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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I just got my first bike, a 1982 KZ650 CSR. Its got pretty low miles, 14500, and looks good. I've been riding it around for a little over a week and absolutley loving it. When I was riding around yesterday I started having issues.

The entire problem developed in around an hour of continuous driving. At first, it was only at around 60 mph. I would give it some gas, and the RPM would shoot up, but the bike would be very sluggish in accelerating. I was a ways from home when this started, so I turned around and headed home. As I continued driving, the acceleration got worse and happened at lower speeds. By the time I got home and parked it, I can barely take off in first gear from a stop. It seems like it must be a clutch issue, but I don't have a clue what can happen that fast. I heard no unusual noises or clicks.

Some other things happened recently that might help diagnose. First, when I got the bike the seller overfilled the oil right before selling. It wasnt driven around like that, but when I started it up, it began leaking oil. I drained oil down to a reasonable level, but I'm pretty sure the oil is pretty damaged (it was frothing in the view window).

Secondly, shortly before I lost my ability to accelerate I had an incident getting off of the freeway. I was decelerating on an exit ramp and had the clutch pulled in all the way and downshifted. The shifter got stuck in neutral between first and second. If I tried to shift down or up it would just sound like gears grinding. I was able to put it in gear once I came to a stop. That was the first and only time that has happened.

I'm pretty good at working on things, but I don't have the experience to diagnose very well. I would greatly appreciate any advice people could give me!

Thanks,
Andrew
 

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Any idea of the type of oil put in the bike? Most of the car oils contain friction modifiers not compatable with wet plate clutches in motorcycles.

Best Oils To Use In Your Bike (Just My Opinion)

Engine oil : The commercial grade oils are clearly superior to the mass market oils. For the best protection in your bike or car, use Shell Rotella Synthetic, available at Wal-Mart in blue containers . For the best petroleum oil you can buy, get Shell Rotella T, Mobil Delvac 1300, or Chevron Delo 400, available at any auto parts store. On the back of most oil cans is a circular stamp with the certification. Avoid oils that say "energy conserving" in the bottom half of the donut. These oils contain friction modifier additives that could cause clutch slipping over time. All XXw-20 and XXw-30 oils are energy conserving, and should not be used in your motorcycle. Don't buy any oil additives like STP or Slick-50. Here's several listings on all about oil justifying these conclusions.

The Recommended Synthetic Oils :

Shell Rotella Synthetic
5w-40 Delvac 1 Synthetic
5w-40 Mobil-1 SUV/Truck Synthetic
5w-40 AMSOil AMF Synthetic (pricey, but it’s your money)
10w-40 Golden Spectro Synthetic
10w-50 Motul 5100 Synthetic
10w-40 Mobil-1 Synthetic
15w-50 Mobil-1 MX4T Synthetic

The best synthetics are: (in no particular order)

Shell Rotella-T Synthetic 5w-40 (blue container, not white), gallon at Wal-Mart.
Mobil Delvac-1 5w-40 (grey container, not black), gallon at Petro stations, gallon at Farm and Fleet.
Mobil-1 SUV 5w-40, qt anywhere.
AMSOil AMF 10w-40 synthetic motorcycle oil. (again, pricey)
Golden Spectro Supreme, (no price).
Motul 5100 Ester, (no price).

Mobil-1 automotive oils all contain small amounts of moly - about 100 to 200 ppm. This can cause clutch slippage in some motorcycles. I've only heard of this being a problem in Honda Shadows.

For temperatures below -40, I strongly recommend either Mobil-1 0w-30 or the Canadian Shell 0w-40 Rotella. At these temperatures, your car is your life. Using cheap or incorrect oil is risking your life.

For temperatures below -55c, -65f, stay home. Really.

The Recommended Petroleum Oils

Chevron Delo 400 15w-40
Delvac 1300 15w-40
Shell Rotella 15w-40

The best petroleum oils are: (in no particular order)

Chevron Delo 400 15w-40 (blue container) gallon at any auto parts store, gallons at Costco.

Mobil Delvac 1300 15w-40 (black container) gallon at any auto parts store, gallons at Sam's Club.

Shell Rotella-T 15w-40 (white container) gallon at Wal-Mart or any auto parts store, gallons at Sam's Club.

Castrol 15w-40 (Green container) gallon at Wal-Mart or any auto parts store, gallons at Sam’s club.

If you live in another country, you'll have to do a bit of research to decide on an oil. Generally, any oil certified for use in a late model Volks wagon or Mercedes turbo diesel is a good choice. Another good idea is to go to a truck stop and ask the truckers about brands. Rotella is marketed all over the world, but in other countries it's called Rotella or Rimola or Helix Ultra, and the formulation may be a bit different, depending on local climate and preferences. It will likely also be a lot more expensive than it is here.

