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Change cam belts by mileage or by age?

1208 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  GLGREZMONKI
I am the new owner of a beautiful 1986 SEi. It appears to be in excellent condition. Everything that I have uncovered or worked upon is in great shape. The bike has 25k miles on it. While that is low, the age is getting up there. I have no idea if and when the belts have been changed. Your thoughts on whether I should be changing belts or not. As an indicator of previous care, the problematic stator connector has been nicely removed and the leads soldered. Not that the wiring has anything to do with the belts...
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I would say both on milage and age of the bike. I picked up an 83 interstate with only 4288 miles on her and changed the belts just as a precation. when I looked over the old belts at first they didn't look to bad but on closer inspection I found cracks in the rubber on the belts. So I would change the belts to be on the safe side.
Cheap insurance to change just because of age. 2 gates belts @ $40 vs new heads or motor(I have seen a hole in a piston from a valve broken off at highway speed)
Your choice????

Honda says belts are to be changed @80,000-100,000 miles.

Congradts on the wing!
Hi Chuck and welcome to the forum. I would say it is prudent to change the belts also just because of their age. Sounds like you have a really nice bike there. I bought a 85 LTD new and kept it until a couple years ago when I sold it and got a 1500. About the only difference between it and your SEi is the color. They are a beautiful and reliable bike and you should get a lot of fun riding from it. I just loved the fuel injection. It would start and run instantly from cold or hot with no hesitation or warm up required. Wish they had put that system on the 1500s.
Here is a good tutorial on how to change the belts on a 1200:
I would definitely go by age. Rubber tends to rot. In fact, rubber belts seem to rot faster when they are not used much. Same thing with tires.

I just reread your post and realized what you got. I have the first year of that model, called the LTD. Mine was pretty much junk when I got it, and I had to do extensive modifications and fabricate a lot of parts to get it going again. Sounds like you got a good one. There seems to be one main weak point on the LTD/SEi, assuming all the electronics work. The fuel injection system has about 25' of different sizes and lengths of rubber hose on it, some of which you can't get to without removing the entire system. ALL of mine was rotted, and I had vacuum leaks everywhere. If your bike is running good, I would leave it alone. But if you have running issues, that is the first place I would look. Enjoy your new bike.
I was thinking of asking this same question. Mine's the same year and I have no idea if these belts were ever changed. Mileage is 48k so I think I may have a springtime project coming up. If I had a garage with heat, I'd do it now. BTW, are there any special tools needed to do this job?
No special tools required. It's actually an easy job, just take your time and make sure everything lines up. The marks will not likely line up perfectly. But if you move the belt one notch in either direction, they will be even farther off, so get them as close as you can.

No doubt about it, if you don't know their age....change 'em. As mentioned above, it's CHEAP insurance. I have a '98 SE I bought last Fall with 7900 miles on the clock and I'll be changing the belts next week. 15 years is waaaaaay too old to suit me regardless of mileage. Seems like on some things, if the bikes history is unknown, it's better to zero them out so you have a known point from which to start.
Had the 1984 1200 changed at 45,000 miles when it was about 24 years old. The original belts still looked new. Now though, after hearing all the storys, I am going to change them myself this time, and hopefully yet this year...
If older than 5 years then change them. otherwise every 80,000 miles.
Just remember to double check or even triple check your work. Turn the engine over by hand several times before committing yourself with the starter. More damage is done by owners installing the belts incorrectly than a belt actually breaking. That being said both age and mileage are to considered and you would probably be wise to change yours now. As already stated it is an easy job and is good insurance....
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