of depressed and broke and haven't done anything about it for almost a year now Always meant to take the top end off and check for play ... but if this is the noise you have, and it's caused by the cam chain tensioner, that's BLOODY GREAT NEWS for me!!

so ... Does it sound similar?

edit: p.s., I loooooove the Darth Vader breathing intake noise on these bikes ... argarh so cool
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February 9th, 2015, 07:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for your inputs Tourist. My bike sounds exactly like the two bikes in the vids. Unfortunately I'll have to order a manual CCT from the US, as nobody seems to stock them locally.

The way I understand the workings of the OEM one is: You compress it with the aid two washers to stop it 2-2.5 mm from being completely compressed. Then you replace in into the cylinder, and tighten the outer nut. With the inner still removed, you use a small screwdriver or something, and click that little button on it, which will cause it to extend and put pressure on the timing chain via that rail. The OEM unit works with oil pressure to extend it while the engine is running. I suspect that after first start, it contracts slightly, and upon second start, there might not be enough oil pressure to extend it again. While a manual CCT might make the noise go away, I think there might be another problem that needs attention.

I spoke to a mechanic at a local KTM shop, and he said it could also be valve clearances and/or not enough engine engine oil. Could also be an oil pressure problem. I'll drain the oil tonight and put fresh oil in just as a last resort for things that I can do myself, thereafter I'll have to load it and take it to the shop.

Man oh man, I really hope its not one of those problems that take 5 months to solve(financially). I had big plans for this baby
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February 10th, 2015, 01:01 AM   #5
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I'll have to order an MCCT to test ...

I think I can build a mental model of how the failure could be isolated to the MCCT. When fully compressed and ready to install, there is tension on a spring isn't there? Which helps the tensioner extend fully?

And then if I understand what I've seen correctly, the tensioners can relax slightly - see video - but then only slightly and will not be helped by the spring to extend to the same position ... ?



(I watched that video in a bar last night, the sound wasn't on, but I think I got the gist of it !)
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February 10th, 2015, 03:42 AM   #6
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Hi, I have the same bike and i can confirm they knock quite loud normally, when their cold its harder to tell as oil isnt up to temp.

When i picked mine up i thought could be chain tensioner as well, but a loose cam chain is really easy to hear, i know the manual ones make even less noise than the automatics. Big single cylinders make noise, if it was valves, difficult to start and run like shit and valves noise is really obvious again.

sounds like mine tourist, i think a lot of people think they sound strange, it maybe because the engine is facing a different direction so you hear the bottom end of the engine more so?

Tourist, yours doesn't sound like valves, when a valve isn't in spec its fairly obvious from my experience, I first thing ve had valves go and first thing to notice is takes a little longer to start and then a really fast knocking noise is present and gets louder over a very short period of time and then starts to run like shit, power coming off and on.

Put a video if you can gawei


these engines vibrate so go over all engine bolts and the lot on a regular basis.
Thanks from tourist and gawie

Last edited by keyowne; February 10th, 2015 at 04:01 AM.
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February 10th, 2015, 04:55 AM   #7
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Hi keyowne.

I will post a vid as soon as I get a chance to fix the oil drain plug that was stripped by the previous owner. I only noticed it this morning when I wanted to drain the oil.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions so far guys!
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February 10th, 2015, 05:26 AM   #8
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And then if I understand what I've seen correctly, the tensioners can relax slightly - see video - but then only slightly and will not be helped by the spring to extend to the same position ... ?
Thats the way I understand it as well, seems the oil pressure helps to extend it to the correct position.
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February 10th, 2015, 05:47 AM   #9
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So what if there isn't enough oil pressure on idle for the tensioner?
Do you use 50W oil?
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February 10th, 2015, 06:35 AM   #10
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I've only had it since Saturday, so I have no idea what oil is in the motor at the moment. According to a mechanic at a local KTM shop, it could also be one of the reasons for the sound at low rpm, other than the most common cause, which is the CCT.
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