Replace Suzuki GS1100 Clutch Plates

| 8/13/2015 8:28:00 AM

Tags: September/October 2015, Suzuki, How-To,

1981 Suzuki GS1100EX

The clutch: Always used, often abused, it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. That’s somewhat ironic, given the clutch’s role in ensuring you get from A to B. Yet it’s somewhat understandable, as clutches are typically undercover and out of sight — and out of mind.

The typical motorcycle multi-plate wet clutch is made up of two sets of alternating discs; a fiber-faced set driven by an outer clutch drum and a set of metal discs keyed to an inner clutch hub. A spring-loaded pressure plate bolted to the inner clutch hub clamps the discs together, coupling the clutch drum and clutch hub together to transfer power from the engine to the transmission, and then the rear wheel. When you pull on the clutch lever, linkage pulls or pushes the pressure plate, overcoming spring pressure and uncoupling the clutches so you can shift gears.

BikeMasterThis constant coupling and uncoupling causes wear. If you’re nice to your clutch, bringing engine speed up lightly for launch and letting the clutch engage quickly and cleanly, the plates can last indefinitely. Stoplight drag races, on the other hand, are clutch killers. The high revs induced for a high-speed launch translate to longer and harder engagement. The clutch plates slip and heat up, resulting in wear of the fiber plates and overheating and warping of the metal plates.

The previous owner of our 34,000-mile 1981 Suzuki GS1100EX had installed “heavy duty” clutch plates. Clutch feel was poor, however, and there was no adjustment left in the cable, which was new. A tear-down showed overheated and blued metal discs and wearing fiber discs. More worrying, it also revealed a missing piano wire retainer for the innermost metal disc and an incorrect pressure plate bolt. That missing piano wire added about an hour to the job; replacement requires removing the inner clutch hub. Our advice? If the innermost metal plate is good (no signs of bluing) and the wire is in place, leave it be.

New and original metal discs

bike on highway

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