Clutch Replacement, How-To Tech
Alright, here we go – changing the clutch plates and fibers. This is, or will be, routine maintenance for all of us at some point. It’ll need to be done, and it’s ridiculous to pay someone else to do it. Before you get out there and toss in a new clutch, make sure you soak the fiber plates for 24 hours in the oil that you typically run in your bike.
First things first. Have quality tools to work with. Good tools won’t tear up your parts. You’ll need a crescent wrench, 10mm and 8mm sockets, and a 5mm allen socket, in addition to the ratchets and extensions.
Drain the coolant and the oil. Remove the lower radiator hose from the radiator (easier than taking it off the water pump).
Remove the rear brake lever, and get it out of your way. I was too lazy to try to find a socket for the small nut on the back of it, so I used the crescent wrench on the nut. The bolt head on the lever side is a 10mm. It’s easier to unbolt the master cylinder from the subframe than to take the brake lever out of the master cylinder, so just unbolt it from the subframe. DO NOT lose the ½” rubber o-ring in the back side of the brake lever mount – keep an eye on it. Now the brake lever is outta the way, so you can get to business…
These 13 (8mm) bolts need to come out to get the clutch cover off. They’re circled in green, yellow, and red. The green and yellow bolts are all the same size and length – the yellow bolt has a fiber washer on it, so keep track of it, and put it back in the same place. The red bolt is longer than the rest – make sure it gets back in the right spot – it has to pass through the water pump cover, side case, and into the block, so it’s longer. None of the other bolts need to come off to get the cover off – leave them in the case.
Okay, once you get the 13 bolts out, it’s time to SLOWLY remove the cover. Put a drain pan under it, because you will get some oil leaking out. Remove it slowly so you don’t tear the gasket. If you don’t shred it taking off the cover, you can reuse it. There are two (2) dowel pins in the case. There is one at the top left, and one at the bottom right. Remove the cover evenly, or it will get stuck on one of the dowel pins, just making it harder to get off (and increasing your chances of tearing the gasket). Here’s what you’ve got once the cover is off. These 6 (5mm) allen bolts hold the clutch spring and clutch drive plate on the bike.
There is no torque spec specific to these bolts, just “tight,” according to the manual. Remember that when they go back on…
Remove each bolt, spring retainer, and spring, the drive plate will slide right out. I cheat when I take them out (but I DO NOT use that thing when putting them in!):
Once you get all the springs and drive plate out, remove the clutch fibers and steels. There will be 8 fiber plates, and 7 steel plates (for ‘03s and ‘04s – ‘05s will have an extra fiber plate in there).
Here’s what it looks like with the fibers and steels out:
Notice that I stuffed paper towels in the bottom of the case – oil will continue to pool there, and drip out of the case, down your frame. Stick a clean rag or paper towels in there to keep it from dripping. If you use paper towels, make absolutely sure you get ALL of the paper towel out when you’re done.
Time to put the new clutch fibers and plates in now. Start with a fiber plate first, then a steel plate, etc. Alternate until you get 7 fiber plates and all 7 steel plates in. You should have one fiber plate left… Notice how the tabs on the first 7 fiber plates went in? The last fiber plate goes in with the tabs in the clutch hub, like this:
That last plate doesn’t go in like the rest. Notice that – look at the plates – when you first take the cover off. You’ll see what I’m talking about, if you can’t see it in this pic.
Author's Note - Doesn't matter if you offset the final fiber plate or not - you'll have a perfectly functional clutch either way...
Once you get the clutch plates back in there, put the drive plate back on, and put in the springs, retainers, and allens. Torque value for this, again, is “tight.” Just be careful not to strip these things out, due to overtightening. Don’t be a He-Man, and crank them ‘til they strip. When they stop turning, you’re good!
Get the cover back on there, put the right bolts in the right places, and tighten the cover down. If you apply a light coat of oil to the gasket surface, it’ll be more resistant to tearing the next time you’re in here.
Here's the difference between the first fiber plate and all the others - these are from the stock clutch. First plate on the left, all the others look like the one on the right.
The friction pads are different on them, too.
The reason that first plate (inboard plate) is different is because it's an anti-chatter plate. It's designed to slip a little without causing any damage to the rest of the clutchpack and hardware. If you pick up a clutchpack that has all friction plates the same, don't hesitate to put it in. On hard launches, it won't have the "small slip" that the stock clutchpack has, but it is a little more harsh on the driven parts.
Reconnect the lower radiator hose, fill up the oil and coolant, and put the rear brake pedal back on. Intentionally slip the clutch a little when you first fire the bike – it will rid the clutch fiber plates of excess oil from the soaking. Go ride.