In most situations like your's, an oil change using the correct lubrication is about all that's needed to make the bike operate properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I changed the oil, and the slipping got a lot better. Now I feel like I can actually take the bike on the road, but there is still a lot of slipping. In particular, it slips a lot when trying to accelerate from a start and at lower speeds. Above 20 it seems to do just fine.

Do I just need to ride it around more (only gone 1-2 miles on it like this) for the new oil to clear the old?
 

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Do a clutch play adjustment, It's probably not been done in a while. As the multiplate clutch wears, and the clutch cable stretches, everything needs to get back into correct operating condition.

I wrote this procedure covering clutch cable replacement, the adjustment part is toward the bottom:

Clutch Cable Replacement On some Kawasaki Motorcycles

1.About mid way down the clutch cable is an adjuster; shorten the cable as much as possible.

2.Remove the small cover on the left side of the sprocket cover and loosen up the lock nut on the clutch throw out mechanism.

3.Remove the shifter lever; the sprocket cover, and lay the cover on some rags or news papers.

4.Have on hand a small cotter pin that will be needed to prevent the new clutch cable from coming out of the throw out mechanism.

5.At the left handlebar turn in the slack adjusters for the clutch cable and then take out the pivot bolt.

6.New clutch cables may or may not have lubrication; now's the time to either hang the new cable up overnight so heavy oil can flow through it or buy a cable luber kit with the special clamp and can of spray lube.

7.Attach the cable to the cover's throw out mechanism and secure it with a new cotter pin.

8. While you're in there, check the wiring from the alternator(YELLOW WIRES, or any wires from the alternator), remove the excess chain lube from the clutch push rod and check the wire routing that goes above the engine sprocket.

9. Check the lock washer for cracks on the engine sprocket and any "Hooking" of the sprocket teeth.

10 Route the clutch cable the same way the old one was and connect the cable to the clutch lever; and the pivot bolt gets re-installed.

11.Carefully install the sprocket cover, making sure the push rod is engaged and then tighten up the cover.

12.Adjusting the clutch play and cable tension is real easy; using a flat bladed screwdriver, turn the slotted screw clockwise(to the right) until it becomes hard to turn; then turn it counterclockwise(to the left) 1/4 turn and tighten the lock nut.

13.The mid way cable adjuster and lever slack adjuster may need to be adjusted for correct cable slack.

14.My factory shop manual lists 2-3mm as the correct play in the lever after the cable has been properly tensioned.

15.Re-install the covers, and shifter lever, start the engine to check the shifting action.

16.These engines have a shifting lock out to prevent moving in any gear higher than second unless the engine is running and proper shifting is done.
 

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I also own a 1982 KZ 650 CSR! Love it, but have to sell it -- but that's a different topic.

I had the same problem -- clutch slipping. I researched it on this and other rider forums, and it's apparently a common problem for this bike -- and other bikes that have what is called a "wet clutch." The clutch circulates in oil.

MFolks is right about the clutch adjustment, including his instructions on replacing the clutch (which I did on mine) and on adjusting the clutch lever (which I also did on mine). These can help. But, with all due respect to MFolks, I received very different advice on oil, and the reason makes sense.

The '82 is 38 years old and engineered for the oils available at that time. Today's motor oils -- including synthetics -- are engineered to be much more slippery. And they are.

The advice I got from both a fellow Kaw rider and a mechanic who fixed some other things on my bike is, use the most basic, cheapest, no-frills 1040W oil you can find. House brand. Generic. It's still better than the oils of 1982 and will provide good lubrication. But it won't be too slippery for your clutch to handle.
 

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A wet clutch is the best clutch you can have in a motorcycle or a car (if at all possible).... means it is cooled by oil, taking away heat, which is the main enemy of clutches. Only motorcycle with longitudinal engines,...BMW, Guzzis,,,,, have dry clutches like cars....and is one of their drawbacks....just ask the California Highway Patrol what happened when they switched from Kawasakis to BMWs.

If anybody thinks is going to get a 40 year old motorcycle and simply ride into the sunset like it came out of a dealer, is going to be very disappointed. It is going to need a lot of refreshing if not a downright restoration.
 

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One of the key differences between motorcycle oil and car oil is that the motorcycle oil is formulated for wet clutches and transmissions. Cars have dry clutches and their oil lubricates only the engine and not the transmission. But lots of folks will tell you that they use car oil in their motorcycles with no problems, but if you do have problems (like a slipping clutch) then you should try running motorcycle oil. Personally I never put car oil into any of my motorcycles.
 

