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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
That's me, folks. Worse, I've done this before (change a clutch cable). But I'm too frustrated to care about pride now, because the sun goes down in another 2 hours and without a working clutch cable I ain't riding - and I typically commute on my bike!

After my clutch cable started to feel sticky, I decided to swap it out for a Motion Pro nylon cable rather than deal with messy lube everywhere (oh yeah, my wife just loved that). (Er, that didn't quite come out the way I meant it - never mind.)

Anyway, I've done this exact operation before on another bike (another VN750 at that), it took me about 1-2 hours to do the first time, so I've had this cable sitting in my garage for about a year now waiting for the next time it needed lubing, at which point I'd swap it in. In addition, it felt like the clutch was slipping a bit the past day or two, and when people suggested (in another thread) that the free play was probably in need of adjusting, I figured I'd go whole hog and change the cable at the same time.

Well, I took the old cable out right easy enough. Putting the new one in, well, getting the cable head attached on the little arm thingy on the frame side was a right pain, and this time I removed the little arm thingy to access it better. And now I think I'm putting it back on at the wrong angle, because after reassembling everything, I have no clutch engagement at all: I can start my engine in 1st gear with the clutch pulled in (on the centerstand), then pop the clutch and the engine doesn't stall, just hums along like it's in neutral.

Can you guys help me to figure out where I've gone wrong?

As I understand it there are only three places to adjust: the clutch cable on both ends (I'll call them the lever and frame ends), and the lock nut in the middle. So here are three pics of those three places on my bike right now:

Clutch Cable - Lever Side

I don't have any "looseness" in my lever, but I don't remember ever having looseness in my lever?? - Also, I don't know how to generate more slack to get this any looser. This picture was taken with the middle lock nut in its initial loose position (as loose as I could get it, which didn't seem all that loose).

clutch cable - lever side.jpg


Clutch Cable - Frame Side

clutch cable - frame side.jpg

I took the "arm thingy" off and was afraid I'd put it back on at the wrong angle, possibly with too much tension so that the clutch never engages - like if it's got too much tension, so that even when I'm not pulling in the clutch lever, it's acting as if it's pulled in all the way. But based on a pic posted by DavesVulster in the other thread, I have mine lined up right. This is how mine looks when I've attached both ends of the cable and tightened the center lock nut:


Clutch Cable - center lock nut

clutch cable - lock nut.jpg

This part in the middle on the Motion Pro cable is really, really stiff, to move it up or down I have to use two wrenches, one to hold the cable still and the other to force the nut up or down the cable. I don't know if this is indicative of something wrong, so I thought I'd mention it.

But to release the cable tension to the point where I can wrestle it into the lever side slot (which still takes me a lot of force), I am moving that lock nut down toward the frame side, which I think of as lengthening the cable and thus generating slack. To tighten it, I'm moving the nut upwards toward the lever side. I hope I'm right about that. Twisting those nuts up and down all afternoon with a 10mm or 12mm wrench has become is a major pain in my fingertips.
 

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I am not sure what your issue is, looks to me like you do not want to make anything "looser" , but tighter. screw out the adjuster at the lever...

Did you mark the position of the clutch arm at the bottom so its in the same place it was before? (photo #2)


The free play should be about the thickness of a nickel at the lever gap.... but did you make sure the cable was not binding before you installed it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I thought I had for making the initial location of the arm in #2 but after things didn't come out right I have made other markings. Probably a bad move in retrospect...
 

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If only it had 6th gear..
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Don't beat yourself up Rob, crap happens. I think the problem happened when you took off the clutch actuator arm. It still looks different that mine if you took the picture without squeezing the lever and I assume you did. So, you already had the new cable hooked on that piece when you put it back on the spindle that goes into the tranny? I think taking that piece off has caused this headache. How about removing the cable, putting the lever back to line up with the notch and then install the cable from that point. I know it was easier to take off the lever but if you turn the adjuster screw in all the way at the handle and maybe that middle section as well, you should then be able to get the cable on. From there adjust the cable tension adjusters until the feel is right. I'm pullin' for ya man. Definitely frustrating and if you're anything like me, you'll start missing obvious things when agitated so maybe take a step away for a few. I took several steps while bringing my V back to life... many in fact. Peace,
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm definitely giving up for the night, as the mosquitos are beginning to eat me alive. I hate those black and white "tiger mosquitos" soooo muuuuuchh....

