Clutch Problems
Clutch problems I've had and things I've done to stop the slipping.

Clutch Problems

This page is about my clutch woes. And I've had plenty of them.

First Service

I first had clutch slippage while running the bike in. When it went in for it's first service I mentioned it to the shop. I hadn't checked a thing, after all it was the first service and I had heard the TL suffered from clutch slip. They said all they could find was the cable had tightened itself up. They showed me how it happens, on a lock to lock change, the steel right angle piece at the end of the cable binds in the adjuster and tightens it up. You can hear the "clicks" as it does it. This quirk was easily fixed by applying grease to the end of the cable.

Lube this sucker to stop it binding.


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12,000KM (7500 miles)

The clutch slippage returned, mainly on brisk acceleration in 3rd gear and higher after cruising for a while. The revs would pick up a couple of thousand RPM then the clutch would hook up. It didn't seem to do it when giving the bike a hiding on the track or in my favorite twisties. Only after cruising then WOT (wide open throttle), overtaking cars etc. This time I checked all adjustments. Cable free play and slack, adjusted the actuating lever and made sure the clutch was able to fully engage. While it was apart I fitted some shims to the clutch springs. This fixed the slippage temporarily. Spark plug washers are an ideal size for shimming the springs. I used some copper washers I had (pictured). If you try shimming the springs, make sure you put the shims at the bottom of the springs inside the clutch pressure plate.

These are the copper washers I used for shims.


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15000KM (9300 miles)

The shims stopped the slipping for about 3K KM. So I bought new clutch plates. I bought these before I had measured my old ones up or pulled them out. This way the bike was off the road for a minimum amount of time as I'd have everything I needed. The day came when I had time to fit them and the shop had given me TLR plates, or TLS 99+ plates, (they are the same). Back to the shop and changed them over for the correct ones. What a pain, the '97 and 98' TLS's have 2 different drive plates (fibres) and two different metal ones. The very first fibre to go in is different to all the rest. It has a larger inner diameter 108mm vs. 101mm for the other nine. The difference in the driven plates is that two of them are thicker than the rest, 2.0mm vs 1.6mm. These plates are the third and 4th plates fitted. When I removed the old ones and measured them up, they were all within spec.

The specs for the fibre plates as per the manual are:

Drive plate thickness (A 9 pieces, and B 1 piece)
  • 2.92 - 3.08mm
  • 0.115 - 0.121 in
Clutch Parts

Mine were about half worn, all around the 3.0mm range, none under 2.98mm. So I put the new plates in and the thing still slipped if I provoked it. Same old symptoms, if I whacked the throttle open in the higher gears the engine would jump a couple of thousand RPM then the clutch would hook up.

Back to the shop I went and ordered a new cam set, very specific I was after the wrong plates came in the first time around. Well when I went to pick it up, it was the wrong one. I was able to tell straight away as it had allowances for 6 springs not 5. So without leaving the shop I returned it and got them to order the correct one. It came in at $160AUD more than the later model ones as it came complete with a new hub as well.

Clutch Cam Set
Clutch camset, removed from the hub
Clutch Cam Set
The camset in the hub.

This set-up is not a back torque limiter. It works in reverse to most descriptions. When the clutch is unloaded, that is with the engine off, or idling, or even just cruising and of course when backing off, the cluch plates have the minimum spring pressure applied to them. This also give a lighter lever feel as well.

Everything is supposed to happen when you accelerate and load the clutch up. The ramps on the cam set causes the plate with the studs on it to move back, this places more pressure on the springs and this in turn places full pressure on the plates and prevents slipping. (In theory anyway).

After fitting the new cam set I could still provoke clutch slippage although it was harder to do, but by now I'm an expert at provoking it. So what next? I fitted aftermarket heavy duty clutch springs. These are supposed to be 10% stronger than the original items. Their free length was nearly identical to the OEM ones, which were of course within spec. They helped a bit but didn't eliminate all the slip. They are stronger than the originals, but not strong enough.

clutch springs  clutch spring box

The OEM spring is on the left with the washer. Don't try these springs.


Next, I stopped short of shimming the aftermarket springs but I tried another approach. The TLS clutch has two thicker driven plates (metal) in the pack. Seeing as all my old plates were within spec, I took the two thick ones out of it and put them in the new cluctch pack after removing two of the standard plates. This gave the pack an extra 0.8mm of thickness. Adding an extra plate is just too much. I think on disengagement of the clutch it would fall out of the basket if you used a fibre one, or slip off the hub if you tried a driven one.

