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I'm feeling kind of stupid here... Can someone help me figure out why my clutch won't disengage?

974 Views 33 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  MN Willie
I wanted to check my clutch for wear. It was well within spec but I did notice the basket had lots of chatter marks.
Looking back I think maybe I should have just left it alone but I went ahead and removed the basket to smooth them out. Put it all back together looking at the Clymer manual and it all seemed to go well.

I'm now reinstalling the cable and I cannot get the darned thing on there! I huffed and puffed and pulled on the cable and finally got it in but now no matter how it's adjusted, the clutch won't fully release. I can open the oil filler cap and see it moving the way it's supposed to but in 1st (engine off) I can't get it to release fully.

Thinking maybe I manhandled the cable and stretched it out, I tried a brand new one. I cannot for the life of me get it hooked onto the clutch arm, even with tension fully off at the lever and down near the arm. Cable is routed just like the old one.

I've already filled it with oil, and the gasket surface was not pretty so I used some gasket dressing on it with a new gasket, but if I can avoid draining and pulling it apart again I'd very much like to.

TL;DR: had the clutch apart with the basket out. Now even a new cable seems impossible to hook up. What could I have done wrong?
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Well, Tom and everyone else - I have to say, my heart is swelling seeing all the cool kids showing up on my thread to cheer me on. Thank you guys. I hope I didn't come across too poorly; I was a little ruffled, feeling like I was being called out personally by the Mayor when I swear, I'm not trying to cause any trouble, honest.

Anyhoo, I did take it apart again and, with all the clutch plates removed, bike in 1st, it does roll. So the problem lies in there somewhere.

I figured I may as well button it back up and see if somehow it would magically work. Interestingly as I was torquing the bolts/springs on the pressure plate, toward the end on one of the bolts I got a little "clank" where it felt like ..something.. had been caught up on ..something.. (nothing obvious) and then got to a point where it pushed past the obstruction and popped into place, which then left me a little more slack to tighten up in the rest of the bolts. No idea what that was. I'm pretty sure it wasn't any kind of herring. I continued on, got the cover replaced and hooked up the cable again and it was quite a bit easier this time. Not as loose as I expected, but easier.

And, importantly, the bike now rolls - just barely - with the clutch lever pulled in. There is a whole lot of drag however. Way more than I ever remember there being.

So, should I run it? Do you guys think this gasket will survive? It was new only a couple weeks ago.

Pics below in case anyone can spot anything obvious. The lower one is the steel plates. It was a little tough to show but they seem very flat. Stacked like this no light shows through between them.

Thanks again everyone. I appreciate you all!

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You can see if there are uneven wear marks or glazing on the steel plate. Better yet, press it against something flat such as glass and measure the gap between plate and the glass on 4 or 6 separate points. Acceptable measurement should be somewhere in Clymer's manual. You can use 600/800 sandpaper if they are glazed.
You can see if there are uneven wear marks or glazing on the steel plate. Better yet, press it against something flat such as glass and measure the gap between plate and the glass on 4 or 6 separate points. Acceptable measurement should be somewhere in Clymer's manual. You can use 600/800 sandpaper if they are glazed.
Thanks. I was hoping there would be a reason to pull it all apart again :rolleyes:
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Thanks. I was hoping there would be a reason to pull it all apart again :rolleyes:
There’s quite a bit of drag on a cold clutch, IMO, at least in my bike. My experience is the first time I put it in gear after a cold start/sitting for a few days, it will lurch a little (drag releasing?) and then that subsides as it warms up. So I think it’s sounding like you got it sorted, but the Sage’s know better than me😉. After a ride, while it’s still hot, I can pull the clutch and roll it in gear much easier than when it’s cold.
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If you haven't already pulled it apart, I'd try to ride it as-is, Put a few miles on it and see if it loosens up. If not, then I think Banditcilik is asking the right question. Make sure the steels, fibers, and clutch plate are all flat. But that "clank" has me wondering. Did you tighten down the clutch plate onto the clutch pack by taking up the slack in those 5 bolts a little at a time? Or did you tighten one of them down, then another, and then another? You have to tighten the clutch evenly.

