2008 Kawasaki Versys Clutch Engagement Issue
Departing for work as normal (warmed up bike and handgrips while gearing up for very cold 28degF OAT) at approximately 07:30 am Monday morning I left the house for the 14 mile drive into work.
After navigating to the neighborhood exit (3 stop signs from the house) I got out onto the main road and then, approximately 2 miles from the house, as I was coming to a stop at the intersection, I pulled in on the clutch to downshift into 2nd or 1st and the clutch lever felt funny and I noticed that the clutch cable sleeve was pulled away from the clutch lever housing on the controls….the cultch lever freely moved back and forth with no tension. I came to a complete stop.
The tension in the clutch lever would not take up and the clutch was stuck in the disengaged position (acted as if in neutral, but was in 2nd or 1st gear). I turned off the engine and then I had to push the bike across the intersection to a dirt parking area on the other corner.
I put the sidestand down and got off the bike and examined the clutch lever, clutch cable, and clutch release lever/shaft assembly. The lever and cable freely moved but the clutch release lever/shaft assembly was stuck in the “disengaged” position.
Using the pliers from the Versys tool kit (before leaving the house that morning, I had unfortunately removed my personal tool kit from my sidecases for a grocery store trip after work) I turned the clutch release lever/shaft assembly back into the “engaged” position (the excessive slack/play in the clutch lever & clutch cable was taken up again) and I was able to shift the bike into neutral and the tension returned to the clutch lever and cable and the bike was shiftable.
See picture 1: Clutch Release Lever/Shaft Assy
I started up the bike and turned around for home. During the return trip I pulled the clutch lever to downshift for the turn back into the neighborhood and again the clutch stuck in the “disengaged” position. I coasted over to the side of the road, repeated my plier turning of the clutch release lever/shaft assembly back into the “engaged” position restarted the bike and drove the remaining 1/3 of a mile back home in first gear.
After un-gearing, having a cup of coffee and warming up (remember the 28 degF OAT) I rolled the bike into the garage and started examining the bike. I was (in retrospect -mistakenly) thinking that the clutch cable was binding from the cold or that the freeplay needed adjustment or that the oil needed changing (3,779 miles since last change using MOTUL 5100 10W-40 Synth Blend), all possible contributors per the Versys Manual troubleshooting procedures (17-48 “Clutch not disengaging properly”) and proceeded to lube the cable, adjust the freeplay and changed the oil and filter.
A 10 minute leak check, clutch check, then a test ride around the neighborhood and out onto the main road up to 6th gear and back down multiple times found no issues and I thought the problem fixed.
What didn’t click in my mind was that when I had to plier turn the clutch release lever/shaft assembly back into the “engaged” position, it wasn’t the cable that was holding the clutch lever/shaft assembly in the “disengaged” position it was that the lever/shaft assembly was stuck in the “disengaged” position. The problem was not that “Clutch not disengaging properly” but was “Clutch not engaging properly” after being disengaged.
The next day I repeated the morning going to work ritual (warmed up bike, heated grips, put on extra gear for the 26degF OAT morning) and left for work again. This time I got past the same intersection only to come to the next stop and then have the clutch starting slipping as I left the stop sign in 1st and 2nd gear (please remember that I had test drove the bike the previous day) . Pulled over to the side of the road and upon pulling on the clutch lever the bike again repeated the stuck in “disengage” symptoms of the prior day’s commute attempt.
After plier manipulations the lever/shaft assembly I returned home and called the local Kawasaki dealer for help and they came with their trailer and took the bike back to the shop.
Communicating with the Service folks over the next couple of days, found no smoking gun and the clutch package (removed for inspection) was reported to be in fine shape with minimal/no wear or broken bits. The technician was waiting for a new Clutch Cover Gasket (IPC-11061, Grid C-10) to reassemble the bike and continue troubleshooting.
Saturday 01/09 I made a visit to the shop and was shown the components. After explaining the trouble, symptoms, and work I had done to the technician, we looked at the clutch release lever/shaft assembly (IPC-13102, Grid B-12) under a magnifier and saw sharp edged burrs on the shaft’s notched area where it contacts the clutch’s internal push rod (IPC-13116, Grid B-12) stem that moves the clutch plates back and forth to disengage/engage the clutch.
See picture 2: Clutch Release Lever_Shaft Assy burred area
See picture 3: Versys Clutch Push Rod Area
It is likely that the sharp edges of the lever/shaft assembly contact to the push rod (at Area A on the lever/shaft assembly as shown) was causing the clutch to stick in the disengaged position.
Both the clutch release lever/shaft assembly and the clutch push rod were put on order to be replaced.
Comments, thoughts, other riders encountered same?
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