How To Adjust The Clutch On A Harley?

Have you ever been riding on your Harley and suddenly your clutch started to feel stiff? Maybe it’s even difficult to shift gears. If this happens, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many Harley riders experience this problem at some point. Fortunately, there is a way to adjust the clutch on a Harley so that it operates smoothly again.

In this article, we will explain the reasons why your clutch may become stiff and tell How to adjust the clutch on a Harley. So keep reading to learn more!

Why is it necessary to adjust the clutch on a Harley?

The clutch on a Harley Davidson motorcycle is necessary to be adjusted for the following reasons:

1. To make sure the clutch is functioning properly: To check if the clutch is engaging and disengaging correctly, it is important to ensure that the clutch cable has the correct amount of tension. Without proper tension, the clutch may not engage at all, or may not disengage fully when needed.

2. For proper gear shifting: For the motorcycle to shift gears properly, it is necessary to have the clutch adjusted to the correct tension. Without proper tension, the gears may not engage correctly, which can cause damage to the transmission.

3. To prevent premature wear: If the clutch is not adjusted properly, it can cause premature wear on the clutch plates and other components. This can lead to expensive repairs or replacements down the road.

4. Improving performance: A properly adjusted clutch can improve the overall performance of the motorcycle. It can also make the ride smoother and more enjoyable.

5. To ensure safety: For safety, the clutch must be properly adjusted. It can be risky for the motorcycle to stall if the clutch does not disengage properly.

6. For peace of mind: Adjusting the clutch can give you peace of mind, knowing that your motorcycle is in good working order.

7. Because it’s required: In some cases, adjusting the clutch may be required to pass a safety inspection or to keep your warranty valid.

Reasons Why Your Clutch May Become Stiff

There are several reasons why your Harley’s clutch may become stiff or difficult to operate. Here are some of the most common causes:

1. Too-tight clutch cable

When the clutch cable is too tight, it puts extra pressure on the clutch plates, making it difficult to disengage the clutch. This can also cause premature wear on the clutch plates. Moreover, a too-tight clutch cable can cause the clutch to slip, making shifting gears more difficult.

2. Lever may be adjusted incorrectly

If the clutch lever is not adjusted correctly, it can also make shifting gears difficult. When the lever is too high, it puts extra pressure on the clutch cable, making it harder to disengage the clutch. On the other hand, if the lever is too low, it can make it difficult to engage the clutch.

3. Worn-out clutch plates

Over time, the clutch plates can become worn out, causing the clutch to slip or making it difficult to shift gears. Worn-out clutch plates need to be replaced. In addition, the clutch spring may also be worn out, which can cause the same problems.

4. Something wrong with the clutch itself

If none of the above problems are causing your clutch to become stiff, then there may be something wrong with the clutch itself. It’s possible that the clutch discs are sticking or that the clutch release bearing is damaged. These problems will need to be fixed by a qualified Harley mechanic.

How To Adjust The Clutch On A Harley?

The Harley clutch, as we all know, is a crucial part that enables us to lock and release the gearbox. We mainly use it three times, when we start the engine when we stop the engine, and during shifting gears. In case you have a Harley and you face some clutch issues, don’t worry. There are some ways we can do it by ourselves. Let’s see the details below:

1. Let your bike cool down

After a long ride, your motorcycle will be hot. So, the first thing you need to do is to let it cool down. It’s better to wait until the next day to work on your clutch. 

The only type of motorcycle on which clutch adjustment should be made is a cold motorcycle. Since Clutch changes take less time on a cold motorcycle you should do it the next day in the morning.

2. Park your motorcycle on the main stand

This will help you to have better access to the clutch adjustment area and make sure that your motorcycle is level. Moreover, it allows for the rotation of the wheel freely which is necessary to check the clutch clearance.

3. Remove the clutch cable cover

Use a screwdriver to unscrew the two bolts that hold the clutch cable cover in place. This is a small rubber cover that is located just behind the left footrest. Try to slide it up or down to expose the clutch cable adjuster. Once you have removed it, you will see the clutch cable.

4. Locate the clutch adjustment screw

The clutch adjustment screw is located on the left side of the motorcycle, just behind the clutch lever. It is a small black screw with a slot in the head.

5. Adjust the clutch

To adjust the clutch, turn the clutch adjustment screw clockwise to tighten it or counterclockwise to loosen it.

The goal is to have a slight amount of free play in the lever when the clutch is disengaged. To secure the adjustment screw in place, tighten the locknut against the adjustment screw once you have the right amount of free play.

6. Check the clutch clearance

Now, you need to check the clutch clearance. To do this, rotate the front wheel and observe the space between the clutch lever and the handlebar. There should be a gap of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

If the gap is too small, the clutch will not disengage completely and you will have difficulty shifting gears. If the gap is too large, the clutch will engage too easily and you may find that it slips when you are trying to accelerate.

7. Readjust the clutch cable

If the clutch clearance is not correct, you will need to adjust the clutch cable. To do this, loosen the locknut on the clutch cable adjuster. Then, turn the adjuster clockwise to tighten the cable or counterclockwise to loosen it.

Once you have the correct amount of free play, tighten the locknut against the adjuster to secure it in place.

8. Check the clutch again

Now, check the clutch clearance again to make sure that it is correct. Once you are satisfied with the adjustment, replace the clutch cable cover and screw it in place.

9. Take it for a test ride

Now, take your motorcycle for a test ride to make sure that the clutch is working properly. Go through all the gears and make sure that the motorcycle shifts smoothly. If the clutch is slipping or not engaging correctly, you must readjust it.

Final Verdict

The Harley clutch is responsible for the gear changes and is a vital motorcycle part. So, it is very important to keep it in good condition. 

But occasionally, it might come loose or cause other issues. In that scenario, you can adjust the clutch on your Harley Davidson motorcycle by following the instructions above.

After the adjustment, make sure to test it out to make sure everything is operating as it should. Our main goal should always be safety.

In this guide, we discussed how to adjust the clutch on a Harley motorcycle. Finally, we went over how to adjust the clutch cable if necessary.

About David Riedel

I am David Riedel founder of Bikerwhizz, I'm a technician at Keystone Harley Davidson with more than 10 years of industry experience. I’m here to help you solve motorbike problems, customizations, tweaks, and easy fixes to enjoy your rides more.

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