Unreliable clutch advice please
I've got to decide whether to dump this lemon or try one last time to get a usable clutch setup.
My 2000 LT has only 27,000 miles 'cause it's been so unreliable and is usually disassembled instead of usable. Right now it needs its fifth clutch. The last clutch was by Irv Seaver for $1100 and it started slipping again before 3,000 miles. Now at 4,000 if the windshield is up I can't reach highway speeds.
Every time they replace all the seals, o-ring & nut, clutch alumium basket, pressure plate, backing plate, spacer ring, diaphragm spring, slave...everything. It got the newer double-lip engine shaft seal the first time the clutch was replaced, and every time since. It got the revised clutch rod with the felt. Yet nobody can get the clutch to last.
Yes, I commute in stop/go expressway and I like to split lanes to the front of the line then accelerate away. There's a Rhinewest chip, no catalytic converter, a piece of large-diameter shop-vac extension wand inplace of the air intake muffler, and a huge +2 Cee Bailey pushing into the wind. And the 2000 has the final drive ratio that makes first a bit higher so you need to slip the clutch a bit more to launch. But I figure I've only added about 4 HP to the bike.
My use is admittedly a little harder on the clutch, but the thrid one went out in a single highway trip from Chicago to LA, new when I left and slipping when I arrived. I usually try to get it to lock up before I apply full power, except when I just split lanes to the front of the line (as is legal here in California). Yet I've never had any clutch trouble with any bike or car and I drive them all pretty hard. I figure my Saturn clutch only lasted 90,000 instead of 100,000 because of hard launches. All my (other) motorcycle clutches have alwasy been extremely reliable, the only one I ever wore out was on my first 2-stroke which we slipped like mad to get underway (and a '97 Suzuki TL1000S had the crummy early-model 5-spring clutch which slipped pretty early). But this LT clutch has been a huge problem for me.
One clutch I installed with dual diaphragm springs, and that one lasted longer and worked much much better, but then the friction disc didn't last 'cause I'd also drilled the pressure plate and back plate (much like you would a brake disc) and they had a bit of cheese-grater effect.
I got to inspect some parts when removed:
- the first clutch (everything inside the bell housing was covered with a nasty soot, but the friction material thickness still seemed OK)
- the second clutch had some signs of some seepage past the engine main seal, yet it looked like the bit that leaked shouldn't have been likely to have gotten to the friction surfaces anyhow.
- the third (which my cheese-grater drilled plates shaved).
I still have the same supsects as I had when the bike had only 3,000 miles:
1) The engine main seal. Perhaps the output shaft out of the engine, which has the driven gear of the primary set, has too much radial play and makes the seal leak.
2) The clutch spring is just too darn weak. Double clutch diaphragm springs work one heck of a lot better.
3) The early LT final drive gear ratio makes first gear too high, making my hard launches hard on the clutch.
4) I'm making just enough more power than the clutch can handle, and the very large +2 Cee bailey with its flip-lip makes a ton of drag.
Anyway, right now I really really hate my LT for the 5-6 thousand I've spent on clutches. But I polished the lower fork tubes and front wheel, installed a bunch of LED lights, HID lights, CB and linear, floorboards, LED taillight, stereo power amp and upgraded speakers and crossovers, BC-3, etc. etc. It's really way way too heavy for me to love, and way too hevy for the jackrabbit starts of my commuting. I can't see the radio display at all anymore. The cruise switch on the clutch master is flaky. The original shorty J-pegs aren't very usable and the left one catches my pants cuff. But if the darn clutch would just WORK for 50,000 instead of just 3,000 I would still get some fun out of it. The second and fourth clutches I really babied and they still didn't last.
So I'm really torn. This clutch problem has already cost me more time and trouble than any bike is worth. Now even to sell it I'd need to put in a clutch, so I'd spend $1000 and sell it for maybe 6,000. If I have 22,000 into it now, and I only got 27,000 out of it, this has been a terrible motorcycle for me. Right now I just wish I could trade it straight-up for a new R1. Or FJ or ST. But I'd need to come up with a clutch repair and throw in another 4K-5K.