Unfinished Business 8 – Fixing Risa’s Grabby Clutch

In my last post, I mentioned how I have encountered occasions where Risa’s clutch grabbed on moving off from stop, juddered and even stalled the engine. I thought that I have avoided the fate of the K1’s grabby clutch but that was not the case. I must say that it only happened just a handful and there were no problems if one was well behaved when moving off from stop. However, if I were to rev the engine a bit higher or release the clutch a little quicker, the clutch would grab.

Suzuki’s fix was to add 2 washers around the clutch basket from the K2 model onwards. I suppose they were there to ease the clutch’s engagement point. It kind of worked. Risa was much more ridable than the K1 but still made for a unsatisfying riding experience. I had to be careful when moving off but could not do enthusiastic launches from stop.

The good news was that fix was not really difficult as it involved replacing the 1st steel plate (on the engine side) of the the clutch with a 2004 ZX10R clutch plate. I have “done this before” on my GSXR1000 K1 the Diva, when I sent the bike to a workshop and asked them to do it. This time, I decided to do it on my own.

I learned about this mod from the Gixxer Forum and am indebted to it for its help. You can find the thread here with instructions.

K1-K4 CLUTCH FIX Cushion | Suzuki GSX-R Motorcycle Forums Gixxer.com

Getting the Parts

First I had to order the parts.
1) Clutch cover gasket – 1148240F00 or F10 (updated item)
2) 2004 ZX10R clutch plate – 13089-0003
3) Mobil 1 10w-40 Fully Synthetic Oil 3 bottles (Motul’s 7100 ester’s stuff was not available in 10w-40)
4) A clutch basket holder tool
5) Yamabond gasket glue

Since I was already working on the Risa, I also decided to get the following:
5) Cam Chain Tensioner – 1283018G00 or G01 (updated item)
6) Tensioner Gasket – 1283718G00
7) Engine case slider
All the items were in stock except for the star of the show, the ZX10R clutch plate. I placed an order through the local Kawasaki agent and it took about 1 and a half months to arrive, but arrived it did and today was the day that I did the mod.

Doing the Clutch Mod

Being the DIY mechanic who has a more than passing chance of screwing something up, the first thing I did was to pray for divine guidance. Of course, I have already studied the workshop manual multiple times before attempting it.

Took a day off work today and started work on Risa.

First thing to do was to remove both right and left fairings. While I had the left fairing off, I fitted the left engine case slider. This thing will be a life saver if the bike ever tipped over on the left. The K4’s fairing did contact the mount a bit, but it was not too bad. For the right side, the fairing covered up the case, so I decided not to fit it. From the position of the mushroom, I think the engine case is unlikely to contact the ground if the worst happens.

The top right bolt comes into a bit of contact with the fairing
View from behind the left fairing

With the fairings off, I proceeded to drain the oil, removed the bolts and the clutch cover. With little taps of a hammer and the soft handle of a screwdriver, the clutch case came off easily.

The clutch assembly in its glory

Next up, my $15 clutch basket holder came into play. There were 3 locations with little grooves on the fiber plates and the tool fitted nicely on it. Just a light grab will do. The tool rested nicely on the foot peg and provided enough torque for me to unloosen the bolts holding the clutch pressure plate. With that removed, I started taking out the alternating steel and fiber plates one by one until I reached the last steel plate. The last thing was to remove the 2 spring washers.

Clutch Basket Holder
Fitted nicely into the notches of the fiber plates
Unscrewing the bolts holding the clutch pressure plates
Removing the fiber and steel plates. As I got deeper, it became more difficult to get them out and I had to use 2 screw drivers and eventually a thin wire with a hook to get the last few out
The first Suzuki steel plate and the spring washers that we will not reuse

The steel plates and fiber plates looked to be in good condition. I compared the ZX10R steel plate and the GSXR’s one and noticed that the ZX10R’s one was double the thickness. It looked like 2 plates sandwiched with a space in between. Perhaps this was how Kawasaki solved the grabby clutch issue on their bikes? I imagine that it allows a bit of movement between the 2 attached clutch plates for a smoother take up.

The star of the show. Some Kawasaki DNA in Risa will do her much good
Comparison of the 2 steel plates. The Kawasaki one has the rivets
Notice that the Kawasaki steel plate looks like 2 plates sandwiched together

Anyway, after putting in the first fiber plate, the Ninja steel plate went in. Then it was all a matter of putting the rest of the plates in, fixing the clutch basket tool, replacing the clutch pressure plate and bolting them in (in a criss cross pattern). After cleaning up the surfaces, I added some Yamabond gasket glue to the locations specified, fitted the gasket, the clutch cover and bolted up everything (in a criss cross pattern).

Yamabond 1215
A dab of Yamabond at one of the 4 locations where different sections of the engine cases come together

The next thing was to move to the left side of the bike to adjust the clutch adjusting screw. It should be 1/4 turn out. Then adjust the cables to get a reasonable free play for the clutch.

After that, the new engine oil went in and I started the bike to check. Topping it up later, I went for a test ride and the clutch’s engagement was buttery smooth. However, I felt that the clutch was heavier but manageable. I red revved to about 7000-8000rpm before releasing the clutch and there were no jerks or juddering. The engagement was perfect.

Lastly, I removed the old cam chain tensioner and replaced it with the new one. The funny thing was that initially after fitting it in, the cam chain noise sounded worse. I thought that I might have done something wrong. However, after riding it for a day or two, the sound disappeared and the engine was purring like a happy cat.

Well, with this clutch mod done, the bike is now almost as good as new. She may be old but she is now running well with all bugs sorted out. In my mind, there are only 3 possible things left to do. Rebuild the suspension, change the tires and adjust the valve clearances, all of which can be scheduled for later. In the meantime, its time to enjoy the ride! In the next post, I will probably talk about what I like and dislike about Risa. Stay tuned.

Proverbs 3:5-8New King James Version

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

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