I’m kicking myself over this, because I chose not to check bolts and torques when I was looking at the bike. Everything else looked good.
A lot of problems could be blamed on the previous owner not knowing any better, perhaps many of my Rebel’s problems could be explained this way. Over-torquing the oil drain plug, though, is definitely something that the previous owner would have known about, and it wouldn’t have happened like that in the shop.
How I found out:
I set out to do my oil change, something I’ve done many times before, and things were going well.
I drain the oil, that’s fine, and I put the oil in old milk jugs to recycle. I first notice an issue when I’m looking at the drain plug. It’s got thread tape on it. Not just a little, but a lot. I’m not sure about why people use thread tape instead of thread locker, but it just seemed a little off.
Turns out the thing was stripped and the thread tape was there to hold it in. I used a bit of wire to lock the bolt in place for the one trip I made, then I asked around for help. I found my answer!
Eventually I came to my senses and put a rubber expansion plug in there. You can get them at any auto parts store for about $5. Get the 1/2″ size if you’ve got a Honda with a 17mm head on the bolt (you will most likely have 12mm threads with 1.5 mm pitch). My Honda Rebel has the same size. I know a lot of bikes with this size. (Edit: These plugs are meant as a temporary fix, but I’ve put about 5,000 miles on mine so far without problems, and I carry an extra.) It’ll be a little snug, but just push it on in and tighten it down (not too much! you’ll break the rubber). And congrats, you can keep riding till you take the time to re-tap those threads.