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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Attached is a picture of the first fiber clutch plate just inside the pressure plate.

I was off roading on the Washington State BDR. We ran into a fairly steep hill with super deep and silty sand. I quickly lost traction and tried to slip the clutch to get up the hill. After several attempts with the clutch all the way out and the engine revving the wheel wasn't spinning in 1st gear. "Oh crap", I've blown the clutch I'm thinking. We ran into some help and pushed the bike up the hill and let it cool for 1/2 hour. Bike felt fairly normal but noticed there was zero play in the clutch handle so ran the lever adjuster nut all the way inn and got a tiny amount of play back. I remember distinctly checking for proper free clutch handle play recently. It's something I do on a regular basis. I'm OC about maintenance as I take this bike to LATAM every winter.

After limping into a hotel in Cashmere, WA, I changed the oil in an autoparts store parking lot, and the bike seemed to be operating normally. However to be cautious I cancelled the trip and drove three hours back home on pavement, but noticed a couple times the bike stalled out when starting out like normal in first gear, and I also heard some "chattering" noises.

When I got home and took the clutch apart, this is what I found. The top/outside fiber plate, the first one just inside the pressure plate was "melted" and broken into lots of pieces. How I was able to get home is beyond me.

So going to replace all fiber and steel plates and springs, but question remains why? I spent maybe only four for five attempts to use clutch friction to get up the hill before this happened. Not very much in my opinion. Can't understand why a modern clutch would do this. If anyone has any ideas I'm all ears. I know there's several people on this forum with a lot of Wee time.

For more info, I was on Dunlop Mission Trailmax 50/50s (knobbies next time!) and I had moved to a 16T on the front sprocket vs. the OEM 15T, which didn't help matters any obviously. I had also completed a few months ago a 7K mile trip to Mexico and Central America that included some off road with no problems.
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Edit: Checked the fiber plates at a few random locations and they're in spec greater than minimum thickness. Still had plenty of life left in them.

Also thinking about installing a Rekluse if anyone has any experience with them.

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Edit again. Decided on reloading clutch with just the stock plates, not a Rekluse. Fiber and metal, and for good measure new springs and throwout/needle bearing. Also new pressure plate as the existing one has fused fiber plate stuck to it.



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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just to be sure, are you confident that the clutch had some free play before this episode?
Fair question to be sure. But yes, I'm pretty cognizant about checking free play periodically.
 
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What oil were you using? :whistle:

Seems like people use so many different types on this forum.

I had barnett springs in mine and went back to stock after I got golfer's elbow in my left arm.

Stockers did slip a bit when I "got on it" but I need my arm healed.
 

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Usually it's the clutch slipping, i.e. no free play and in some cases doing things like slogging through soft sand.

That'll destroy clutches on any of the big bikes. Sorry but there are things you simply can't do with these bikes (and I don't just mean DL's) that you might get away with on a smaller bike and slipping the clutch at decent rpms is one of them.

It's something I deliberately avoided doing when I was doing a lot of dirt on DL's and the clutch was noticeably slipping on seal when hard on it at 60,000k's.

From your description of what happened I suspect trying to do something that the clutch simply wasn't capable of was the cause. You can try Barnett components, their friction plates have a lot more meat and the springs are stronger but the result is pretty feral. "Be careful what you wish for".
 

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Not on DL, but just had a Barnett clutch installed in Sportster with Buell engine. I was afraid the clutch spring would be harder to use or the clutch would be noticeably grabbier. It works good with no issues, although H-D clutches are stiff to begin with.
 

