Each time I put the bike into gear (with clutch lever pulled back completely) it lurches forward and dies. I have tried pushing the bike back and forth with the clutch lever pulled but the tire drags, so obviously the clutch is grabbing. There is a slight amount of play in the lever, and when I pull it back all the way I can hear noise coming from the clutch area. Is the noise normal? I didn't install the clutch but was told the transmission was rebuilt by the previous owner. The bike was not in a mobile state when I bought it.
When you pull the clutch lever does the rod on the right side leading into the clutch cover move as well? it could just be a snapped clutch cable. If it does move check to see if the arrow and dot on the rod and cover line up with each other, if not the clutch cover wasn't installed properly.
How much free play is there at the lever? There should only be 5 to 10 mm play at the end of a standard length lever. Too much play can cause the pressure plate to not lift far enough to properly disengage the 2 sets of plates.
If the lever returns properly after being pulled the cable is likely intact and the lifter arm should be pulling the plate away (maybe not enough), it would be a good idea to check routing though.
If everything seems adjusted correctly I'd grab the service manual http://www.r1messagenet.com/howto/manuals/YZFR1-98.pdf and look at measuring the clutch pack as a whole to check it's still within spec. If the pack is out of spec (too thick) it will cause the clutch to have issues disengaging.
The cable is in good shape and the arm moves. The arrow is completely gone though. :/ Whoever dropped it saw to that, and apparently painted it to hide the damage. The arm is pointed in toward the center of the bike, which looks right to me, though the dot seems to be slightly off center. I've attached a photo.
The arm might be too far forward still. You could try slacking off the cable at the clutch lever, disconnecting the arm from the splined pull rod shaft and reinstalling it with the arm pointing slightly more to towards the read of the bike. Then retension the cable. This will give the arm more travel to retract the pressure plate further.
You could also try and get one of the guys on here with your model bike to take a photo from underneath looking up, aligned with the pull rod. If you line up your arm the same way as the photo you'll also be able to mark the case when everything is confirmed as working.
As I went outside tonight I was trying to think of why moving the arm would work. There wasn't really any unusual slack on the cable to begin with. Regardless, I moved the arm to no effect. So my next thought is that something was assembled incorrectly. Can I remove the clutch cover without draining the oil?
Aiming the arm towards the back of the bike more increases the possible rotation, letting the pressure plate lift more, but obviously that wasn't it.
You should be able to take the cover off without draining oil with the bike on the side stand. Not sure of shape of the sump but I can take my clutch cover off the 12 without losing any oil. If the sight glass isn't filled with oil that'll be a good indication.
Just remember to undo and redo the bolts for the cover and the springs in a criss cross pattern to avoid stressing either the cover gasket or risking warping the clutch plates.
Edit: Sorry just realised it's a spring plate instead of springs. All good, same criss cross deal.
I removed the cover and got all the way down to the clutch boss, but the clutch boss will not turn without turning the entire clutch assembly. It's supposed to move free of larger piece, right? I still can't move the bike while in gear. I guess I'm going to remove the clutch boss and see what's up behind it. It's kinda nasty and gross looking, and the clutch/pressure plates are looking a little rusty. Hard to believe this was rebuilt. :/ I don't have that washer/tab thing you bend up around the large nut, but as long as I get one later and put it in without driving more than a few miles it should be ok, right?
I think it had nothing to do with the lever or the cable or the adjustment of either. When the clutch boss nut is torqued the clutch boss does not move at all. A look at the assembly diagram shows a washer between the clutch boss and the clutch housing. This washer was installed next to the clutch boss nut. The last person to install must not have been looking at the manual. : The weird part though is that this washer is cut for splines and the input shaft doesn't have splines back far enough for this to be necessary. You'll see what I mean in the photos. I'm tempted to just put it back there anyway. A quick torque and turning by hand shows that the boss spins freely when the washer is installed before the clutch boss.
Btw, the first 4 photos are just to show how nasty it was in there. I find it hard to believe the transmission was really rebuilt by the last owner. You'd think they would have taken the time to clean that crap out if that were the case. And wtf how do you install a clutch wrong like that?
It they put that washer in the wrong place it might be worth checking that the other components behind the housing are setup correctly. Maybe this is why the housing seems to sit far enough back that the washer sits on section of the shaft without splines?
I put it all back together as described and it seems to be just right. I dunno what the deal is. :/ Either way it seems to be working. Those old clutch and pressure plates HATE to move even when the clutch is pulled in, but it does move. Once I get a battery and am able to ride it around the block and feather the clutch a little maybe it will settle down. Maybe new plates are just in order. Dunno yet.
that thick washer is a thrust bearing. the spline cuts are there because thats the only way that they could get the inner diameter small enough so it wont wobble around on the shaft. the thinner keeper washer needs to be replaced. its done for and the keeper ears are gone. plus its bent all to hell like it wasnt installed properly. the clutch boss, when installed properly should show like 3mm of spline for that washer to seat on. the main nut goes on with the indentation facing OUTWARD. it seems like it should go the other way. but it doesnt and if you install it backwards, it will smash the boss and basket together against the thrust bearing and give you the symptoms you described (no release even with the plates out) the steels you can clean up with a wire wheel on a drill.
i refuse to tiptoe safetly through life, when i can get on my bike and outrun death