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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Preface: I'm new to motorcycles. The VN750 is my first bike. Had one owner and is in very good condition from all appearances. I'm mechanically inclined and while I don't have a lot of garage space, I am likely to try DIY unless it's too risky.

My VN750 does a few interesting things, possibly all related.
1. Some times it won't start while in gear and the clutch is disengaged. The starter button literally does nothing. Once I put it in neutral, it starts right up (happened at a light, ouch).
2. When I am able to start my bike in gear, the ignition process makes the bike lurch, like it's a little bit in gear? I know that sounds absurd.
3. When I am able to start the bike in gear, I can feel it's costing the starter a greater effort to turn the bike over than it does when the bike is in neutral. Again, absurdity.
4. The friction zone of my clutch handle is way out at the end, right before the clutch is fully engaged (and my hand is off the lever). The one shop I had look at it said that's just the way this bike is and they couldn't adjust it, which seemed odd to me.

Any advice or suggestions are welcome.
 

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There’s a switch in the clutch handle that locks out the starter if the bike is in gear. Mine works intermittently at best, by that I mean sometimes I can start the bike just by hitting the starter with the bike in neutral and the side stand down, sometimes the start button will do absolutely nothing until I pull in the lever.

Secondly for the last couple points it sounds like your clutch is out of alignment. There’s 3 points you can check,
There is a rib on the crankcase that should line up with the groove on the pinch bolt where the cable connects to the clutch near the oil sight glass. Then there are the two span adjusters, one at the clutch lever itself and one midway down the clutch cable along the tube of the frame.
Not sure if you have verified this
 

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You've got some not-uncommon issues.
1. The switch at the clutch lever isn't telling the starter circuit that it is safe to start. Could be that the switch is going bad, or that the ground connection between the switch and the bike's frame is bad (loose or getting rusty). You can look into the "two wire mod" which will disable all of the nanny switches that prevent starting in gear. There are pros and cons to doing it, but most voices around will say "do it". (I did it, then went back to stock, but I don't have any of the electrical issues that it helps)
2. The clutch is partially engaged, so your starter is providing some power to the rear wheel when starting in gear. This isn't great. Normally I'd say that you should loosen your clutch cable a little so that it is completely out of the friction zone when your clutch lever is fully pulled. Sounds like your friction zone is really far forward already, though, so that's weird. Could be you've got some sticky clutch plates that are grabbing slightly at start before breaking free. Does it happen each time you start, or only the first time you start moving? Maybe could be a worn clutch basket, as they can develop grooves that prevent the clutch plates from moving freely.
3. If your clutch is partially engaged at start, your starter is going to be fighting against the weight of the bike. A sluggish start is just another symptom of whatever your problem is for #2.
4. Mmart has you covered on this adjustment! I'd be interested to see if pulling the friction zone further back into the lever's travel has an adverse effect on the starting behavior. Sounds like the previous owner was trying to fix the other issues by making the lever REALLY pull back on the spring so the clutch plates could move more easily. A clutch cable on the slack side would produce your other symptoms, so tightening that way up might have been the last thing the PO tried before throwing in the towel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much guys. This is all super helpful and it confirms my suspicions, while also giving me some thing to work on.
I checked the switch by pulling out the connector and it had some dirt and stuff on it, so I cleaned it off, reconnected it, and for now it's working.
I also got this pick of the adjuster that Mmart mentioned. I had looked at this before after studying the service manual. It doesn't look lined up to me.
Auto part Close-up Metal Bicycle part Automotive tire


Lastly, I think what Thorn is saying makes a lot of sense. The plates must be sticking a bit. I'm gonna try to ride for a few minutes later and get them nice and warm. Then I'll try to see if the behavior persists. In either case I feel like I should adjust the clutch cable based on that picture. Wouldn't you agree?
 

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The alignment is off but not by very much in the pic, another thing to check there is that the cable and the arm should be at a 70-80 degree angle to each other. Might want to fully loosen the cable adjusters and start with the rib alignment, get that in place then take most of the slack with the mid-span adjuster, the use the handlebar adjuster to just fine tune it.
I swapped the clutch out earlier this year but my issues were the polar opposite as my springs were getting week and I was getting slippage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Am I on the right track to assume that if the bike doesn't lurch when I start it in gear AFTER it has been warmed up, that it might in fact just be cold clutch plates sticking?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The alignment is off but not by very much in the pic, another thing to check there is that the cable and the arm should be at a 70-80 degree angle to each other. Might want to fully loosen the cable adjusters and start with the rib alignment, get that in place then take most of the slack with the mid-span adjuster, the use the handlebar adjuster to just fine tune it.
I swapped the clutch out earlier this year but my issues were the polar opposite as my springs were getting week and I was getting slippage.
Where did you buy the new clutch?
 

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I’ll answer two questions. If the bike lurches only when cold it might be what thy call “coffee grinder syndrome” which means the oil isn’t getting all the way through the clutch plates, if you got the cable aligned properly sometimes an oil change is enough to take care of that.

2nd question
I ordered the clutch from partsgiant.com and I got the EBC set.

All you have to do is search by bike model
 

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I would align the release lever first, then re-adjust the cable. Coarse adjustment is at mid cable, fine adjustment is at the hand lever.

Thread the adjuster at the hand lever inward. Then take up most of the slack with the coarse adjuster, readjust the hand lever to the proper freeplay.

