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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been reading about a lot of clutch problems lately. maybe it's about time to make a small post about how to set up your clutch decently (and also a little insight into why our clutches fail so often).

First of all, I'd like start off saying I'm not an expert, I've never worked for any motorcycle manufacturer, let alone Ducati. I do am an old timer and have been working on my bikes mostly myself, apart from the jobs I don't have the tools for. Especially day-to-day maintenance. Chains, tires, brakes, bearings.

Our clutches aren't the most trouble free ones, and I have found making sure it is properly adjusted could prevent at least some of the problems some people seem to have.

Anyway, let's start. First of all make sure your lever at the handle bar rotates smooth, and is properly lubed. This pivot point only has a nylon "bearing", or in the case of Chinese replacement levers, anodized aluminium on a steel bolt. Considering the forces on the pivot point, this must be lubed. I consider generic bearing grease a good, and not too thick lubricant. Apply an ample dab, this keeps it lubed, and also keeps dust out. Also apply a little bit of the same grease to the barrel end of the clutch cable before you install it in the lever. This barrel rotates a bit in the lever while you pull the clutch. If you don't lube this the barrel will slowly wear the hole oval, won't rotate anymore and ultimately the cable can snap right next to the little barrel caused by metal fatigue.

Next, make sure the first few inches of the outer cable align straight with the clutch perch. If it doesn't fix it with some velcro or a ty wrap. By doing this you prevent the inner cable from wearing on the outer cable right where the outer cable ends, in the adjuster. This also makes the clutch go a bit smoother (less friction).

IMG_4998.jpg



Only now, adjust the clutch free play. Too much play and the clutch will not completely free and drag a little at a traffic light. In worst cases it won't allow you to select neutral. Too little play however, and the clutch can slip, especially in fifth and sixth when the torque load on the clutch is the highest. NB, you may not notice this in the lower gears as under lower loads the clutch may still engage!

According to the manual the free play should be around 3-4mm if I recall correctly. Something like this. (twist the adjuster on the perch in or out till you have about the same play)

IMG_4996.jpg



Ok, now that we have adjusted the clutch, we wan't to make sure it stays that way until we decide it needs readjustment. This may seem a stupid remark, but believe me, here is where Ducati failed us a bit. The adjuster does not have a counter nut as on most bikes, and solely relies on the little plate spring thingly underneath the perch.

IMG_4997.jpg


Stock, the tension on this spring is too little and won't prevent the adjuster from rotating. Typically it rotates in in, increasing the free play up to the point where the clutch won't completely free. And you can't find neutral anymore. Or you're standing at a traffic light for a minute with the clutch pulled in, all the time dragging it and wearing the discs...

I noticed on my bike the adjuster wasn't phased by this spring at all, and just slowly ran out of adjustment. I check my bike over weekly, and every time I found the adjuster had turned a bit. Not much, but always a bit. Imagine if I never set it back to the proper free play...... Every time I adjusted mine I actually set it back at where it was was before.

Until I took the little spring off the perch and bent it like 15 degrees like in the picture. Only now it locks the adjuster in place unless I turn it. And if you do, make sure the spring sits in a groove again.

(and I wouldn't be surprised this clip is missing or at least non-functional on a lot of Scramblers).

I seriously think the above could prevent clutch wear and failure. My bike is at 5500 miles now, and the clutch never needed adjustment apart from setting it back where it was before every time. I ride it in the in the worst environment (city traffic, daily) and in general I don't think it has a happy life. It never complained though and I'm convinced it will last a very long time...
 

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I noticed on my bike the adjuster wasn't phased by this spring at all, and just slowly ran out of adjustment. I check my bike over weekly, and every time I found the adjuster had turned a bit.
A very simple way to handle this is how they do it on race bikes, and from the factory on our bikes for all of the fasteners:
Get a grease pen, and make little marks on the adjuster and then on something that doesn't rotate, like the end of the cable sheathe. If the marks go out of alignment, then the adjuster is turning.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The only color zip tie you had was green? Dam....

Oh, grease pen. It's what mechanics use on bolts after they have torqued them. Serves two goals: a visible check the bolt was torqued, and it's also a very easy way to see if a bolt has come loose afterwards...

(check the yellow marks on your Scrambler on and near the bolts)
 

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The first day I rode my bike, I noticed the lack of lock nut and to top it off, the "lock" was bent down and doing nothing. I also bent mine like you. A nut would've been better for sure.
 

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Max, this is great write and very helpful. Ducati should be very appreciative for that. I need a clarification on the 2-3mm distance. According to my manual for a Desert Sled 2018 destined for the EU market the distance of free play should be 3-4mm. In my clutch lever in order to be able to see that distance I have to pull the lever a bit. If I don't touch the lever there is no distance. So what I get is that when I pull the clutch lever the 3-4mm of free play means that during that 4mm distance nothing happens and after that is that the clutch is starting to work. Right? So it's normal that that free play distance is not visible until we pull the clutch lever a bit.
And something else in the manual it says that the stock distance between the circular adjuster and the perch is 5mm. It could go up to 11mm. The metal plate underneath was touching the circular adjuster. I think it locks the adjuster a bit preventing it from rotating. So I guess the metal plate underneath should touch the adjuster to prevent the latter from rotating.

