How to bleed or flush your clutch


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How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:02 pm



Bleeding the clutch on a GL1500 is an extremely simple task that takes only a few minutes. Bleeding the clutch means removing air from the hydraulic line that actuates the clutch. This may be from a leak, from allowing hydraulic fluid to get too low, or after replacing a component of the clutch hydraulic system.

The clutch hydraulic system is virtually identical to a brake system, with a master cylinder operated by a hand lever, and a slave cylinder that actually operates the clutch. Clutch bleeding may be indicated if you are having difficulty shifting gears, disengaging the clutch, or if the bike wants to "creep" when in gear with the clutch held in.

The easiest method is with a Mity-Vac vacuum bleeding tool:

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If you don't have such a tool, it is well worth the investment, allowing you to bleed your clutch and brakes easily without assistance from a helper. You will also need a 10mm wrench.

What about flushing? Flushing simply means removing the existing brake fluid and replacing it with new fluid. The easiest way to do this is to bleed continuously while replenishing the fluid in the reservoir at the same time, until fresh, clean fluid starts coming out the bleeder. Never let the reservoir get completely empty while doing this, or you run the risk of sucking air into the system.

1. Remove the left side cover. Start by pulling the bottom front post free from its grommet.

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2. Next pull the bottom rear post free. Pull the bottom slightly toward you - but not too far, or you risk snapping off the remaining post! Pull the cover free from the metal post at the top front, then gently work the top rear post free of its grommet, and pull the side cover away.

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3. Pull the front side cover free of its grommet.

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4. Pull the front side cover to the rear to disengage its locking tab, the pull it away from the bike.

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5. The clutch bleeding nipple is located directly below the alternator.

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6. Pull the rubber cap off the bleed nipple.

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7. Slip the 10mm wrench around the nipple and fit the vacuum bleeder hose over the nipple. Pump up pressure in the vacuum bleeder, and while pumping, open the bleeder with the wrench. Maintain vacuum pressure by pumping as long as the bleeder is open. You will see brake fluid move out of the nipple and through the hose. You may see air bubbles - that's fine, that is just air being removed from the line. Close the nipple with the wrench before removing the vacuum bleeder from the nipple. Don't tighten the bleeder too much! Just snug is fine.

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8. You may need to replace brake fluid that has been bled out of the system. To do so, first turn the handlebars so that the clutch reservoir is level. Place a towel (or two) beneath it to catch drips. Remove the two screws fastening the cover to the reservoir.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT allow brake fluid to get on any plastic or paint! It will destroy paint, and weaken ABS plastic so that it will crack and break!

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9. Under the cover is a plastic form. Remove this and place it on a clean surface.

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10. Lastly is the rubber diaphragm. Remove this again place it on a clean surface.

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11. Fill the reservoir with DOT4 brake fluid from a sealed container. It should reach the top of the sight glass. Brake fluid is hydrophilic, which means it will attract water moisture out of the air, so limit the exposure to air. Once finished, replace the diaphragm and plastic form.

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12. Replace the cover and screw it into place. It should be firm and secure, but not too tight, as you are screwing into aluminum, which can easily strip. Clean up an spilled brake fluid, make sure not to let it get near any plastic parts.

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13. Clean up any brake fluid from around the nipple, and push the rubber cover back into place.

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14. Push the forward side cover's tab into its slot, then push it into its grommet.

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15. Replace the side cover, starting at the top, then pushing the lower posts into their grommets.

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Bleeding without a vacuum bleeder

This is a little bit more difficult, and takes some coordination. You will need a helper to assist you. Instead of placing a vacuum bleeder over the nipple, place a piece of tubing (draped into a container to catch the fluid) - or at the very least, a shop towel that will absorb the bled fluid. Have the helper pump the clutch lever several times, then squeeze and hold the clutch lever fully in. Quickly open and then shut the bleeder, allowing the pressurized fluid to come out (it will squirt quite a way if you don't have something over the bleeder nipple!). The idea is to open the bleeder quickly, allowing fluid to come out, but to close it before all of the pressure is gone, to prevent letting air back into the system. Repeat this process several times until all air has been bled from the system.



