Clutch or transmission problem? - - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 8th, 2019, 1:27 pm Thread Starter
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Clutch or transmission problem?

My '98 RS recently was put back on the road after sitting for 8 years. My friend and mechanic took care with replacing oil, coolant and brake fluids.

I went for my first "long" ride yesterday, and about 30 minutes in (after being behind some 1st gear slow traffic), I shifted to 2nd gently, and then gave it a good twist. It accelerated, and then felt like the rear tire was spinning. Backed off the power. Then up shifted to 3rd, and gave it some power, same thing.

My friend (not mechanical) said there was a puff of white smoke that smelled funny.

I took it easy on the way home. Near home (actually, near my mechanic's home) I tried to reproduce the issue and could not.

Anyone know what might have happened?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 8th, 2019, 8:28 pm
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clutch is not 'locking up'

Mike Kelly

Triple M Engineering


Stanley, NC
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 8th, 2019, 8:45 pm
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Sounds like your clutch plates are oil contaminated. O-ring goes bad allowing oil to leak into the clutch housing. Not uncommon on the K series bikes with mid to high miles. Big job to fix, I'm afraid to say. A BMW dealer would want almost as much as the bike is worth to repair. You need to find a mechanic that has experience with the K bike dry clutch architecture.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 8th, 2019, 9:00 pm
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I forgot to mention, a tell-tale sign of an oiled clutch: As centrifugal force slings the oil off the clutch plate, that oil will begin to leak from around the seam where the clutch housing joins up to the engine.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 11th, 2019, 6:25 pm
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Sounds like the dreaded rear engine seal. Probably leaked oil into the clutch and destroyed the clutch plate.$$$$$

Rick Mead
2004 K1200GT Orient Blue
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old May 26th, 2019, 12:16 am
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Yup, a 19x4mm oring that seals the clutch housing to the block. The main seal is generally just fine. But the problem is getting to the little bugger. Back half of the bike comes off, remove intake system, lower the back of the engine start taking things off. All rubber bits need replacing like intake orings, crank case breather, transmission seals etc. A big job. But the good news is if you use a Viton oring to replace the OEM one you will never have to do this again and you have your bike back. It is a 1500$ job minimum. Or research and you can do it with your OEM dvd and the after market service book you have. PM me and I'll send you a free viton oring if you want one. beech
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 2019, 7:44 pm
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So is there a fix for this issue?
I mean a real fix.
As in upgraded parts or modifications that mean it won't have to be addressed again.
As I understand it, there are two problems on this model.

1) a poorly made slave cylinder that leaks pretty quickly and gets worse with time

2) an engine seal that also leaks pretty quickly and gets worse with time

Is there a fix that will last longer than the bike did from new?
Can this situation be improved upon?

Last edited by Yoda; Jul 6th, 2019 at 10:34 pm.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 2019, 9:34 pm
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The viton O-ring Beech referenced is the upgraded part; originals were Buna and could not take the heat. Your clutch slave may or may not be problematic, although I'm told 50k miles is an average life. Whether its good or bad, it would be wise to replace it if you decide to have the bike repaired.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 2019, 10:31 pm
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I don't know that my bike is leaking oil.
If it is, it is a very slow leak as the level does not noticeably change.

I do know for certain that the clutch is slipping and that the brake fluid disappears and has to be topped up.
As I understand it, clutch friction plates are not all that dissimilar from brake pads/shoes in terms of the friction material used.
The concept is the same just with a different application.
When brakes get motor oil or wheel bearing grease on them they become grabby, not slippery.
Oil on the brakes is dangerous not because you won't slow down in time but because the wheel will lock up with little warning.

I think in my case, I will change the engine seal while I am in there replacing the slave cylinder rather than the other way round.
Either way they will both get changed.

Thanks for indicating an improvement to the seal and also for implying the slave issue has likely not been addressed. After all this time I won't hold my breath waiting.
I will likely sell the bike after the repair as I am not interested in having to do it again in another 40,000 kms.

Thanks for your time.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 2019, 11:45 pm
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I tried once to mail a 4mm set screw to canada. Intercepted by the border guards. A lousy 7 cent part. I got ticked off and sent a package with a customs slip. Cost me $37 US to mail a 7 cent part. But it got there. There is no way I can send you a free 19x4mm Viton O-ring since you are in Canada. But you should find one locally, do not re install a Buna clutch housing O-ring, It will leak again. It is not the engine case to crank that is leaking. That is a very good seal and I generally recommend to leave it alone. You are correct just install a new slave cylinder and call it good. You will also end up replacing lots of other stuff in there. And, in my opinion the best friction disk is the stock one. Maybe some of these parts will interest you but I always buy OEM. Clutch plate thickness is critical along with other parts.

Mount Vernon, WA.
tire guy, I'll mount your tires.
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