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XR650L Clutch lever return woes.

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First post to TT and still relatively new to motorcycle maintenance, so please excuse my mistakes.

While replacing the clutch cable on my 2001 XR650L the clutch lever return spring broke.  It was probably original with the bike.  This led me to opening up the left crankcase cover to replace the clutch lever bearing, oil seal, and lubricating the clutch lifter (Yamalube) along with giving it a new spring.  Everything seemed to go back together fine.  But the clutch return is now really mushy, providing almost no resistance to the hand lever, and even with the clutch cable detached has no "snap" at all in its return motion and barely returns the clutch lever to its original position.  Clearly I did something wrong.  Did I somehow install these improperly?  I didn't lubricate the new seal at all, but maybe I should have?

I'm a little disconcerted that I managed to botch what seems like such an easy job, leaving my bike unrideable. Any suggestions or feedback appreciated.

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I'm not averse to doing this, but the clutch worked fine prior to the broken spring.  And I'm still able to change gears.  The problem is literally in the return motion of the clutch lever, as if it's hanging up on the rubber oil seal.

Before I start going out on my clutch (which I only changed 2000 miles ago and haven't beaten hard),  is there a special way to install the clutch lever oil seal?  I carefully tapped in the bearing so it was flush, then followed up by tapping in the oil seal over the bearing until it, too, was mostly flush.  I added washer then spring and slipped clutch lever through, but this fitment is just so tight.  What am I getting wrong?

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34 minutes ago, seawilder said:

I'm not averse to doing this, but the clutch worked fine prior to the broken spring.  And I'm still able to change gears.  The problem is literally in the return motion of the clutch lever, as if it's hanging up on the rubber oil seal.

Before I start going out on my clutch (which I only changed 2000 miles ago and haven't beaten hard),  is there a special way to install the clutch lever oil seal?  I carefully tapped in the bearing so it was flush, then followed up by tapping in the oil seal over the bearing until it, too, was mostly flush.  I added washer then spring and slipped clutch lever through, but this fitment is just so tight.  What am I getting wrong?

 

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you put new bearing in, then installed new seal, then placed thin hard flat washer on top of seal. slid the spring on the shaft then inserted shaft into the hole. was the effort to install the arm in the case even  from start to finish? any chance you damaged the bore removing or installing the needle bearing? bearing damaged or not square in the bore?  is the spring in the correct location and all the way down  on top of the flat washer? did some crap fall into the hole? if it not yet apparent what the prob is then i think you...

  i would pull the right  cover off. then undo the 4 bolts for the springs then pull the clutch cover off. that allows you to pull the pushrod away from the notch in the clutch arm shaft. now try the lever. it should be floppy free. if not, then back to what i said earlier.

let us know what you find

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Thanks for this helpful info.  Turns out I didn't seat the bearing needle nearly enough, and I made the mistake of pressing the oil seal in over this (probably too much) causing the clutch return lever rod to bind on the oil seal.  Newbie mistake.  So I started over — I replaced the bearing needle again, taking care to seat it completely and put in a new oil seal.  Much better.  At least the clutch lever now seems to move freely without any binding on the seal.

Unfortunately I don't seem to be much better off.  While the lever now snaps back into place when NOT connected to the clutch cable, the spring doesn't seem to have enough to tension to snap back when the clutch cable is actually  connected.  I've tried both OEM and Motion Pro (3" longer than OEM) clutch cables, taking care to lubricate them before installing.  No real difference.

I took the opportunity to replace the clutch plates and springs.  The old springs are not really far off from the new ones, so unsurprisingly the clutch job did not nothing to fix the problem with the clutch lever return.

I also attempted to wind the spring an extra turn, but only ended up being bending it.  I'm guessing this isn't what I should be doing.

Any advice appreciated.  I'm out of ideas.

 

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There definitely shouldn’t be a spring of any kind on your clutch lever. The tension comes from the spring on the clutch activator on the engine.  

pictures of what you are looking at would be helpful. 
the longer clutch cable is only needed with significant handlebar risers. 
I would tighten down the cable on the engine side First then check to see if you can engage the clutch by pulling on it with your hand. 
what spring are you winding? 
if you have some sort of lever that snaps back without being connected to the cable that isn’t correct. 

DB0B786B-BB16-4E16-AFD1-5FC3DD04A3AB.jpeg

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I've been referring to it as a clutch lever return because that seems to be how my Clymer manual refers to it.  Please excuse me if I'm not using the right name.

The length of the OEM clutch cable just barely reaches the end points with the aftermarket handlebars that came installed on the bike, pulling it rather tight under the tank and against the frame.  So after putting up with it for a couple years, I got the longer MP only to give a bit more slack.  I tried both cables just to make sure it wasn't the extra length of the MP cable possibly causing pinching or binding, but the results (below) even with OEM length are essentially the same.

