Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.
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.
Triumph clutch troubles
Q: I have a question for you regarding troubleshooting the clutch on my 1973 Triumph Trident 750. I have recently replaced the clutch plate. When riding the bike I cannot shift into neutral, and when stationary with the clutch pulled in the engine is still engaged. I have adjusted the clutch lever and the main clutch nut under the circular clutch plate cover. Should the clutch nut be loose enough to turn by hand? How much should the clutch arm move up and down inside the clutch case? — Nick/via email
A: Adjusting the clutch on a Trident is one of those things that can take all day: Finding the sweet spot for three things at once can be difficult. You want the clutch to fully disengage when you pull in the lever, fully engage when you release the lever, and not load the bearing buried deep in the clutch basket when engaged. The original manual calls for the clutch nut to spin freely with 0.005in clearance, but the collective wisdom of Trident owners is that this is too much clearance. Setting it to the factory clearance usually results in difficulty finding neutral and creeping in gear with the clutch pulled in. The generally accepted method is to adjust until you have almost no clearance, then lock it with the locknut. If you can still turn the big nut by hand when the clutch is relaxed, you have it properly adjusted. Start by adjusting the cable so that the arm on the actuating mechanism inside the transmission outer cover is between 3 and 4 o’clock when the clutch lever is released. Make sure the arm isn’t touching the case stop. Tighten the pull rod through the big adjusting nut until it is just tight. Keeping the adjusting nut steady, loosen the pullrod about 30 degrees. Lock it down using the locknut without moving either the adjusting nut or the pullrod. It helps to have three hands for that part of the procedure. Try to rotate the big adjusting nut with your fingers. If you can then the clutch is adjusted properly. Any minor adjustments should now be possible from the adjustment screw at the clutch lever. MC