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How to Adjust the Clutch Lever

by Lewis J. Fagleman

With regular use, a motorcycle's clutch cable will gradually loosen from the clutch lever's grip. This increases what is called "free play," which is the amount by which the lever can be depressed before it begins to operate the clutch. If the lever free play is not checked regularly and maintained, the cable could become too slack and cause more serious problems within the clutch assembly itself. Adjustments made at the lever can be completed in a few minutes.

Pull back the rubber cover from the clutch lever, and loosen the larger lock nut by unscrewing it with your fingers.

Screw the smaller "adjusting nut" outward to reduce free play and tighten the lever, or inward for the opposite effect. Use pliers if adjusting this with your fingers is too difficult.

Keep depressing the clutch lever to keep track of how much adjustment is being made. Apart from adjusting the free play, it will also make the lever feel tighter, and so be careful not to reduce free play too much or you will be left with a very tight clutch.

Tighten the locking nut once the correct clutch action is achieved by screwing it towards the lever. This can be done by hand, but you may want to finish with pliers.

Replace the rubber cover on the lever, and check to see if you can change gears by keeping the clutch lever depressed and moving the gear pedal up and down.

Make further adjustments as necessary until the lever action is as desired.

Tip

  • The correct level of free play can be found in the owner's manual for the motorcycle, and in general is between 10 to 15 mm.

Warning

  • If the clutch lever becomes slack instantaneously rather than gradually, it is likely to be a more serious problem. This could be either the clutch cable failing or a problem with the clutch assembly itself, and you should seek assistance and not attempt to ride the motorcycle.

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  • cluth lever motorcycle image by Crisps85 from Fotolia.com