Gonna take out both ends again and realign the clutch actuator arm.

The thing that gets me is I feel like I'm still missing something fundamental.

If I loosen the clutch cable on both ends without removing them - as I had done with the original clutch cable before removing it - then the bike runs just as it does now, it idles in 1st gear without the clutch lever pulled in (as if in neutral).

BUT, how does that actuator arm work then? Because the effect of pulling the clutch lever in is to DISENGAGE the clutch, and pulling the lever in all the way is equivalent to being in neutral (from the transmission's point of view).

So if it starts out disengaged (slack clutch lever/actuator arm in resting position), how can pulling on the clutch lever (making it less slack/more taut and moving the actuator arm forward) do anything but make it MORE in neutral?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
And for future reference - is there a trick to getting the clutch cable threaded into the actuator arm end without removing it, or is removing it the standard approach, along with taking care not to screw up the alignment when putting it back on? The Clymer manual and other guides literally doesn't say much more than "remove cable from both ends / put new cable in at both ends".

I did manage to get the new cable threaded in place last time without removing the arm but it took me almost 30 minutes and a set of long nose pliers that I coudn't find this time around, so I thought I was doing something clever this time....
 

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If only it had 6th gear..
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Well when the hand lever is slack / tranny lever at rest, the clutch is in drive mode, eng/trans connected. When you squeeze the handle and pull the cable taught, moving the tranny lever forward, the clutch is activated eng/trans disconnected, like neutral. Now, I get confused about engage or disengage because people say one when they mean the other sometimes. Maybe someone can clarify. Does engaging the clutch mean eng/trans are connected and bike moves or the opposite?

Not sure about a trick to getting the cable on but in looking at it, I'd start at the actuator arm 1st that way there's freedom to move the cable however you need to. It does look like kind of a [email protected]#%$ though. So are the throttle cables, or at least I thought so. Hang in there.
 

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From what I see in your second photo, the clutch lever is a bit out of alignment. The gap in the clutch lever should be lined up with what the book calls "the rib". Thats the raised section of the case just about the lever.

When you took the clutch lever off you didnt spin the shaft at all did you? You might want to try to remove the lever again. Spin the shaft in the same direction as the cable would pull it untill it stops. This would put what I call the gear pin up against the pushrod, these things are inside the bevel gear case. Then reinstall the clutch lever lining it up with the rib and then install your cable.

Just for some info so you can understand whats going on (if you dont know already). Inside the bevel gear case there is a pin about 3/8" in diameter and maybe 2" long. If you look on the gear case above the clutch lever there is a cap with a slot in it. The pin is behind there (no need to remove it). On half of the pin there are teeth like a gear. These mesh with teeth on the shaft, when you pull in the clutch the teeth on the shaft as it turns pushes that pin inward. The pin then pushes on a rod that goes to the other side of the engine dissengaging the clutch. So if there seems to be some play in the lever the pin may not be engaging the pushrod right away when you pull the clutch. Or if its putting to much pressure on the pushrod without pulling the clutch in it would be like the clutch is partialy ingaged.
The free play for the clutch handle should be 2-3mm
 

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Old Truck Junkie
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The lever at the engine end is at 90* to the engine. Gently push it forwards and it should be 90* pointing towards the engine.
 

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From what I see in your second photo, the clutch lever is a bit out of alignment. The gap in the clutch lever should be lined up with what the book calls "the rib". Thats the raised section of the case just about the lever.

When you took the clutch lever off you didnt spin the shaft at all did you? You might want to try to remove the lever again. Spin the shaft in the same direction as the cable would pull it untill it stops. This would put what I call the gear pin up against the pushrod, these things are inside the bevel gear case. Then reinstall the clutch lever lining it up with the rib and then install your cable.

Just for some info so you can understand whats going on (if you dont know already). Inside the bevel gear case there is a pin about 3/8" in diameter and maybe 2" long. If you look on the gear case above the clutch lever there is a cap with a slot in it. The pin is behind there (no need to remove it). On half of the pin there are teeth like a gear. These mesh with teeth on the shaft, when you pull in the clutch the teeth on the shaft as it turns pushes that pin inward. The pin then pushes on a rod that goes to the other side of the engine dissengaging the clutch. So if there seems to be some play in the lever the pin may not be engaging the pushrod right away when you pull the clutch. Or if its putting to much pressure on the pushrod without pulling the clutch in it would be like the clutch is partialy ingaged.The free play for the clutch handle should be 2-3mm
The Clymer manual calls your "gear pin" a "RELEASE RACK" and the shaft with the gear teeth the "RELEASE SHAFT".

