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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum, and also to HD (though I've owned about 20 other bikes, British, German and ***, in the past). I bought a new (2005) Softail FXSTI, and I love it. However, I have a question about the clutch. The cable is fine (no stiffness there), but when I let the clutch in, in 1st gear only, there is always a slight snatching (jerk) no matter how gently I let the clutch in. I took it to two dealers who simply said, "Oh yeah, I feel it. Must be just the way it is!". "Brilliant!", I thought!
It is only evident once the engine (and oils) have heated up. I had the 1000 mile service, and they changed the oils (I hope), but it made no difference. (HD Dino oil). Now the bike has 3500 miles on it, I am going to change oils again, so that might help. Has any one any idea what is causing this clutch to snatch, and what might help it (eg. a different oil in the primary chain). The Primary chain is at the correct tension, as is the final drive belt, moreover the "jerk" is not pronounced enough to be a chain or tooth jumping over a cog.
Thanks.

giles..
 

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You don't say?
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I wonder if it has something to do with the primary chain adjustment? Do you have some free play in the clutch cable at the lever? In other words, if you pull the cable away from the lever is there 1/8" or so of space between the cable and lever?
 

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My '04 Heritage does the same thing. It's been to the dealer several times with out much improvement. The dealer has been great about adjusting on it each time...just haven't fixed it.

I bought my bike used and I just thought it was due to it sitting for a while. The bike was almost 2 years old with only 4300 miles on it. It was worse when I first got the bike and it seems to be getting better the more I ride it. I've ridden about 1,300 miles in the 6 weeks I've owned it.
 

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Couple of thoughts: Wet clutch engagement and modulation is very sensitive to the oil type used in the clutch. What will you change to? Try something different. I have been told that Syn3 has harsher clutch engagement characteristics than the dino oil, but I do not know this for a fact. I'm using Syn3 and my clutch modulates very well and engages smoothly.
Harley clutches are rugged as all get out and they have a lot of life in them. What happens if you slip the clutch in first gear, or maybe start in second gear while slipping the clutch to keep the revs up? You might be able to smoothen that clutch out pretty fast that way. Maybe it just needs to wear a little to smoothen out.
 

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When I got my '04 Road King Classic (only 1900 miles), I had found the exact same thing.
Dealers couldn't either feel it or they felt it and could not find a solution.
Other HD riders said the same.
The primary chain was looked at/adjusted twice.
It's ok cold, but after warm up it starts the grab. By the end of the day I'm dreading coming to a stop light 'cause it pisses me off so much.
I installed a VARIABLE PRESSURE CLUTCH from these guys.

http://www.aim-tamachi.com/index03.html

Great easy clutch pull but problem still there. Bike has 9k miles now.
Talked to a guy and he thinks it's the stock diaphram spring. That after it heats up, the linear travel is not constant. Like it travels faster or slower or something.
I have had the problem with HD dino oil and with AMSOIL. Getting ready to try some REDLINE.

Sure wish it wasn't ther. Really bugs me. My wife can feel it when she riding the back.
:( :( :( :( :( :(
 
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It sure sounds like a clutch with the adjusting rod turned too far in. This is a common error, when someone doesn't stop turning the rod in at the point of FIRST RESISTANCE. The other possibility that comes to mind, especially for DM-SC, who says "The dealer has been great about adjusting on it each time...just haven't fixed it", is that the clutch may have been adjusted when the bike was still hot. If the dealer takes it in at the time you bring it by, it doesn't have time to cool. If the clutch is adjusted warm, it will be out of whack. Try following these instructions exactly:


First, the bike must be cool when you do the clutch adjustment.

1) Slide the rubber boot off the adjustment nut assembly, in the clutch cable. Use a ½” and 9/16” wrench to loosen the jam nut back, then induce the maximum amount of slack.

2) Completely pull the clutch lever. Remove the “C” clip from the bottom of the clutch lever retaining pin, at the clutch lever, then slide the lever from the bracket, so it’s hanging by the cable.

3) Squirt Bike Aid lube into the cable just until it drips out of the jam nut assembly.

4) Remove the clutch inspection cover, loosening the screws in a “star” pattern. Use a sharpee pen, and mark the inside of the cover, to indicate which hole is the one that was on top. Always install the cover so that that hole is the top.

5) Loosen the 11/16” nut in the center of the clutch housing.

6) Using an allen wrench, loosen (counter-clockwise) the clutch adjuster screw, which is inside the 11/16” nut you just loosened.

7) This is the critical step. Gripping the shaft of your allen wrench with just your thumb and index finger turn it back (Clockwise) just until the point that you feel the least resistance. NO MORE!

