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Tech Corner

Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.

Honda Nighthawk Clutch Problem

Motorcycle Classics tech expert Keith Fellenstein

Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Clutch issues

Q: I have a 1984 Honda Nighthawk 700 with a clutch problem. When I first started it after it had been sitting for three or four weeks, the clutch needed to be broken loose. Then it would work fine, but when stopped it wanted to creep. I rebuilt the master and slave cylinders. After this the pull felt better, but it did not fix the problem. With 30,000 miles on the clock I felt replacing the clutch would fix it, so I installed EBC plates and springs. I deburred the clutch basket and checked for smooth movement of the plates and steels, and all was fine. I still have to break it loose after the bike has been sitting for a long time, but now after riding for a while, if I stop to fill up, the clutch is locked up hard. It works fine if I do not turn it off. I spoke to EBC and they are sending me a new set of plates under warranty, but I would like your thoughts before I dive back into it. — Richard Porter/via email

A: Sticky clutch plates are a daily hazard on my old Triumph 500, usually cured by pulling in the clutch and kickstarting the bike. You might try that, but substitute electric start for the kickstart. How does it shift normally? Is it quiet or is there a clunk? I’m trying to figure out what would glue your plates together when the bike sits for a few minutes. I assume you’re using a good motorcycle-rated oil. Although failure to do so usually results in clutch chatter, did you soak the clutch plates in oil before you installed them? I’d love to hear from readers who have experienced this problem and how they fixed it. MC