A common job on any bike with a cable clutch that’s done a few thousand miles, or worse has had a snapped cable. As time progresses cutch cables will stretch, requiring adjustment to bring in the slack, but eventually they will need replacing. Similarly, if they have frayed or kinked preventing easy movement a replacement is the best course of action. Here I’ll walk you through step by step how to replace a clutch cable on a Yamaha Fazer FZS 600 (1999-2003), but other bikes will be fairly similar, tending to vary only on how the bottom end of the cable connects to the clutch.
- Metric socket set
- Metric hexagon/allan keys / socket set
- Cross head screwdriver
- 12mm deep angle spanner
- Light grease (e.g. GT85)
Firstly, we need to remove the sprocket cover on the lower left side of the bike. To do this we need to remove the gear selector. Undo the bolt, then slide it off. Note the position of the dimple on the shaft compared to gap on selector, you will want to replace it in this position later.
With the gear selector out of the way, the sprocket cover is held by 5 bolts (shown below). Note the one on right nearest frame is slightly longer than the others.
The cover should then just slide off, but it often stiff and gummed up with crud. Note, the cover has two guide pins and the gear selector shaft has a teflon spacer that often comes off at the same time. The cover is supposed to have a gasket too, but this only extends half way around the cover and is not 100% essential.
There is usually a tonne of thick black oily greasy gritty gunk behind here, accumulated crap the chain has picked up and flung behind. Give it a good clean with WD40 or similar and brush.
Whilst in here, do also check that sprocket nut – original nuts were slimmer (9mm), often coming loose causing the front sprocket to pop off and resulting in much havoc. A trashed output shaft is pretty much an engine write off. You should have a 12mm 90179-18006 nut on there.
Next we’re going to detach the clutch cable from the spring mechanism inside the sprocket cover. There’s a little folding tab that retains the cable in position, which just needs a gentle bend with a flat screwdriver. Then the cable simply slides out sideways, and then out from the cover.
Now we move to the lever side, where you’ll notice the adjustment nuts have a groove in them. By lining these up, you can prise the cable forward and out.
Now the cable can slide downwards and out of the lever.
Before fitting the new cable, it’s a good plan to squirt a good dose of light grease down inside it and ensure to moves freely. Now you can slide the cable out and replace with your new one. Take note of the route the old cable takes and copy this. You may need to pop open some of the cable tidy clips to slot the new cable in. I find it easiest to slide the cable in from the top and feed it down. Then just refit the cable at each end in the reverse manner of above. To finish, you now just need to adjust your clutch free play.
Tighten sprocket cover bolts to 10Nm
Adjusting Clutch Free Play
Free play is the measure of how far the clutch lever can move before it hits resistance and starts to apply clutch. It should move no more than 10-15mm at end of the lever. Too little and the clutch won’t fully disengage causing slip, too much and the clutch won’t engage enough causing difficult gear changes or crunching.
Start by screwing in the adjustment nuts at the lever until they’re a couple of millimetres away from fully tightened. Next remove the rubber cover on the sprocket cover that hides the lower clutch adjustment nut.
Inside here is a locknut and adjustment screw in it’s centre. Loosen the locknut – it will be tight and clunk loose. Next, loosen the cross head screw, then tighten it until you feel resistance, then loosen it a quarter turn. Finally tighten the locknut up again whilst holding the screw still. Todo this you will need a 12mm deep angle spanner, see picture below.
Now you can fine tune free play at the lever end. Turn the smaller nut, in for more free play, out for less. Finish by locking it with the large thin locking nut.
Note, that free play may change as the bike warms up, so tweak the adjustment at the lever. The bike will spend more time hot than cold, so go with an adjustment that works hot.
Replacing Clutch Lever
I recently noticed my clutch lever had a load of excessive free play in it, which I pinpointed to the hole on the lever having worn oval causing slack and reducing leverage. With the clutch cable removed from the lever as per above, it’s simply a case of undoing the top bolt and swapping a new lever in with some grease.
If you’ve just bust the lever and your cable is fine, you should be able to do the above steps to remove the cable at the lever end alone by screwing in the adjustment nuts as much as possibly to give you enough cable slack. If you need more slack, then you’ll need to loosen off at the lower adjustment nut.
There you have it. Job done.
Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.