As for the gasket, sure, swab some sealant on it and bolt it back on! If it leaks, you can always take it apart again. You'll have it down to about 15 minutes by then...
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Thanks. I was hoping there would be a reason to pull it all apart again :rolleyes:
Well, if you wanted a bike you didn't have to wrench on, you should have gotten a KTM! Oh, wait... :LOL:

You WILL get there, and having arrived, will know and understand your bike better than 98% of riders ever know their rides, so that's a plus. And, no, I'm not being snarky. I really mean that.
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There’s quite a bit of drag on a cold clutch,..... After a ride, while it’s still hot, I can pull the clutch and roll it in gear much easier than when it’s cold.
Makes sense. Of all the times I've rolled the bike around just like that, it's pretty much always when it's hot so maybe that's it. And generally if I'm doing that it's because there's some kind of slope or grade, so maybe I never noticed the drag because it was always pushing it a bit uphill.
Well, if you wanted a bike you didn't have to wrench on, you should have gotten a KTM! Oh, wait... :LOL:

You WILL get there, and having arrived, will know and understand your bike better than 98% of riders ever know their rides, so that's a plus. And, no, I'm not being snarky. I really mean that.
I didn't take it as snark at all. I really appreciate the encouragement :)
Did you tighten down the clutch plate onto the clutch pack by taking up the slack in those 5 bolts a little at a time? Or did you tighten one of them down, then another, and then another? You have to tighten the clutch evenly.
Absolutely. Almost painfully gradually. That's actually what I meant when I said that when it popped into place it then gave me some more slack to tighten up on all the rest of them too. They'd all already been turned most of the way in but after that they each seemed to be about a 1/2-1 turn looser
Thanks everybody. I'm very grateful for the support and knowledge and encouragement. I think I'll be able to take it on a short ride or two today or tomorrow. I'm just going to go for it, although I won't go far!

I'll let you all know how it goes.
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Experience is defined as learning from past mistakes 😉
@Gloopis,
It sounds like you may have it sorted; I hope so.

A couple of things. The pressure plate is a very simple mechanism. It's sorta like lifting a pot lid off of a pot. It provides clamping force so that the steels and fibers can transmit torque. The five springs, combined, create a clamping force of about 225 pounds. There are three levers involved in operating the clutch; the one down at the clutch rod, which is about 10mm long, the one the ball-end of the cable attaches to which is about 25mm long, and the clutch lever at the handlebar, which has a PIDOOMA mechanical advantage of 4:1. All told, then, the mechanical advantage in the system is 10:1. The clutch pull should be about 25 pounds or so. (All you guys, keep me honest here. I didn't measure anything, I'm just winging this. If I'm way out of bed, tell me.)

If the clutch pull is more than that, then there is likely an issue down in the pressure plate with the springs, because they are what's holding it back. It's not likely to be anything with the release lever, or its bearing, or with the cable because it is new, or with the hand lever because that would be obviously stuck.

The clutch plates do not really move. They just get pressure released from them. That's why wet multi-plate clutches are pretty draggy. Cold oil is quite viscous and the plates are not being pulled apart to break that viscous coupling. What you're seeing may be quite normal and you're now noticing it because you're looking at it. It is possible for steels to hang up on the hub or for fibers to hang up on the basket, but that is an assembly problem. It might be what you experienced in your second reassembly, that popping. And, if they were jammed, that would screw up the release lever's position just a bit because it might not be able to find the groove in the release rod, and that would make it hard to get the cable on. This is still a bit of a mystery to me, as the rod should have slid into the transmission's input shaft sufficiently for the lever to grab it, but then the clutch action should have been loose once or twice, and then the plates should have slid into place. Meh. Brain lock.

But anyway, I do hope that it works out on your test ride. A tip: when you start the bike up, start it in neutral. Pull the hand lever in and blip the throttle a couple of times. That will break the viscous coupling that causes the transmission to clunk hard into first gear. Then, with the bike in first gear, if it doesn't want to creep forward your clutch is releasing properly.
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Due to the viscous coupling of the Oil to the Clutch Plates I can't simply push my 70F temp bike while in first gear with the hand lever immediately squeezed either.
But IF I shift it into 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th, it will break the viscous coupling almost immediately.

One can use a feeler gauge to measure how much the pressure plate actually travels at full hand lever stroke, thru the oil filler cap hole. I just re-measured mine again at .041 inches, for every ones benefit.
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How does your Basket look?

Willie
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