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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby vtxcandyred » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:12 pm

Good write up and excellent pictures. The ONLY thing I might add. I did this to mine and am going to do the brakes too. I used the Mityvac to evacuate the master cylinder first then hooked it to the bleeder fitting and I used DOT 4 synthetic to keep the master cylinder full at all times.I did this until it ran clear, and let me tell you THIS was the FIRST time it had been done. The crud that was in the bottom of the master cylinder was incredible. I did this to my VTX and the fluid is STILL crystal clear and that was in 2002 and fifty thousand miles ago. Two pennies. I really enjoy the tech articles here abouts. Lots of VERY helpful information.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby m2102 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:05 pm

great info.just one question,couldn't you use a self bleeder lke you can on the brakes?don't they release with pressure and close when pressure equalizes? just my 2 cents

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:11 pm

m2102 wrote:great info.just one question,couldn't you use a self bleeder lke you can on the brakes?don't they release with pressure and close when pressure equalizes? just my 2 cents


I'm not sure. The hydraulic pressure present in the brake system is much higher than you would see in the clutch system - on the brakes, you're pressing against a non-moving object (pads against disc), where in the clutch, you're just compressing a spring. Whether or not there would be enough pressure to activate the self bleeder, I don't know. Has anyone else tried one of them on a clutch before?

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby m2102 » Tue May 01, 2012 7:27 am

thats is a good point,didn't really think of that.not sure but i thought i saw this talked about on steve saunders forum,will have to do a little checking

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby gof » Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:27 pm

vtxcandyred wrote:Good write up and excellent pictures. The ONLY thing I might add. I did this to mine and am going to do the brakes too. I used the Mityvac to evacuate the master cylinder first then hooked it to the bleeder fitting and I used DOT 4 synthetic to keep the master cylinder full at all times.I did this until it ran clear, and let me tell you THIS was the FIRST time it had been done. The crud that was in the bottom of the master cylinder was incredible. I did this to my VTX and the fluid is STILL crystal clear and that was in 2002 and fifty thousand miles ago. Two pennies. I really enjoy the tech articles here abouts. Lots of VERY helpful information.


So it sounds like you gained from cleaning the system, but at that point you had sucked air into the system that had to be bled out right?

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby vtxcandyred » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:43 pm

gof wrote:
vtxcandyred wrote:Good write up and excellent pictures. The ONLY thing I might add. I did this to mine and am going to do the brakes too. I used the Mityvac to evacuate the master cylinder first then hooked it to the bleeder fitting and I used DOT 4 synthetic to keep the master cylinder full at all times.I did this until it ran clear, and let me tell you THIS was the FIRST time it had been done. The crud that was in the bottom of the master cylinder was incredible. I did this to my VTX and the fluid is STILL crystal clear and that was in 2002 and fifty thousand miles ago. Two pennies. I really enjoy the tech articles here abouts. Lots of VERY helpful information.


So it sounds like you gained from cleaning the system, but at that point you had sucked air into the system that had to be bled out right?

Negative. I cleaned out the master cylinder and kept it full at all times then proceeded to pull the new synthetic fluid through. Worked like a champ.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby cbx4evr » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:27 am

I you don't have a vac pump can you do this the conventional way?
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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:10 am

cbx4evr wrote:I you don't have a vac pump can you do this the conventional way?


Certainly, it's a bit more difficult, but it can be done. You will want to put a hose on the bleed nipple to ensure you don't suck any air back in before you close the nipple.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby m2102 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:26 pm

when i did mine,brakes and clutch,i used a hose to fit snug over the bleeder nipple and used a spray bottle triger end to draw fluid out. worked great.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby BUBBACAYMAN » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:48 pm

Well I bought the Mity Vac, Napa Dot 4 brake fluid, and am going to try it out tomorrow.
QUESTION: I have been having trouble shifting into 1st. gear, and have added small amounts
of Brake Fluid to the clutch reservoir over the last 1000 miles, others have said I probably have
air in the lines, so thought this will be the best way to remove the air. Do I leave the top off
of the master cylinder and add fluid to keep it full or do I need to put the rubber diaphragm
plastic plate and screw down the top each time ?

