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How to Bleed a Clutch on Honda Bikes

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The hydraulic clutch system found on a Honda bike Aspencade or Interstate is susceptible to condensation or air infiltration, ultimately affecting the motorcycle's clutch and transmission. Problems such as difficulty shifting, engine lag and a nonresponsive clutch lever are all associated with a loss of hydraulic pressure within the clutch system. Bleeding, or flushing, the hydraulic circuit to remove trapped air, condensation or contaminants restores the system's pressure and resolves these issues. Bleed your clutch circuit as soon as symptoms appear to prevent major motor or transmission damage from occurring.

Under The Hood:

 How to Bleed a Clutch on a Honda V45 Magna

Lift the Magna onto its center stand. Turn the handlebars to the right until the clutch master cylinder, located on the left handlebar, is completely level.

Remove the fluid reservoir lid from the clutch master cylinder, using a Phillips screwdriver. Pull the inner diaphragm out of the fluid reservoir by hand, then suck out the old brake fluid with a syringe. Fill the fluid reservoir to three-quarters of its maximum capacity with DOT 3 brake fluid.

Place a 12 mm box wrench over the banjo bolt attaching the clutch hose to the clutch master cylinder. Wrap a shop towel over the banjo bolt and your wrench. Pump the clutch lever 5 to 6 times, then pull the lever all the way in and hold it in place. Loosen the banjo bolt a quarter-turn, using your wrench, to force out any air trapped within the clutch master cylinder. Tighten the banjo bolt. Repeat until there is less then 2 mm of brake fluid within the clutch master cylinder, then remove your wrench and wipe away any spilled brake fluid.

Follow the clutch hose from the clutch master cylinder to the clutch slave cylinder, located on the left side of the engine crankcase. Pull the rubber dust cover off the bleed valve, located on the top of the clutch slave cylinder. Place an 8 mm box wrench over the bleed valve, then push a 3-foot length of clear plastic tubing over the bleed valve outlet. Set the free end of the tubing into a plastic container.

Refill the fluid reservoir with DOT 3 brake fluid. Pump the clutch lever 5 to 6 times, then pull in the clutch lever and hold it in place. Loosen the bleed valve with your 8 mm box wrench a quarter-turn to force brake fluid and trapped air out of the clutch slave cylinder and into the plastic tubing. Tighten the bleed valve with your wrench, then slowly release the clutch lever to draw fresh brake fluid into the clutch hose. Repeat until there is less than 2 mm of brake fluid in the fluid reservoir.

Inspect the color and condition of the brake fluid caught in the plastic tubing, as well as trapped air bubbles or debris. Ideally, the brake fluid will be clear and light amber in color. Continue bleeding the clutch slave cylinder, if the brake fluid is dark or if there are air gaps or debris in the tubing.

Pull in the clutch lever to test the hydraulic pressure in the clutch system. The lever should feel firm and will extend quickly back into position when released. Re-bleed the clutch master cylinder and the clutch slave cylinder, if the clutch lever feels soft and unresponsive.

Pull the plastic tubing off the bleed valve, using a shop towel. Remove your box wrench and push the rubber dust cover over the bleed valve, by hand. Refill the fluid reservoir halfway with DOT3 brake fluid, then push the inner diaphragm into the reservoir. Reinstall the reservoir lid, using a Phillips screwdriver.

Items you will need

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Syringe

  • 12 mm box wrench

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

  • Shop towel

  • 8 mm box wrench

  • 3 feet of clear plastic tubing

  • Plastic container

 How Do I Bleed the Clutch on a 1986 Honda Goldwing?

Park the motorcycle on its center stand and turn the handlebars completely to the right.

Remove the reservoir cover from the clutch master cylinder on the left handlebar, using a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws from the reservoir cover. Suck out the brake fluid from the reservoir with a siphon. Refill the reservoir with DOT4 brake fluid until the fluid is level with the "FULL" mark in the reservoir's level gauge.

Follow the clutch line from the clutch master cylinder to the clutch slave cylinder on the motor's clutch cover. Locate the bleeder screw on the top left side of the clutch slave cylinder. Slip one end of a piece of clear plastic tubing over the bleeder screw and place the opposite end into a container.

Using an 8-mm wrench, turn the bleeder screw counterclockwise a half of a turn to open the screw's bleeder valve. Pull the clutch lever in completely to force a small amount of brake fluid out of the slave cylinder and into the tubing. Close the bleeder valve, turning the screw clockwise a half of a turn with an 8-mm wrench. Release the clutch lever slowly to pull fresh brake fluid into the clutch's hydraulic circuit. Refill the clutch master cylinder's reservoir with DOT4 brake fluid as needed.

Repeat as necessary until the fluid trapped in the plastic tubing is clear and does not contain air bubbles or debris. Tighten the bleeder screw completely with an 8-mm wrench, and carefully remove the plastic tubing from the screw. Wipe away any spilled brake fluid immediately with a rag or towel.

Place the reservoir cover over the clutch master cylinder's reservoir. Insert and tighten the cover's screw with a Philips screwdriver to seal the reservoir.

Items you will need

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Siphon

  • Clear plastic tubing

  • Container

  • 8-mm wrench

  • Rag

  • DOT4 brake fluid

 How to Bleed the Clutch on a 1986 Honda Shadow 1100

Move the VT1100s handlebar's until the clutch master cylinder is level or as close as you can get it. Despite having the word "cylinder" in its name, the clutch master cylinder is the rectangular reservoir on the top left of the handlebars.

Remove the master cylinder's cap, set plate and diaphragm. Clean it off first so dirt will not fall into the reservoir. Cover your plastic and paint; hydraulic fluid will damage the finish.

Fill the master cylinder to the top level. Use DOT4 fluid, the same fluid you use for the brakes.

Remove the left-side rear crankcase cover. Pull its two retainer clips, which are behind the cover (the end of each clip should be sticking up enough for you to see it). Pull them out and remove their washers. Remove the nut in the front of the cover in the bottom middle area.

Remove the dust cap from the bleed valve and push a clear plastic tube onto it. Put the other end in a container to receive the old fluid. This container should have some new fluid in it --- enough so that the end of the plastic tube is covered and cannot suck in air.

Squeeze the clutch lever over and over. Watch the bleed holes in the master cylinder reservoir for rising bubbles. When they stop, squeeze the lever and tap the master cylinder three or four times to free any remaining air bubbles.

Pump the lever more, then hold it in while opening the bleeder valve. Let the fluid and air come out, then tighten the valve when the flow gets weak.

Release the lever slowly. Wait a few seconds.

Repeat Steps 7 and 8 until no air bubbles are coming out. As the fluid drains, don't let the master cylinder reservoir on the handlebars run out.

Tighten the bleeder valve, replace its cap and replace the crankcase cover. Fill the master cylinder reservoir to its top level. Replace its diaphragm, set plate and cover.

Items you will need

  • DOT4 fluid

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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