8) From that point, loosen it back (Counter-clockwise) ½ turn to one full turn. If you use the clutch to control the motor at low speeds, you should use ¾ turn. ½ turn is for “normal riders”, who use the clutch like an on/off switch. 1 turn is appropriate for a police bike in city traffic service.

9) Holding the allen wrench, so the screw stays in position, tighten the clutch adjustment nut. There is a torque value, but unless you have a crow’s foot, you can only tighten it so that it’s snug. If you are using an open-end wrench, take care not to let it slip off the nut, since you will be at an angle to the nut. If you do have a crow’s foot, it calls for 8 to 10 ft.lbs.

10) Replace the cover, making sure the gasket is good. Tighten the screws in a star pattern, to 50-70 inch pounds of torque.

11) Again add Bike aid to the cable, until it drips from the jam nut assembly.

12) Replace the lever in the bracket, being careful not to bend the black plastic anti-rattle shim. Install the “C” clip.

13) Tighten the cable at the jam nut assembly. Once it is roughly tightened, pull the clutch lever three times to seat the ball and ramp in the mechanism. Then tighten to the point that there is about 1/16” of free play at the lever. If you pull the cable housing out from the lever, the edge of a nickel should just fit between the shoulder of the cable, and the bracket.

Harris
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Strange Jerky Clutch

Great guns! You guys are amazing!!
I posted my problem on the jerky clutch and already I have a mass of help, some of it so detailed (special thanks to "Harris"), that it's unbelievable. A million thanks! So far, I haven't had time to try anything, but here are my thoughts on the matter.
My first inclination was that it was a primary chain oil related problem. I figured that since the jerking only started once the oil had heated and thinned, I would be better off with a thicker oil. So I was planning to change the oil as soon as I get time(!) to 20W50 (probably Mobil 1). Then I reasoned that the jerking is caused by the oil between the clutch plate "sandwich", and the oil was too tacky (many oils contain a polyacrylate tack agent), so the plates had to slip slightly to squeeze the oil out of the way before the plates coupled completely. Perhaps a thinner oil would be better? I can't be right both times here.
True I can just about eliminate the jerking by v-e-r-y carefully slipping the clutch as I engage it. But I don't want to drive to compensate for a mechanical defect.
I think my best bet is to follow Harris' detailed instructions on loosening off the adjusting rod once the bike is completely cold. If that doesn't do the trick, then I'll try a different oil, and also change the engine and transmission oils (it's about time). But what oils should I try? That, as I see from the forum, is an endless topic. I think I'm going with Mobil 1 (20w50) in engine and primary, and a heavier synthetic in the tranny.
Thanks again guys, I really appreciate your help
 
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Another thing I should have mentioned:

If a has had the clutch mis-adjusted for a long period of time, the stiffer pull may have stretched the cable over time. If that has occured it will require cable replaement after the clutch is properly adjusted.

Harris
 
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Sorry, the adjusting instructions were something I'd written for a person, and saved and pasted. It sort of goes along with my riding lessons. So, by itself # 8 is sort of confusing without the background. I have now edited the instructions, but here is some more explanation:

To properly control a motorcycle at very low speeds, it's necessary to use the friction zone (gray area) of the clutch - that amount of clutch where between 1 and 99% of the power is being transferred to the rear wheel (i.e. neither fully engaged or disengaged).

1/2 turn back on the adjusting rod is fine for the vast majority of riders, those who haven't been exposed to, or don't use, the technique of using the clutch to control the machine that way. 3/4 works well for people who are fully versed in it, but are using the bike for regular civilian riding. A full turn is really more than you'd want for normal riding, but works OK for police bikes used in the city. The different adjustment controls where in the lever pull the gray area is centered, and how much there is.

Sorry for lack of clarity. Hopefully this makes it better, not worse.

Harris
 

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for me probably worse coz it's info i have NEVER come across before, so may take a while to make any sense at all. after always having trouble with clutch drag, creep etc, i am anal about getting the oil level just below harley level of clutch basket but still covering chain and it seems to have worked great for ME for the last 50000 kms ( don't try this at home kids ) ;>)
 

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Harris said:
Sorry, the adjusting instructions were something I'd written for a person, and saved and pasted. It sort of goes along with my riding lessons. So, by itself # 8 is sort of confusing without the background. I have now edited the instructions, but here is some more explanation:

To properly control a motorcycle at very low speeds, it's necessary to use the friction zone (gray area) of the clutch - that amount of clutch where between 1 and 99% of the power is being transferred to the rear wheel (i.e. neither fully engaged or disengaged).

