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Solved Clutch and gear shifting

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Soyajam, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Hey guys!

    I'm so sorry if this is a widely asked question - but searching for 'clutch' in a maintenance forum is full of results and it's like sifting through a pile of sand looking for a grain of rice!

    But I digress - onto my question.

    I don't quite have a problem (at least not yet) - more of an annoyance. Occasionally, when my bike has been running for a little while (say 20 minutes) - I lose the ability to slip him into neutral (say, after coming to a stop in traffic). By this, I mean I can feel the gear lever do that little 'half click' between 1st and 2nd gear, but the 'N' light doesn't come on, and letting out the clutch a little tells me it's still in gear (I suspect first).
    If the bike is running, I can either get it all the way to its destination (just without neutral), or the issue resolves itself shortly thereafter, with one or more attempts a bit later.

    I have an oil temperature gauge and it doesn't appear to be linked to being overly hot or cold. Otherwise, I haven't been able to pick up a pattern of context to explain what it could be caused by.

    About 2-3 months ago, I also had trouble getting the bike into neutral cold - when starting it. Curiously, when this occured, holding the clutch in, in an attempt to start the bike in first didn't work (when usually it does work). I'd tried wiggling the kick-stand, rocking the bike back and forth, and re shifting from 1st into neutral (and from 2nd into neutral) and couldn't find anything that reliably helped. (Eventually it just worked for reasons I do not understand)

    In the last month or so, I've not had this problem and have been able to start 'him fine each time.

    Two theories - one is just that it's got dirty oil - while I've topped it off once, I've not actually done a full oil change since I purchased this guy second hand in November last year. Maybe it's all gunky around the moving parts and some fresh oil will flush it all out?

    Second theory (and one mentioned by a mechanic as he checked my bike over) is that it's to do with my clutch plates themselves, and that it's worn down or otherwise needs replacing.

    So I'm curious to hear your ideas about these theories or any others - I'll be doing an oil change at the next possible opportunity as the definite next step and I'm hoping I don't have to pull my bike apart (or take it to a shop) for something more complex.

    Thanks for reading the novel! ha!
  2. Both theories are possible. Change the oil and oil filter first and see if that helps.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. First level of answer........ worth trying an oil change....it'll be about due or so by now.

    Second level of answer.... coming to a stop in traffic.....why do you want neutral anyway?

    As a basic principal, when you're on the bike, even stopped, in traffic, you should be in an appropriate gear, ready to go.

    My wee Cagiva, to all intents and purposes, doesn't have a neutral......<shrug> so what?

    Yes, it's easier to start the bike when in neutral, but you can survive without it.
  4. I would suggest before pulling it apart and doing the clutch plates that some googling of your make of bike and how many kms before the clutch needs replacing would be a good idea. An oil change may make a difference, and won't hurt the bike, so I would start there.

    As another suggestion, many bike are reluctant to change gears when stopped. I find that if I stop in the wrong gear, I cannot change down easily at times. I just let the clutch out a little bit, until I feel it engage the gears (with a tiny clunk) and then continue changing down. Sometimes I have to do similar to find neutral.

    I guess the most important questions is - is it getting worse? If it is, get it looked at before something goes really wrong.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. Oil change (and filter) for sure, it could have the incorrect grade of oil which might be at least a partial cause of the clutch/gear issue.
    Clutch adjustment should be checked too, free play, if it's a cable operated clutch.
  6. Curious what bike it is. My gs500 for example was an agricultural old piece of shit and played up like that it's whole life.
  7. What is this "clutch" you speak of?
  8. cbr600rr if SoyajamSoyajam's profile is utd, by the looks of her avatar I think it is
    • Like Like x 1
  9. I've got the model before with about 80,000km on it. No clutch troubles aside from a few broken cables.... I'd expect the same from yours. Could be oil... Old, or even car oil, but usually that'd lead to slipping.... Could need some adjustment, maybe it's dragging once warm? Could also be the box itself... Bent selector fork or too many clutchless shifts? Try the oil and play with the clutch adjustment...... Also check your chain. Worn or loose chains can have odd effects on shifting.
  10. Thanks for all the answers guys! I've only had a hands-off approach to motorcycle maintenance (opting to watch my boyfriend do it and help where I can) - but with this bike I want to be able to do as much as possible myself.

