Honda XR650R Clutch Removal and Replacement

I just bought a 2004 XR 650R that has the full HRC Power UP Kit, precision concepts suspension, exhaust, etc.  The bike runs like a top, but has a screeching vibe when you start to let the clutch out, where it suddenly disengages.  Very hard to manage on the street or tight trails.  I pulled the clutch apart and the plates and friction all are within spec, along with the springs.  The judder spring and spring seat have been removed, which I’ve heard was a common thing to remove these for desert racing.  Anyway, I wanted to remove the clutch inner nut, as I wanted to check out the thrust washer, I have heard they can get scarred and cause this screeching/sudden disengagement thing.  I looked in the manual and saw a tool to remove the inner.  Made a tool myself to hook to two of the clutch spring retainers and sure enough, snapped one of em clean off when I went to loosen the nut.  Called a shop and they asked if I had air tools?  Of course!  Impact and off it came without even holding the inner.  Geez!

Okay, so new inner, washers and nuts on their way.  I also ordered the judder spring/seat as I want to put everything back together with just new washer and see if the screeching goes away, then I will consider putting the judderspring/seat back in as all manual show.

Question is, how do I torque that center nut that holds everything in?  They show a tool in the manual that attaches to two clutch spring retainers, just as my tool did.  I know that torqueing would be less force than undoing the nut, which is when I broke it.  I really don’t want to break another inner, as they are $90 and take time to get.

Honda XR650R Clutch Damage


I’ve never seen that happen before! Yikes.

When I’m removing the clutch nut and putting it back on I go about it a couple ways.

Of course the easiest way to get that nut off is to hit it with the air gun, it always pops right off. Often times I actually use the air gun to put it back on too – I just give it a quick zap to snug it up and call it done. Has always worked fine. Now that I think about it, I haven’t used a torque wrench on a clutch hub nut in quite a while, air tools just make it too easy. On my MX bikes I would actually sometimes just put the nut on as tight as I could with my fingers, then just flip up the tabs on the washer and be done.

To get proper torque here are a few techniques I use and like (in no particular order):

  • Put the bike in 5th gear, stand on the rear brake, and crank on the nut. This can be a little tricky to orchestrate, but will work once you get the hang of it. You can also have a friend hug the rear wheel to his chest if he’s strong!
  • Order a clutch basket holding tool. Lots of companies make them, Motion Pro comes to mind. There are holding tools that look like a giant vice grip which essentially lock on to the perimeter of the inner hub. There are also holding tools which lock the inner and outer hub together. Both work great in my experience, but I generally try to work with what I already have.
  • Make your own clutch locking tool. I’ve done this many times with great results. Take an old friction plate and an old steel plate and clamp them to a workbench. Drill a couple holes through them, then stick bolts through the holes to lock the two plates together. Now you can put this into the clutch to lock the outer basket to the inner hub. Very helpful!
  • Lock the engine in place by feeding a length of rope down into the spark plug hole. This will fill up the cylinder and prevent the piston from rotating and won’t damage anything. I prefer this technique on 2 strokes, on a 4 stroke like the XR650R just make sure you’re doing it on the compression stroke so the valves are closed.

Sorry you busted your hub. I’ll make sure I never do it that way!

I may just use a combination of your method with the impact to zap it, then try the 5th gear deal.  Any thoughts on the judder spring removal?  Have you ever heard of this?

Hope you’re recovered from your road incursion in Mexico!  Thanks for the info.  Excellent reads with the blog, website and the forum.

I couldn’t tell a difference between having a judder spring and not having it. If you’re putting in fresh plates, I’d just say ditch it for an extra fiber plate. Most of the aftermarket kits won’t come with a replacement judder spring anyway, and it wears out just like everything else. My opinion: ditch it!  winking0001

Thanks for the kind words. Motor rebuild is in process then I’ll be back out on the highway (the dirt highway that is).

I never could find any info on what happened to your camper dealio on the blog?!  What became of it?  The second one.  Understand why you ditched the first one.  Can’t believe you were gonna salvage that one!

Yeah, that first one turned out to be a bit too much of a project. Nothing was worth keeping. The second one ended up being fantastic after I put a new floor in it. I lived in it for about 10 months while crossing the country with 3 dirtbikes. I would park it for a few days and ride absolutely everywhere. Spent lots of time in colorado, utah, and nevada. It was fantastic fun. I didn’t do a great job blogging about it, but I did take tons of photos.

Okay, I wanted to follow up on the screeching clutch. Just as I said, I changed the oil to Honda oil and it made no difference what so ever (dissapointed). I was hoping this would be the easy fix right?!

After calling and speaking with a few XR 650 types, I was told by Precision Concepts that it’s possible that the washer between the clutch basket and the clutch inner could be scarred and causing this. I thought it a long shot, but really wanted to pull this apart as I’m a newb when it comes to clutches. So I did!

Pulled the cover, then the 4 spring bolts and wala! Clutch friction and metal plates came out. I mic’d everything and the plates and the disks were all within spec, along with the clutch springs. I did buy an extra plate when putting the clutch back together and it mic’d at the exact same as the disks that I pulled out.

Next thing, had to get the clutch inner out to get to the washer between it and the clutch basket. This proved to be my undoing as I was trying to come up with a tool that would duplicate what I saw in the Honda Service Manual. You can see in the pic what my buddy, Jim and I, came up with. It was gonna work like a champ! I got my 27mm socket and 3/4 drive and as soon as I went to undo the nut I heard a high pitched snap! And there went one of the clutch spring retainers, snapped clean off the clutch inner. I had already put an order in for the three washers and nut that I would need to reassemble. I quickly called back and ordered the clutch inner too. That didn’t solve my need to get this thing off yet! I called the local shop and they asked if I had any air tools. Duh!!!!! Of course I have air tools. They said just put the impact on it in reverse. Sure enough, you don’t even need to hold the inner, the impact’s torque spins it off no problem. Bottom line, I broke the clutch inner for no reason at all. Now you know, use an impact to take the nut off!

So, everything was off and I inspected the suspicious washer, see pic.
It’s the one on top. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, other than a little discoloration, but new stuff was on the way!

Parts came in today, put everything back together. Oiled up the plates and disks, lubed up the clutch rod on both ends. Left the judder spring out, as I wanted to find out if just the washer was going to fix it, as there was no judder spring when I took it apart. Everything went back together text book(don’t forget the last clutch disk in grooves into the basket, opposite all the other clutch disks). I used an impact to put the clutch inner nut back on. I know, I know, I didn’t use Honda’s tool. Not buying that and Evan gave me some tips on do’s and don’t regarding the assembly of this thing. Had been warned about the clutch spring bolts, 9#’s only!

Anyway, it all went back together and took it for a drive. Just like any other clutch now. Screeching and lurching are gone. Sooooo, I guess it was the washer, just as Precision Concepts had thought. Not oil, or glazed disks as myself and a few others thought. Just that washer! So, thanks to all who offered advice and hopefully this will help someone out in the future.

Now it’s out to the desert this weekend. Glad this came together, I really didn’t want to take the paddle off of my CR 500 for this trip!


Evan Fell

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