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Wet clutches are no better or worse than dry clutches. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The fact that a particular manufacturer may have developed a less than successful version of either does not make the basic concept invalid. It is very common for a modern auto dry clutch to go well beyond 100k. Heavy duty trucks can see 300 to 400k on their dry clutches. You will never see 100k on a motorcycle wet clutch. Also a wet clutch wears like all clutches wear, difference is all that material is now in the oil which is circulated thru the engine and transmission. Does that mean wet clutches are inferior? No, it only;y means that the designers weighed the engineering options and decided that the best compromise for their application was a wet clutch. All of engineering is a series of compromises. As retired professional mechanic it truly gets old to see people make these black and white statements. I know people who believe GM cars are the only cars to own, yet they gave us the Vega and Chevette. Then again I know Ford guys, but Ford gave us the Pinto. Want to ride the the most evil handling motorcycle ever created, find a mid seventies KX450. If one pursues a career in any mechanical field it will become increasingly clear just how much compromise is necessary in every design. If dry clutches were junk they would long ago have disappeared from the major manufactures designs.
 

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I get what you are saying there GPZ but it's not totally fair to compare car/truck clutches to motorcycles since cars/trucks have an enormous advantage due to the sheer size and surface area offered by their clutches. Also, when was the last time you saw a car or truck doing a wheelie? Motorcycle clutches typically get abused far more than other modes of transportation.

But I am totally on board with you in that wet clutches in a motorcycle are a compromise but so are dry clutches. Each one had its pros and cons. Dry clutches run hot, and therefore require extensive ventilation which is not so good in a rainstorm but in the dry they offer better (albeit noisier) performance. Wet clutches are the most common today. Having been in the mechanical design/build industry for several decades I totally agree that every mechanical design decision amounts to a compromise.

Anyway Cor702 is excited about his new ride and we should focus on helping him out. Good to hear that an oil change helped your clutch Cor. If the slippage does not improve, you might have to crack it open and have a look. In the meantime I would put a lot more miles on it to see if the new oil will continue to improve it.

I have a soft spot for the KZ650 having owned and raced one back in 1978. Best of luck and keep us posted!
 

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I have seen plenty of large tired autos and trucks doing burn outs. As a licensed competitor I see plenty of cars pushed to their absolute limits. As a former professional motorcycle mechanic with a top technician award from US Suzuki I have replaced plenty of smoked wet clutches. As I said all engineering decisions are a compromise. The wet clutch is generally the best compromise for the power output and space available on a motorcycle but that in no way diminishes the value and functionality of a dry clutch. Ducati's,and I owned one, use dry clutches, look at their racing history. Nearly every engineering concept has a checkered past. 20 years ago auto manufactures touted their cutting edge engineering excellence with their new four valve heads. Funny thing the Rolls Royce Merlin of WW2 vintage had four valve heads. It also has a two stage super charger and inter cooler. Germans had water methanol injection and nitrous on some of their fighter planes. It all comes down to the individual design. Is it the correct compromise? Is it adequately and cleverly designed for the application? Is it along with being functional also cost effective?
 

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Any clutch that starts to slip will wear much faster. The only time a clutch slips is starting up in first gear as it is engaged. All other shifts go from no contact to full engagement is a fraction of a second. So prolonged slipping will do years of wear in a short time.

Read all of post 6 and do the proper clutch adjustment. Both for the actuating mechanism in the cover and the cable. the cable can be adjusted with free play and the mechanism still be putting a little pressure on the actuating rod not letting the clutch fully engage. (slippage)

Forget all the comments about what type of clutch is better and why because you can't change what you have. They all work or they wouldn't be in use for very long. Oil can be and issue. It is advised not to use oils with Friction Modifiers in them. Autos use separate engine oil systems and transmissions with there own oil systems. On your bike the engine and transmission use the same oil for lubrication. The clutch was put inside the case and run wet as much for noise as well as it is a more compact design. Have you ever been around a dry clutch motorcycle when it is in neutral or with the clutch lever pulled. It will rattle like crazy.
 

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My whole point is that neither is better, just different. Owned my Ducati for five years and the clutch never rattled. On the other hand I was standing next to a Ducati at the race track when he started the engine and the rattle and screech actually hurt my ears. But I have also seen disasters with wet clutches. Early GS1100's had a real propensity to explode clutch baskets. Sadly when this happened it would often take the oil pump with it. My whole point here is that there is rarely a perfect one size fits all engineering solution to any problem yet we have those that support, without full knowledge of the various engineering consequences, some manufacturer, system, or engineering approach. I have spent my life studying,repairing, modifying and making a living with mechanical devices and it gets very old when people make flat statements that such and such is absolute fact. There is almost always far more to it than that.
 
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