    chilliman64chilliman64 is spot on, my bike info is up to date, which means for the clutch plates to be mucking up on a bike less than 10 years old something might be awry. I don't thrash this bike at all (in fact I'm still a little wary of it with all that grunt) so despite having a racing gearbox I still engage and disengage the clutch appropriately for gear shifting.

    middomiddo , I think bikes being finicky to shift when stop is an issue I had on the 250 and I think is quite common - I assumed it was just how clutch plates were.
    This issue is distinctly different from that phenomena though. Shifting into other gears feel perfectly normal, and I can *feel* the bike shift into neutral, and if I had no 'N' light, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was in neutral until you let the clutch out. In fact, sometimes it'll shift into neutral and when I let the lever out the light will flicker a little as if it's not quite in gear, but the revs stay steady. (When that happens I get freaked out and pull the lever in just in case - bunny hop, anybody?)

    CrazyCamCrazyCam - While I would ask you suppress your flames for another thread (since it's largely unrelated!) - I'll indulge you. Since I'm not comfortable with lane splitting (Not the concept, I'm just not very good at it), when traffic has stopped for more than a minute, or I'm at a long set of lights, I will sit in traffic in neutral. What's interesting however, is why I do this - I find my clutch leaver comfortably stiff to pull in, and sitting at lights for a long time can make my hands sore. It's a cable clutch, and I've tried to soften it with lubrication but had no luck. It's an interesting notion - that perhaps resolving this issue might make my clutch more bearable - yes, please!
    With respect to your comments about starting in first - I do that too on occasion, when it's convenient. As I mentioned in the original post however, this issue has prevented me from starting it in neutral OR first. When I first had this occur I thought I'd just neglected to hold the clutch in or pull up the kickstand, in fact, but it turned out not to be the case.

    I suspect, like most of you - that it's oil. Since I've only topped it up once (and I use higher-end synthetic oil) it's possible that it's either never been changed (ever?!) or the wrong oil is wreaking havoc. Regardless I am a bit surprised considering this bike's previous owner was pedantic about keeping it clean and adding little touches - perhaps he was a clueless mechanic?

    Oh well, it's a long weekend in NSW - so I'll be changing the oil in a few days, and I'll be giving the old oil plenty of time to drain out. I guess, if I notice a significant difference in the clutch (and in my ability to shift into neutral) then I'll know it was the problem (and perhaps resolve to do another oil change in a few months to make sure it's as clean as possible in there).

    Most importantly, this problem is *not* getting any worse, in fact it's improved a little - and when I took my bike for it's rego check last year I brought this up with the mechanic checking it over - who didn't infer it was rego-ruining, or that it was super urgently awful.

    I guess I'll get it it over with, and if you're interested I'll post my findings?
  11. hehe "racing gearbox"....I was kinda meaning the person BEFORE you might have done lots of clutchless shifts, probably cause they thought it was totally racey. I read an article YEARS ago about long term damage from clutchless shifting, I can't remember exactly what the damage caused was, but it affected the gearbox itself and ability to hold or select a gear..... the fact its clicking into neutral kinda suggests it might be a bend shift fork. the fact its not disengaging sounds like adjustment... or maybe REALLY gunked up oil. If it's just normal old oil it could be finicky...., or car oil, i'd expect it to slip rather than grip.....

    absolute first thing i'd do is give the chain a really good check....maybe it's got a tight spot or something thats preventing that little bit of movement required to slot the next cog.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. I am sorry if you felt I was flaming you, it's just the old riding instructor in me.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. How many k's has the bike done SoyajamSoyajam ? trd is right to give the chain the once over. I bought a bike once that had a massive tight spot for maybe 30+ cms of wheel rotation, the remainder was as it should be. Well worth checking and lubing if okay, changing and lubing if not.

    I'm not convinced that anyone who's taken the time to look after the bike like the previous owner is daft enough to put car oil in. First thing i do with a new bike is change the oil regardless - at least you know it's been done.

    Crack the sump nut cold and just nip back up. Same with the filter. Run the bike for a few mins to warm the motor and oil. Then remove the sump nut. The warm oil will drain easily. Someone showed tin foil covering their pipes so the oil doesn't burn off later, good idea. Then the filter - watch your mits on the exhaust headers. Drain the filter.

    If you're worried about the clutch cable, now's a good time to remove it from the lever. Hold it / support it vertical (I tape it to an old fishing rod), make a cone out of card and tape it to the top of the cable sheaf, then use it as a funnel and add 3 in 1 penetrating oil. Move the cable periodically to help gravity take effect.

