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Discussion Starter #1
Went through all the hoops of buying an 1100 in the last week. Met the seller at the shop where the bike was certified today to pick it up. Exchanged the bank draft, signed the ownership, even had the plates on it.

Last step was a test ride...which I unfortunately hadn't been able to do when we first looked at the bike as the owner didn't have it plated or insured.

First concern was that when I started it, the oil pressure light stayed on. I don't think the oil pressure was actually low....is this a known issue with the 1100's, a wonky sensor perhaps?

Shut the bike off, checked the oil level in the sight window (it was good), restarted, and it went out. This didn't happen at the initial inspection.

Anyhow, long story short, I went for the test ride. I didn't get 5 seconds down the road, shifted into second and third and rolled into the power pretty firmly...and the clutch was slipping. Bad.

Ugh.

I'm not sure if the seller realized there was a problem - I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say no otherwise he wouldn't have volunteered to let me test ride it before we shook hands and parted ways.

Anyhow, yes, if you rolled into it gently it held, but I very intentionally laid the torque to it to see if the clutch was solid. It is not.

I checked the obvious adjustment at the clutch lever, backed it off a little to check this wasn't the issue, and took it out for another quick test ride. Same results - the RPM's just completely run away when you lay into the power hard.

Thankfully the seller was understanding and handed the bank draft back over...but the thing is, we actually want the bike. We agreed that next Tuesday (it's a long weekend here) he'd bring it back to the shop and have the clutch looked at, but I fear the worst.

I did confirm with him that it had non-synthetic MC rated oil in it currently, so I don't think it's an oil thing.

So...is there any other adjustments possible on the clutch, and what's involved (labour hours and cost wise) to have the clutch rebuilt?

It didn't sound like he wanted to put a lot of money into it so the possibility exists that if it needs many hundreds of dollars of work...we will call off the deal, but sadly, like I said, we actually want the bike.

Thoughts?
 

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I don't understand some things.

How did you get plates for a motorcycle if it had not been paid for and signed over to your name?

you agree to purchase the bike
you give him money or a check
he signs the title over to you and gives you a bill of sale
you purchase insurance so the bike can be registered
you take all those documents to the DMV, Pay the sales tax, register the bike in your name, they give you the plates.

If you did that, its your bike now.

It would not be possible for the previous owner to not know the clutch was slipping. Once you get into 4th or 5th gear and give it some throttle, its gonna slip.

and you said you did this "at the shop where the bike was certified "

I don't know what that means?! Certified to what?
 

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Replacing the clutch is not a big deal, its a standard maintenance function on a motorcycle.

How many miles does the bike have on the odo? A clutch can last the life of the bike - if the mileage is low and the clutch is worn out already, then the previous owner beat the life out of the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I don't understand some things.

How did you get plates for a motorcycle if it had not been paid for and signed over to your name?
First, I'm not in your state, or even your country. I'm in Canada. Your rules may be different there, but here in Ontario (Canada) once the ownership is signed and the bike is certified as safe/fit, and you have insurance coverage, one can temporarily use the plates from an old motorcycle (in our case, the plates from my wife's existing Vstar 650) to get the bike on the road.

So, lets not worry about the technicalities about *how* I was legal to do the test ride. I was.

Replacing the clutch is not a big deal, its a standard maintenance function on a motorcycle.

How many miles does the bike have on the odo? A clutch can last the life of the bike - if the mileage is low and the clutch is worn out already, then the previous owner beat the life out of the bike.
55,000KM, or 35,000 miles. Obviously I don't know the history of the bike beyond what the seller told me, although he's only the second owner. Doubt it was beat on, the bike is in too good of shape, so I suspect that one of the two previous owners simply slipped it a lot while sitting at lights, or while launching - IE, premature/excessive wear by rider error.

It is what it is, and there's nothing I can do about it, but we agreed on a fairly top-dollar price for the bike to begin with (again, since it's what my wife wanted) but I was not willing to take delivery of it with a fairly serious mechanical issue once that came out of the woodwork.