There will probably be a lot of slack after aligning the release lever.

If the engagement point doesn't move closer to the handlebar, that probably means the clutch plates are close to needing replaced.

All good advice above, I would just do the alignment first.

On my clutch, there was a very fine line between dragging in gear and slipping. At the end, I was making 1/8 turns at the hand lever to get it dialed in.
 

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Am I on the right track to assume that if the bike doesn't lurch when I start it in gear AFTER it has been warmed up, that it might in fact just be cold clutch plates sticking?
With coffee grinder, the clutch can suddenly engage harshly while cold. Like popping the clutch, it wrecked me once.

The dragging clutch, anytime, is most likely the adjustment, if there are no damaged parts. Dragging means the clutch isn't releasing enough, versus harsh engagement due to plates sticking and suddenly releasing.

The clutch basket can also get grooves worn into the slots, making it stick.
 

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I'm gonna adjust as you all have advised and will update after that. Thank you so much.
Meant to add...

The clutch lever switch on my bike does the same thing, usually after a wash. The wire harness and switch gets pulled out, I just push it back in and it works fine.
 

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When replacing clutch plates I replace the clutch springs too. It is best to replace them at the same time. On most Kawasaki's the clutch springs are colour coded to give you an idea of spring strength required. If a machine hasn't been run for a while, clutch plates can stick, bond together, as someone said an oil change can remedy this and after adjustment as instructed should be your next move. Clutch basket wear usually only takes place when someone has run a maladjusted clutch, treated the machine poorly, in conjunction with abusive riding style. A 66/ 72 ish bhp machine, should be well within Kawasaki clutch building design parameters, the old Z1 put out 82 bhp in 1972! Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've adjusted the clutch. Was pretty easy once I got the hang of it. Unfortunately, I'm still getting some stick on the plates. Will go for the oil change next. Just gotta teach myself how to do it and get the stuff I need for it.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Machine tool Bicycle part
 

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Not to be a stickler but you still have a little adjustment in that pic, I only say this because the difference in some of these bikes between “dialed in” one off can be less than an 1/8 inch
 

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Not to be a stickler but you still have a little adjustment in that pic, I only say this because the difference in some of these bikes between “dialed in” one off can be less than an 1/8 inch
Does look like the gap could go one tooth to the left. And the would mean the cable would pull better toward release of the clutch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I don't think you're being a stickler at all. I noticed that too. I wrestled with it for a while and the only thing I could figure is that there is no spline that would match me up perfectly. Like the wear in the clutch is such that I'm either too far left or right. I just couldn't find one between those two.
 

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Adjusting the clutch on these bikes can be a real pain. It sounds like you are doing it right if you are having problems getting the spline as perfect as the picture in the book. Sometimes you have to dial the alignment mark in as close as you can and start from scratch several times to get it right. That said the state of your oil can have a definite effect on the result. I have adjusted both my son's bike and mine and they are not even close. Also his has had the coffee grinder mod while mine has not. My bike has a newer clutch and springs. While his bike is 2 years newer and has well over 10,000 miles more than mine. The only thing I can say is when I changed to cheaper Rotella it was easier to adjust than when I was using expensive Castrol motorcycle oil. Don't use a oil with friction modifiers and don't let the oil get to dirty. Both can cause either a grabby clutch or a slipping clutch.

I had a lot of problems with my bike and the new clutch plates/springs but it was caused by the P.O. using bolts that were to short and did not torque right. If you do ever need to install new clutch plates it is not hard or really complicated. Just get a good torque wrench. If you time it with an oil change it isn't even very messy. Good luck.
 
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I always forget this part! Do this.....

Before you align the mark, you're supposed to turn the shaft all the way in a certain direction. Failure to do this will usually result in problems.

I'll say turn it clockwise and have a 50% chance of being right, because I don't remember right now. Best to read the manual, there's a link a downloadable manual in my signature, it's free. I know the correct info is posted here somewhere too.

Pretty sure it's clockwise because that will put the rack tight against the pushrod. (but check the manual)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you Green1, Spockster and everyone.
I rode the bike yesterday with the adjustment in my last picture. I should also note that at my last fill-up I put premium gas in it. I think it's running better, and it's shifting better.
That said, the alignment issue is one I've not given up on. I'm gonna try to get it just right. I'm picking up the oil today and will hopefully get the oil changed in the next day or so.

Spockster, I know what you mean about turning the shaft before you put on the bracket. Counter or clockwise depends on whether you're looking from above or below, either way, you want it turned all the way in the direction the cable would be pulling it if it was set up to the normal tension (or if the little "L" arm was pulling it toward the front of the bike.
I turned it that way when I put it back together and couldn't find a spline between the two images I've posted. I'll keep trying.

Having read what Green1 said, I'm less scared about changing the plates myself, but I won't probably do that for a while because now that my starter issue is mitigated (having the starter turn while in gear), and now that the clutch is adjusted a little better, the bike rides quite well. I don't think I'm doing any damage to the clutch or transmission, so hopefully I don't regret saying that.

I'll post an update when I change the oil.

Also, Spockster, thanks for the manual. I think that's the same one I found. Unfortunately on the Model Application table near the back, the model year only goes to 2001. I think there's a version out there that goes to 2006 (which is mine). Maybe it'll turn up here.
 
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