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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, hoping someone here will have some insight for my situation:

Recent behaviour on my V-Strom DL650 (2005, ~65k):

When on the throttle and in ANY gear (does NOT happen in neutral or with the clutch lever pulled), holding the throttle steady I can hear & feel the bike revving very slightly up & down, almost as if I were very slightly chopping the throttle. Happens across full RPM range but is more noticeable & jerky at higher RPMs. The clutch never completely "slips" (i.e. I don't start revving like mad w/no acceleration) but I can see the tach fluctuate slightly... I feel as if the symptom is worsening over time. Would this be the precursor to a worn/slipping clutch, or possibly something else?

I was told by my mechanic a while ago that my clutch cable was near or at the end of its slack adjustments, so perhaps this is the cause? I have a new cable ready to be installed if so, but I would think if the cable is wearing that I'd be having more trouble DISengaging the clutch, or am I wrong?

Hoping it's the latter and a cheap fix... I'm taking the bike in tomorrow morning to have it looked at, but in the meantime can anyone more experienced with this confirm whether my suspicion is correct, and/or what else it may be if not?
 

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The symptoms don't sound like a clutch slipping. To test clutch slip. put it in a higher gear, pull in the clutch and rev the engiene and then quickly release the clutch. If the revs stay high then it's slipping. I would do this at say 70 kph and use 6th gear.

I was going to say check the front spocket to see if it is worn way down as your symptoms are similar except the skipping is first noticeable at higher load settings (ie accelerating in lower gears) and quickly gets worse. It wouldn't hurt to take a look in there (and then you can check the clutch release mechanism I mention below.)


For good measure I'd put in some water remover into the gas, check all the battery connections, check that the spark plug leads are on properly, etc.

As far as the clutch cable goes: on my 2006 I ran out of clutch cable adjustment at (I think) 90,000 or so km. I bought a new cable and soon ran out of adjustment again. I looked at the clutch release mechanism in (in the housing containing the front sprocket) and the little lever on the mechanism had the spot weld the held it firm broken. A new mechanism (for maybe $50 Can$ at the time) fixed it. BTW if your cable fails to work or the mechanism fails to work the clutch stays fully engaged. You can still ride the bike, just have to shift without the clutch and wil have to get a bit of speed up by pushing it before engaging a gear.

..Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses & suggestions so far folks.

I'm going to go downstairs and try the push-rod adjustment before I bring the bike in (since the engine will be cold) and see if that makes a difference. I can't say for sure, but I don't seem to recall the mechanic adjusting that when he last adjusted my clutch.

Is that particular adjuster common to all/most motorcycles or is it more of an SV/V-Strom thing? I'd never heard of needing to adjust it prior to this thread and a few others I've found since trying to research the issue last night...

I'll check the condition of the sprocket while I'm in there, though my chain & sprockets were changed maybe 30,000km ago -- shouldn't be likely, even with winter riding etc, right? I lube the chain quite frequently with DuPont Chain Saver and clean it occasionally with kerosene... though I will admit I never take the front sprocket cover off to clean/check that area :S
 

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I'm going to go downstairs and try the push-rod adjustment before I bring the bike in (since the engine will be cold) and see if that makes a difference. I can't say for sure, but I don't seem to recall the mechanic adjusting that when he last adjusted my clutch.

Is that particular adjuster common to all/most motorcycles or is it more of an SV/V-Strom thing? I'd never heard of needing to adjust it prior to this thread and a few others I've found since trying to research the issue last night...
That type of adjustment is not exclusive. Many bikes with cable clutches have an adjustment on the linkage that actuates the pressure plate. This adjustment should ALWAYS be done first. In fact there are known cases of where adjusting the clutch cable only has lead to problems with the clutch itself.
 

