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clutch lever acting strange

Bill Bass

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I have a 2002 r1150rt, with 58k on the clock. Yesterday when I took it out to go for a ride, I grabbed the clutch lever, and put the bike in gear. The bike kicked into 1st gear and immediately stalled, because I had my right hand on the brake. After that, I noticed there was absolutely no tension on the clutch lever.


I took the top off clutch master cylinder and the fluid was very low, so I put enough in to reach just above the bottom of the site glass and put the cap back on. After squeezing the clutch lever about 25 times the pressure began to build back up, and now feels quite normal.


the strange thing now, is the clutch is "grabbing" very quickly as I release the lever. It used to be about halfway released before it would grad, now it is within a half inch of the grip.


Is there a way to adjust this? more fluid? will it correct over time?


Any ideas would be appreciated.


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Chances are you have a slave cylinder failure. It's pretty common. One good clue is a gear oil smell in your clutch reservoir. It's a pretty easy R&R if you're reasonably handy with tools.

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can you replace it without taking off the rear tire?


Evening Bill


I'm not sure if you can get the slave out without removing the rear tire (I haven't ever tried it that way)-- If you don't remove the rear tire it will make a difficult job much/much harder than it really needs to be.


My personal way is to: remove the rear wheel & remove the rear shock.


Then with a little twisting, tugging, & finagling you can somewhat secure the lower part of mud flap out of your way.


Then it is not that difficult to remove the slave.


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However, you may need to be creative with your tools.

You might want to grind the short leg of an Allen key to make it even shorter to gain better access.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My guess is that the slave cylinder is leaking, hence the low level. The fluid level should rise as the clutch plate wears, not the other way around.


Anyway, you will know more once you get the lower pump off the gearbox. As stated, you should be able to take it off if you shorten an allen key for the top bolt. The gearbox mount/pipe stays in the way of happiness when taking the lower pump off the bike.



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It is a fiddly job. Agree on shortening an allen key - makes it a bit easier.


I found it easiest to loosen the banjos on the slave, disconnect the master cylinder end of the main pipe, free up the other pipe that leads to the bleeding connector, and then withdraw the slave a few inches through the rear with the hoses still attached. That gave much better access to swing the allen key around and remove the banjos than trying to do them in situ. It didn't just pull through; I had to actively get up and go round to feed the two hoses through a couple of times, simultaneously giving me an opportunity to straighten out my old knees and neck!


Then I reversed the procedure, just nipping them up once in place.


Rather than get a new unit there are refurb kits available for half the price. New seal(s) and circlip I understand. I was in a hurry so didn't bother with that. However I have kept the old one and will refurb it ready for when it goes again, The last one lasted seven years.


Remember to get new washers for the hydraulic fittings. I reused the old ones but they sprang a leak, once it was all wiggled back and tightened up. So it all had to come out again and then wait two days, all for the sake of a few pennies. Oh and there's a paper gasket too.




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  • 1 month later...

thanks for all the replies guys, I appreciate your expert input.


To make a long story short, I ended up sending it back to the dealer to have the slave cylinder replaced. They also replace the associated hydraulic hose.


So now everything works like new, however the clutch lever doesn't engage until its almost all the way out - this is different..I would like to have it grip sooner as I let it out.


Is there any way to adjust this action, like you could with a cable system?



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"Is there any way to adjust this action, like you could with a cable system?"

Simple answer: No.

There is no adjustment. Some people seem to think 'adjusting' the lever helps with the engagement, but not so. However, you may find that playing with the lever might make you feel better about it.

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Is there any way to adjust this action, like you could with a cable system?



Evening Bill


There is sort of away to adjust the lever position in relation to the clutch engagement point (within a reason)


Try setting the little wheel (shown in picture) to #1 (that moves the lever in towards the bar a little more)



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