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Ouch, now I'll be worried about my '18 clutch :oops: :rolleyes:let's hope that bits and pieces of your destroyed clutch, didn't contaminate the engine lubrication
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That'll destroy clutches on any of the big bikes. Sorry but there are things you simply can't do with these bikes (and I don't just mean DL's) that you might get away with on a smaller bike and slipping the clutch at decent rpms is one of them.
Saw a KTM 1090 and an Africa Twin out there doing the same trail. I agree with you completely that these aren't dirt bikes, but there are lots of heavy ADV bikes that seem to be able to do it? I wouldn't think that this clutch is any different from those, but I'm not an engineer. :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ouch, now I'll be worried about my '18 clutch :oops: :rolleyes:let's hope that bits and pieces of your destroyed clutch, didn't contaminate the engine lubrication
Good question. Well, I rode it home for three hours in that condition on the interstate and no engine hiccups that I could notice. I just dumped the brand new oil that I put in in the autoparts store parking lot and didn't see any particles coming out. The broken fiber plate looks to have been enclosed in the clutch basket when I took off the clutch cover, and I sprayed everything down with WD40 to clean it out, so will keep my fingers crossed that when I put new clutch in everything goes well. Not sure really what else to do?
 
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Get a dirt bike.
Yeah after dinging up my exhaust pipe on some rocks I gave up with the V.

Gravel roads are fine and jeep trail maybe.

First I've heard of a failed clutch. Maybe just a failed part. :unsure:
 

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I have ridden quite a bit with Rekluse clutches on KTM and Husky 2 stroke dirt bikes. They are great in those applications. I cannot picture one in a VStrom, mostly since I can't picture myself too far off road on one.
 
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Saw a KTM 1090 and an Africa Twin out there doing the same trail. I agree with you completely that these aren't dirt bikes, but there are lots of heavy ADV bikes that seem to be able to do it? I wouldn't think that this clutch is any different from those, but I'm not an engineer. :cool:
There are a LOT more reports of KTM's with fried clutches than DL's, they have an additional problem with the oil feed to the clutch though. F800's are real prone to this as well. The older GS's with dry clutches you had to be real careful even at low rpm's because they'd smoke the clutch really easily. And yeah, 'smoked' is the right description there, very memorable and a very distinctive smell as well.

You can slip the clutch just fine at low rpm's, but once the rpm's go up a fried clutch is pretty typical on any heavy bike.

I got used to just sticking it in gear, concentrating on line and being brave on the steep ones. It did help having really good suspension because having the wheels not bouncing around makes that a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There are a LOT more reports of KTM's with fried clutches than DL's, they have an additional problem with the oil feed to the clutch though. F800's are real prone to this as well. The older GS's with dry clutches you had to be real careful even at low rpm's because they'd smoke the clutch really easily. And yeah, 'smoked' is the right description there, very memorable and a very distinctive smell as well.

You can slip the clutch just fine at low rpm's, but once the rpm's go up a fried clutch is pretty typical on any heavy bike.

I got used to just sticking it in gear, concentrating on line and being brave on the steep ones. It did help having really good suspension because having the wheels not bouncing around makes that a lot easier.
Well, I’m going to replace the clutch, and stick to gravel hardtack dirt roads for now in with the DL. I agree about first gear and gun it, but a steep sandy long hill won’t allow for that unfortunately. Have to play with friction.
Currently on a list for a Ténéré T700 at a local dealer. My Wee and I have had 3 great trips in LATAM together, but this experience sure was a first. Not sure about a comparo between a T7 and a DL clutch.
 

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Very likely it has essentially the same problems, this isn't unique to DL's. It's slightly lighter but slipping at elevated rpm's will probably do similar. Use Mr Google and check.
 

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You can slip a dirt bike clutch all day and it doesn't care. Odd that ours are different.
 

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Same design. You can burn out dirt bike clutches. It's the weight V size of clutch that does the damage. There's a LOT of power going into those plates when they slip.
 

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If you haven't worked it out. DL650 probably has ~50HP going through the clutch when the rev's get up (I'm assuming you weren't at full throttle, just up there). With it slipping only ~10HP make it to the rear wheel, the rest ends up in the oil and clutch plates. That's a very small space in which to dump 50HP.

That's why I'm saying any of the large bikes can have this happen and the larger the bike, the more likely it is, it'll also happen on smaller bikes but with say 12HP and maybe only 5 ending up in the clutch slogging through soft sand or mud it takes longer. And yes, we did that to small bike clutches back in the day, not as spectacularly as your effort but it still happened.

It's technique, changing bikes won't change the physics other than bikes with better suspension behave better and you can keep the speed up without slipping the clutch.
 
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