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Blown clutch on 2018 Wee.

4084 Views 39 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  WingVetteStrom
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.

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.

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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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:
Like you said, knobbies. Traction is everything.
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