Thanks again.
 

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In my clutch lever in order to be able to see that distance I have to pull the lever a bit. If I don't touch the lever there is no distance. So what I get is that when I pull the clutch lever the 3-4mm of free play means that during that 4mm distance nothing happens and after that is that the clutch is starting to work. Right?
That's exactly right, and that's what "free play" means - it's how much the lever will move freely without actuating the clutch at all.
 

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The one thing a bit confusing is that some people here say that even during freeplay, the actuator at the other end will still move slightly, while others say it shouldn’t move at all.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Yes it does move a few degrees.

The spring pressure you feel during those first few mm's are from spring 17 in the below diagram (which preloads the clutch actuator shaft so the cable won't ever accidentally jump out of the actuator arm, eliminating cable slack).

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 12.39.36 PM.png
 

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Great post! I love it when I find posts like this, it's the small things like this that I don't even think about.

So I went through and did all the steps, and the clutch feels so smooth now. I think that the wire doesn't have any big bends made a big difference for me.

Anyways, thanks for sharing this! I can't wait till winter is over (only 3 more months )


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I've been reading about a lot of clutch problems lately. maybe it's about time to make a small post about how to set up your clutch decently (and also a little insight into why our clutches fail so often).

First of all, I'd like start off saying I'm not an expert, I've never worked for any motorcycle manufacturer, let alone Ducati. I do am an old timer and have been working on my bikes mostly myself, apart from the jobs I don't have the tools for. Especially day-to-day maintenance. Chains, tires, brakes, bearings.

Our clutches aren't the most trouble free ones, and I have found making sure it is properly adjusted could prevent at least some of the problems some people seem to have.

Anyway, let's start. First of all make sure your lever at the handle bar rotates smooth, and is properly lubed. This pivot point only has a nylon "bearing", or in the case of Chinese replacement levers, anodized aluminium on a steel bolt. Considering the forces on the pivot point, this must be lubed. I consider generic bearing grease a good, and not too thick lubricant. Apply an ample dab, this keeps it lubed, and also keeps dust out. Also apply a little bit of the same grease to the barrel end of the clutch cable before you install it in the lever. This barrel rotates a bit in the lever while you pull the clutch. If you don't lube this the barrel will slowly wear the hole oval, won't rotate anymore and ultimately the cable can snap right next to the little barrel caused by metal fatigue.

Next, make sure the first few inches of the outer cable align straight with the clutch perch. If it doesn't fix it with some velcro or a ty wrap. By doing this you prevent the inner cable from wearing on the outer cable right where the outer cable ends, in the adjuster. This also makes the clutch go a bit smoother (less friction).

View attachment 36191


Only now, adjust the clutch free play. Too much play and the clutch will not completely free and drag a little at a traffic light. In worst cases it won't allow you to select neutral. Too little play however, and the clutch can slip, especially in fifth and sixth when the torque load on the clutch is the highest. NB, you may not notice this in the lower gears as under lower loads the clutch may still engage!

According to the manual the free play should be around 3-4mm if I recall correctly. Something like this. (twist the adjuster on the perch in or out till you have about the same play)

View attachment 36195


Ok, now that we have adjusted the clutch, we wan't to make sure it stays that way until we decide it needs readjustment. This may seem a stupid remark, but believe me, here is where Ducati failed us a bit. The adjuster does not have a counter nut as on most bikes, and solely relies on the little plate spring thingly underneath the perch.

View attachment 36197

Stock, the tension on this spring is too little and won't prevent the adjuster from rotating. Typically it rotates in in, increasing the free play up to the point where the clutch won't completely free. And you can't find neutral anymore. Or you're standing at a traffic light for a minute with the clutch pulled in, all the time dragging it and wearing the discs...

I noticed on my bike the adjuster wasn't phased by this spring at all, and just slowly ran out of adjustment. I check my bike over weekly, and every time I found the adjuster had turned a bit. Not much, but always a bit. Imagine if I never set it back to the proper free play...... Every time I adjusted mine I actually set it back at where it was was before.

Until I took the little spring off the perch and bent it like 15 degrees like in the picture. Only now it locks the adjuster in place unless I turn it. And if you do, make sure the spring sits in a groove again.

(and I wouldn't be surprised this clip is missing or at least non-functional on a lot of Scramblers).

I seriously think the above could prevent clutch wear and failure. My bike is at 5500 miles now, and the clutch never needed adjustment apart from setting it back where it was before every time. I ride it in the in the worst environment (city traffic, daily) and in general I don't think it has a happy life. It never complained though and I'm convinced it will last a very long time...
This was very usufull knowlege of you. very best.
 
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