9. Peel Away the Layers

Unless the clutch failed completely, draining the oil isn’t absolutely necessary. However, replacing the clutch pack is a great time to change the oil, too. Otherwise, begin by leaning the bike away from the clutch side so that the oil won’t leak out when you take the clutch cover off. Next, using the appropriate-sized socket, loosen all of the clutch cover bolts in a crisscross pattern. Pick a point on the cover (mark it with a grease pencil if you’re forgetful), remove the bolts one at a time in either direction, and place them in order on a clean shop rag. You may find that the bolts vary in length, so maintaining their orientation might be vital on reassembly. Being organized with your parts as you remove them will keep you from making a mistake on reassembly.

Position a pan to catch any oil that may leak out when you remove the cover. Tap the cover along its edge with a rubber mallet or dead blow hammer to loosen the gasket sealer. Pull the cover free. If the cover still won’t pull free, locate the pry tabs on the clutch cover and gently pry the cover free of the case with a screwdriver or pry bar.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Thank you for the helpful article.

    The soaking the plates step in oil is important. I know of a guy who did not do that and the clutch released so much fiber and junk that it clogged his oil screen and badly damaged his motor. As shown by the article, this job is not rocket science, but it does need to be done correctly.

  • Old MOron

    Thanks, Evans. I hate working on my bike for at least two reasons.
    1. I’d much rather be riding than wrenching.
    2. It takes me for bloody ever. I don’t trust myself, and I wind up triple checking everything I do. I suppose ultimately that’s a good thing, but I still hate it.

  • JMDonald

    One can expect to become one with the universe doing their own maintenance. I have a Clymer manual if I feel the need. A well done synopsis. Become one with your clutch. Something in your heart wants to know.

  • DickRuble

    Good article. Hopefully more of these in the future. Next ones could be: How to check and adjust valve clearance. How to install steel brake lines.

    Before carbon fiber or Kevlar, what was the material for friction plates?

    • Evans Brasfield

      Asbestos was used but has discontinued for obvious reasons. Other than that, I don’t know.

      • DickRuble

        Upon researching it, one class of modifiers still used is comprised of “organic and mineral fibers” bonded by resin, with some friction modifiers. Asbestos was part of this class, which is purportedly suitable for low to moderate power and torque, with frequent engagement and disengagement of the clutch.. Several classes of material exist for various applications.

        source: http://www.dwclutch.com/D&W/D&W%20Clutch%20&%20Brake%202/Friction%20Materials.htm

  • Jon Low

    Roll the clutch pushrod on a sheet of plate-glass. If it is perfectly straight, it will roll very smoothly. If it is even slightly bowed it will wobble along, and then it’s best to get a new one, as it is near-impossible to bend it straight, and a bowed pushrod wrecks the smooth action of any clutch.