A couple of weeks ago, I had an odd experience with Suzi, my '03 Suzuki SV1000. As I cleared an intersection after a red light, I lost power. The engine revved up, but wasn't transferring any power to the rear wheel. My first thought was that I'd thrown the chain. I looked down, but the chain was there. As soon as traffic was out of my way, I coasted to the shoulder. Suzi has a hydraulic clutch, so I checked the fluid, thinking it had leaked. I knew I was way past due on changing said fluid, and had “plans” to do so. “Plans” is in quotes because I've had these plans for months. The fluid level was okay, but sure enough, that was some dirty fluid. Over 65,000 miles on the clock, eight years old, and as far as I know, it's the original fluid. Sigh.
Meanwhile, I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, headed toward rush hour in town, and it was over 105 degrees with no shade in sight. I figured I'd limp it down the shoulder until I got to a gas station with air conditioning and cold beverages. I'd call somebody from there to come get me with a trailer.
I revved up the engine, and all I got was sound. High rpms, and an odd whirring noise, but no forward movement. I tried higher and higher revs. Now, normally, on level ground, just maintaining speed, I cruise between 4000 and 4500 rpm (redline is 11000). Once I got up to about 6000, I felt something slam into place, and suddenly, I had power. There were no other incidents on the way home. After talking to a couple of people, I decided it wasn't something I could ignore. I drove the truck to work the next couple of days, then it was time for vacation. I got the Boy Child to help me bleed the clutch line. Much like me at his age (and beyond...), he doesn't care much for mechanical work and was bored and frustrated. I called it a day after test riding. Since I had him for the next week, I thought we'd get back to it. We got busy having fun doing nothing, though. Plus, I don't want to force him into motorcycle stuff. I want bikes to be something fun that he looks forward to. So, I didn't press the issue. Last night, I got back on it.
After some online research, I thought there might be a problem with the clutch master/slave cylinders. They're located down by the front sprocket. I got a lot of help from the website www.suzukisv1000.com, specifically here and here.
Here's the bike from the left side:
The clutch cylinder assembly. Note the gunk built up around it:
The inboard (engine) side of the master cylinder seal. More gunk, built up on rubber, even:
This is where the clutch push rod comes out. I think I see why the clutch had a problem engaging. There just wasn't any room for all the pieces to move freely with all that build up:
This is the inside of the sprocket cover:
These show how much build up was around the clutch assembly and the front sprocket:
I've always been pretty good about maintaining chain tension and lubing the chain about every other tank of gas or so. What I haven't done regularly is actually clean the chain. You can bet I'll be more diligent about that now. All this gunk is built up chain lube mixed with dirt and whatever grime the road throws at the bike.
I got the sprocket cover as clean as I could using a small cleaning brush, an old toothbrush and nearly enough degreaser to remove my fingerprints. I'm sure there are more precision cleaning tools that would do it better, but I worked with what I had. I cleaned all around the sprocket and all the internal stuff as best I could, and got the outside fairly clean.
I feel pretty good about this fix. It's definitely the most "inside" I've gotten on a motor without somebody more knowledgeable helping me.