Heavy clutch - history of wrong oil? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 7 Old 07-14-2019, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Heavy clutch - history of wrong oil?

Heavy clutch - history of wrong oil? Most modern bikes have wet clutches, which is why I switched the TYPE (not the weight or brand) of oil I used when moving from a Norton to a Japanese bike many years ago. Now I've bought a 2011 KLR 650 with very questionable service history and it takes all my strength to haul in the clutch. I tried changing the oil/filter using 10W-40 semi-synthetic (Valvoline) as recommended by the dealer but it made no difference. I disconnected the cable and ensured it moves easily in and out when it's not attached to anything, ditto the lever itself.

Elsewhere I've seen a suggestion that this is a common problem and to use KZ1000 clutch springs to cure it, but I'm wondering whether this is just a case of car oil having been used and the fibre plates are perhaps soaked with it. Anyone have any experience to suggest perhaps a second oil change might help? Is this in fact a "known problem" for Gen 2 (at least) or is the actuator known to get tight perhaps? Funnily enough I have a good clutch cover off an old ZX-6R here and the actuator flops back and forth happily. Before I tear into the clutch itself I'd love to hear from anyone with long history of KLRs who can tell me whether this is something wrong or "they're all like that" particularly if you've caused/fixed this problem by your own actions and can shed light on the problem. Thanks in advance, Felix.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-14-2019, 10:51 PM
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The type and weight of the oil will have no effect on how hard it is to actuate the clutch.

The pull is affected by the condition of the cable, the condition of the actuator arm, and the rate of the clutch springs. The springs will have the greatest effect.

Now, here's a twist. You have a 2011. Kawasaki changed the clutch in the middle of that model year, so we need to know your engine number in order to know what clutch you have and what someone may have done to it. What we need to know about your engine number is whether or not it is above or below KL650AEA72319. You'd find the engine number stamped on the right side case as shown in this post: https://www.klrforum.com/35186-post2.html.

I'm not too smart yet, and may never be, about the later clutches. I do know what sorts of springs can be and have been put in the earlier, before KL650AEA72319, ones. As you mention, the KZ springs are popular. So are Barnett. The Barnett's will run about 50% more force than an OEM spring.

The later, after KL650AEA72319, springs have a lower spring rate but they are really long and have the same installed height as the earlier ones so, generally, they are about the same stiffness as the earlier ones. I haven't seen the Barnetts for the later clutches yet.

Get your engine number so we can talk smart and figure out what might be in there.

Meanwhile, remove your cable and check that it is very easy to move the cable. Once that cable wears through the liner it can get rather hard to move when it is under tension. There's fairly high friction between the cable and the housing coil once the liner is worn through. Also, look for a bend in the cable at the clutch lever. If it has one, then the PO put a Gen 1 cable on. That could be a problem, too. I think they are a bit shorter. The things are about $15; replace it if there is any doubt.

While the cable is off you need to make sure that the arm moves freely. I've never seen one that was frozen, but there is a bearing at the top. If that has gotten rusty or somesuch that could be a part of the problem.

If it comes down to the stiff clutch being due to heavy springs there are three things you can do. 1) make your hand stronger 2) replace the springs with OEM 3) get Twin Headlight Ernie's extended actuator arm.

Here's an article with a whole bunch of shit about KLR clutches and an article about Ernie's actuator:
https://www.souperdoo.com/stuff%20th...-they-thinking
https://www.souperdoo.com/stuff%20th...this-years-ago

Tom [email protected]

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“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


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post #3 of 7 Old 07-14-2019, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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Many thanks for your insightful reply and useful links. As mentioned the cable works easily (when NOT attached to anything) however you may have put your finger on the problem; if the liner is worn through, under tension the inner could easily be dragging on the outer. It's good practice to check the cheap and simple things FIRST before tearing into the engine so I'll probably try a new cable before anything else.

FWIW the engine/clutch is later type - KL650AEA75519 and it's nice to think the young guy I got it off has put in heavy duty clutch springs but since it doesn't look like he's ever washed it that's unlikely. At only 42,000 km it's worth spending some time and effort to catch up on the maintenance anyway. Felix.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-14-2019, 11:39 PM
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Good call on the cable, just get it out of the equation.

Pull the actuator all the way out and look for bad wear on the upper shaft - the actuator runs directly in the bearing. That bearing shouldn't ever be really bad because it should get a lot of oil from the inside of the case. Ya never know, though.

I didn't notice that you were in Australia when I recommended Ernie's actuator. Those are not too hard to fab up if you've got access to a MIG.

Tom [email protected]

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


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post #5 of 7 Old 07-15-2019, 09:40 AM
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Tom's got you covered. First thing I'd do is go check out another KLR (2012+, even a new one at the local dealer) to see if there really is a problem. If it's normal, modify the arm as Tom mentioned or simply get used to it. If there is an actual problem, I'd start by replacing the cable regardless; they're cheap and it's good to have a spare, after that, it'd be time to start digging and maybe looking at the bearing.


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post #6 of 7 Old 07-15-2019, 01:27 PM
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Felix888, Have you re-greased the cable toggle to hand lever connection?
If it was Too dry & galled the connection that will eventually cause cable breakage . Have you removed & re-greased the lever pivot itself?

If you don't grease these 2 points, a new cable may still not feel as light & smooth as it should.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-16-2019, 04:40 AM Thread Starter
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Both are great suggestions thanks. So I went to a dealer today and tried the clutch action on a brand new KLR 650 (although not as valid a comparison as another Gen 2 of course). It was definitely lighter than mine but much tougher than I thought necessary given the very modest engine output. I bought a new cable and installed it and it's much much better but still not as slick as I'd expect on a modern bike so will add some grease to the (new) clutch lever pivot point and cable-end opening which may help a bit. The definitive test of course, would be to rig up a scale of some kind, to measure the force necessary to directly operate the clutch actuator without it being connected to the cable. That's the only way to compare the actual clutch operating force requirement between different examples of this model. In short I have no objective way to determine whether I've completely resolved the issue or I've still got a bike with a clutch that's takes more force than normal to disengage. Thanks again for all your input guys. Felix.
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