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...
I'll check the condition of the sprocket while I'm in there, though my chain & sprockets were changed maybe 30,000km ago -- shouldn't be likely, even with winter riding etc, right? I lube the chain quite frequently with DuPont Chain Saver and clean it occasionally with kerosene... though I will admit I never take the front sprocket cover off to clean/check that area :S
I find that my front sprockets tend to be pretty much gone by about 60,000 km to 65,000km, (while my chains need replacing between 70,000 and 80,000 km.) I have experienced two front sprockets that were worn so much the chain slipped.. not a good thing! (and very stupid on my part!) It did feel like little momentary clutch releases but I can't see it being worn with only 30,000 km.

It certainly wouldn't hurt to check it though!

..Tom
 

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Is that particular adjuster common to all/most motorcycles or is it more of an SV/V-Strom thing? I'd never heard of needing to adjust it prior to this thread and a few others I've found since trying to research the issue last night...
I've done it before to a 1983 GS450L I still ride. Works good!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So an update:

Did the push-rod adjustment, lubed & tightened my chain (which was quite loose AGAIN -- I'll come back to this) and checked the condition of the clutch cable as well as battery connections etc. All seemed fine.

Took the bike to my mechanic, who took the bike for a spin. From my initial description he agreed it may be the clutch, but after riding it said he didn't think so; he felt it may be a fuel/air delivery problem or possibly throttle (I forget what he said here.)

Put the Wee into Dealer Mode, TPS needed adjustment; did that, but didn't solve anything; checked all visible connections, levers etc, all seemed fine. He said he'd need to pull the bike apart at this point, but without being sure what's causing the issue it could get expensive. We could just try replacing the clutch plates etc, but not a guaranteed fix -- and he didn't want to rip it apart to check without having the parts in stock if we needed them.

I'm going to drop by another shop I deal with and have the mechanic there take a quick look before I do anything further -- never hurts to get a 2nd opinion. What we did note though, is that my chain looks to be needing replacement again.

Bloody hell, why are my chains only lasting 30,000km? I frequently lube it with DuPont Chain Saver, clean it when necessary (not nearly as often as I used to) and adjust it whenever it needs it. I've had to tighten the chain almost every other week for the past 2 months it seems, and can pull it off the rear sprocket enough to expose about half the length of the teeth. I weigh about 250lbs and do ride 2-up from time to time, would this have anything to do with it?

He suggested I might want to switch to a 530 chain as it would probably last longer. Is this a matter of just a heavier chain, or does it require different sprockets etc?

Kinda stumped here, what do you guys think at this point?
 

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My guess is either that you've been getting low quality chains or the Chain Saver isn't adequate...or you tighten the chain too tight.

"can pull it off the rear sprocket enough to expose about half the length of the teeth" That chain is dead. It is now wearing rapidly. Replace it. 530 chain is wider; new, matching sprockets are needed. It lives longer because the load is spread over a larger surface. The 530 is heavier and costs more, and the weight gives a slight performance hit. 530 is an option on a 1000 and not needed on a 650. There is some reason a 525 chain isn't surviving for you.
 

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I think I would install new chain and sprockets ( 525 is all you need ) before doing ANYTHING else. You just might find your initial problem is gone, I have heard of worn sprockets causing issues like your description.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'll probably wind up ordering in the chain & sprockets shortly then... When I last had mine replaced I wound up going up 1 tooth in the rear sprocket upon my mechanic's recommendation (plus I think at the time it was all he had in stock.) Said I'd gain a little torque at the expense of a bit of top-end, which is fine for my needs. Should I stick with that setup, and what do I need to tell the shop when I order in my new chain if so?

At that time I was replacing a horribly worn set that had begun the "red dust of death" (prev.owner likely never maintained anything on that poor bike in almost 24,000km, everything was in filthy piss-poor condition...) so at least then I could visibly see & feel the chain was toast... I don't really know what I should expect this time around. I just hope it does wind up being the fix I need.
 

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Usually the front sprocket wears out faster than the rear so you may only have to get a front one. Get a good quality chain and make sure it's not too tight, a slappy chain is a happy chain.
I have a 17T front and stock rear sprocket, I don't feel the need to hunt for a higher gear anymore.
 

