The case of the missing clutch lever freeplay

MotardNL

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Hey guys,

My clutch lever freeplay has been already been properly readjusted but I do still have a question about it.

Two weeks ago when I drove out of my street for small tour I noticed that my clutch engaged 'higher' on the swing of the clutch lever. Almost all the freeplay was gone. At that time it felt like I suddenly didn’t have freeplay at all any more overnight. But probably was a classic case of slow gradual wear till it came to a point where I noticed it.

I'm still wondering what the cause could be of this change in clutch settings. Wear causing more freeplay would make more sense to me (inner cable being stretched overtime or outercase getting more compressed). But in my case it's exactly the opposite.

What I checked:
  1. Both ends (the soldered heads) of the inner cable are in perfect order.
  2. The cable is guided along the frame like it should (no weird bends or anything).
  3. Both adjusters (handlebar and above engine) were fixed tight

My own conclusion now is that it could maybe be wear of the clutch plates. Maybe if the plates get a bit thinner, it needs less cable to for the plates to disengage and as a result the freeplay on the lever gets less. This conclusion is made on a theoretical base only (internet research and trying to make sense of the service manual). I don’t have actual knowledge of the topic of clutches. That’s why I wanted to check with you guys.

I have a manual NC750x from 2015 with about 50k km on the bike and I don’t drive it very wild, but since a year I've been practicing short U-turns and 8's. I do this a lot and it's much fun for me. I do tend to use the clutch a lot with these maneuvers.

What do you guys think?
 

bigbird

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My own conclusion now is that it could maybe be wear of the clutch plates.
since a year I've been practicing short U-turns and 8's. I do this a lot and it's much fun for me. I do tend to use the clutch a lot with these maneuvers.
I believe you already have the cause of your clutch issue.
Holding the friction zone by feathering the clutch during low speed maneuvering will wear the clutch plates much faster than normal use.
 

itsmenc700

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I'mmm no.
The reason for wet clutches is so you can feather the clutch and control the bike using the friction zone.
How many bikes do you know of that had wore out the clutch??
Most of the time, unless the rider is a high mileage guy, the bike is sold before the clutch in need of replacing.
 

670cc

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I'mmm no.
The reason for wet clutches is so you can feather the clutch and control the bike using the friction zone.
How many bikes do you know of that had wore out the clutch??
Most of the time, unless the rider is a high mileage guy, the bike is sold before the clutch in need of replacing.
To answer your question directly, I can immediately think of three NC700Xs that wore out the clutch. With research, I expect I could find more examples. The clutch is a wear item, like tires and chains.
 

bigbird

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How many bikes do you know of that had wore out the clutch??
Most of the time, unless the rider is a high mileage guy, the bike is sold before the clutch in need of replacing.
Unless the clutch has been abused.
Re-read what the OP said:

"I've been practicing short U-turns and 8's. I do this a lot and it's much fun for me. I do tend to use the clutch a lot with these maneuvers."

No bike is made to have the clutch slipped under load on a constant basis.
Except maybe one of these:

BetaEvo-80-Sr..jpg
 
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dduelin

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Some clutches are just more robust then others and then there is the rider factor and what oil was used in wet clutches. On the same bike one could be toast at 25,000 miles and others are 300,000 plus miles on the original.

I had untold hours in slow speed practice on my ST1300 and at 201,xxx miles it's still on the original clutch. My first R1200RT didn't need a clutch even when the transmission failed at 190,000 miles. My Goldwing is at half that and have no worries that the same slow speed practice is not abusive. A few minutes a week or month practicing 8s, Us and slow speed friction zone work shouldn't wear a clutch out in much less time than with a rider that is not proficient in these skills or maybe less than one who slips the clutch much more than than necessary all the time. Clutches are designed to tolerate some slipping beyond just starting or stopping. People live in steep hilly terrain, some people weigh a lot more or carry heavy passengers. Some riders even are all that and then pull trailers to boot.
 

dduelin

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Hey guys,

My clutch lever freeplay has been already been properly readjusted but I do still have a question about it.

Two weeks ago when I drove out of my street for small tour I noticed that my clutch engaged 'higher' on the swing of the clutch lever. Almost all the freeplay was gone. At that time it felt like I suddenly didn’t have freeplay at all any more overnight. But probably was a classic case of slow gradual wear till it came to a point where I noticed it.