On the topic of the previous owner knowing there was an issue or not, I don't know. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt as he seemed like an honest guy...and yes, if you rode it gently, it didn't slip..but It was the first thing I checked, intentionally rolling onto the power fairly aggressively..and the slip was immediately evident. Maybe he didn't know what a slip felt like. Who knows. Again, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, and he was willing to walk away from the sale (having given me the bank draft back and offering to return the deposit) but I said we'd get the shop to look at it before 100% calling things off. If the shop says it's a <$500 fix and he's willing to pay that, we'll still buy the bike. If it's a bigger issue, or he's not willing to fix the clutch, we have no deal unfortunately.

All things said, a little slip or a lot of slip, I'm not buying the bike like that, and yes, although I could do the work myself, I would not have paid what we agreed on for the bike if I knew the first thing I was going to have to do is start wrenching on it. ;)
 

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Ok, you have strange ways across the boarder.

You seem to have experience with motorcycles, and if you feel the bike is pretty solid except for the clutch then its worth going to the next step. If the owner cannot afford to have the clutch replaced then you still cant take it for real test ride.

I don't know how familiar you are with Vstar bikes, Consumer Reports surveys indicate they are the most reliable motorcycles on the market, esp the mid sized bikes, which would be the 650, 950, 1100... So if you find a good bike at a good price, its hard to go wrong.

I had never heard the term 'certified' before, I take it that is a safety inspection: brakes, tires, lights, suspension, frame integrity (no rust).

The website has been screwed up for a few days, an upgrade went haywire and things are not back to normal yet. A few 1100 owner might jump in and offer advice on clutch replacement costs and options, whether the bike just needs the plates, or if the basket should be replaced at the same time. If the owner can get the clutch fixed I'd still want to take the bike for a 20 mile ride and ring it out to 80mph, then listen to the engine when its hot.

BTW, did not mean to imply that your test ride was illegal or anything. Here in NY if a MC does not have valid registration, inspection, and insurance, there is no legal way to ride it. Trying to sell a MC here that is 'off the road' is like trying to sell a dead fish. People will swap plates from a registered bike, but if you have an accident you are screwed. A dealer can put a temporary plate on a MC and let people take it for test rides.

You are right that there is a benign way that a clutch can be prematurely worn out. As the clutch wears the freeplay becomes less and less. If the owner does not keep it adjusted it will never fully engage, and will start to slip and wear. Any rider that understands how a clutch works would immediately recognize its slipping and adjust the cable.. But some people don't, and they wear it out.

Hope this works out for you, 1100 is a great bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You seem to have experience with motorcycles, and if you feel the bike is pretty solid except for the clutch then its worth going to the next step.
.

Not sure it's "can't afford" or "not willing to". Sounds like he may rather just call off the deal if it's going to be an expensive repair.

I don't know how familiar you are with Vstar bikes, Consumer Reports surveys indicate they are the most reliable motorcycles on the market, esp the mid sized bikes, which would be the 650, 950, 1100... So if you find a good bike at a good price, its hard to go wrong.
My wife has owned a Vstar 650 for the last 2 years and put 10,000KM on it, so we are pretty familiar with them. ;)

She likes the Vstar...and it's one of the few bigger CC bikes that she can comfortably flat-foot on, and they are lighter than other big-bore bikes IMHO, hence why we settled on this one in particular, especially considering it already had some of the options she wanted.

I had never heard the term 'certified' before, I take it that is a safety inspection: brakes, tires, lights, suspension, frame integrity (no rust).
Yes, it's a safety inspection - brakes, lights, tires...head bearings, fork seals, etc etc etc.

It doesn't have anything to do with drivetrain fitness unfortunately so the shop wouldn't have noticed the clutch issue.

I'm going to call the shop shortly and talk to them about it and get a better idea as to the cost of the clutch replacement.
 

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...
I checked the obvious adjustment at the clutch lever, backed it off a little to check this wasn't the issue, and took it out for another quick test ride. Same results - the RPM's just completely run away when you lay into the power hard.
Not sure if Nick57 caught this part, but that would be something for the shop to check, to make sure there really is freeplay on the clutch lever on the engine case, and there is nothing weird going on with the cable (free play at the hand grip level but not at the other end).
 

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after talking about this today, I went out and loosened up the bottom adjustment for the clutch on my 650 tonight.

This conversation was making me paranoid!
 

