Tech Tips

Installing Aftermarket Clutch Plates

Written by  September 30, 2005

When we pull on the clutch lever, do most of us riders and even passengers really understand what is happening? We are blessed by having either a hydraulic or cable type clutch system, which usually disengages the clutching system with ease. So what do we do when the lever is pulled and the clutch still grabs and pulls the bike forward? It’s time to address the friction and the metal (drive) or simply the clutch plates.

There are several different types of clutches on many different models of bikes today.
I will cover the metric line this time due to the fact that the metric cruisers usually stay pretty consistent.

We have identified that the clutch is not working correctly. You will want to drain the engine oil completely and oil filter; this will give you direct inspection of contaminants in the oil. Since the clutches are bathed in engine oil, the debris will be in the oil filter and drain pan. If you have a way to get the bike off the ground, great! Not all of us are that lucky. I refer back to the service manual again and again. This will give you step-by-step instructions for removal and reinstallation of all parts.

Now that the bike has been supported and you have removed either the right foot pegs, and in some cases the exhaust system, the front cylinder exhaust has to be removed. On the current Yamaha Road Star models you have to remove the exhaust just to change the engine oil filter, so you can see this would be a great time to do both.

The parts that you will need can be addressed after the removal of the clutch plates.
The clutch cover can be removed quite easily with either an 8 or 10 mm socket and ratchet with extension. Once the cover has been removed from the bike, you might get lucky and the gasket may not be damaged. A good rule of thumb is to (always) replace the gasket. Now on some of the newer model Hondas, they just use a silicone sealer as the gasket. This is due to machine fit parts. This has been used on the FXR H-D models for quite some time now.

What you will be seeing is the pressure plate bolts and springs and the pressure plate.
You will need to remove the 6 or 8 bolts to gain access for the removal of the pressure plate. Please note that some bolts may be longer, like in the Suzuki Intruder models.
That is why separating all parts on a shop rag is a must! With that said, the clutch plates will be almost done. You will notice that the first plate you see is a fiber clutch plate. These will be sandwiched together with a metal plate, and so on.

A tip that I learned from American Motorcycle Institute is to always soak your new fiber plates in clean engine oil over night. This will let the pores of the plates soak up the oil and they will not burn the metal plates when installed. If time is on your side, great! Not everyone has this luxury, it seems. The metal plates also have two sides; one is chamfered and the other is flat. This is a very important step—you need to install the chamfered side toward the engine. This will keep the clutch from chattering and scoring the metal plates after only a short time. That will be costly and you will be redoing this work again.

When you are ready to reinstall the new fiber plates, check the clutch hub for any cracked teeth on the plate guides and also see if the clutch hub nut is loose. A clutch holder tool is required for this as well as a torque wrench. These steps are necessary to be thorough. Simply place the first plate, which should be the fiber then metal, installing the metal chamfered side IN, until you have filled up the clutch hub.

The next thing is to inspect the clutch pusher and needle bearing for damage. If none is present you are ready to install the pressure plate and bolts with springs. Most of the time they use a 10 mm head on the bolts, but don’t be overzealous and over-torque the bolts. These will most assuredly break the inner hub and this part is EXPENSIVE! The actual torque is around 87 inch pounds or 9 foot pounds—not very heavy on the torque scale. One good idea is to check the movement when the cover has been removed. Now, if your bike has a hydraulic clutch, this will be okay. If your bike has a cable, then this will not help you. If you pull the clutch and you see movement from the pack you’re in business.

At this point you are ready for a (new) gasket, and I recommend using either Honda Bond #4 or Permatex semi-drying machine fit gasket sealant, then installing new a gasket and the cover. Some of the cover bolts may have a copper washer; if so, refer back to the service manual and torque to spec. Use only new oil and a filter after this procedure--you will be glad you did.

After the bike has the appropriate oil amount and you have inspected for leaks, start the bike and let it run. You will want to recheck the oil level and top off if necessary. Shift the gears and pull on the clutch checking the engagement. If the clutch releases properly, you are ready for the test ride! If the test ride reveals that the clutch is working smoothly, then it is safe to say you are finished.

On my tough-o-meter scale this ranks a 6 due to the fact that you are dealing with a lot of parts and steps that can be overwhelming. So having the manual at your side is mandatory.

This may not be the fix-all in most cases. You might have a clutch master cylinder problem, and sometimes they act like internal clutch problems. So diagnose carefully and things will go smoothly.

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller