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Discussion Starter #1
1.) [i've complained about this before] Clutch engage/disengage is all of 1/4" travel from the forward position, while clutch lever travel is like 3" total. I know ppl say this is normal, but I still don't get it and it's tough to slip the clutch with so little wiggle room. Walk/throttling the bike onto a hitch carrier is a royal PITA because of this.

2.) 1st-N-2nd ....... my shifter is now bent from me stomping on it trying to get it into 1st. So when i pull up to a stop, it never wants to go into 1st, but will drop into N just fine, when the engine is off, it won't go into N for anything. Drives me up a damn wall when i pull up to a stop sign, come to complete stop, cars behind me and I can't get this 40 year old drive train into 1st gear. Something is just wrong with this....it should not be this difficult to get it in gear. So I wrestle constantly with 1N2 every single time I stop.

So what is there to do?
 

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1. adjust the cable if you want it to engage closer to the handle. It will be a bit sloppy towards the end.
2. If the gears don't engage with a quick stab then the dogs on the gear box are not aligned, stomping on the shifter won't change this, you need for the gears to turn a little. My general approach depends on if the bike is running or not. Not running I apply a little pressure to the shifter and rock the bike a little. drops right in. If it is running, say at a stop light, I again put a little pressure on the shifter then let the clutch out just enough to start to move the gears a bit and it drops right in.

True enough these bikes don't have the slick shifting of a modern gearbox, but coming from the clunk of an old "airhead" BMW it seems quite normal and to me. Time and practice will make it second nature, in a while you won't even think about it.
 

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The clutch springs are too weak, causing the lever to nearly be full out for them to engage. Replace with Vesrah Heavy Duty Clutch Spring Set SK-206 available from eBay for about $10.

For finding neutral, and first, try a different oil. I use Rotella straight 30 weight and it helped my shifting.
 

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I rev the engine a tad, then it drops into first.

After 10 years of riding the TW, I'm way to use to the gearbox and clutch engagement point. I even forget the clutch engagement point is near the end until someone asks if this is normal or doesn't like it.
 

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What everyone else has said so far.
The only thing you're likely to accomplish stomping on the shifter is to break something. 40 yr old design or not it's a good running machine when set up properly.
Don't forget to order a new gasket for when you drop in new clutch springs.
Adjusting your cable is just a matter of fiddling with the (don't know what they're called) wheeley tensioner things on either end of the cable. Might as well lube the cable while you're there.
 

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I am also so used to it now that it does not phase me either. My girlfriend on the other hand, the engagement point and shifting has given her fits. Still does from time to time (1-2 is problematic once in a while with her riding boots on) but i have done a few things to improve it that have all helped. Her bike shifts MUCH better than mine does now and the clutch is worlds better in smoothness and action. Finding neutral is still a pain on both of mine.

Thing #1
Synthetic oil, it really has helped shifting a lot. I'm not going to go into brand specifics since it always starts a flame war but i get JASO-MA motorcycle specific oil. I personally run 10w40 for the temps i see where i live.

Thing #2
Vesrah Heavy Duty Clutch springs that NoHair McNair mentioned. These combined with the next item below really helped with the clutch engagement point. I have these in both of my TW's and they were a good upgrade for the money spent.

Thing #3
Internal clutch pushrod adjustment. Both of mine were way off from adjustment as described in the manual. Proper adjustment combined with the springs and proper adjustment at the lever has moved the engagement point much close to the handlebar, both of mine start to pull a half inch off the bar now.

Thing #4
Barnett clutch friction plates. These made a massive difference in feel of the clutch on her bike. Its much smoother and just nicer in general to operate than mine is with the stock plates. Since she is a newer rider that better more consistent feel is important, I don't hear complaints about the clutch feeling touchy any more and i can see she has a much easier time getting going from a stop. Her bike had ~16k on the clock and the plates were almost worn out so i did them when i rebuilt the motor. Her clutch is no nice now that i want these plates in my bike, i just need to wait for my clutch to wear out first...
 

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Yeah what those guys said. I would second changing out or at least inspecting your clutch plates for a warped one.
The cheap dude fix for springs is to put washers on 'em to increase the preload. The whole Barnett set up won't set you
back too much though. If low speed maneuvers are what's giving you fits, consider some lower gearing like a larger rear sprocket.
 

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I had to adjust the clutch so it would engage sooner as my daughter hand is small and she had issues slipping the clutch.
Now she can slip the clutch and has no issues starting on hills.
I will need to talk to her about the 1st gear as she tends to have problems getting it into gear after a stop.
I don't notice any issues, but it could be I just find it second nature.
 

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Sounds like you are getting enough good advice on mechanical things you can do to help.

For an immediate fix to the problem of; at a stop sign with "cars behind me and I can't get into 1st gear":

Always downshift through the gears and into first BEFORE you come to a complete stop. -J-
 

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Nunya – you say “Clutch engage/disengage is all of 1/4" travel from the forward position, while clutch lever travel is like 3" total”

Is that ¼” inch from fully relaxed – or ¼ inch from fully pulled in ?

Sounds like it’s not adjusted properly, which would explain a lot. If this is the case, then I’ll await your reply before commenting further …….
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nunya – you say “Clutch engage/disengage is all of 1/4" travel from the forward position, while clutch lever travel is like 3" total”

Is that ¼” inch from fully relaxed – or ¼ inch from fully pulled in ?

Sounds like it’s not adjusted properly, which would explain a lot. If this is the case, then I’ll await your reply before commenting further …….
That's .25" from fully out.

Thanks for the other advice. I'm on the road so maintenance is to a minimum. I plan on changing the oil tomorrow morning as I found some mobil1 full synth at the convenience store and see of that helps at all.

When I hit final destination in 2 weeks I'll start looking into the clutch springs.
 

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Do the ports/holes on the sides of the carb count as item 3 to dislike? I got mud inside my carb. Pretty sure of it as i saw specks of dirt in the holes. My TW runs burpy. Will learn how to do carb cleaning soon!
 

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Checked my own TW, and the clutch starts to have effect (drags) about 2 ¼ inches out, bites at 2 ½ inches, and is fully engaged at 2 ¾ inches – the remaining ¼ inch of cable play being taken up by the spring on the crank-case.

That’s still only ¼ inch of difference between bite and engaged, but it seems to come in sooner than yours does

So, let’s start at the beginning – Slacken off the cable at the handle bars till it’s quite loose, then make sure that the adjustment screw on the crankcase (where the return spring is) is adjusted until the lever down there is fully “at rest”. Don’t forget to lock it off down there at this point. Then, use the adjuster screw at the handlebars to take any remaining slack out of the cable (don’t over-do it, a little bit of play in the cable is fine).

We need to get this out of the way first, as it’s the simplest solution ………
 

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That's .25" from fully out.

Thanks for the other advice. I'm on the road so maintenance is to a minimum. I plan on changing the oil tomorrow morning as I found some mobil1 full synth at the convenience store and see of that helps at all.

When I hit final destination in 2 weeks I'll start looking into the clutch springs.




Wet clutch motorcycle oil, right? Just checking....
 

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Yes , motorcycle specific oil. You mentioned Mobil 1 full synthetic at convenience store......that's more than likely automotive oil. Try finding , if possible, Mobil 1 Racing 4t full synthetic... Walmart perhaps.
Also, Purple may have mentioned this (I'm sending you a PM Purple for clarity sake.....on my part.) Check the clutch cable adjustment / positioning at the lower case.
 

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Yes , motorcycle specific oil. You mentioned Mobil 1 full synthetic at convenience store......that's more than likely automotive oil. Try finding , if possible, Mobil 1 Racing 4t full synthetic... Walmart perhaps.
Also, Purple may have mentioned this (I'm sending you a PM Purple for clarity sake.....on my part.) Check the clutch cable adjustment / positioning at the lower case.
 

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Just to reassure;
My clutch action was exactly the same; nothing until the lever was almost out, then it engaged. With the new springs in, my clutch starts to get my bike to move with just 1/2" to 1" out, fully engages at 1/2" from all the way out. I have lots and lots of pull action where I can slip the clutch to my heart's content.
When you do this upgrade, have a new side cover gasket on hand. They tend to weld themselves to the case and becomes the most difficult part of the job. Also have a torque wrench as these are very light loads and some TW200 hardware is susceptible to stripping their threads very easily.

You will have to remove the footpeg/rear brake pedal, no getting around it. The side cover won't clear the clutch basket otherwise.

I installed my springs when I installed my kickstarter.
 
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