It seems to me that ifixf18s has identified the only logical cause of the problem in his second to last sentence.
Or if its putting to much pressure on the pushrod without pulling the clutch in it would be like the clutch is partialy ingaged.
Is it possible the release lever was reinstalled off by one tooth on the release shaft?
Perhaps the release rack is applying preload to the clutch pushrod.
That would account for pulling in the hand clutch lever having no effect on the the rotation of the rear wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Well, I feel a little bit better, if considerably poorer!

First, the weirdness: after spending about 6-7 hours over 2 days on Saturday and Sunday afternoon getting eaten by mosquitos in my driveway (until I thought to put on my mesh riding gear - jacket, overpants and gloves - which had me sweating but shielded me from their depredation), and then another hour on Monday night before sundown after I got home from work, I gave up and called in a local mechanic to help me out.

When he showed up Tuesday night, he asked me to start the bike so he could see it idling in first gear with the clutch let out. I sat on the bike, started the engine, kicked it into first gear and let out the clutch... Pffft. The engine stalled. I restarted it and was able to power walk the bike with the clutch.

What the heck, I said, this definitely wasn't happening in the past 72 hours!

Well, he said, not as weird as you may think; it's much cooler now in the evening than it was in your driveway with the sun out. (The weather overall had cooled about 10-15 degrees too, after some summer showers.) The oil is cold and thick (and true, I needed the choke to start the engine, which I hadn't needed over the weekend), so that just means the clutch is on the very edge of catching anything... If you tried riding it like this, after a few minutes of the engine warming up the oil would thin out and you would feel the clutch slip, slip slipping away...

Then he put his finger into the engine oil and felt around and showed me his fingertip. It was covered in oil, yes... but also in the oil were flecks of slivery material. Little bits of clutch.

He said the clutch was probably gone. He took my bike and the next day, he called to say yep, one plate was starting to go and another was really quite damaged - that was why my clutch was slipping.

So remember this all started because I thought my clutch was starting to slip, and figured it was the free play that needed adjusting, so I swapped the cable in? Turns out I was just a few miles away from a potential total clutch failure. Yikes!

He's put in a kevlar clutch kit and I'm getting my bike back this afternoon. I got charged 4 hours of labor plus parts (plus $50 for him coming to pick the bike up in a trailer, plus a $40 shipping charge to rush ship the clutch overnight - worth it to me to be able to ride this weekend after missing several days of gorgeous weather). Not too bad, especially since I was never going to attempt a clutch job myself yet - and I'm also glad I was vindicated with the cable job, which he said was fine, if a little loose (since I was still fiddling it).

The bike has only got just over 10,000 miles on it, which seems like a rather quick time for a clutch to go out - but I have to admit, I beat on that clutch like the proverbial red-headed stepchild with all my city riding. I probably spend a good 60 minutes over a given week feathering the clutch through traffic in first gear, and have ridden it almost year round for the past 2-1/2 years.

Should a kevlar clutch wear longer than the OEM one?
 

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If only it had 6th gear..
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Hey how's the new clutch working for you? I only have the stock one in mine right now so can't offer anything in answer to your question. Glad you got back to riding though. peace.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The new clutch is great. I think the clutch I got with my low-mileage but two-owner-used bike was bad to begin with (quite probably linked with the mis-assembled engine I eventually discovered was the root of a severe vibration issue). With the new clutch I find I have more power now, especially in the higher gears, than before I noticed the really bad problems. For example, I read people saying how they could cruise at 55 MPH in 4th gear at 4500 RPM and I figured they were just much lighter than me or something because at 55 in 4th I used to be at 5000 RPM. And at 5500 RPM in 5th gear I'd be at 70 MPH where others reported 75 MPH. Well, not true any more!

*vrooom*
 

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If only it had 6th gear..
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excellent. well i hope for many trouble free miles for you now. take care
 
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