1/2 turn back on the adjusting rod is fine for the vast majority of riders, those who haven't been exposed to, or don't use, the technique of using the clutch to control the machine that way. 3/4 works well for people who are fully versed in it, but are using the bike for regular civilian riding. A full turn is really more than you'd want for normal riding, but works OK for police bikes used in the city. The different adjustment controls where in the lever pull the gray area is centered, and how much there is.

Sorry for lack of clarity. Hopefully this makes it better, not worse.

Harris

Now it all makes sense. I was having problems at a half turn out with holding an adjustment. I went to 3/4 turn out and my clutch is quite a bit better and lasts now. I do a lot of riding in commuting traffic. I found it by trial and error but it is nice to know there is a logic to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
More on jerky clutch

I started this particular thread last week and, thanks to Harris and others, have already gathered a lot of info. So far I haven't had time to make an adjustment to the clutch, but I have slackened off the clutch cable to give more free play and already this seems to have helped significantly. There is still a little 1st gear jerk when the clutch is being let in (even though I'm being really gentle with the lever), but it is way better. I have noticed that as the bike warms up the clutch cable appears to lose its free play. This is odd! So if I adjust it to give a 1/16th gap at the cable collar when cold, when the engine has warmed up, the gap has all but gone, and it is when the engine is warm that the clutch jerks the most. Perhaps I need to have 1/8th inch free play. Either something is expanding inside the engine and causing the chain to tighten, or as I ride the cable is shrinking due to the cold air chilling it. (Temperatures are at or around freezing these days, and my garage is probably about 60F). Why I ride all winter I don't know, I just can't bring myself to get in my nasty little car!!! Experimentation continues...
 
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Giles,

From what you describe it sounds even more like the internal adjustment is too tight. When the bike warms up, what little play there is is taken up by the expansion of the parts.

Harris
 

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Something I'd like to add...
When you are tightening the 11/16" nut, a Craftsman offset box end wrench seems to have the right angle and clearance to do a great job of missing the primary and not scratching eveything (including your knuckles).
I went to my HD dealer and asked the service dept. guy. He told me that they just snug the 11/16" while holding the center allen screw, then they put a socket w/ an extension on it and give it "a good smack." This was not acceptable by me, but after seeing a video called "Fix my Hog", they do the same thing, so maybe it is okay, but I still prefer the offset box end wrench.
Good luck,
John
 
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Nytmare said:
I went to my HD dealer and asked the service dept. guy. He told me that they just snug the 11/16" while holding the center allen screw, then they put a socket w/ an extension on it and give it "a good smack." This was not acceptable by me, but after seeing a video called "Fix my Hog", they do the same thing, so maybe it is okay, but I still prefer the offset box end wrench.
Good luck,
John

That's the method that leads to the problem Giles is having. You're smart to think it's not the right way. The offset wrench or a crow's foot is better. The crow's foot allows you to torque it to spec, while the off-set gives you a better bite on the 11/16" nut.

Harris
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jerky Clutch 99% improved

I made the following adjustments to my clutch which was causing the bike to jerk as it was just beginning to picked up speed from stopped in 1st gear.
1) I adjusted the clutch adjuster screw 3/4 turns out.
2) I lubricated the clutch cable with Cycle Aid (wonderful stuff!)
Then I test road the bike and it was very much better, but still not perfect.
3) I then emptied out the primary chaincase lube, and measured the volume.
There was 950 ml of the stuff (I'm a metric man), which is the equivalent to 32 Fl oz. (What a coincidence, exactly the amount in a quart bottle!!!!)
4) I put exactly 769 ml (26 Fl oz) of RedLine MTL oil back into the primary case.
I then test drove the bike again and it is almost perfect, the only trace of jerkiness left is when starting very slowly on a hill and I think that is the nature of a high torque machine with a very low rpm. In short the jerk is a pulse from a single power stroke of the engine.
Problem essentially solved!
Thanks to everyone for your help. This is one valuable web site!
(incidently: the primary chaincase oil was put in by the HD dealer when it was either new or had its 1000 mile service. Obviously someone had just emptied a whole quart bottle into the chaincase because it was convenient, and because they were lazy.)
 
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Giles,

Glad to hear your problem is solved (I was on pins and needles awaiting the results). The touring models do call for a full quart in the primary, so it's hard to tell if someone at your dealership was lazy or confused. This is the reason so many of us do our own maintanence. Not so much to save money, but to make sure it's done right.

Harris
 

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Also glad to hear the problem is solved. My '04 standard did the same thing since new. All fingers pointed to a clutch problem. Turned out to be the idle side of the throttle cable was adjusted with too much play and the jerking was resulting from the extra time needed for the bike to come off idle.

:cheers:
 
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