I've attached a glimpse of my  clutch cable connection on the engine side, which looks similar to the image Bigfatredpig posted.  The spring wrapped around the clutch return shaft (circled blue in my image) is the spring that broke and started this whole debacle.  I can quite easily move the lever that the clutch cable connects to (engine side) toward the front of the bike by hand, and letting go it snaps back into place by force of the spring now.  But the spring strength is weak — with the clutch cable connected, pulling in the clutch control (handlebar side) pulls the engineside clutch lever forward but there's not enough force for it to return so it just flaccidly stays in place, with no strength to return the lever and hand control to their original positions.  I had a fairly firm clutch grab (with good return resistance) prior to the lever spring breaking, but now effectively have almost no return resistance at all.  I don't understand. I even tried a second clutch lever return spring just to rule out the possibility of this being a defective part, but no change.

Thank you for bearing with me.

enginesideclutchcable.jpg

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How much free play does it have before the spring engages when you pull on it by hand? There should be a little bit but you want to cable to take up most of that slack. 

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I'm surely not an authority on 650Ls, but in  your picture, the adjuster seems to at an extreme. You might want to readjust your freeplay to the manual specs.

Edited by Busdweller
Fat fingers

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With the MP cable currently installed I seem to have to use this "extreme" setting, with the handlebar side screwed in almost all the way and the engineside as you see shown.  There is actually only a little slack with this adjustment, probably because this clutch cable is a bit too long (I think I need an extra 1-1.5" length over OEM, not 3"), so the engineside clutch lever starts moving forward after about a half inch travel of the handlebarside control lever when pulling it in.  But without any resistance or return action, it's hard (for me, at least) to do a better job of measuring and adjusting the freeplay so I've had to basically eyeball it.

Someone asked me about whether the bike is in neutral.  It is.  And it hasn't any oil in it right now.  Does this matter?  Shouldn't I be able to feel the clutch regardless?

 

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3 hours ago, seawilder said:

With the MP cable currently installed I seem to have to use this "extreme" setting, with the handlebar side screwed in almost all the way and the engineside as you see shown.  There is actually only a little slack with this adjustment, probably because this clutch cable is a bit too long (I think I need an extra 1-1.5" length over OEM, not 3"), so the engineside clutch lever starts moving forward after about a half inch travel of the handlebarside control lever when pulling it in.  But without any resistance or return action, it's hard (for me, at least) to do a better job of measuring and adjusting the freeplay so I've had to basically eyeball it.

Someone asked me about whether the bike is in neutral.  It is.  And it hasn't any oil in it right now.  Does this matter?  Shouldn't I be able to feel the clutch regardless?

 

The clutch plates will absolutely stick together and cause problems if they have been dry.  How long without oil? That might be your issue. 

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I have not put oil in the bike since emptying it out to redo the bearing needle and seal.  But I now have a fresh set of clutch plates in there that I soaked a full day before installing yesterday afternoon, so they shouldn't be too dry yet.  Should I put oil in the bike, start it and change gears to see what happens with the clutch at this point?  Or is this not likely to do anything?

 

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41 minutes ago, seawilder said:

I have not put oil in the bike since emptying it out to redo the bearing needle and seal.  But I now have a fresh set of clutch plates in there that I soaked a full day before installing yesterday afternoon, so they shouldn't be too dry yet.  Should I put oil in the bike, start it and change gears to see what happens with the clutch at this point?  Or is this not likely to do anything?

 

This is mine  never been touched since I bought the bike new. Can you move the lever with your hand?, cause I sure can't move mine

20200711_180323.jpg

20200711_180302.jpg

20200711_180939.jpg

Edited by Beamer1001

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Thanks for the photos.  Yes, my engineside clutch release lever moves rather easily by hand since changing out the spring(/bearing/seal), with only the force of the return spring snapping it back.  And the spring isn't strong enough to return the lever to the original position when clutch is attached and hand control pulled in.  That it returns properly at all (even if without the cable) suggests (I think) that at least the clutch lifter is engaging with the clutch return lever shaft, and I probably didn't botch that side up (the second time around, I mean).

I'm starting to suspect that reason the return action is so weak is only because the clutch isn't engaged behind the shifting pushrod, something that would obviously be the case when you're in neutral.  Also, I'm guessing that clutch lever return spring isn't meant to be all that strong, it's just a helper/fallback.  Is my thinking correct?  Can a bike be operated pretty normally if that spring is broken?

Edited by seawilder

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The return spring on the clutch arm is just to take up slack in the cable and put the whole system at rest...you should feel about a 1/4 inch or better free play at the lever...the return spring basically makes it so the clutch lever won`t rattle...

 

B

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24 minutes ago, brianhare said:

The return spring on the clutch arm is just to take up slack in the cable and put the whole system at rest...you should feel about a 1/4 inch or better free play at the lever...the return spring basically makes it so the clutch lever won`t rattle...

 

B

So most of  the pressure is the clutch itself.

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