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Adjustment and Troubleshooting of Clutches.


Veteran Member
Becuse clutches are engaged and disengaged each time the transmission gears are shifted clutch componants have a tendancy to wear. Additionaly, the clutch parts preform the diffucult job of locking the power output of the engine to the transmission and then to the drive wheel.

I can't overemphasize the importance of correctly servicing clutch componants. Proper adjustment of the release lever, cable, release rod, spring pressure and so forth determines how long the clutch performs satisfactorly.

Common Clutch Problems

1. A clutch that slips: Clutch slippage occurs when the clutch doesn't have the ability to transfer all of the engines power flow.

Possible causes:

Improper adjustment
Weak clutch springs
Worn clutch plates.

2. Clutch Drag: Clutch drag occurs when the clutch is unable to fully disengage. Clutch drag is evident when the engine power can?t be disengaged from the rear wheel. An example of this condition is when you squeeze the clutch lever and the motorcycle still tries to move forward.

Possible causes :

Warped or binding clutch plates
A worn clutch outer or clutch center
Improper clutch adjustment
Worn release mechanism

Clutch Adjustment

The Proper sequence for clutch adjustment is

Colapse the cable adjuster and then move on to the clutch adjustment itself.

As Discussed above, clutches that drag (don't fully disengage) prevent smooth shifting of transmission gears; clutches that slip (don't fully engage) won't transmit all available engine power to the transmission. sometimes either one of these conditions can be corrected by making simple clutch adjustments
These problems may be caused by

Not enough Cable Movement at the handle bar lever
Improper cable adjustment
Improper release rod adjustment
Improper spring tension
These Problems may be interrelated. The following items must be checked to ensure correct adjustment of each part

Lever Movement.
You should be sure that the clutch lever on the handlebar isn't bent and has as much movement as it was designed to have. You should also be sure that the lever doesn't contact the handlebar grip before the inner clutch cable has been pulled to its maximum extension

Improper Cable Adjustment.
You must adjust the cable so that it has 1/16 to 1/8 inch play, that is, so that the lever on the handlebar can be depressed 1/16 inch to 1/8 in before the pressure of the clutch spring resisting release can be felt. Take the measurement from where the cable attaches to the handlebar lever. Adjust the cable by turning the adjuster at either end of the cable or in the middle of the cable in most instances. Turn the adjuster in for more play out for less play.

Improper release rod adjustment. The release rod adjustment must allow enough play in the release rod to allow the springs to expand, but not to much play or the rod won't move far enough to relieve the pressure from the clutch plates. To adjust the release rod, you must first disconnect the clutch cable from the release rod lever located on the engine cover case. Next, you must adjust the release rod screw so that pressure is applied against the springs. Then you must readjust the adjustment screw to allow for the manufacturer's recommended play for the release rod lever.
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Hey Mr. Data, I have a 2005 night train and I am currently having a problem with the shifting of gears, when I am riding and shift into gears sometimes I have to shift twice the 1st time when I shift up it does not engauge and I have to bring the shifter peg up again before the bike will go into the next gear, the clutch feels good no lurching or fade as I start off, any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Lonnie

A lot of times I have seen the shifter arm itself being positioned wrong for the person riding causing this problem.
If you look into the arm where it slides onto the spline of the shaft, remove the bolt and move the shift arm down a spline or two which will move the shift peg down some.
The cause is usually because your foot will move in a greater ark in the downward direction than in the upward position and when the shifter peg is high to start with, it accentuates the problem.

Try it with your foot and you'll see what I mean. You can extend your toes downward much more than you can lift your foot up wards.

This is second to proper clutch adjustment.
Hello Mr. Data,
At this moment I'm doing a conversion on my nighttrain 04.
I placed a stock 06 200mm tyre included a stock 06 swing arm, smaller pulley and belt.
For the first time I took off the primairy unit to replace the smaller drive belt.
I followed factory instructions and the exact torques (except the locking tool, therefore I used a piece of wood..sorry for that). To my surprise I hear a high sounded ''clunck" when shifting in 1st gear from neutral position. I did the clutch adjusting procedure over and over and even gave it less play to make shure the clutch comes free. Also checked the primairy chain tension again cause it sounds like the chain is attaching the primairy case when shifting in the 1st from neutral position. I did all the steps by the book but I must have done someting wrong, that's for shure.. Can you advise me in this?
Only thing I can say here is to open up the primary and see if there are any marks on the inside where the chain could be contacting it. Maybe at this time recheck all the fasteners. You will get a clunk in any event shifting into gear on most harleys.
Only thing I can say here is to open up the primary and see if there are any marks on the inside where the chain could be contacting it. Maybe at this time recheck all the fasteners. You will get a clunk in any event shifting into gear on most harleys.
Hey Mr. Data, thanks for your response. Of course, the usual 'clunk' is a familiar sound for me.. It seems I did find the solution but not the real problem.. I adjusted the clutch in a very critical way with no play at all and the clutch comes free without heavy clunk-sound. And it seems it shifts like before. I will take it for a ride and hopefully it won't slip when the engine is warm:shock Maybe a worn cable or something to find outAnyway, thanks for your advise Mr. Data :)