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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All -

My "new" 2003 VL800 is a gorgeous bike and fun to ride but...
I have just noticed that when I'm cruising at 60-70 mpg on the highway in 5th gear, if I roll on the throttle hard, the clutch seems to slip a bit. Not bad and doesn't make problems unless I really gun it but troublesome anyway.

I just changed the oil a week ago and this was the first time I was on the highway since then. I didn't notice this problem before but the bike was running kind of weird when I bought it - I pretty much put it back to stock (OEM air filter and stock exhaust to replace K&N and Cruzers - too lean and hiccuping!).

The bike has 14,000 miles on it (I bought it recently with 13k) and feels otherwise just fine in all other gears.

Any ideas? Is it possible that the clutch needs replacing?
 

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Hi All -

My "new" 2003 VL800 is a gorgeous bike and fun to ride but...
I have just noticed that when I'm cruising at 60-70 mpg on the highway in 5th gear, if I roll on the throttle hard, the clutch seems to slip a bit. Not bad and doesn't make problems unless I really gun it but troublesome anyway.

I just changed the oil a week ago and this was the first time I was on the highway since then. I didn't notice this problem before but the bike was running kind of weird when I bought it - I pretty much put it back to stock (OEM air filter and stock exhaust to replace K&N and Cruzers - too lean and hiccuping!).

The bike has 14,000 miles on it (I bought it recently with 13k) and feels otherwise just fine in all other gears.

Any ideas? Is it possible that the clutch needs replacing?
What kind of oil did you put in the engine when you changed it? (company - line and viscosity )
Did it have the energy conserving words in the back label or the Gasoline engine starburst on the front label?
 

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Both suggestions are dead on the money. First, find out what type of oil oil you used. If the oil is OK, do the full clutch adjustment. They are not self-adjusting and need to be snugged up as the plates and friction discs wear.

A note on the oil. You CANNOT use automotive blend oil in a wet-clutch motorcycle, period. They contain additional friction modifiers to improve fuel efficiency, however, these modifiers will attack and destroy the lining on the clutch disc. If you used anything other that motorcycle specific oil (or automotive blend that is known to not contain the friction modifiers) then your clutch is ruined. You cannot drain the crankcase and refill with proper oil because the modifiers become impregnated in the lining.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Well...

I used what I grabbed from the auto parts store:
Valvoline
Max Life
High Mileage
Synthetic
10W-40.

Is it all over for my clutch? Can I flush it out somehow? I'm guessing we put about 200 miles on the bike since the oil change.
 

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Well...

I used what I grabbed from the auto parts store:
Valvoline
Max Life
High Mileage
Synthetic
10W-40.

Is it all over for my clutch? Can I flush it out somehow? I'm guessing we put about 200 miles on the bike since the oil change.
From the Valvoline site:
Formulated for engines with over 75,000 miles
Special seal conditioners reduce oil consumption
Extra cleaning agents reduce deposits formation
Unique friction modifiers help prevent future wear
Advanced additives minimize oil breakdown and burn-off

The big red flag is the friction modifiers and the additional anti-wear additives.

Do the full clutch adjustment and see if it helps. But if it doesn't, the oil you selected would be the most likely culprit. And no, you cannot simply drain the crankcase and fill it with the correct oil. Once the friction modifiers (molybdenum and teflon) get impregnated in the clutch disc linings, you cannot get it out. You will have to replace the clutch. Lesson learned. Use a motorcycle specific oil in the future.....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, so I just did the full clutch adjustment: thanks for the link, lv2tinker!
If only life came with such nice, clear instructions...

The slipping is noticeably improved - no longer feeling the engine rev without a corresponding increase in speed on the highway so 5th gear seems fine. I just took a super short ride to test it out and couldn't tell if it was doing a little slipping in lower gears or if I was just psyching myself out. Have to wait for the weekend and do a real ride to see for sure.

Skrapiron: I'm guessing that if this synthetic crap-oil has messe up my clutch discs, than the damage is done and I may as well just live with it until I have to change the clutch. Which will surely be a fun endeavor.

Thanks all for the info - this site is a great resource for boneheads like me who do stupid things to their motorcycles!

Only thing left to do now is figure out why I'm getting the occasional backfire when coasting (I'm guessing it must be a small exhaust leak since I just put on the OEM pipes... it ~seemed~ like I didn't want to crank down those bolts any further!).
 

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Okay, so I just did the full clutch adjustment: thanks for the link, lv2tinker!
If only life came with such nice, clear instructions...

The slipping is noticeably improved - no longer feeling the engine rev without a corresponding increase in speed on the highway so 5th gear seems fine. I just took a super short ride to test it out and couldn't tell if it was doing a little slipping in lower gears or if I was just psyching myself out. Have to wait for the weekend and do a real ride to see for sure.

Skrapiron: I'm guessing that if this synthetic crap-oil has messe up my clutch discs, than the damage is done and I may as well just live with it until I have to change the clutch. Which will surely be a fun endeavor.

Thanks all for the info - this site is a great resource for boneheads like me who do stupid things to their motorcycles!

Only thing left to do now is figure out why I'm getting the occasional backfire when coasting (I'm guessing it must be a small exhaust leak since I just put on the OEM pipes... it ~seemed~ like I didn't want to crank down those bolts any further!).
Change the oil! Since you already were pointed out that the incorrect oil is what you used, why would you take a chance on making it worse, and NOT take a chance that you could prevent it from getting worse? If you haven't driven many miles, there is a chance that the damage to the discs is minimal. $20 in oil is cheap compared to replacing the discs.
 

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Change the oil! Since you already were pointed out that the incorrect oil is what you used, why would you take a chance on making it worse, and NOT take a chance that you could prevent it from getting worse? If you haven't driven many miles, there is a chance that the damage to the discs is minimal. $20 in oil is cheap compared to replacing the discs.
I agree with yoda43. Change the oil & filter "before" you ride it again.
Just use the Rotella 15w40 from Walmart. It's cheap and works great.

Enjoy your new ride.
 

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Good luck. Hopefully you don't suffer any permanent damage from your mistake.
 

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Just to let you know a complete clutch rebuild will cost you about $130 in parts and about an hour and a half in time if you do the job yourself. Do a search on this site for instructions. It's not really hard. It's more of a keeping track of a what goes where job then hard.
 

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Excellent, helpful, with the correct tips. Thanks. I needed that! Very concise, and I had a hard time finding the adjustment point under the 2nd chrome cover.
Ski
 
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