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2017 Yamaha XSR 700
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,
So, for a while now, my partner has been telling me that my clutch lever is super stiff. However, I lube it often enough, it moves smoothly, and while I admit it is stiff, I've never had an issue with it, or felt that it was uncomfortable - and I'm pretty sure it's been like that from day one (though who can remember).
But now I've just come from a week long motorcycle holiday through Norway and on the last day, we were all checking out each others' bikes. Five or six people sat on mine and each and every one of them exclaimed "oh my god, it's so stiff! Jesus, that's just not right, how can you ride with it like that?"

So... are they right? Do you guys have stiff clutches too, or is it just that I've gotten used to it? And assuming the cable is lubed, what might the issue be? More importantly, is it something that needs to be addressed, or is it probably fine as long as it doesn't impair my use of it?
 

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First follow your cable routing to see if something has caused a sharp bend that would cause the issue. You could also disconnect the cable and see if it slides smoothly inside the housing. Those would be the first two things to check. The first costs nothing, the second is whatever the cost of the cable may be.

One thing I am not sure of, is if the cable has a plastic (teflon?) lining that could be affected by the incorrect cable lube. The wrong stuff could cause the material to swell and bind. I cannot remember the last time I lubed a cable on one of my bikes, I think I replaced one cable on my KLX650 in the 50,000 miles ridden. I will say in recent years I don't ride in rain and such so not much chance for any water in the cables. Much like chains, the technology for even the cables has gotten better.
 

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If there are no super special builds or fantastic mods such as high quality levers, you may check the routing as said before.
Around 30 tkm as simple change to a new clutch cable will bring a lot of easy and smooth actuating. As far as I know, these cables have a Teflon liner, so no oil nor grease is needed.
 

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Do you guys have stiff clutches too,
No.
Mine is fresh from the French production line, now with 1500 miles. If I hold the handlebar with my left hand I can pull the clutch lever in with my smallest finger (by the ball on the end of the lever) and I have small hands. My 2016 SV650 is about the same effort, my previous bike was a Z900RS which had a lighter action but it had a slip-and-assist clutch.
Did you buy the bike from new? Could someone have fitted heavier duty clutch springs? You were told that your clutch was heavy - did you try using their clutches to compare?

The most likely culprit would be the cable, then the actuator mechanism (the older SV models actuator bearings would tighten up with age/corrosion for example - although it sat next to the front sprocket), then possibly the lever pivot.

Does it matter? I'm a worrier and if I think something is wrong then I need to fix it. I would buy and install a new cable, check the lever pivot at the same time. After that? I would spend many sleepless nights wondering whether to pull off the clutch cover...:rolleyes: (and then do it anyway).

People with more sanity than me that are happy with the clutch effort would probably leave it alone.
 

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2017 Yamaha XSR 700
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I checked the routing and found no issues... then I relubed the cable again and that seems to have eased it up somewhat. I suppose 3000km worth of mountains and rain will do that to a cable.
It was indeed stiffer than the other bikes I rode with - now it's still on the stiff side, but maybe not an outlier anymore. I can move it with one finger too, but that may just mean I've worked up my hand strength over the years!

I did buy the bike used, but the original owner only rode it 5000km before selling it, and I kind of doubt they were fiddling with the cables much in that time.

For the record, I did some research on this when I first got the bike, and it seemed most people suggested using regular old silicon lube spray, and it has worked for me so far.
I haven't heard of these cables being teflon lined, perhaps you guys are right, but they're also fairly exposed, at least at the ends, so I do think it makes sense to spray something in there every once in a while... assuming it doesn't swell and bind.

But now I'm feeling a tiny tiny bit of graininess in it too, so maybe it's just time to swap out the cable entirely and see what a brand new one feels like!
Either way, thanks for your responses everyone! 😄
 

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Hey everyone,
.... I lube it often enough...
Yes, great advice from others.

About lube, I had a new can of wally-world "Blaster" spray silicone that I use externally on the COPS spark plug boots every plug change. Wet those rubber boots down externally with spray silicone, and they come out of the valve cover next time easy, one handed. So it worked for that application.

Then I lubed the clutch cable with this silicone (instead of WD-40 I've used since forever) and it mucked up tight, in a week I couldn't pull clutch.

Off bike, washed down with WD-40, cable working again as expected. Change clutch cable before it's worn out - you keep a spare in your toolbox, right?
 

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I recently noticed quite some difference from one bike to another.
One bike was a new '22 in the showroom with zero kilometers on it and it felt pretty stiff. I didn't ride that bike, but just sitting on it and trying the controls, the stiff clutch action caught my attention.
Then a week later I made a testride on a '22 bike with only 500km on it and that clutch was so much lighter, it actually felt like a hydraulic clutch!

No idea how such a big difference is possible between two (practically) new bikes, but it makes me wonder about the quality control at the Yamaha factory?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I have an update - a short while after lubing my cable, it returned to the previous stiffness. So I'm thinking what you guys have been saying about the lube mucking up the lining is exactly what happened. The cable is travelling smoothly in spite of the stiffness, but I figured maybe I should just replace it anyway. So I've ordered a new one, and since just getting a cable is boring, I got some new clutch and brake levers too. :cool:
 
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