Motorcycle Clutch Troubleshooting

by Cleveland Van Cecil
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The clutch of your motorcycle controls the speed of the bike. Most motorcycles have a clutch control on the left handlebar, which shifts gears when the lever is turned back toward the driver. A malfunctioning clutch can cause you bike to perform poorly and even put you in danger. Troubleshoot clutch problems immediately.


If your clutch is misbehaving, have a look at each of its individual components. Check the three plates of the clutch: the pressure plate, friction plate and metal plate. Also check the clutch springs and the clutch basket. To do this, drain the transmission oil from the bike and lay the bike on its side with the clutch side up and facing you. Remove the clutch cover or the engine cover to reveal the mechanisms inside. You may need to remove several components to get the engine cover off, such as the shift/brake pedal and the kickstarter. You may also need to drain the coolant; check your owner's manual for your specific model. Look inside the clutch to see if any of the components are worn or dry.

Sticking Clutch

If you are experiencing a sticking clutch, ensure that the clutch controls are adjusted according to the manufacturer's specifications. Also, remove the springs and see if they are too tight. While inside the clutch, make sure the oil is not burnt or worn out. Put in new oil according to the viscosity specified by your model make. Make sure the plates of the clutch are not worn or bent, and ensure that the chain or belt of the clutch is adjusted properly. These belts are fine-tuned and must be adjusted just right for maximum efficiency. Check the owner's manual for adjustment specifics. If you are uncomfortable adjusting them yourself, have a professional do it.

Slipping or Chattering Clutch

If your clutch is slipping, you may need to adjust some of the controls. Open the clutch and remove the springs. Measure their length and compare it to the manufacturer's specifications. Replace worn springs. Check the plates to see that they are in good condition. If your clutch is rattling or chattering, the clutch cable may be frayed. Check the integrity of the clutch cable, and replace it if necessary. Check that the friction plates are not burnt or have not been glazed by too much heat. Ensure that the diaphragm clutch spring remains tight.

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