More Clutch Woes - wont disengage


XS650 Addict
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Atlanta Georgia
Yes i have dug through many of the other clutchthreads.

I got my 1981 xs650 SH running earlier this week after a few years of down time. A few months ago i pulled the clutch to replaced the bendix spring. When reinstalling i did not oil the plates. The bike sat for a couple of months then i got it running. I installed a new clutch cable and lubricated it. I rebil it starts well in neutral and shiftes well enogh except when shifting down into first it clunks and the bike will stalled while sitting at a stop with the brake held but it doesnt happen every time. I have tried readjusting the clutch following a couple of differnet procedues but could not get the it set.

The test i was using to determin if my clutch was disengaging was to put the bike on the center stand in first gear and kick over the engine while holding the cltuch to see if the rear wheel would spin.

At not time was i able to get this to happen. Even with the adjuster screw on the worm gear set far too tight while the lever was not being held such that there is no play in the cable. i could not get it to past the test. In this case i tride spinnig the wheel with one hand while also holding the clutch in. I could get it to slip with significant effort but not move freely as it does in neutral.

Becuase I didnt oil the plates when i reinstled them im suspicous that they are stuck together or atleast some are but i wanted to ask for some advice before diving backinto the rightside of the engine.

Any idea what might be causing this behavior?
That's somewhat normal behavior. The rear wheel will be harder to turn than in neutral with the bike in gear and the clutch pulled in. To test whether the clutch is disengaging, pull the clutch lever in and use the kick starter. It should just push down without turning the motor over if the clutch is disengaging. If the kicker still turns the motor over then the clutch isn't operating like it should. The kicker works through the clutch to get to the crank and turn the motor over. Pulling the clutch in (disengaging it) should disconnect the kicker from the crank and it shouldn't spin the motor when you use it.
...The test i was using to determin if my clutch was disengaging was to put the bike on the center stand in first gear and kick over the engine while holding the cltuch to see if the rear wheel would spin...

Never kickstart with the transmission in gear. That'll make the rear wheel spin...
When I got my 1976 Standard (the much-maligned Lucille :yikes:) the clutch was stuck as tight as a frozen turkey. The bike had been in a barn for many years and was really in rough shape.

I changed the engine oil, lashed the clutch lever (which really wouldn’t move) to the handlebar with a bungee cord, put some rock ‘n roll on the Disaster Central Workshop sound system and sat on the bike while rocking it forwards and backwards. After about 45 minutes, I realized that I had moved about 3-4 feet and the clutch lever was much closer to the handlebar than it had been at the outset.

After more rocking and oil injected down the cable, I wound up with a slightly stiff but serviceable clutch. Once I had the engine running (a whole other story), I found that I could ride the bike OK. I installed a new cable and made sure that it was routed properly - and now more than 8,000 miles later, my clutch is just fine with a reasonable pull and good smooth engagement. I have never actually taken the RH side engine case cover off to inspect the clutch - so the tried and trusted old “Fred Flintstone” routine actually did the job.

My advice is to do as outlined above and then ride the bike if you can do so safely and you’ll likely wind up with a good clutch after some miles.

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Indeed. As long as the clutch assembled correctly (there are lots of spacers, shims, washers and very cool little radial thrust roller bearing), and the cable is routed properly, there simply isn’t much to go wrong.

Could you explain how you adjusted your clutch? Step by step. Perhaps we can tell you if you did something wrong.

I did reroute the cable slightly. it was coming out from under the tank at the very rear of the tank. I now have it coming out about 3 inches from the rear and routing just behind the outside of the left carb. It seems like the cable "flange"? sits far more flush against the case.

- I screwed the handlebar adjustment all the way in for max slack
- loosened the locking nut on the side adjustment
- ran the side adjustment screw in and out a few times to get a feel for it
- ran the side set screw in until I felt the screw contact the ball (i believe that’s that its bumping into)
- backed it off an 1/8th of a turn
- tightened up the set nut while hold the screw in place
- I then gave the kickstart a kick while holding the clutch but it still tried to turn over the engine.

- I repeated the above procedure but did not back off the 1/8 of a turn after feeling contact.
- I then tested the kick again and the engine did not try and turnover
- I cannot get the bike into neutral while the engine is running.
- I can shift down into first while at a standstill with the clutch in
- I cannot shift out of first while at a standstill with the clutch in
- It will skip down from second to first and the shifter feels solid when trying to lift from first while at a standstill.
- I did accidently slip it into neutral while moving
- It is easy to find neutral with the engine off
- I can keep the bike running while at a standstill and while in gear with a little it of extra throttle
- The bike will choke out if i shift from neutral into gear while applying brake, with the clutch still in, and no additional throttle
Any possibility you overheated the clutch and warped the plates?
How might that happen?
Letting it slip for an extended period is one way.
If the PO did it, you'd have had this problem all along. Did you check 'em against a straight edge while you had it apart?
This is the first time i have really had the bike running well so it may have always had the issue. I did not check the plates

Im thinking i might not have screwd the side adjustment in far enough so im not geting the full throw of the clutch. I was being a bit timid when adjusting it because i was woried about setitng it too tight and having it slip. I also need to check out the nylon houseing. it seems like it might have a bit of play in it.
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