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Blown clutch on 2018 Wee.

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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 · #21 · (Edited)
Methinks “ADV bikes” should have beefier clutches then. Agree about suspension, but this wasn’t a rocky hill. (BTW, I have the Cogent Dynamics upgrade on the forks. Albeit that doesn't help much with keeping power to the ground in the rear.) It was really deep powdery sand. Learned my lesson. If there is a next time, it’ll be with knobbies at least and maybe back down to a 15t or maybe even a 14t front.
 

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This doesn't mean you can't abuse the clutch some, but you have learned that you can't keep doing it over a short period of time. You just have to think about how much friction and heat you are putting into the clutch over a short period of time. Shorter gearing will help a lot.

I had a similar incident on my DR650, but after disassembly when I got home everything was fine - I just had not heated it up as badly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
This doesn't mean you can't abuse the clutch some, but you have learned that you can't keep doing it over a short period of time. You just have to think about how much friction and heat you are putting into the clutch over a short period of time. Shorter gearing will help a lot.

I had a similar incident on my DR650, but after disassembly when I got home everything was fine - I just had not heated it up as badly.
So what did you do? Did you let it cool and after that it came back?
 

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I've used Barnett clutches in two DL650's. They certainly don't slip :). Be prepared for 5000k's of misery being unable to change into neutral when stopped.

If you do go that way, I'd suggest using three Suzuki springs and three Barnett springs for quite a few k's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Decided to stick to OEM clutch replacement vs. a Rekluse. Just next time will avoid sand traps. High RPM and slipping clutch apparently bad juju. Learned the hard way.
 
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So what did you do? Did you let it cool and after that it came back?
Let it cool while adjusting free play, on the ride home it cooled more, readjusted play. By the time I was home it was acting normally, but I bought a clutch pack anyway. Tore it down, everything was in order, and the new clutch pack is still in the wrapper. I just lucked out more than the OP.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Like you said, knobbies. Traction is everything.
Trouble is, knobbies don’t last worth a damn on the multi thousand mile trips I take every winter south of the border. I can get 12,000 miles out of a set of Trailmax Missions. Unfortunately corded knobbies won’t help much if you’re sitting in a hotel room in a foreign city waiting a couple weeks for a set of tires to clear customs at a $1k shipping cost. Such is my conundrum.
 

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here's how you pack for South Americas :) ...great if you drop it too
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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
So question on clutch adjustment. Will post on a separate thread also.

Got new clutch installed, and adjusted the push rod at the pressure plate per the manual. Plus I cheated just a little bit and ran the rod in maybe a 1/4 turn tighter. Problem is, without running both the cable adjusters almost full out, there's too much play. With both cable adjusters at full extension, that doesn't leave any extra for further adjustments if necessary.

The only way around it is to cheat and run the push rod at the pressure plate clockwise in farther than you're supposed to. I guess the danger with doing this is that if when the oil gets hot, the clutch plates could expand enough to start rubbing continually if there isn't enough free play there.

Only other solution I can think of is to adjust the clutch cable connection position at the push rod on the engine left side. However the shop manual doesn't address this at all, even though it looks adjustable. Not sure why the shop manual doesn't want us to use that as an adjustment too??? The bike only has 25,000 miles on it so I doubt the cable is stretched.

Has anyone ever adjusted clutch free play down the engine left side where the clutch cable connects to the push rod on a 2017+ 650?
 

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A 16 tooth front sprocket makes things really hard off pavement for the clutch. After my first trip out west, I decided to drop from the oem 15 to a 14. It makes a huge difference on a steep climb, and I never even have to slip it.

Most of the time putting a DL where it does not belong is fun....the bikes can be remarkably agile and capable off pavement. But, that talcum powder sand hiding ledges, big boulders and mud are NOT FUN. Yes, smaller cc dirt bikes are built for these conditions, but are plumb ass torture riding on pavement for very long.

T7....I have been eying that one foe some time, so please post up your thoughts once you get it out on a long trip.
 

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Same issue as WingVetteStrom above. I adjusted my clutch once on my 2012 DL650, hit exactly the same problem, came up with the same solution. Next time it needed adjusting, dropped in a Barnett clutch pack. That has it's own issues. It works and has far more bite than the Suzuki clutch, problem is it also has far more drag than the Suzuki clutch as well.
 

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I started with 3 barnett springs and then went to all 6 last winter.

Gave me golfers elbow pulling in the clutch lever. (n)

Now back to stock. Shifts better too. Oh well.
 

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When stopped on a steep uphill, don't just sit there slipping the clutch. Turn around, and go back down knowing where the problem is and use more momentum (speed) next time to get up.
Why would you need to slip the clutch in soft sand? Clutch out, keep the throttle open. Momentum and revs will get you up steep hills or through soft sand - not slipping the clutch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
When stopped on a steep uphill, don't just sit there slipping the clutch. Turn around, and go back down knowing where the problem is and use more momentum (speed) next time to get up.
Why would you need to slip the clutch in soft sand? Clutch out, keep the throttle open. Momentum and revs will get you up steep hills or through soft sand - not slipping the clutch.
I didn't know that a modern clutch would destruct like that after just a couple times reviving and slipping it. I tried what you suggested above the first time, but with 50/50s instead of knobbies and my 16T front, that didn't work. Hill was too long, too steep, with really deep talcum powder like sand.
 
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