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Pretty sure Chain Saver is not the Dupont Teflon lube to use. I had a short lived chain with it compared to the original label, which included Dry Wax or something to that effect
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I believe it is different than the previous formula people used, but does say it's motorcycle chain & o-ring safe. Several other riders I know have been using it for a while without any negative results... Seems highly regarded on WebBikeWorld as well.

That said, I used to use Maxima, BelRay, and briefly Motul chain waxes and found all of them too messy. May have worked well, but they were a real pain to clean off the bike...
 

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Most likely your chain is slipping because it is too lose. Your chain is too lose because either it is fried or your rear axel is not tight enough and is working its way loose.

30,000 km is at the low end of typical chain life but not unusual. I did a survey way back when and in most cases chains last 20,000 to 30,000 miles regardless of what you do and even if you do nothing.

My chains typically last me 70,000 km/40,000 miles or more and I expect the realistic lifetime is over 80,000 km/50,000 miles. I never clean them as at best cleaning does nothing and at worst it can damage the O-rings. I lube (with Wurth HHS2000) with every tank of fuel and after every ride in the rain. The lube is sprayed in the area where the side plates touch the roller (and some gets on other parts of the chain but this area is the main area that needs lube.)

I use to lube the chain with the bike running in first one the centre stand. I have since switched to lubing by hand move the wheel and spraying on the top of the chain in front of the chain guard. This means that lube gets more accurately to where it belongs and doesn't seem to make as much of a mess.

..Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Most likely your chain is slipping because it is too lose. Your chain is too lose because either it is fried or your rear axel is not tight enough and is working its way loose.
Interesting you should mention the rear axle, one of my friends seems convinced that either it must be coming loose or the adjuster screws are. I had considered this a possibility as well, but there's been no evidence of that -- cotter pin hasn't shifted, positioning seems the same between the two... that said, I'll make sure to monitor it more closely and see if anything has indeed been moving.


A few people now have been telling me that my chain bounces quite a bit compared to any of theirs, particularly upon acceleration; obviously I haven't seen this myself to compare, but they make it sound like it's really bad...
 

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Process of elimination, I dont think you've completely ruled out the clutch slipping yet. Your mechanic wasn't positive either by what you wrote. So before moving on to other fixes, do as V-Tom suggested or try a low rpm method. 5th or 6th gear slightly down in revs (~4,500), find a long steep uphill grade and whack the throttle open. Watch revs climb in relation to speedo and it will be very clear if you have a problem.

_
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Oh, I totally forgot to mention, both the mechanic and I did try that test actually and did not note any slippage. From the sounds the motor made the first time I tried it, I'm pretty sure I nearly stalled out, but upon a few more tries everything seemed normal.

Had my GF ride next to me in an attempt to figure out if the sound/feeling from the bike coincides with how the chain is bouncing, but that "test" came up inconclusive. That said, I'm starting to lean more and more toward this indeed being the culprit...

I keep thinking: Only happens in-gear and in-motion; goes away in Neutral/with the clutch pulled... Clutch-slip test passes... doesn't seem likely a fuel/air supply issue given the above.

Hmph. Either way I'll be replacing the chain & sprockets, just a matter of which to get now, and hopefully that'll end up fixing the problem.

Any recommendations between DID, EK, RK chains and types? Seems locally most shops only carry their X-Ring models (DID has "merged" O/X-Ring into one product?) in the 525x120 (116) range. I am debating going the 530 route; I don't mind a little extra bulk/weight and if it's top-end I'll be losing in exchange for torque, I'm comfortable with that...

Also on sprockets: I've been quoted $45f/$95r for OEMs, but I'm seeing a lot of $15-23f/$45-60r for aftermarket... they all seem to be steel sprockets..
 

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You don't want aluminum sprockets. They are for dirt bikes and racing bikes only.
I highly recommend you stick with the 525 size chain. You can get 525 chains with just as high power rating as some of the 530's have. Way beyond what your 650 will deliver ( even a mid level quality 525 is adequate ). Heavier chain is not a guarantee of longer life.
 
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