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Clutch won't disengage gears

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby phliper » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:47 pm

Hi there,

Almost finished rebuilding my 74 commando. Yesterday I had a problem with my shifting that was not working manually, but that's past, it now works 100%.

Now I want to adjust my clutch. I have done every thing from the manual, read many posts here about the subject.

I suspect my clutch plates to be stick together : when I pull the clutch lever, I see the diaphragm moving, the needed pressure is not that big, but I can't shift then gears. And on any gears engaged, when I pull the lever, nothing happens. The diaphragm moves, but the rear wheel won't be free.

I unable to shift or downshift. By hand, everything works, but not with the clutch lever.

Do you think my plates could be stuck? I already cleaned them a couple of months ago.



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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby texasSlick » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:27 pm

Refer to the following thread .... you may have a similar problem.


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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby kerinorton » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:58 pm

Your plates could be stuck if the clutch has been assembled for a long time unused. Happens to my 750. You could try crash starting the bike in 4th gear and powering up and down with the clutch held in. That can free it, but if it is really stuck, you will have to pull it apart ans clean the plate up. If you have never had the bike on the road since your rebuild, you may have to look further. Gearbox inner mainshaft nut can be loose, so can the mainshaft nut at the clutch end.
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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby DogT » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:36 pm

Also make sure your primary chain is not too tight. That can cause strange symptoms.
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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby baldy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:22 pm

Sticky plate check. Pull in clutch. Put in neutral. Kick. If engine turns plates are stuck.
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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby The Buckeye Rider » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:27 pm

Also if the clutch has been taken apart and the plates reshuffled and/or flipped over once or twice and the basket and inner hub have some serious grooves then the clutch plates could be jammed together from being stuck in the grooves and not being able to move freely. It only takes one sticking plate to jam up the works.
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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby phliper » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:05 pm

So, I did some tests and the clutch lever works, except that when I try to rotate manually the rear wheel, with the clutch lever engaged and the tranny in 1st gear, the first try is hard, but become easier and easier and then the wheel runs free.

If I get the lever off and do the same thing : press the lever, engage the first gear and try to rotate the wheel, it is hard at first then become easier and easier.

Could that be a bad adjustment? Or a stuck plate?

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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby o0norton0o » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:53 pm

Top 3 guesses:
1) notches have worn in the clutch basket or clutch center and the plates are hanging up on the notches so they don't unload without some jostling around. (even though you've squeezed the clutch lever)

2)Your clutch plates have oil in them so they are being held together after the clutch lever is pulled due to the liquid causing the compressed plates to stick together.

3) mispositioned clutch rod cam plate not giving enough lift to the clutch diaphram to allow the plates to unload...

At this point, you can test #3 by just pulling the inspection cover on the gearbox and the clutch inspection cap on the primary cover to see how much lift your clutch is getting when you squeeze the lever.

To look at the condition of the plates, and to look at the splines in the clutch basket and clutch center hub, you need to remove the outter primary cover... so you're probably going backwards a little to see what's going on...

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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby Nater_Potater » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:44 pm

Assuming you're running the stock '74 bronze plates; what oil do you have in the primary? Mine was only ever happy with F-type ATF. Even then, I had to switch to aftermarket Barnett plates after constant recurring slipping under load in high gear.

As baldy noted, try pulling the clutch lever, and operating the kick starter. Since the kickstarter also couples through the clutch, this is a great way to verify that the clutch plates are free. I still do this every time as part of my starting drill, even though the Barnett plates have never stuck on me (old habits die hard...)

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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby 1up3down » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:28 pm

it sounds like the time has come for you to bond with your inner clutch

got the clutch tool and know how to use it? surprisingly little amount(1/2 a turn) of spring deflection allows the cir clip to be removed and the plates pulled out to be cleaned up and re installed

when you have the plates out you will be able to easily see if and how badly the the hub is notched and if bad order a new one as the plate tabs can and do stick in the hub notches and prevent the plates from releasing

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Re: Clutch won't disengage gears

Postby phliper » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:46 pm

So after cleaning the clutch and friction plates, which had oil, every thing works perfectly! Thank you all!!!

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