The other day, when I was strutting around the local Harley dealership, the service writer told me I should pay to have my clutch professionally adjusted. He also said that just the day before another rider had done $15,000 worth of damage to his motorcycle when he tried to adjust his own clutch. How can I avoid his mistake?
Live SOA Die SOA
Harley wants you to adjust the clutch on a new bike after the first 1,000 miles and then every 5,000 miles after that. You are going to need a set of tools, some spray lubricant, a derby cover gasket, some Teflon paste and a motorcycle jack. You might also need a book. Then do this.
Raise the bike on the motorcycle jack just high enough that the bike is level instead of leaning over on the jiffy stand.
Find the cable that comes out of your clutch lever and run your hand down that cable until your fingers find a black, rubber boot. It should be in about the middle of your clutch cable. Spray some lubricant inside the boot. Pull the boot up and you will see two nuts. The big one is called the lock nut and the little one is called the cable adjustor nut. Loosen both of them with a couple of box wrenches by turning the wrenches in opposite directions. Loosen them until your clutch lever is all play.
Pull the rubber sleeve away from the clutch lever to expose the top of your clutch cable. Spray cable lubricant into the sleeve so it runs down the cable. Open a beer, take a drink, set down the can then spray lube down the cable again.
Loosen and remove the Allen screws that hold the derby cover to the primary chain case. Some bikes might use Torx screws. It seems like Harley keeps changing fasteners every other year just to mess with me. I miss Shovelheads. But I digress. If you see a star shaped indentation instead of a hex it’s a Torx screw. If you don’t know what a derby cover or a primary chain case is get a book. Mark the exact location of the derby cover with something like touchup paint or a Sharpie. The cover is round and it is possible to put it back on incorrectly. Put the derby cover on something soft. Throw the old gasket away.
Loosen the locking nut in the center of the clutch with a socket wrench. I don’t know what size socket. I always just try different sockets until one of them fits. Locate the center adjusting screw. If you don’t know what it looks like look in your book. But, you should be able to figure it out. You want to separate the clutch plates by tightening the adjusting screw with an Allen wrench. Or, for all I know, on your bike it is a Torx screw.
Loosen the adjusting screw then tighten it all the way back in again. I don’t know why you have to tighten it twice. Maybe the guy who taught me this was messing with me. Then, back the adjusting screw out one full turn. Keep that adjusting screw in place while you retighten the clutch locking nut with the socket wrench.
Now go back to the cable and tighten the cable adjuster nut until there is less than 1/8 inch of free play in your clutch lever. You are going to have to stand up and squeeze your lever a couple of times when you do this. Pull the boot at the top of the clutch cable where it meets the lever back up. Keep the cable adjuster nut in exactly the same position while you tighten the cable locking nut. After you tighten the locking nut pull that black boot in the middle of your clutch cable back up.
Look at the primary fluid in your primary case. The fluid should just touch the bottom of the clutch plates. If it doesn’t add more fluid until it does. Don’t use motor oil or transmission fluid. Use primary fluid.
Smear Teflon paste on the threads of the derby cover screws. Put a new derby cover gasket over the big, open hole in the side of your primary. It should go painted side in. Put the derby cover back in exactly the same place it was in when you took it off. Tighten up the screws.
Finish your beer. Lower the bike off the jack before you try to ride it. You’re welcome Jax.