Clutch Doesn't Release All the Way - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Clutch Doesn't Release All the Way

My 2006 KLR clutch doesn't seem to fully disengage. When I put the bike in gear from neutral, it really jerks. Before starting the bike I've been 'breaking' the clutch and then starting it in gear, but now the bike won't start unless I put it in neutral. I've adjusted the clutch so that there is little to no play in the lever, and the clutch doesn't engage until the lever is most of the way out. The bike has 11,000 miles - all of the mileage has been from an 8-mile one-way commute through stoplights. is it normal for a clutch to wear out at 11,000 miles? Is this the way they fail? Thanks, Barry
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by BarryDorr View Post
My 2006 KLR clutch doesn't seem to fully disengage. When I put the bike in gear from neutral, it really jerks. Before starting the bike I've been 'breaking' the clutch and then starting it in gear, but now the bike won't start unless I put it in neutral. I've adjusted the clutch so that there is little to no play in the lever, and the clutch doesn't engage until the lever is most of the way out. The bike has 11,000 miles - all of the mileage has been from an 8-mile one-way commute through stoplights. is it normal for a clutch to wear out at 11,000 miles? Is this the way they fail? Thanks, Barry
It sounds like you've been riding this bike for awhile and are familiar with it? How long has it been doing this? Does the "jerk" from Neutral to 1st happen all the time or just after the bike has been sitting for awhile? Could you elaborate on "now the bike won't start unless I put it in neutral?" I only ask these questions for the sake of more effective long-distance troubleshooting.

The Neutral to 1st jerk/lurch is common if the bike's been sitting, say, overnight, but it shouldn't do it once it's been ridden a couple of miles.

I doubt your clutch is failing at only 11,000 miles, even with a lot of clutch use. It sounds like a cable/adjustment issue to me; maybe something to do with the clutch lever safety switch if it won't start in gear with the clutch lever pulled in.

I would try setting it at the specified 0.31-0.47 inches free play as specified in the manual and see what happens. Mine's now worked out to where I think there's an inch of free play and mine still functions fine.

You don't want "no play" in the lever as that can keep the clutch from fully engaging when you release the clutch lever and that can cause wear over time. Does the lever seem to operate smoothly with no binding and have you eyeballed the clutch lever on the engine to make sure it seems to be moving freely? Have you ever lubed your clutch cable?



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post #3 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 02:18 PM
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That clunk, jerk when cold, going from neutral to 1st is common with wet clutches. The plates are "stuck" together, when you first start, and you get that jerk. What I learned here, was to pull in the clutch and blip the throttle a few times. That will break loose the clutch plates and will go into first better. Well it works most times.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by planalp View Post
It sounds like you've been riding this bike for awhile and are familiar with it? How long has it been doing this? Does the "jerk" from Neutral to 1st happen all the time or just after the bike has been sitting for awhile? Could you elaborate on "now the bike won't start unless I put it in neutral?" I only ask these questions for the sake of more effective long-distance troubleshooting.

The Neutral to 1st jerk/lurch is common if the bike's been sitting, say, overnight, but it shouldn't do it once it's been ridden a couple of miles.

I doubt your clutch is failing at only 11,000 miles, even with a lot of clutch use. It sounds like a cable/adjustment issue to me; maybe something to do with the clutch lever safety switch if it won't start in gear with the clutch lever pulled in.

I would try setting it at the specified 0.31-0.47 inches free play as specified in the manual and see what happens. Mine's now worked out to where I think there's an inch of free play and mine still functions fine.

You don't want "no play" in the lever as that can keep the clutch from fully engaging when you release the clutch lever and that can cause wear over time. Does the lever seem to operate smoothly with no binding and have you eyeballed the clutch lever on the engine to make sure it seems to be moving freely? Have you ever lubed your clutch cable?
Good answer/questions. +1




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post #5 of 11 Old 05-21-2014, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. The 'jerk' is much worse in the morning after the bike has been sitting overnight. I should have been clearer about 'the bike won't start.' In the morning I first put the bike in first, rock it to break the clutch loose, and then try to start it while in gear with the clutch released. The starter turns, but can't turn the engine fast enough because of the drag caused by the clutch. (the battery is less than a year old and in great condition). I've never lubed the clutch cable, but it moves smoothly without binding, and the lever on the engine seems to move freely. I can't believe you have an INCH of free play and your clutch works well. I have only a tiny bit of free play, but the clutch doesn't slip at all. Thanks again, Barry
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-22-2014, 05:37 AM
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As noted, the "overnight jerk" is quite common due to the plates adhering together, but I've never heard somebody experience it to the point where the starter won't even turn the engine over, especially if you've already "broken" the plates.

