My valve adjustment experience wasn't as ominous as the thread title sounds, I just thought I'd add what I learned to the general knowledge base.
I just reached 15K miles and was faced with the 15K or 26K dilemma; do I wait or do I go forth? Personally I think the 15K-CA reference in the 2007 service manual refers to California (not Canada). I know, I know, they didn't sell the Versys in California until 2009, but it is my theory that large portions of the Versys manuals were copied over from the 650R manuals, and that's why there is a California reference. Of course, I could be wrong.
I live in California, but my 2008 V was first sold in Nevada, so it is belongs to neither CA. But I decided to check my valves anyway.
I have never owned a shim under bucket motorcycle before, but I have some experience with them when I worked in a shop years ago. In general, I just followed the service manual.
I found that 4 of the 8 valves were slightly tight (below spec). Darn! I guess I'm glad I checked. This means I have to adjust!
Things went smoothly until I went to remove the cam caps. They really fought me. I later figured out that when you position the crank at the "2 over T" mark, as specified in the manual, that you can do it wrong. When you position the crank at that mark, check that none of the cam lobes are pressing down on the valves. If they are, turn the crank 360 degrees, and then the lobes should be clear of the valves. A clue is, when the cams are in the correct position, you should be able to read the "2412 EX" and "2412 IN" on the tops of the cams as shown on the bottom of page 5-24 in the service manual.
Since I didn't follow the above advice, the cam caps were under tension from the valves, which twists them and keeps them from coming off easily and smoothly. I got them off anyway, but you can learn from my error.
When removing the 3 cam caps, be careful not to drop the locating dowels that are under each cap. There are 2 dowels under each cap for a total of 6. When you lift up the cap, the dowel may stay in the head, or it may stay in the cap, or it may fall free of both. Dropping a dowel down your cam chain tunnel will ruin your whole day. So lift the caps slowly, until you know where the dowels are and remove them to the left side so that you don't pass over the cam chain tunnel.
The factory-installed shims aren't marked with measurements, so you will need a micrometer to determine how thick they are so that you know what size to replace them with. My micrometer is calibrated in .001 inches, so I had to do a lot of converting.
I called my local (30 miles away) dealer and they didn't have the size shims I needed, so I ordered them from Cheap Cycle Parts. I ordered them on Saturday, they shipped them 9 days later, and I got them 2 days after that.
This was my first order from CCP. Personally, I think they were slow in getting my order in the mail. But they charge $8.18 for shims, and Bike Bandit charges $11.78. Oh, well; I was stuck riding my KLR650 for a week and a half.
Everything went back together fine, and my valves are now in spec. After I got the gas tank on, I started the V, and it sounded fine. I put the rest of the bodywork back on and parked it.
This morning when I went to ride it, I noticed the "FI" light wouldn't go out. Darn! I must have missed something on reassembly.
I remembered that there was an article on this forum on how to read your FI codes, so I went looking for it. Found it! How to Read your FI Light
I did the test as outlined and came up with code 13 - Air Pressure Sensor. I pulled off the bodywork and tank, and sure enough, I had failed to plug in the lead to the airbox. This is one of the problems with an 11 day gap between disassembly and reassembly. I plugged it in, turned the V on, and the FI light went out. Yeah, baby!
So, everything is done and the V is back to normal.
By the way, I made up a valve adjust worksheet for the Versys. I used it to record what shims are where and what the clearances were before and after. I have attached a picture of my worksheet to this thread. I have these sheets for my Triumphs that cover over 140K miles of valve adjustments over 12 years. It's good to have records of what you have done.
I hope this little story will help someone in their valve adjustment quest.
PS The attached worksheet is pretty unreadable on the screen. If you click on it (to open it in its own window), then right click on it and save it to your computer, you should be able to read and print it as a .jpg.