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Clutch - cable vs. hydraulic?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Aurelius, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    Is a hydraulic clutch really better than a cable operated clutch? Longevity would seem to be one advantage, unless of course your clutch master or slave cylinder starts leaking in under two years (as it has on two of my previous bikes), and with a hydraulic clutch you may get some warning of an impending failure, rather than having the cable suddenly snap. On the other hand, a cable clutch is much easier to repair, costs far less, and weighs less. Some prefer cable actuated clutches because they allow you to set the clutch engagement point exactly where you want it. Any other points to consider? :ear
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  2. Boatman

    Boatman Membership has it's privileges ;-) Supporter

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    Personally I think the mechanical is better. A little harder to operate on some bikes. I just went through a failed slave cylinder on my GS. No warning at all. Pulled in the lever and nothing. When the slave failed it dumped all of the oil onto the clutch disc and now there is slipping issues. Eventually I will have to replace the disc. With cable, quite often you can jury-rig something when the cable breaks to keep you going.
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  3. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    Or you could just take a spare clutch cable with you, like they did in the old days. They're very easy to swap out. When the hydraulic clutch failed on two previous bikes, the brake fluid leaking out was a clear warning sign. The expense of repairing it though, was considerable. I've heard it said that hydraulic clutches are smoother than cable operated clutches, but having had both I really can't see much (if any) difference. :dunno
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  4. Mercury264

    Mercury264 Once you go Triple...

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    I think cable is the way to go - especially with the new coated cables they have now that require virtually no maint. Sure the cables break but carrying and fitting a spare is no big deal.

    Triumph knows their shit :D
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  5. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    Yep, the fact that my Speed Triple came with a cable actuated clutch was what made me curious. It feels every bit as good as the hydraulic clutches on my other bikes, but its a lot cheaper and easier to fix if something does go wrong. I suppose what I'm wondering is what's the advantage of a hydraulic clutch that justifies the added expense, weight, and difficulty of repair? :dunno
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  6. motomark39

    motomark39 I reckon so

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    I have also had issues with fluid loss. We used to route our spare cable along the original and tape the ends to keep out trash and make for a quick change over.
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  7. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy Supporter

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    I've always preferred the feel of a cable-actuated clutch over the hydraulic units. I suppose that there's something to be said for not having to periodically lube a cable. One thing about a hudraulic clutch that makes me nervous is crash surviability. A friend of mine took his bike on a mild offroad excursion (which in hindsight wasn't the smartest thing to do) and went down on the LH side and punctured the clutch cable. For the life of me I don't know how it happened, but it did, and it made the ride home a bit more interesting.
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  8. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    :nod I believe a minor lowside offroad is what caused a hairline crack to form in my GS's master clutch cylinder. No way to repair that, so I had to buy a new one. You don't want to know what BMW charges for those things. :cry
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  9. Mercury264

    Mercury264 Once you go Triple...

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    The other thing about cable-operated clutches is that, to some degree, you can feel when the cable is about to go - up to a point - and you can certainly see when the cable ends start to fray very easily.
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  10. Mercury264

    Mercury264 Once you go Triple...

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    Buddy of mine has a '96 (IIRC) Sprint. That has a hydraulic clutch so Triumph obviously did use to prefer them but they have not used hydraulic clutches for quite a few years now.
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  11. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    Slightly off topic, but how would you compare your Sprint to your Speed Triple? I rode a friend's '99 Sprint ST last week, and was surprised at how sluggish and top heavy it felt compared to my S3.
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  12. Mercury264

    Mercury264 Once you go Triple...

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    Well....they are very different bikes in many ways (and similar in others...). I like (no....LOVE :clap) both of them. As someone said...one is like your wife (the ST) and the other (the S3) is like your red-headed mistress. For me they are both pretty comparable in performance I would say - although the S3 just sounds faster as I have a 2BR can on it as compared to the TOR on my ST. S3 is sharper handling than the ST but that makes the ST nicer to tour on but it is certainly not as lively as the S3.

    The '99 was IIRC the first year for my style ST (since superceded by the 1050 version in 2005) and Triumph increased the power in 2002 by 10/15hp (again IIRC) so that allied to the fact your S3 is a 1050 would certainly make the ST seem very sluggish.

    Both great bikes and I love them both.
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  13. Aurelius

    Aurelius Long timer

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    The more I learn about the S3, the more I like it. Unlike my previous Beemer, it isn't reliant on dodgy high tech gimmicks that would sooner or later crap out and cost my right arm to repair/replace. Its a relatively simple and conventional design, and if a part should fail, anyone can fix it. I suppose you could compare my K1200S to a hydraulic clutch, and the S3 to a cable clutch. :1drink
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  14. GSWayne

    GSWayne Old Guy nOOb Supporter

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    One reason they may install hydraulic clutches is to avoid having to have a large bend radius path from the handlebars to the clutch mechanism. It may be a response to some other engineering trade-off some made to make the bike lighter or stronger (even though I would expect the hydraulic clutch mechanism is heavier).
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  15. jgas

    jgas Stoogely Adventurerer

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    The only off road bike I've had with a juice clutch is my KTM, and it's been perfect for 5 years. Admittedly, I know others with KTMs that have had problems, I've just been lucky.

    I was riding with a guy with an aftermarket hydraulic clutch on a Honda, and he blew an O ring where the line comes into the mastercylinder. We made an O ring out of a peice of vinyl torn from his rear fender tool pack, (which conviently had a tear in it), and used gasoline to refill it. It got him back to the truck, where we flushed it and filled it, it worked the rest of the weekend. The homeade O ring leaked slightly, but he just carried fluid with him. It didn't even leak enough to have to refill it.


    That said, if the master cylinder had gone bad, the trick would'nt have worked. I'd lean towards a cable for DS and Adventure riding where you sometimes are truly in the boonies.
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  16. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    juice clutches can be sized to get the easiest pull to override very heavy springs. very strong clutch with good control.

    such hydraulic systems have a very good reliability record.

    just like FI, hydraulics can be more problematic to repair. nobody but the globe riders want carbs and mechanicals.

    at a very technical level, one could run water instead of brake fluid/oil in such a system. corrosion and boil/freeze would be the issues. anybody not in the mountains ever do an IF heat check on normally ridden calipers? coming down from pikes peak with a lot of front brake usage, the brake check shack tested my front brakes at 150 degrees.

    knock on wood, my '99 trident of 80k miles has yet to have clutch hydraulic problems despite my having been down on the left side a few times. the difference in weight seems marginal. any difference in feel means that the lever pivot point needs oil.
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  17. NorCalslowpoke

    NorCalslowpoke Long timer

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    I have cable on both of my bikes. I just throw a clutch cable in the tank bag or rear fender bag, and worry no more.

    Though I'm not a luddite, I generally prefer the most simple technology that works over the latest & highest performance, the cable clutches fit that philosophy well.

    I'm sure there is a performance advantage at higher horsepower, higher clutch demands, but I don't probably need it.

    my .02.
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  18. JTT

    JTT Long timer

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    Maybe we should all go back to cable brakes too? Think of how much simpler and reliable they would be :wink:
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