How To Adjust The Clutch On A Harley

When it comes to Harley Davidson motorcycles, one of the most important components of the bike is the clutch. The clutch is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the transmission, which allows the rider to shift gears smoothly. In order for the clutch to function properly, it needs to be adjusted from time to time. In this article, we will discuss how to adjust the clutch on a Harley so that you can keep your bike running smoothly and avoid any potential problems down the road.

Why Adjusting the Clutch is Important

Before we get into the specifics of how to adjust the clutch on a Harley, it’s important to understand why this is such an important task. Over time, the clutch plates can wear down, which can cause slipping or grabbing when shifting gears. This can be dangerous, especially if you’re riding at high speeds. By adjusting the clutch, you can ensure that it’s functioning properly and that you’re able to shift gears smoothly and safely.

What You’ll Need

Before we begin, it’s important to gather all of the necessary tools and equipment. You’ll need a few basic tools, including a socket set, a torque wrench, and a clutch adjustment tool. You’ll also need a Harley Davidson service manual for your specific model, as the exact steps for adjusting the clutch may vary depending on the year and model of your bike.

Step 1: Warm Up the Bike

The first step in adjusting the clutch on a Harley is to warm up the bike. This will help to loosen up the clutch plates and make it easier to adjust them. Start the bike and let it run for a few minutes, or take it for a short ride around the block.

Step 2: Adjust the Clutch Cable

The next step is to adjust the clutch cable. This is done by loosening the locknut and turning the adjuster until there is about 1/8 inch of free play at the clutch lever. Once you’ve adjusted the cable, tighten the locknut to keep it in place.

Step 3: Remove the Primary Cover

In order to access the clutch, you’ll need to remove the primary cover. This is done by removing the bolts that hold it in place. Be sure to keep track of the bolts and washers so that you can put them back in the correct order later.

Step 4: Loosen the Adjuster Screw

Once the primary cover is removed, you’ll be able to see the clutch assembly. Using your clutch adjustment tool, loosen the adjuster screw until you feel a slight resistance. Be sure not to loosen it too much, as this can cause the clutch to slip.

Step 5: Measure the Clearance

Using a feeler gauge, measure the clearance between the clutch release plate and the adjusting screw. The clearance should be between .030 and .070 inches. If it’s outside of this range, you’ll need to make some adjustments.

Step 6: Adjust the Clearance

To adjust the clearance, turn the adjuster screw clockwise to increase the clearance or counterclockwise to decrease it. Be sure to make small adjustments and check the clearance frequently to avoid over-tightening the clutch.

Step 7: Measure the Spring Height

Next, measure the height of the clutch springs. The height should be between 1.415 and 1.465 inches. If it’s outside of this range, you’ll need to adjust the spring tension.

Step 8: Adjust the Spring Tension

To adjust the spring tension, use a torque wrench to tighten the adjusting screw to the specified torque. This will increase the spring tension and raise the spring height. Again, be sure to make small adjustments and check the spring height frequently.

Step 9: Reinstall the Primary Cover

Once you’ve made all of the necessary adjustments, it’s time to reinstall the primary cover. Be sure to put the bolts and washers back in the correct order and torque them to the specified torque.

Step 10: Test the Clutch

Finally, it’s time to test the clutch. Start the bike and shift through all of the gears to ensure that the clutch is functioning properly. If you notice any slipping or grabbing, you may need to make some additional adjustments.


Q: How often should I adjust my clutch?

A: It’s recommended that you adjust your clutch every 5,000 miles or whenever you notice any slipping or grabbing.

Q: Can I adjust the clutch myself?

A: Yes, as long as you have the necessary tools and a service manual for your specific model.

Q: What if I over-tighten the clutch?

A: Over-tightening the clutch can cause it to slip. If you notice any slipping, you’ll need to loosen the adjuster screw and make some adjustments.


Adjusting the clutch on a Harley is an important task that should be done regularly to ensure that your bike is running smoothly and safely. By following these steps and using the proper tools and equipment, you can adjust your clutch with confidence and avoid any potential problems down the road. Remember to always consult your service manual and make small adjustments to avoid over-tightening or damaging the clutch.