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the kickstand might have to come off to get the cover off. but there has to be a quarter turn of play in the clutch push rod. do a google searh for a $20 lift.
Adjusted my clutch last weekend. Kickstand does not have to come off, but I did put the bike up on a stand and put the stand "up" to push the kickstand switch plunger out of the way to get the bottom bolt out.
 

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i use the bottom adjustment only to center the top adjustment, same thing on the throttle adjust the carb end to center the adjuster at the grip, the clutch push rod play can be felt at the lever on the engine by pushing it with your finger if you can't push it at least 1/4 inch it's too tight, when that lever moves it shouldn't immediately start pushing the pressure plate, if that push rod is too tight loosening the cable won't stop the slip. as the friction material wears down the push rod play gets less and less until there's none left
 

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You for sure want to check the adjustment at the engine end of the cable. It is a very touchy adjustment. Make sure you read the procedure on the wiki page if you are doing it yourself. The slightest turn on mine went from crazy slipping to no slippage. I thought my clutch was going bad a couple years ago. This minor adjustment solved my issue. Like you, I was thinking I was going to need new clutch.
 

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For you guys who have adjusted the clutch cable. The attached picture is of my clutch lever. The green area is unused. the blue line is where the clutch stars to engage. the red line is the last part. Obviously, the area between the blue & red is the friction zone.

My question is ... Do I need to adjust anything?
 

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Replacing the clutch is not a big deal, its a standard maintenance function on a motorcycle.
maybe if you have a dry clutch that is easy to get to. on mine, i had to take apart the entire right side of my bike just to get to it: exhaust, right side frame tubing, foot controls, crankcase cover which then required an oil change afterwards.
 

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after talking about this today, I went out and loosened up the bottom adjustment for the clutch on my 650 tonight.

This conversation was making me paranoid!
I adjusted the clutch on my wife's 650 a few times and it has about 1/2" free play measured at the end of the clutch lever, but the clutch still engages at the end after you release it, I was wondering if it is normal or not. It doesn't slip so I prefer not to mess with rebuilding it if it is not necessary.
 

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If you have freeplay on the lever, the clutch will always full engage (lever released)

when you have zero freeplay then its like you are riding with your foot on the clutch pedal all the time, and it can slip.
 

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If you have freeplay on the lever, the clutch will always full engage (lever released)

when you have zero freeplay then its like you are riding with your foot on the clutch pedal all the time, and it can slip.
Well, I guess my concern is that on 650 it engages at the very end like last 15-20% of total movement and friction zone is very narrow. On mine clutch enters friction zone after 50% release and my old Stryker was about the same.
 

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... friction zone is very narrow. ...
that is normal on a 650. When I took the MSF course we rode on Honda 250 rebels. The friction zone was about an inch of movement on the end of the lever. I think that is part or the reason they buy those bikes for the beginners course, the friction zone is very easy to use.

When I got my 650 it was like an ON/OFF switch by comparison - took a few hundred miles to get use to.

One thing that makes it a bit easier, dont think about how far you are pulling the lever, tune into the force on the lever pushing back. You can feel the freeplay, then when the clutch is starting to dis-engage when you pull it in. Not as much feedback when you let it out, from a stop its more feeling the bike starting to pull against your feet on the ground.

There is an aftermarket clutch hand lever you can get that makes the zone bigger.
 

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that is normal on a 650. When I took the MSF course we rode on Honda 250 rebels. The friction zone was about an inch of movement on the end of the lever. I think that is part or the reason they buy those bikes for the beginners course, the friction zone is very easy to use.

When I got my 650 it was like an ON/OFF switch by comparison - took a few hundred miles to get use to.

One thing that makes it a bit easier, dont think about how far you are pulling the lever, tune into the force on the lever pushing back. You can feel the freeplay, then when the clutch is starting to dis-engage when you pull it in. Not as much feedback when you let it out, from a stop its more feeling the bike starting to pull against your feet on the ground.

There is an aftermarket clutch hand lever you can get that makes the zone bigger.
Thanks KCW! Last time I adjusted it my wife said it was easier for her to pull the lever after the adjustment. As long as it rides good I'm not touching anything :smile:
 
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