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Old 01-17-2010, 07:06 AM   #1
Pike Bishop OP
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Broken Clutch Cable - What do you do?

As a new rider, one thing I wonder about is, what do you do if/when your clutch cable breaks?

I mean, I know if you need to stop, you can probably stall the engine with the brakes ... or hit the kill switch ... but I'd like to hear from the people who have had this happen what to do or not do.

When you come to a stop, doesn't the bike get really "jerky" right before you stop, since you're forcing the engine to turn with the back wheel? And does that make the bike want to jerk to a stop and fall over?

Has anyone slowly braked and, by using the throttle, tried to match RPMs so you can downshift and slow down (but still have power if you need to roll it on again) without the clutch?

I'm all ears, since I get the feeling this is not all that uncommon...
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:22 AM   #2
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You can up shift and downshift without a clutch no problem, the lower RPM you are at for a downshift the better. Out in the country where there are few stop signs, you'll be fine. Get down to first and roll through stop signs if you can.

Kill the motor at stops. Depending on the bike you can start it in first gear and get going, or start in in neutral, push the bike to get going and pop it in first.

City driving isn't easy.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:24 AM   #3
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What if your bike requires the clutch to be held in when starting?
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalabi
What if your bike requires the clutch to be held in when starting?
Most of the time the switch is on the clutch perch, so hold it in. The switch doesn't know if the cable is attached or not.

Now if instead of having a broken cable, you've broken your clutch lever, you may need to pull the connection for the clutch switch and jump the wires, or just start in neutral, get the bike rolling a bit, and pop into first.
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Boon Booni screwed with this post 01-17-2010 at 08:36 AM
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:33 AM   #5
DAKEZ
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Carry a small pair of Vice Grips and some ZIP ties. The cable usually breaks near the Top barrel end. The cause of this is due to poor maintenance. (you need to lube the cable end)

A lubed cable end will likely last 80K + miles. Non-lubed, about 30K miles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pike Bishop
I'm all ears, since I get the feeling this is not all that uncommon...
I have only had two clutch cables break in 40+ years of riding. If you keep them lubed they don't flex.

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Old 01-17-2010, 11:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKEZ
........ The cable usually breaks near the top barrel end. The cause of this is due to poor maintenance. You need to lube the cable end......
Also the cable will usually not break without warning. The cable will usually begin fraying at the upper connection ball. Once a year grease applied to ball end, lever socket, and pivot pin will give opportunity to inspect cable for fraying and eliminate any chance of cable failure. Back in good ole days we would zip tie a spare clutch and throttle cable alongside connected cables so that installation in case of breakage is quick and easy.
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:37 AM   #7
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The really well prepared rider would have a spare cable routed along side current cable, just waiting to be hooked up. Or you could make up something like this and put it in your tool kit.



If using a emergency lever like this you will still want to keep clutch use to the bare minimum. The repeted flexing of the cable where the visgrips clamp it will soon break it again.

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Old 01-17-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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Out of town, clutch-less shifts and I try to stay for as long as possible in one gear (if slabbing, 5th, if on a mountain pass, in 2nd or 3rd, depending on the median turn radius). In town I favour major streets, but if I have to stop (and, likely, all the stop lights will be red), I downshift to neutral and use the brakes. When coming to a complete stop, I kill the engine and shift into first. When the lights turn green, I hit the starter and do the best impersonation of a parkinson biker as the engine gets up to life being propulsed by the starter motor.

Yeah, I've broken three clutch cables in 4 months. Usually in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 01-17-2010, 02:49 PM   #9
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As said above, lube it, its a 2 minute job that gives awesome results. The other really important thing for me is that if you think your clutch or throttle cable may break, change it now! or get a spare and leave it in your tool bag always.

I try to never ride with doubts in my head, it just ruins the ride.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:01 PM   #10
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broken cable

If you broke that many cables in a couple months you better find someone who knows how to install one.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pike Bishop
As a new rider, one thing I wonder about is, what do you do if/when your clutch cable breaks?

I mean, I know if you need to stop, you can probably stall the engine with the brakes ... or hit the kill switch ... but I'd like to hear from the people who have had this happen what to do or not do.

When you come to a stop, doesn't the bike get really "jerky" right before you stop, since you're forcing the engine to turn with the back wheel? And does that make the bike want to jerk to a stop and fall over?

Has anyone slowly braked and, by using the throttle, tried to match RPMs so you can downshift and slow down (but still have power if you need to roll it on again) without the clutch?

I'm all ears, since I get the feeling this is not all that uncommon...
When coming to a stop, shift into neutral with the bike running. To get moving again, push with your feet and shift into 1st once you are moving, then shift without clutching while riding(slightly close the throttle while upshifting). Downshifting your bike to slow down is frowned upon.
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAKEZ
Carry a small pair of Vice Grips and some ZIP ties. The cable usually breaks near the Top barrel end. The cause of this is due to poor maintenance. (you need to lube the cable end)

A lubed cable end will likely last 80K + miles. Non-lubed, about 30K miles.



I have only had two clutch cables break in 40+ years of riding. If you keep them lubed they don't flex.

RIDE RIDE RIDE
Cable routing is also a big factor, regardless of maintenance or lack of.
I've built several bikes up from basket cases, and it's often a trial and error process to sort out the proper routing of the clutch cable when you never saw the bike before it was taken apart.
I've experienced clutch cable breakage 3 times in my riding career (first motorcycle was in 1969).
The first time was (lack of maintenance was the cause) while I was riding with my wife at the top of Mt. Tamalpaias north of San Francisco. We made it all the way home to the west end of Noriega St. near the beach in SF by strategic route choices, and a bit of paddling at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza.
Unless your bike is well over 500 lbs, a broken clutch cable shouldn't require a trailer to get home.
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:20 AM   #13
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Same here, I have had exactly two clutch cables break in 30+ years of riding and zero in the last 20 years or so. The two times I had a clutch cable break I had no trouble riding home. Do a lot of rolling stops and avoid traffic lights. But, if you get caught by a light and have to stop, it isn't the end of the world. You just shift to neutral (or stall) before you stop. Then you get to push, hop on and quickly shift into gear to restart. It wasn't pretty but I got home both times. And neither time was with my pride intact. I even managed it with an ancient Bronco once when the Z bar broke. Fortunately I had somebody with me to help with the restarts and there weren't any hills.
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:38 AM   #14
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If your bike has them it probably wouldn't hurt to turn your hazard flashers on.
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Old 01-19-2010, 10:27 AM   #15
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I keep a spare clutch & throttle cable at the bottom of my tank bag.

works for me, save a bit of worry, takes up almost no room.

They are easy to install on the Guzzi, not sure about your bike.

Obviously, bring the small tools necessary to change them..:)
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