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Thread: do I need to replace the clutch?

  1. #1
    Ran Bush
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    do I need to replace the clutch?

    I just got back from a 500 mile trip last month on my 2005 R1200ST, with 99XXX miles on it. On the trip I noticed my clutch lever getting a lot closer to the handlebar, and the bike was not shifting into gear as it usually does. I adjusted the adjuster at the left handlebar and that seemed to help it shift.

    This weekend I was going to go out for a ride and when I checked the tires' air pressure, the rear tire was low. I had the bike in neutral but when I spun the rear wheel, it seemed like it was still in gear - I could spin the wheel but there was definitely resistance at a couple of places, and then the wheel would spin freely again.

    Probably a silly question: do I need to replace the clutch?
    Ran Bush in NorCal

  2. #2
    Registered User bicyclenut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranbush View Post
    I just got back from a 500 mile trip last month on my 2005 R1200ST, with 99XXX miles on it. On the trip I noticed my clutch lever getting a lot closer to the handlebar, and the bike was not shifting into gear as it usually does. I adjusted the adjuster at the left handlebar and that seemed to help it shift.

    This weekend I was going to go out for a ride and when I checked the tires' air pressure, the rear tire was low. I had the bike in neutral but when I spun the rear wheel, it seemed like it was still in gear - I could spin the wheel but there was definitely resistance at a couple of places, and then the wheel would spin freely again.

    Probably a silly question: do I need to replace the clutch?
    In the process of replacing mine on a 2010 RT with 95K miles. I assume it is similar in most ways to mine.

    Make sure the clutch fluid is not too full. As the clutch wears, the fluid rides. Most say to keep it about midway between MAX and MIN. It's a hydraulic cluc so there is no adjustment of the clutch, although you can adjust the lever position.

    The best way I was pretty certain it was the clutch and not anything else was to take the bike onto the highway and something like 55MPH and in 5th or 6th gear and just twist the throttle as if trying to pass a car quickly. if the clutch is going the RPM's of the engine will ride but the speed of the bike will not. You will also likely smell the burning odor of a clutch slipping, similar to the odor of overheating brakes coming down a mountain or some might say almost an electrical burning odor. Mine would do this for sure.

    In later stages after I was nursing the failing clutch, i could detect a sluggish/slipping acceleration from a stop, almost like I was pulling a lot of extra weight.

    There are other possibilities like oil on clutch disk or a failing slave cylinder, but based on your mileage, it could be time for a clutch. I've heard of clutches going in as low as 30K and on up past 150K, depends on your riding habits and use (highway/city).

    When mine started to really become something I noticed I would say I still was able to get maybe a couple thousand miles out of it, but it may have been loosing performance before that.

    New clutch thickness was 6mm and service life is 4.4-4.6mm, mine was 3.85mm, so no question it was worn out.
    M. Novack
    2010 BMW R1200RT
    2014 BMW C650GT (sold)
    MOA # 208387

  3. #3
    Ran Bush
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    Nor Cal
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    Thanks for the input, M. Today I started it up, put it in 1st gear on the center stand and slowly let the clutch lever out. Something is making a loud metallic clattering noise in the general area of the clutch disc.

    Seems like I need to open it up and have a look.

    8P

    If I only rode new bikes, I wouldn't get to have this kind of learning experience ...
    Ran Bush in NorCal

  4. #4
    Registered User bicyclenut's Avatar
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    You might want to get a mechanic's stethoscope (like a doctor uses, but has a long rod and can help you pinpoint noises) and see if you can verify the location. I would have to say there is some noise when I have done what you said unloaded on center stand and that might be normal depending on severity. If you are going to open it up for a look, at that mileage I'd plan to replace the clutch, so either get the parts and be prepared for some downtime while you wait and/or do the job. So far it has taken me about 31 hours to do mine and I have about 3 hours left to finish up. This has included some other work and a reroute of some of my add-on farkles.IMG_1089 2.jpg
    M. Novack
    2010 BMW R1200RT
    2014 BMW C650GT (sold)
    MOA # 208387

  5. #5
    Ran Bush
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    Thanks for the inspirational picture !!
    Ran Bush in NorCal

  6. #6
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ranbush View Post
    I just got back from a 500 mile trip last month on my 2005 R1200ST, with 99XXX miles on it. On the trip I noticed my clutch lever getting a lot closer to the handlebar, and the bike was not shifting into gear as it usually does. I adjusted the adjuster at the left handlebar and that seemed to help it shift.

    This weekend I was going to go out for a ride and when I checked the tires' air pressure, the rear tire was low. I had the bike in neutral but when I spun the rear wheel, it seemed like it was still in gear - I could spin the wheel but there was definitely resistance at a couple of places, and then the wheel would spin freely again.

    Probably a silly question: do I need to replace the clutch?
    There are a number of things I would check before assuming I needed a new clutch, with all the cost and work that requires.

    The adjuster at the handlebar only changes the distance of the lever from the grip. It has no affect on clutch engagement beyond matching the lever travel to your hand span.

    A clutch usually indicates end of life by slipping under acceleration because there is not enough friction (engagement). Hard shifting on the other hand is more likely caused by a clutch that is not fully dis-engaged. Make sure the fluid in the reservoir is not too high or too low. I'd check that the slave cylinder is not leaking, and I'd probably think about bleeding the hydraulic line (mineral oil only!) to be sure there is no air in it.

    The intermittent resistance at the rear wheel could be a couple of things, but in neutral it is not the clutch. If it happens at the same point(s) in every rotation I'd look for a slightly warped brake disc. You might try pressing the caliper toward the wheel to press the piston back and open up some clearance and then see if the wheel spins freely. (Remember to pump the piston back out before riding.) If the drag happens at different points but at a consistent frequency I'd suspect a sticky u-joint about to fail.

    Clattering in gear while running on the center stand is totally normal. There is no load to keep the gears pressed together and they are bouncing off of each other. Lightly apply the rear brake and it will stop.
    Larry
    2006 R1200RT

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