Replacing the Friction Plates in the Clutch Pack on Jim's Road Glide

I spent a couple hours after work with my friend Jim who needed to replace the friction plates in the clutch pack on his bike. Since I'd never done it before and I'm always anxious to learn new things, I offered my garage and my lift if he would bring the bike over to my place and let me watch. He doesn't like sitting on the floor any more than I do, so he obliged.


Jim is one of the guys I regularly ride with—and a pretty decent fellow most days. 

It's amazing how much easier it is to take photos of the process when you don't have to do anything but make smart comments and watch. I don't know about Jim, but I had a great time and learned a lot watching how a different mechanic (Jim's an auto mechanic by profession) approaches a project like this. And, it's always nice to shoot the breeze with someone else while I'm doing something in the garage.


We (I'll probably say "we" all the way through this, even though Jim did all the work and I just watched) started by removing the floorboards so we could eventually take off the primary cover to get at the clutch plates. About this time, Kelly dropped by. He knew what we were doing and stopped by to hastle Jim and watch him do all the work like I was doing.


We started draining the primary and since we would eventually need the derby cover off to refill the primary fluid, we figured we might as well remove the derby cover now, while the oil was draining.


Unfortunately, one of the torx fasteners was stripped and we eventually needed to use an impact driver to loosen it up after we removed the entire primary cover, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.


We thought we might need to also remove the heel shifter to get the cover off, but Jim was able to finesse the primary cover off without removing it.


With the cover off you can see the clutch assembly. The six fasteners on the diaphragm spring retainer need to be removed in a star pattern so as not to tweak anything.


After removing the retainer, we removed the diaphragm spring, the pressure plate, and one by one removed the friction plates and the steel plates. Even though we didn't plan on re-using them, we kept them in order as we pulled them out. 


It's recommended that the new friction plates soak in primary case oil before installing them, so while we were removing the primary cover and the current clutch package, we started soaking the friction plates—and added the steel plates for good measure.


Once we had all the friction plates and the steel plates removed, Jim blew out the clutch to make sure it was clean and ready for the new plates.


At this point, Jim thought it might be a good idea to consult the shop manual to make sure he knew exactly how to install the new friction plates. He's obviously not as paranoid as I am about messing something up—I usually have the shop manual open long before now.


One by one Jim installed the friction plates and the corresponding steel plates back into the clutch.


Followed by the pressure plate, the diaphragm spring, and the diaphragm spring retention plate. After snugging them up, they were then torqued to spec with an appropriate torque wrench.


Before everything could go back together, the adjustment on the clutch lever needed to be loosened so the clutch could be adjusted.


With a wrench on the nut, you adjust the clutch with an allen wrench. Gently seat against the clutch plates and then back it off 1/2 to 1 full turn. Jim chose a 3/4 turn.


After pumping the clutch a couple of times to set the adjustment, it was time to set the lever adjustment. Kelly manned the lever while Jim manned the lever adjustment turnbuckle behind the front fender. They adjusted to feel and confirmed the adjustment by pulling the cable away from the lever housing. 1/8" to 1/4" was the optimal amount of shoulder you should see when doing this. They settled for about 1/8".


With the clutch adjusted, it was now time to install a new gasket, re-install the primary cover (being careful not to tweak the new gasket), add a little blue Locktite to the primary cover fasteners and torque to spec.


After refilling the primary with the appropriate Redline primary oil, replacing the derby cover o-ring, and torquing the cover in place, all that was left to do was reinstall the floorboards and Jim would be ready to call this job done.


I don't know what the dealer would estimate for this job, but from start to finish—which included cleaning up after ourselves, we were right about two hours. Not too shabby for the three of us never having done this job before.

I don't know about everyone else, but I had a good time, learned something new, and was able to hastle Jim for a couple of hours. I only asked him to pose for a couple of the photographs I wasn't quick enough to get.