I'm still wondering what the cause could be of this change in clutch settings. Wear causing more freeplay would make more sense to me (inner cable being stretched overtime or outercase getting more compressed). But in my case it's exactly the opposite.

What I checked:
  1. Both ends (the soldered heads) of the inner cable are in perfect order.
  2. The cable is guided along the frame like it should (no weird bends or anything).
  3. Both adjusters (handlebar and above engine) were fixed tight

My own conclusion now is that it could maybe be wear of the clutch plates. Maybe if the plates get a bit thinner, it needs less cable to for the plates to disengage and as a result the freeplay on the lever gets less. This conclusion is made on a theoretical base only (internet research and trying to make sense of the service manual). I don’t have actual knowledge of the topic of clutches. That’s why I wanted to check with you guys.

I have a manual NC750x from 2015 with about 50k km on the bike and I don’t drive it very wild, but since a year I've been practicing short U-turns and 8's. I do this a lot and it's much fun for me. I do tend to use the clutch a lot with these maneuvers.

What do you guys think?
At rest with engine off, can you reach down to the lever on top of the right hand engine case and push it forward any? If you can this will give you some free play at the lever. Only a spring returns the lever to the at-rest position and if the lever and mechanism is binding and/or the spring is tired it will remove free play at the handlebar lever end.
 

MotardNL

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Hey guys, thanks for your replies! Much appreciated!

Just to clarify. I don't revv the engine a lot during my low speed manoeuvring. Yes I'm putting the clutch to work (so some wear can be expected), but not to any near a point where you would say that I'm clearly abusing it. If I look back on the last weeks/months at most I was practicing around 20 min a week on average.

I just had a look at the lever on top of the right hand engine case: Yes, I can push it forward a few mm by hand. If I want to push it further then I have to use the clutch lever on the handlebar, because after these few mm the clutch will disengage and that requires more strength then I can by hand manually at the lever on top of the right hand engine case. These few mm indeed correspond with the free play at the handlebar lever end. The spring makes a solid impression. It has a great pull and immediately returns the lever to the at-rest position

dduelin you also write "if the lever and mechanism is binding and/or the spring is tired it will remove free play at the handlebar lever end".
Isn’t it the other way around? If the spring suddenly became much stronger, it would pull the lever (on top of the right hand engine case) more to the back and by that: removing the free play at the handlebar lever end.

Strengthened by your reactions I think clutch plate wear is the most likely suspect. My biggest question at the moment is though: Is there indeed a correlation between a) wear of the clutch plates and b) the lessening of the free play at the handlebar lever end?
 

showkey

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Hey guys, thanks for your replies! Much appreciated!


Strengthened by your reactions I think clutch plate wear is the most likely suspect. My biggest question at the moment is though: Is there indeed a correlation between a) wear of the clutch plates and b) the lessening of the free play at the handlebar lever end?
Yes..........As the clutch plates wear free play at the goes away ( is reduced).
 

brb

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2cts of my 40 years Honda Tech, ASE. There is always a factory setting for freeplay and sometimes a rider likes it a little different. We can change when the clutch engagement happens with more or less freeplay. People with small hands at times have trouble with the engagement point(too far out). Have you tried to adjust the freeplay for the engagement point? On all my bikes over the years and doing factory service a cable luber is used. It can be a little pain in the ass but well worth it(disconnect cable from lever tighten luber over the cable and use your favorite lube,WD 40, Dry Film lube work fine). Also the pivot bolt and lever should be removed, cleaned and lubricated. When used in dirtier conditions more service is needed. Even switching to a Dogleg lever can make a big change. But I regress when a clutch needs adjustment more frequently something is going on. At 30K even with the maintenance that I do to mine the cable was replaced(started getting flat points on the inner cable). Last words Always make sure the slot in the adjuster is down after adjustment and those rubber covers they use on Dirt bikes work great on street bikes.
 

mtnbiker1185

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I'mmm no.
The reason for wet clutches is so you can feather the clutch and control the bike using the friction zone.
How many bikes do you know of that had wore out the clutch??
Most of the time, unless the rider is a high mileage guy, the bike is sold before the clutch in need of replacing.
Guys that raced 125cc 2 strokes would typically need to replace the clutches at least once a season, if not more, due to the need to constantly ride the clutch in corners to get any power out of the bike.
 
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