My clutch plates stick pretty good after sitting awhile, but I guess I never do my "initial" start with the bike in gear and the clutch pulled in. I always just kick it into neutral, start it and let it warm up a tad while I put my gear on. The only time I ever start it in gear is after I've already been riding it. I generally leave it in first when I park somewhere so just get on and pull the clutch and hit the starter button, but by then it hasn't been sitting for hours.

When it's been sitting, before I kick it into first I simultaneously pull in the clutch and "blip" the throttle a couple of times and it negates the "lurch" when I go into 1st.

I'm guessing if more people just got on a cold bike and did an in-gear start, the plates might drag enough to notice an effect with the starter.

My philosophy might be wrong, but I like a lot of free play for the following reasons.

The way I see it, as long as your clutch loosens everything up for smooth shifts, there is nothing to be gained from a clutch being "fully released" with a long lever pull in order to shift gears other than a tired left hand after a long day of riding and more strain on the cable. A lot of times I don't even use my clutch when shifting up in the higher gear ranges and even though I've already got almost an inch of slack, I never pull the lever all the way back to the bar: I just pull it back to where I know I'll get a shift with no grinding.

I always leave the bike in gear when I'm sitting at a red light, so even though the clutch pull on a KLR isn't that extreme, the less strain on my hand, the better.

Then again, I might be back on here in the future wondering why I've got transmission problems at rather low mileage.......

Seriously, tho, I've done this with every dual sport I've ever owned and have never had any issues.

Even though the "First Gear Lurch" is common, why put your tranny through it if you can avoid it? I would suggest when it's cold you start it in neutral then try the clutch/throttle blip before kicking it into 1st. Give it a try and see how it works out for you.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of oil do you use?




Last edited by planalp; 05-22-2014 at 05:40 AM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-23-2014, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Planalp - I usually use Honda GN4, but several weeks ago I used Castrol M/C oil. I tried the throttle blip before riding home from work, and that worked. I'll try it again in the morning. Since my bike has had this issue for a long time, and since nothing's changed, and since the bike only has 11,000 miles, I'm starting to believe I don't have a problem. I think I'll just keep riding and see what happens. Since I've got all three kids home from college for the summer, and they all have jobs, it's either the motorcycle, my bicycle, or walking!
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-23-2014, 05:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryDorr View Post
Planalp - I usually use Honda GN4, but several weeks ago I used Castrol M/C oil. I tried the throttle blip before riding home from work, and that worked. I'll try it again in the morning. Since my bike has had this issue for a long time, and since nothing's changed, and since the bike only has 11,000 miles, I'm starting to believe I don't have a problem. I think I'll just keep riding and see what happens. Since I've got all three kids home from college for the summer, and they all have jobs, it's either the motorcycle, my bicycle, or walking!
I don't think you have anything to worry about. It's a common occurrence that freaks a lot of people out that switch over from another bike that didn't have that habit.

Chances are in your favor that you will never have any issues with either your transmission or your clutch.



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post #9 of 11 Old 05-23-2014, 08:27 AM
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The only bikes I've had that didn't have some sort of 1st gear lurch were the ones with dry clutches and one of them would lurch if chain case oil got into the clutch basket.

Last edited by twinjet; 05-24-2014 at 08:25 AM. Reason: grammer
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-24-2014, 01:19 AM
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+1 re not starting in gear after bike has been sitting for some time. I don't see any reason to add the drag to the starter.

Another possible is that the stock KLR clutch cable can partially fail which provides some stretch. I change to an ATV cable which adapts with a bit of effort. It is much thicker and seems to provide better action and service.

Doesn't sound like you have an unusual condition but in case you would like to consider the replacement cable: Motion Pro #306-5029 (Yamaha 5X6-26341-00)
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