Clutch Dragging Mystery : Driving me crazy

Hi, I have been having some problem with the clutch on my XR250 - and havent been able to solve it. Im hoping someone amongst the wise in this forum can help me solve it.

The problem is it drags. Badly! But not necessarily consistently (on rare occasions, I will pull up and it will be fine). When in 1st and clutch in, I have to brace my leg to stop it from trying to drive fwd. Gear changes are hard - finding neutral nearly impossible. In 1st gear, with clutch in, if I give it a bit of revs (not much), then the clutch seems to 'disengage' - as soon as revs drop again, it grabs again.

Here is the evidence to hand so far:

Its a 98 XR250V - a japanese import to the UK.

1) It was fine when I bought it (2nd hand 18 months ago).

2) The problem started after it was in storage for the first 9 months.

3) I have given it fresh oil & filter - no difference

4) raising the revs (perhaps double revs at idle) stops it from dragging

5) lowering the revs, makes it drag again.

6) I pulled out the clutch today to inspect it

6a) only very very slight roughness/indentations/scoring on the clutch basket

6b) No obvious discolouration of any discs

6c) no obvious warped discs

6d) the metal discs seem glassy smooth (not sure what they are supposed to be like)

7) Just after I replaced the clutch & filled with oil (oil was low) I tried it and the clutch was much much better. However, I went for a short ride - and it was very quickly back to as bad as it was previously.

It feels like its oil related: When I just replaced the oil, it was good. When it had time to circulate, it was crap again.

BTW, the clutch lever/cable adjustment is fine. Has been checked & adjusted both ways (too tight/too loose) with little difference.

It was clear someone (previous owner(s)) has been into the clutch before me - there was sealant on the gasket. There were also washers - used as spacers to reduce spring preload. Maybe there has been a problem before?

Im outa ideas - need some help.:ride::rant:

Id appreciate any suggestions that lead to a solution.:thumbsup:

just go ahead and replace the clutch pack and springs. im not sure if the bikes are the same my 97 xr400 has a o-ring for the clutch cover seal.

The only issue is that I am not sure I can get a clutch for this model.

Its different from an XR250R clutch, from what I can tell. The pics in the manual of the bike with the clutch cover off look very different to my bike.

And besides, I'd rather know what the problem was before throwing it away...

Mechanic friend of mine thinks this clutch dragging is a problem inherent with this model - he thinks the clutch discs are too smooth - so once the clutch gets oil to it, they plates have a tendency to stick together. Im not sure what they look like on an XR/R, but these discs are like glass. There are no holes or lines in them.

There is some evidence that someone has had a problem with the clutch before. There was non-factory gasket sealant & the clutch springs had been fitted with a couple of washer spacers to reduce the spring tension/ keep the basket more open when the clutch is depressed.

Are the metal plates aluminum or steel? How many plates are there, metal and fiber? Is there an extra of any? Check the springs. What type of oil are you using? I know it's a lot of questions just hitting things I can think of.

I've taken plates before and scuffed them using sand paper. Use a circular motion on a flat surface, try taking the glaze off the metal plates.

Are the metal plates aluminum or steel? How many plates are there, metal and fiber? Is there an extra of any? Check the springs. What type of oil are you using? I know it's a lot of questions just hitting things I can think of.

I've taken plates before and scuffed them using sand paper. Use a circular motion on a flat surface, try taking the glaze off the metal plates.

I think they are steel (dont look like Al to me. Stock Honda plates AFAIK)

I cant remember how many discs now - but it matched my manual.

Springs dont match my manual - but then again, my manual doesnt match my bike (manual is for an XR250R - but mine is a V - the photos of the transmission look quite different)

Oil is 10W40 - fully synth. I dont know what oil was in there originally, but it was fine with that oil before I had it in storage - and then I had this problem (still with the original oil when I got it) when I took it out of storage.

Is there anything that can cause the clutch to get too much oil?

It feels like its oil related: When I just replaced the oil, it was good. When it had time to circulate, it was crap again.

This is what confuses me, it should be the opposite. I've ran extra drive and driven plates with heavy springs for a harder hit when I was racing. I would have to start the bike and run it a few minutes with the clutch in to get the plates coated with oil good. If I didn't the clutch would drag like yours is doing.

It's possible that either

a) you have weak or the wrong springs

:thumbsup: the pin that lifts the clutch is worn not letting it release completely.

c) the oil your using isn't compatible with your clutch

d) metal plates could be warped from heat

If you take it apart again take some pictures, the plates metal and fiber, springs, clutch pin (in the center of the clutch center). Use a caliper and measure your springs, see if they all match. Check spring tension if you can. Clean the plates, just kind of scuff them like I mentioned above you can also tell then if they are warped.

Keep us updated and let us know what you find. Good luck.

most likely the metal plates are warping once the bike warms up- had the very same problem.

I changed the metal plates only problem has been gone for 3 years.

The plates checked out flat when placed on a granite inspection table. long story on how I figured out the plates were warping.

save yourself a whole lot of frustration- if the friction plates are worn thin or warped change the whole clutch ass'y.

Does your clutch basket tines look like this? It should be smooth and not grooved from wear.


If it does, then replce it...

Does your clutch basket tines look like this? It should be smooth and not grooved from wear.


If it does, then replce it...

God no. Nothing like that. (thanks for posting the photo)

You would have to look really closely at mine to see any rippling on the clutch fingers.

FIXT! :rolleyes:

In the end, the conclusion is that this stock clutch is kinda shite.

The final theory I had went along the lines of the metal clutch disks being too shiny. They are like glass - and there is no texture (read, little fine holes or cross-hatching). As a result, the fibre plates stick to the metal disks. Once wet with oil, you can pick up the whole disc/plate stack just by grabbing the first disc.

Extra rpm probably tends to break them apart (probably spins it free of oil) & stops the clutch from dragging but as soon as rpm drops - they stick and again, its dragging once more.

It might have been that with a particular oil (like the one in it when I bought it - have no idea what it was...) the problem was less pronounced - but otherwise... the problem was an inherent one.

I managed to speak to someone with the exact same model who told me that after much pissing about, he replaced it with an EBC clutch - and all was fine.

I did the same. With the same results.

You wanna know what was different about the EBC clutch kit?

The metal disks :bonk:

The EBC discs had tiny perforations all over their surface. And even when wet with oil, they wouldn't stick to the fibre plates. The regular XR250 has the same discs...

So... its :p:crazy::rolleyes::p

Fank thuck for that... and Honda... this is for you :mad: for fitting this shonky model with a shonky clutch.

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and help :thumbsup:

just go ahead and replace the clutch pack and springs. im not sure if the bikes are the same my 97 xr400 has a o-ring for the clutch cover seal.

In the end, this was what I did - but at least I think I know what the problem was... :thumbsup:

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