Also if I use the Mity Vac, is there any reason to loosen the connection at the master cylinder
and burp the air from there ?

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby m2102 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:08 am

No special things to do. Take top off reservoir and leave off during bleeding and add fluid as needed. Don't let it run to low, hook up vac and bleed till all air is out. If not sure when done, while parked and not running, pull lever back and tie it off with bungee or rope and leave overnight. Will let any little air pockets go to reservoir. No harm to system. Can do same to brake side

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby blueridgerunner » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:41 pm

I didn't see an answer re: speedbleeder on clutch. I have them on the brake system and the clutch. They work fine.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby Rhorn » Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:26 am

I didn't find a "how to flush your brakes" so I post here where I find some info on the brakes also.
I always do my flushing every two years, conventional way (without vacuum pump). First I empty the tank with a syringe, several times with new break fluid and using the syringe blowing also to clean the tank.Then I fill with new fluide and flush.
Left handle is for the clutch, easy to do with this tutorial ans also the convensional way by yoursel alone
Right handle is right front disk only(1500 SE). This also is easy to do yourself alone.
"Rear break pedal" on 1500 SE is for left front disk and rear break. For left front disk you need to be two persons (my wife helped).
For rear disk, I removed left trunk cover only. In the midle vertical inside of left trunk you have a round rubber disk (about 2 inches) you can unglue and miraculously find rear break bleed screw. A bit delicate to fit the plastic pipe on it, but then using a 8mm wrench you can do it alone, sitting facing backwards on the bike, "breaking" with left foot.
Thats how I did my first break fluid bleeding on my 1500 SE 1993.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby seelyark1 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:49 pm

m2102 wrote:If not sure when done, while parked and not running, pull lever back and tie it off with bungee or rope and leave overnight. Will let any little air pockets go to reservoir. No harm to system. Can do same to brake side


This may work on the clutch because of the amount of fluid moved, but the brakes are another matter. Much less fluid is moved, and any air bubbles will only go to the highest point of the hose. The reservoir may be at a lower point in the fluid path. that would trap the air in the hose or line defeating the purpose of bleeding
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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby bjatwood » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:08 pm

I performed this procedure with my newly purchased Mighty Vac on Sunday. About a 5 minute job with this setup. Went as smooth as butter!

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:25 pm

bjatwood wrote:I performed this procedure with my newly purchased Mighty Vac on Sunday. About a 5 minute job with this setup. Went as smooth as butter!


The Mity-Vac is really the best way to do bleeding/flushing.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby guitarzan » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:56 pm

The bleeder valves are all 10 mm aren't they? Or are they different sizes?

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:15 pm

guitarzan wrote:The bleeder valves are all 10 mm aren't they? Or are they different sizes?


The clutch and both front caliper bleeders are 10mm. The rear caliper bleeder is 8mm.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby guitarzan » Tue Jul 21, 2015 8:48 am

Well man, you would think they could make them the same size.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby corkman4 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:14 am

Where did you get that bleeder hose you connected to the nipple?
My bleeder just came with a clear hose that slips off of the nipple way to easily.
I like your connection type a whole lot better. I'd buy one if I knew where to get it.

Thanks,
Bill

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby guitarzan » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:53 pm

Bill, my Mighty Vac came with everything.

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Re: How to bleed or flush your clutch

Postby OldZX11Rider » Fri Dec 25, 2015 11:57 am

I was planning on taking my bike to a mechanic to have the brake and clutch fluids flushed out and replaced.
Since reading this "How To" I think I'll do it myself. It sounds easy enough even I would have trouble screwing it up. :lol:


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