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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. This morning, when I went to ride, I found the bike would not move. I don't have a center stand so I can't confirm if it is the front or rear wheel (guess that's my second question - how to get center stand functionality wihout a center stand).

Here's the steps and symptoms:

As always, last time I rode, when I returned home I easily walked my bike backwards in neutral into it's normal parking spot along side my house. Part of the backwalk was with the engine still running; the final part was with the engine shut down. The bike remained in neutral while parked.

This morning, I went to ride. Oil and brake level good. Engine start was completely normal. No grabbing with the transmission in neutral, with or without the clutch depressed.

Downshift into first resulted in the usual sound and feel of the transmission grabbing, but releasing the clutch resulted in no movement of the bike and the engine quit from the effort (I never added more power that that which would normally start the bike rolling at the friction point).

Returning the bike to neutral, I started the engine again. Same result as the first time.

Back in neutral, I tried to walk the bike back and forth - both engine on and engine off. Absolutely no movement.

Any suggestions on possible causes or at least what I should look at before asking a mechanic for a house call?
 

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Too new.

The bike is too new for a sermon on brake fluid maintenance. If it was a dirt bike, a piece of anything could be jamming the chain. Usually gelled brake fluid, rusty caliper pistons, or a jammed on master cylinder. Get a sky hook, or use a floor jack to get the wheels off the ground. One at a time, and find out which one is grabbing. But first push the bike in neutral if you can. If the bike rolls easily, then the problem might be in the gearbox.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The bike is too new for a sermon on brake fluid maintenance. If it was a dirt bike, a piece of anything could be jamming the chain. Usually gelled brake fluid, rusty caliper pistons, or a jammed on master cylinder. Get a sky hook, or use a floor jack to get the wheels off the ground. One at a time, and find out which one is grabbing. But first push the bike in neutral if you can. If the bike rolls easily, then the problem might be in the gearbox.

Unkle Crusty*
Unfortunately,
Back in neutral, I tried to walk the bike back and forth - both engine on and engine off. Absolutely no movement.
But I will take a closer look at the chain to see if something might have gotten caught there and try to see if the brakes are locked. Thanks.
 

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Does that have a drum or disc brake on the rear?

Try giving the front caliper and rear drum (?) each a rap with a nylon hammer or mallet? I wonder if one is stuck..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I bought the bike used from a dealer and it was supposedly flushed as part of their pre-sale maintenance - only about a year and a half ago.

Whether brake, chain or whatever, I was able to determine the front wheel is not affected. I put a chalk mark on both tires, and did a bit of bounce and push just to move it forward an inch or two. The mark on the front wheel moved forward indicating the wheel turned. The rear did not.

Thanks to all of you for all of the suggestions. At least I'm beginning to narrow it down a bit.

I tried the mallet. No go, but I'll give that another try tomorrow when I, a bit less frustrated ;)
 

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The rear brake is a drum on these I believe. They are usually pretty simple and not prone to failure. I would suspect that the shoe is just locked to the drum if it was a motorcycle that had been sitting for a long time, but that's not the case here.


I'd check the linkage for the rear brake to make sure nothing is binding and see if the brake pedal is actuating the brake pivot lever properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The rear brake is a drum on these I believe.
Yes. It is a drum.

They are usually pretty simple and not prone to failure. I would suspect that the shoe is just locked to the drum if it was a motorcycle that had been sitting for a long time, but that's not the case here.

I'd check the linkage for the rear brake to make sure nothing is binding and see if the brake pedal is actuating the brake pivot lever properly.
Thanks. I will check.
 

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Whether brake, chain or whatever, I was able to determine the front wheel is not affected. I put a chalk mark on both tires, and did a bit of bounce and push just to move it forward an inch or two. The mark on the front wheel moved forward indicating the wheel turned. The rear did not.
That's using your noggin. :)

Okay, so you have a drum rear, and that seems to be binding? There should be a rod that operates an arm on the rear drum when you push the brake pedal, no? On the end of that rod is a nut and maybe a washer with a slightly strange shape. Try backing off that nut as far as it will go so that there's no tension on the brake arm, so that the rod moves a little bit when you press the brake pedal.

Then, see if the arm that goes into the brake drum will move. It should move freely and apply the shoes to the drum. If it stays put, then you know the problem is something inside the drum, such as a broken spring or a seized bushing for the arm, or something of that nature.

If the arm moves freely, and the rod moves freely when you press the pedal, then your problem is probably not in the rear brake system.

(This all would be so much easier to show if we were pointing to things instead of typing.):biggrin:
 

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Brake lever.

The rear brake lever may have jammed in the down position, but should yank up. What Eye said about the drum should narrow it down.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That's using your noggin. :)

Okay, so you have a drum rear, and that seems to be binding? There should be a rod that operates an arm on the rear drum when you push the brake pedal, no? On the end of that rod is a nut and maybe a washer with a slightly strange shape. Try backing off that nut as far as it will go so that there's no tension on the brake arm, so that the rod moves a little bit when you press the brake pedal.

Then, see if the arm that goes into the brake drum will move. It should move freely and apply the shoes to the drum. If it stays put, then you know the problem is something inside the drum, such as a broken spring or a seized bushing for the arm, or something of that nature.

If the arm moves freely, and the rod moves freely when you press the pedal, then your problem is probably not in the rear brake system.

(This all would be so much easier to show if we were pointing to things instead of typing.):biggrin:
I understood even without the pictures.

I loosened the rod and removed all tension. The arm moves, but only slightly - I know there's not supposed to be a lot of motion there but I'm too much of a novice to know one way or the other on the amount of motion I'm seeing. I added a couple to taps on the arm for good measure to see if somehting loosened a bit more.

It's definitely beyond my knowledge and ability, so it's time to call a mechanic :(. I'll report back on the results.

Thanks to all who replied. Good to know there's a solid forum available to discuss these things.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It was indeed the rear brake drum. My bike is outside and I haven't been using its cover recently. Apparently the pad/drum tolerance is small enough (to allow easy braking) that even a small amount of rust build-up was enough to lock it in place.

Being a newbie, I wasn't putting enough force behind any of my attempts to free it. All the mechanic did was rev the engine, put it in gear, and give it enough power to free itself - with a loud pop.

Thanks again to everyone here for all the help.
 

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Sounds like you need to use that cover :) Make sure you tighten up everything you loosened to try and get it moving
 

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Well, glad the mechanic freed up the stuck drum that easily..
 

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Hey, just cause the mechanic got it free, doesn't mean everything is ok. Take it apart, fix what ever caused it, and stop worrying
 
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