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Discussion Starter #1
This morning while riding to work, I noticed that it was harder than usual to shift gears on my 1999 Suzuki Intruder 1500LC. I had to 'pump' the clutch lever several times, and it was still difficult to shift. On the way home, it was nearly impossible to shift, even after pumping the clutch lever several times and forcibly 'jamming' the shifter into gear, which made for an interesting ride home. At a stop, even with the clutch lever pulled all the way in, the bike still wanted to go forward. I can no longer find neutral because of the hard shifting issue. Before this issue, there was really no shifting issues other than the occasional popping out of gear, which apparently is a common issue with this model bike. I have read several posts on other sites about this problem, and it seems that it could be anything from a bad slave cylinder to stuck clutch plates to bleeding the clutch system. Any ideas? Obviously, the bike can't be ridden in this condition. I have an appointment with the bike shop on May 4, and I would like to go there with a little information about this problem. Thanks.
 

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Cant say for sure about model specific problems but quiet often an oil change can help. The chain... if fitted may be too tight and finally the clutch system may have absorbed some moisture and or air has entered the system.

I would be checking for leaking fluid esp at the unions and cylinders...master and slave. You might want to check the pushrod too for a build up of gunk etc you may also need to bleed the fluid.

If its worn out or gummy plates a strip down isnt a major pain even on my Busa so it shouldn't be too costly and if you can do it yourself even cheaper.

I wouldn't be jamming it into gear as this can bend the shifter forks.


Good luck
 

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I had to 'pump' the clutch lever several times, and it was still difficult to shift.
The one critical piece of information is missing:

Did the clutch lever feel normal, that is did it have good resistance for the whole pull.......or did it feel mushy and soft or have no resistance at all for part of the way ??

Internal plate problems "usually" don't show up abruptly like that.....so the most likely culprits are the master cyl., slave cyl. or a leak.
Any of those things probably would make the lever feel mushy, soft or loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
As a matter for fact, the clutch lever has almost no resistance at all when it is pulled in, and when I release it, there is resistance for a fraction of an inch or so and after that it just goes 'limp'. I also forgot to mention that if I pump up the clutch, it will shift for a couple of gears and then it goes back to the hard shift/no shift issue. I have not noticed any leaks after the bike sits.
If it is in fact the slave cylinder, how difficult is it to replace and then bleed the system? This bike has about 38k miles on it.
 

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As a matter for fact, the clutch lever has almost no resistance at all

If it is in fact the slave cylinder,
OK, now we probably have enough information to go on.

You need to do a little quick testing to maybe save youself a LOT of wasted time and money.
Assuming that the brake line is plain rubber.....you can take some kind of a clamp and pinch it off completely.
About half way to the clutch is probably best.
With the line closed, pull the lever. It it gets real tight and stays that way, then the problem is at the clutch end; probably the slave cylinder.
If it does NOT get tight, then the problem is the master cylinder.

Be advised, however, that on a bike that is more than 10 years old, pinching the line will probably mean that it should then be replaced........but it's time to do that anyway.

The replacement and bleeding process can be tricky. I'll let someone who has done it address that part.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
After pondering the situation all night, I borrowed a friends brake bleeder and bought some DOT4 brake fluid. I took the cover off the master cylinder and there was very little, if any brake fluid in it. I cleaned off the slave cylinder. There was no signs of leakage there or at the master cylinder. I decided to take a shot and bleed the system, which was basically no different than bleeding brakes. After bleeding it, I had a firm clutch lever pull, and was able to shift it into neutral again with little effort. I will ride it to work again tomorrow to see if my clutch bleeding job holds up.
 

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I will ride it to work again tomorrow to see if my clutch bleeding job holds up.
Odds are that it won't.
Brake fluid doesn't evaporate and air doesn't seep in unless there is a defect.
I'm not sure taking it to work as a test run is wise; if it fails again you have a dangerous and potentially damaging situation.
 

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Wish I had seen this thread earlier.

This is a common problem on the Intruder series of bikes, including the 1500LC. The brake fluid needs to be changed every couple years, or every year if you ride a lot. I always did mine when I put the new tag stickers on, so the tag office would remind me to do it every year LOL! Fluid breaks down over time; microscopic air bubbles form and then combine into ones large enough to cause a problem; the fluid absorbs moisture; and air+moisture gets in/ fluid gets out through the vent hole in the master cylinder. Also, like brakes, the fluid level drops a little over time with wear. So long story short, this is a perfectly normal problem for a bike that has not been properly maintained. Unless you find evidence of a leak in the master cylinder or the slave cylinder (which would be failry obvious), your only problem is neglect. Change your clutch fluid every year or two, and your brake fluid also, and you should not have any more problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I rode it to work and back today with no issues. Shifted nice and smooth, both up and down. No more 'clutch creep'. Good clutch lever feel, and the friction zone where it is supposed to be. I tend to agree with DrBob's comments, and I appreciate everybody's answers as well. I would have thought the dealer would have checked this as part of their safety inspection and made a note of it. Apparently they overlooked this detail, as did I. I will definitely keep my eyes on the clutch and brake fluid levels from now on. On the bright side, if I ever have to change the slave cylinder, at least it is in a readily accessible location.
 

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I always get a good laugh out of people expecting the dealer to know more about their bike than they do. As an owner, it is fairly easy to research your model, network with other owners of that model, and familiarize yourself with the manual. The dealership most likely sells 3-4 different brands, each with cruiser, sportbike, dual purpose, dual sport, and dirtbike lines totaling dozens of different models.
Dealerships make money off sales and finance; most loose money on their service departments or at best break even. So they pay very little and thus have rapid turnover. Dealership PMs are done by the new guy in the service department, usually some young kid just out of the local tech school or a worthless 90-day wonder from AMI.
So when you bring in something like a metric cruiser, especially from Suzuki (the smallest of the four Japanese brands, and doubly so when you bring in a model they no longer make, chances are the low-wage part swapper working this month in the service department has never touched one before.
So it is not hard to make yourself an expert on your one model, and pretty much impossible to expect everyone at the dealership to be familiar with every model. That's why most of us independents specialize. We specialize in service, not sales. Some work on mostly one brand, like Harley or Ducati, or specialize in sportbikes, or racing, or dirtbikes- we work on what we know, and turn away what we don't know, which is why you get better results at less cost with your local independent shop.
 

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My 95 intruder 800 recently started doing the exact same thing. Extremely hard to shift and grabbed almost immediately when i would let the clutch out. My bike only has 6000 miles on it so i was really hoping i didnt need a whole new clutch. I will try and bleed mine as well and hopefully i have the same success.
 
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