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XR250: Hard to find neutral, Creeps when clutch is in

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Hi all, hope there is some wisdom out there in TT land that can help with my riddle. I searched and read for hours about this kind of problem before I acted but in the end it looks like I missed something.

My bike: stock 1997 XR250, Dual sported

The issue: Hard to find neutral, creeps when clutch is in, shifts hard

Bike history: I bought this moto on the cheap from a kid, I have no idea what the maintenance history was. I road it for 2 years with no problem until the shifting became an issue.

Actions taken to resolve: 1st) adjusted cable to have 2mm of free play to no effect; 2nd) knowing the bike is 14 years old and probably still using the original clutch parts, I bought a lightly used, un-notched clutch basket; and bought all new OEM plates, springs, gasket and installed.

The result: My issue is still unresolved, the bike is still the same; hard to find neutral, creeps when clutch is in, and shifts hard.

Work around: I tighten the clutch cable until it shifts smooth (no 2mm free play), now it doesn’t creep, and easily finds neutral. The cable is quite tight, clutch lever handle has no play. But now it works like it used to.

My Question: Will having the cable this tight ruin my new clutch? Is there something else I missed that I should have tried?

Edited by Enc_1
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Is the thrust washer on the shaft, behind the clutch center installed?

Trail,

Yes, I made sure all the parts that came off went back on, no left-overs. One washer behind the clutch center and two behind the lock nut. I have the service manual and followed it closely.

JJ,

My perch assembly was working fine for the last 2 years, I triple checked the cable play before and after the clutch replacement. I'm sure that end of things is OK.

Edited by Enc_1
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I would like to kick this around a little before I let this topic fade into the dust bin of forgotten posts.

Would adding washers to the clutch springs help me in this matter? Or just ride the damn thing with a tight cable not to spec?

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One washer behind the clutch basket and two behind the lock nut.
Could you have them mixed up?

I would buy/try a new clutch cable. The current old cable may flex too much because the cable sheath material may have broken down. In spite of the correct slack setting, you may not be getting full pull on the inner cable - your over-tight adjustment that works seems to bear this out. It really is a matter of 1 or 2 millimeters on the adjustment....

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Meaning, the washers may be different thicknesses and he didn't get the right thickness washer in the right place?

Could you have them mixed up?

I would buy/try a new clutch cable. The current old cable may flex too much because the cable sheath material may have broken down. In spite of the correct slack setting, you may not be getting full pull on the inner cable - your over-tight adjustment that works seems to bear this out. It really is a matter of 1 or 2 millimeters on the adjustment....

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Meaning, the washers may be different thicknesses and he didn't get the right thickness washer in the right place?

That's the way I read it. Yes, those washers are in the right order.

Interesting, I never considered that the housing of a cable would lose tension over time and wear out like that. I have a new OEM cable and will replace the old one. We'll see.

Edited by Enc_1
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Mine did this. I replaced the clutch and changed oil to fully synthetic. It's a dream to get into neutral now. Not sure but I think it's the oil which did the trick.

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Work around: I tighten the clutch cable until it shifts smooth (no 2mm free play), now it doesn’t creep, and easily finds neutral. The cable is quite tight, clutch lever handle has no play. But now it works like it used to.

My Question: Will having the cable this tight ruin my new clutch? Is there something else I missed that I should have tried?

Yes, a tight cable will destroy your clutch plates (and maybe already has). Won't hurt the basket though. I'm not a big believer in oils making big changes in clutch action, unless I just always got lucky (I use Rotella T 15W40 these days). You may have a warped clutch plate, which could cause the symptoms you are describing. I'd probably change the clutch cable and clutch plates (fibers and steels) at this point, file the basket smooth, and replace the thrust washer. No sense talking it apart AGAIN...

JayC

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Ha! It took me a year and a half but I fried the clutch by keeping the clutch cable too tight. I did ride the moto hard more often than not however. But still a clutch should last many years if adjusted right and not raced. Oh well, I'll replace the plates and live with it if neutral is hard to find or if shifting is notchy with the cable tightened to spec.

Lesson learned!

Edited by Enc_1

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Oil does make a difference for clutches, some of the automobile oils have additives that can cause clutch slippage, the fleet service oils like Rotella, Delo, Delvac, etc don't and in addition are much better at high temperatures than most car oils. If our XRs had separate trannies oil choice would be much easier.

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If cable adjustments and oil changes don't work, pull the cover off and see if your basket is grooved on the fingers where the plates sit. It doesn't take much to make them hang up a little and not spread out like they should and make you creep forward.

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If the basket is notched, the fingers can be smoothed with a file. Remember to use OEM clutch plates. Some aftermarket clutches have lasted less than a day.

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