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21000KM (13000 miles)

The slipping returned and cut a track day down by one session. 6000km after the last lot of major work I pulled the clutch apart again. I removed all the plates and measured them up. Some were thicker and some were thinner than the original ones but all were well within service limits. I threw both sets of plates into one pile and measured each one. I then fitted the thickest back into the clutch. Before I put it all back together I measured the free length of the aftermarket springs and they were under spec. Less than 6000km on them and they were 3mm shorter than when new. So to get it working again, I left the two thicker steel plates in and added the shims I used on the original springs. This bought their free length back to the same as when they were new. First test was at another track day and the clutch worked flawlessly. Yay! Although I did notice on more than one occasion the back torque limiter is now a lot tighter. I was able to get some rear wheel lockup using engine braking. (Nothing severe, but it never used to lock up at all.)

So this round of repairs consisted of:
Fitting the thickest plates out of two sets and shimming the aftermarket springs so their free length was within spec again. I also did the usual maintenance stuff like lube the clutch cable, disassemble and clean the actuator and adjust the free play.

I've ordered a set of Barnett springs (why I didn't use them in the first place is beyond me). I've also got on order a new worm drive actuator. The old one is showing signs of wear. So I'll fit the Barnett springs and the actuator at the same time as I like to adjust the free play with the clutch cover off so I can see and feel the freeplay.

Pictures say 1000 words. Check these out!

Clutch Spring Free Length
Outside = OEM. Next two = 6000km aftermarket.
Centre = New Aftermarket.
Springs Shimmed
Aftermarket springs with shims.
Barnett Clutch Springs
Boxed set of Barnett's.
Barnett Clutch Springs
Barnett vs. OEM free length.


It's coming, still writing it up....a work in progress. - (No it's not coming, I sold the bike in 2006)

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  • Cable lubed
  • Acutator disassembled, cleaned, regreased, and checked
  • All adjustments checked, and for proper pressure plate operation
  • New clutch plates, fibres and metal
  • OEM spring shimming
  • Heavy Duty springs
  • New clutch cam-set (slipper mechanism)
  • Swapped out two normal metal plates for the thicker ones
  • Used the thickest plates from two sets
  • Shimmed the aftermarket springs
  • Fitted Barnett aftermarket springs

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TLR clutch into a '97 / '98 TLS

Here is what TLS Ben a poster on the TL Planet did to fix his slipping clutch.

After having clutch issues - too much slippage on my '97 TLS. I found a near new clutch pack from a TLR at a wrecker for the same price as a new set of clutch plates. Keen to give it a go I bought it and spent a few hours gettin it to fit - but I got it in, and it works great with lots more grip than I ever had - a much bigger diameter and an extra spring, yet it's not noticably harder to pull than the old TLS clutch, and I'm sure it should last near the life of the bike. I thoroughly recommend it if you have issues with your old TLS clutch.

Here's how to do it:

I found it necessary to remove some of the casing material from the black Ali clutch case. There is a web that runs around the back and top of this case - I needed to remove about 4mm of this web at the back to help get the clutch in place - I also cut away the paper gasket behind it (I would recommend taking the whole cover off and using a die grinder) - I did it the cheap way with a drill a cresent and lots of newspaper packing, If u removed a few mm of material from the entire web - it would make it easier for the clutch to fit in place. Once u get the backlash preventor sorted with an implement of sorts to hold it inline (through the holes provided) and an extra implement to move the oil pump gear inline - the cage fits in with a little hassle. I put my bearing centre on the shaft first - but left the rollers out till I got the cage aligned - then slid them in.

There isn't enough travel for the cable actuator to decouple the clutch, so I grabbed a thrust washer from the old clutch and doubled it up with the new clutches thrust washer just beneath the clutch lid. Then around to the other side - remove the front sprocket cover and the Hall effect speedo pickup to adjust the travel on the clutch pin adjustment thingie - and presto - it worked brilliantly!!!

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Clutch pushrod part #'s

After reading posts from people who have fitted TLS cable operated clutch conversions to their TLR's I noted that they said they had to trim the clutch actuator pushrod down a few mm for their clutches to work properly. Then I picked up that Ben had to fit two thrust washers to his new TLR clutch for proper operation. This makes it obvious that the two engines have different length clutch pushrods. So a hunt down of the parts numbers confirms this. (Thanks Doug.)

You will see from the part numbers that both the TLR and the TLS have the same inner (RH) pushrod. The TLS has two different types of outer ones. One for the 5 spring clutch fitted to the early models, and one for the '99+ models. Both of these are different to the TLR.


Clutch Push Rod LH 23111-24A01 (108.5mm long)

Clutch Push Rod RH 23110-38B00


Clutch Push Rod LH 23111-34C00 (96mm long)

Clutch Push Rod RH 23110-38B00


Clutch Push Rod LH 23111-05A01 (100mm long)

Clutch Push Rod RH 23110-38B00

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