New member long time reader with an unaddressed clutch problem...


XS650 Member
Reaction score
To begin I want to say thanks to all members of this site for the amazing knowledge that has been shared over the years. Thanks to forums, I have had most if not all of my questions answered. For background, I am not motorcycle inept. I recently moved from Hawaii to Oregon and if your an older bike guy in Hawaii, you better know how to make stuff. Being on the mainland makes it a bit easier with lots of parts, people and much cheaper after market shipping.

Anyhow, this is my first full blown 650 cafe project and I'm in the home stretch and Iust about ready to fire the old girl up, but have hit a serious clutch snag. I've read literally every clutch thread and my problem hasn't been addressed anywhere that I can find.

To begin, the clutch in its entirety has been put back together in the correct sequence with the correct number of washers, new discs installed (oil soaked), new springs, new worm gear (clocked appropriately) and new cable. Push rod installed with ball bearings in correct position and pressure plate holes lined up. I've undone and redone everything several times to make sure things are in the correct sequence. I've gone from aftermarket lever back to stock lever, aftermarket cable to stock cable and now back to stock (wasted) clutch springs.

With all new parts, no matter how well adjusted, pulling the clutch lever will not budge the pressure plate to disengage the clutch. Initially thought it was a cable issue because the motion pro was a bit long. Shortened the cable about 1/2 inch and was able to get the pressure plate to move slightly, but only on the upper edge (read not disengaging concentrically). Eventually broke the cable and ironically at the lever end and not the shortened end that I soldered. I suppose that somewhat indicates that my soldering job was decent. With the non-concentric disengagement, it seemed like it was a push rod issue. Push rod halves pulled and checked for roundness with minimal run out indicating they were straight. I had already replaced the push rod bushing, so those tolerances are good to.

In the process of trouble shooting, I pulled the clutch springs again and with no springs, the pressure plate moves the way it should when the lever is pulled. Springs re-installed and nothing, no movement. Just for the hell of it, I re-installed the original springs which are rubbish and out of spec and the pressure plate moves concentrically, although not enough to fully disengage, but this could have been an adjustment issue. I'm at a loss here and am having a hard time believing that two new (different) sets of clutch springs are so strong that no matter what, they won't allow the clutch to disengage. The last set of springs were from Mikes and are Emgo branded. At this point I think I've narrowed it down to the springs, but like I said, I'm having a hard time believing it and was looking for any other suggestions or input here.

Again, thanks for taking the time to read this and believe me, all of your collective wisdom has been invaluable.
Thanks for the reply. I went ahead and tried this and I'm able to get the pressure plate to move, but barely and certainly not enough to fully disengage the clutch if it were running. Can't make any more adjustment to the cable at either end, so I went ahead and purchased another full clutch setup off of eBay and hoping that will be different somehow, but don't think the current clutch is out of spec, so I'm not to hopeful. I was also thinking of going the hydraulic route, but with this much of a pressure problem, I suspect something will likely break with hydraulic pressure being thrown into the equation. Anyhow, I appreciate the feedback. If I ever get this figured out, I'll update in the event someone else runs into this problem.
hmm a few "maybes"
notches in clutch basket from the plates, causing the plates to catch, keeping the stack from raising. this kinda rare.
kinked or excessive bends in cable
cable not lubed, they come dry, hang up he cable or take it off the clutch perch til it points up, an electrical tape funnel add oil til it comes out the other end. I've been meaning to get some super slippery lube but so far am using motor oil.
MikesXS Worm gears have been found to be "overstaked" to retain the ball and the rod will not insert fully.
the necked down portion of the rod must insert into the worm. ie face out
when you install the LH cover does it "seat" easily or do you have to draw it in with the bolts?
worn clutch lever pivot hole lack of lube at lever/perch I like lots of moly grease here install lever woipe off excess.
adjustment procedure.
I've been straying from the factory advice a bit and having great success.
lever adjustment all the way in.
cover installed back off cover adjustment nut tighten screw til it TIGHT. about what you can put on it without the screwdirver slipping, back off just till the screw isn't tight. Snug the nut, then adjust lever til it has just a small amount of slack, almost none done.
An example of good clutch cable routing with short handle bars the cable must be routed on the RIGHT side of the frame then cross over the top tube under the gas tank then route past the outside of the LH carb intake bell just in front of the side cover (if one is used) some example pics here

This pic is a stock special but note how gentle the few bends are.

stock clutch It's sliding a brake locked front tire.
Appreciate the replies. The basket isn't scored, so not hanging up the plates, but I did think of that too. The new cable that broke was lubed really well and I had it in a big gentle arch to make sure there was no binding. I'll check the worm gear staking just to double check it, but when I put the cover on, it seemed like it fit okay with no excessive pressure or requiring the bolts to suck everything together. As for the clutch lever, the new one definitely wasn't worn, but the stock lever certainly is. I'll lube both and try again. I'll go back through the adjustment procedure you outlined, as well as re-read the tidbits. Again, appreciate the advice. I'll have to wait until this coming weekend to get it sorted and update here. Again, thanks for all the suggestions.
I got a few bikes that I'm going to experiment with your adjustment directions.......
May have got the adjuster just a little tight on period piece, it was slipping a bit when it hit 5 grand coming up the hill after a long ride last night. Tension was set on a clutch that had been sitting unused for 5 years. Will recheck today.
It's interesting on the different feel of these three when turning the adjustment screw in.
The '78 has a rebuilt engine and possibly new clutch plates, provenance unknown......a lot of turning in until it gets to the 'screwdriver slip' stage.
The '83 didn't take that many turns in until the slip stage.....this is a rebuilt too, again provenance unknown. Both of these engines were bought in a package deal but each had come from different places so I'm thinking the '83 may have original clutch parts and pieces. I need to take her out for a ride now to check it out. The '78 passed with a little bit more adjustment at the perch......pulls good and strong.
Update on the problem.

So I put the stock springs back into the clutch and it disengaged concentrically although not fully. Did some eyeball measuring on the length of pull aftermarket versus stock lever and it looks like the aftermarket lever has a bit less (maybe 1/8th inch) less than stock lever. Ironically put stock lever back on and it does a better job of disengagement, but fully disengaged. Went ahead and purchased the one piece push rid and no difference. Swapped back in the original worm gear and even though base is cracked, it disengaged to the clutch with both stock and aftermarket levers. Not sure why because the new worm seems fine (not binding, lubricated appropriately etc.). Went ahead and put new springs in again for the heck of it with the old worm gear in place and minimal disengagement. Springs are just to heavy. I even swapped out clutch components just to see and same things. Isolated this to the springs, aftermarket worm gear and to a lesser extent the lever. I'm going to try a hydraulic setup next with the stock springs and go from there.