How to change a clutch cable

Over time, a clutch cable stretches and creates excess free play that can interfere with the operation of the clutch. Replacing your motorcycle's clutch cable can seem daunting, but armed with the right tools and preparation, it's relatively simple.

Loosen the cable adjustment nut at the centre of the cable by tightening it completely. Loosen the locknut on the clutch lever cable adjuster and tighten the cable adjuster until it is seated against the clutch lever perch.

Align the cable groove in the adjuster with the cable groove on the perch. You may need to loosen the adjuster slightly to align the grooves.

Remove the cable's end barrel from the catch on the clutch lever and pull the cable through the cable grooves on the perch and adjuster.

Remove the clutch cover or plate if necessary to access the motor-end adjuster and loosen the locknut on the adjuster. Twist the adjuster counterclockwise until it is completely unscrewed from the clutch release, and pull the exposed inner cable through the cable groove on the clutch release. Pull the cable's end barrel from the clutch release's catch.

Take careful note of the cable's route through the frame and handlebars. Pull the cable free from the motorcycle, removing any mounting bolts or brackets that secure it to the motorcycle's frame.

Lubricate the new clutch cable and tighten the mid-cable adjuster completely. Insert the cable end barrel in the catch on the clutch release and screw the adjuster in loosely.

Route the clutch cable to the clutch lever perch, following the same path used for the original clutch cable. Be sure to route the cable through any brackets, clamps, or mounting bolts that secured the original cable.

Slide the cable through the clutch lever perch groove and tighten the cable adjuster until it is seated against the clutch lever perch. Leave the locknut loose at this time. Slip the cable end barrel into the catch on the clutch lever.

Tighten the engine-side adjuster until it seats against the clutch release to remove cable slack. Loosen the adjuster a half- to a full-turn to set the clutch play and tighten the locknut while holding the adjuster steady.

Loosen the mid-cable adjuster to tighten the cable slack to the lever.

Adjust cable slack at the clutch lever by turning the adjuster counterclockwise, leaving 1/16- to 1/8-inch of slack at the clutch lever. Tighten the locknut when the clutch lever play is set.

Reinstall the clutch cover or plate, if removed earlier.


Lubricate the cable with a motorcycle cable-specific lubricant spray before installation. Refer to your motorcycle's service manual for in-depth adjustment details and complete disassembly and installation information. Take your time. Rushing the installation can create more problems. If you are uncomfortable performing this task, or lack the necessary tools, then have the work done by a qualified technician.


Be sure that the cable is routed properly. An improperly routed cable can bind, preventing complete disengagement of the clutch, leading to premature wear and possible loss of control.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Socket set, metric or SAE
  • Socket wrench
  • Combination wrench set
  • Service manual (recommended)
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About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.