    Then sump nut back in, top up (or replace) filter with new oil and install, add new oil to the engine, replace the clutch lever and good to go.
    • Like Like x 2
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    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. As others have mentioned, it could be the oil, the clutch or the box itself (no revelations there).
    The one thing however that I picked up on was the fact that you "added' or "topped up" the oil. Too much oil will also cause what you are experiencing and can in some instances be worse for a gearbox than oil starvation. Review the procedure for checking the oil level and also whether it's done hot or cold.
    Def drop the oil but also measure exactly how much comes out and compare against the workshop manual as it may have been overfilled.

    The wrong grade of oil can cause imprecise shifting, false neutrals or grinding however you'll never be able to tell what oil went in it last time so as above, replacing it the best bet.

    The most cost effective troubleshooting is to def drop the oil (and filter) and check the filter and pan for metal shavings. Then top it up with the correct amount and grade of oil and take it for a test ride.

    Good luck
  15. my bike's always cleanest after ive dropped it and someones bolted lots of pretty new parts on and given it a polish....... there's a lot of spanks out there on supersports that think they can ride even better than they think they are mechanics.... oils aint oils and all.... Sorry this is a REALLY horrible thing to say, not about the spankers, but for the new owner..... but it's a possibility.... and would fit with super fast racing shifting....
  16. CrazyCamCrazyCam - You weren't flaming at all, just informative. I've also been taught to be in gear when stopped by an instructor - and a few other things I don't do and justify with bad excuses - these sorts of topics are often hotly (and emotionally debated) as I've seen elsewhere and I suppose I was gearing up to be the recipient of flames by admitting that I partake in one of these controversial bad habits! Just didn't want to get the thread off topic if you wished to convince me why/how I'm so terribly unsafe. No harm done! :)

    LionzLionz , thanks for the oil guide! I actually watched my boyfriend do an oil change on my last bike and those are the same steps he took - I'll be doing all of those as well. I haven't read it closely but I'm pretty sure this bike has done under 20,000kms - which for most people is relatively young so I agree with you trd2000trd2000 . My 250 was getting to 30k when I sold her and I'd only had one issue with a leaky fork seal - which was easily resolved anyway.

    People favouring possible chain things - I regularly check and lube my chain (as commanded by the boyfriend) but I've only checked for looseness, not tightness. I'd presume a tight or caught link would look really obvious? It feels smooth moving slowly, and I haven't heard any odd sounds when riding alongside solid surfaces (which is how I detected my loose chain on my 250) - any other things I could use to detect a dodgy chain? I've done a chain and sprocket change on a bike before so I'm not afraid of doing it on this one...

    NoideaNoidea - When I topped up the oil, I did the check while the engine was warm, and just did a visual check using the indicator on the bike's side (while the BF was standing it up straight) - the fairings make it hard to look so it is *possible* that I did overfill. Good point RE: the issues it can cause - I figured too much oil could muck up the pressure but other effects didn't occur to me.

    Now that you mention it - I've come to suspect this bike's previous owner liked to take his bike out and 'fang' it so to speak (We actually keep in touch once in a while) - perhaps there's some merit to the clutchless shifting, and maybe even the bad oil - but regardless, there's not much point lamenting it, I'll get to the bottom of it eventually - and I take solace in the fact I'll love this bike to death regardless of it's history :)

    I'm really enjoying puzzling over this. :D
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Those bikes are pretty bullet proof SoyajamSoyajam 20k's is nothing. You'd be pretty unlucky if it's a clutch / plate issue.

    Do you have a rear stand to clean and lube your chain? If so, stick it on that and slowly turn the rear wheel by hand while you test the tension of the free play in the chain. Honda recommend 35 mm movement. It should be the same for one complete revolution of the chain. If so you're fine. A tight spot is literally that. As you turn the wheel and test, you'll feel the chain tighten and the free play will reduce - so your 35 mm may go down to 5 or 10 mm say (or more realistically 15/20mm), then as you turn the wheel it increases back to 35mm. That's the tight spot there at the 5 or 10.

    Whip the lower fairing off when you do the oil and use the glass indicator with the bike upright. Just get it between the upper and lower indicator and you'll be fine.

    Let us know how you go - really hope it sorts it out for you.
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  18. Why oh why have I never thought to do that! Genius.

    I usually ride or run bike till up to temp then go about cracking the nut and filter.......no longer!
    • Funny Funny x 2
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  19. the drive chain can often cause shifting problems
    check the tension every couple of inches
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