Question about 2003 Harley Davidson XL 1200 S Sportster Sport

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Clutch I just changed my clutch cable on a 05 Sportster 1200C. I swear I put it back together the same way it came apart. However, engaging the clutch lever has no effect on the bike whatsoever. It feels right, it looks right, veiwing the action with the derby cover off looks right too. I have installed the cover and filled the case with fluid. Nothin. Whats wrong?

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Glider, had this post on clutch adjustment by the book... Also go to the general maintenance info on Clutches…

Posted on Nov 20, 2008

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Just how many sportsters do you own zizi? Are any of them rideable?

Posted on Dec 31, 2008


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Jan 13, 2013 | 2009 Harley Davidson XL 1200C Sportster...

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Jun 21, 2012 | 2001 Harley Davidson FLHTCUI Electra Glide...

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I have a 2009 harley sportster 1200c can i change the derby cover with out removing the oil

Yes, although I don't work on the later model bikes, I do believe you can do this because you have to take the derby cover off to adjust the clutch and you don't have to drain the oil to do that.

Good Luck

May 14, 2011 | 2009 Harley Davidson XL 1200C Sportster...

1 Answer

I changed the bars on my 01 883 sporty. Now the clutch leaver wont engage the clutch. I tried adjusting the cable but no luck. I changed back the bars, but no luck. Any ideas?

I'm not sure what you mean by "engage the clutch". When some people say this, it means the clutch won't disengage the engine from the transmission. Others say it and it means that the clutch will not engage the engine and transmission and make the bike move. It's the same way with the term "backfire". To some that's a pop from the exhaust, to others is a spit back out fo the carburetor.

Now, if you took the handlebars off, you should have only has to move the cable adjuster in the middle of the cable. If you did not change any adjustment at the primary, you should only have to the adjuster in the middle of the cable to worry about. Make sure that the cable housing is seated in the adjusters like it should be. It they are out of the adjusters, it would may your clutch stay in the "pulled in " position and the clutch will not engage the engine and transmission.

Now, when you pull the clutch lever in,you should feel the resistance of the clutch. If not, the there is the possibility that the cable came disconnected in the primary case. This is rare but I have seen it happen before. To fix it, remove the outside derby cover and you should be able to reconnect the cable with the clutch release mechanism in the primary. If you need a drawing of this area, contact me directly at

Good Luck

Apr 09, 2011 | 2001 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883...

1 Answer


Well, the answer is yes and no. If you hear a clunk noise when shifting to first gear when the engine and transmission is cold, this is normal. Once the engine reaches normal operating temp, the answer is "NO", not normal.

In a cold engine, the oil is thick and even with the clutch pulled in, enough oil is between the plates to drive the mainshaft and cause the noise. Now. once the oil gets hot, it shouldn't do this. If it does, you need to adjust the clutch.

To adjust the clutch, find the cable adjuster in the middle of the clutch cable. Loosen the locknut and turn the adjuster inwards to get as much slack in the cable as possible.

Now, remove the derby cover, spring, and locknut at the clutch release mechanism on the outer primary cover. Inside the mechanism is a screw. Turn this screw as far as it will go clockwise but don't try to force it. Once it stops, turn the screw back clockwise 1/4 turn. Replace the "locknut", spring, and the derby cover over the release mechanism.

Now, go back to the cable adjuster and adjust it back outwards until you get about an 1/8" of freeplay. Squeeze the clutch a few times and check the freeplay again. Lock the lock nut and replace the rubber boot over the adjuster.

Good Luck

Jan 13, 2011 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

How do i get the proper clutch ajustment on a 1989 xlh 1200 sportsters.i have the slack out of the cable and all the play out of the clutch ajustment what do i do next?

Ok, let's start back over again. To properly adjust the clutch, you MUST do it in a particular method due to the design of the release mechanism.

First, you must "unadjust" the cable. Find the cable adjuster and "unadjust" it making the cable as short as possible, lots of freeplay in the cable.

Then, remove the clutch access cover and remove the spring and the "lockplate" that looks like a nut with a stem on it.
Turn the clutch adjusting screw counterclockwise to remove all the free play.
Now, back off on the screw 1/4 turn.
Then reinstall the "lockplate". if it doesn't want to go back in, you may have to rotate the adjusting screw clockwise just enough to get it back in. Put the spring back in and put the clutch access cover back on.

Readjust the cable so that you have a freeplay at the clutch lever of about a eighth (1/8") inch freeplay or about the thickness of a nickle.

Lock everything down and this should be correct.
I have found that sometimes you have to "tweak" the cable adjustment to get a clutch to engage exactly where a particular rider wants it to start engaging. This is a preference type thing and has to be done on a "trial and error" basis with the cable adjustment. But, you must use this method to adjust the clutch down at the engine end of the cable. Good Luck!

Dec 20, 2009 | 2006 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

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High pitched squeal

It most likely is a worn brake pad. Clutch will tend to slip with out any squeal since it is a wet clutch. Try applying the front brake then the rear brake to determine which is squealing. Pads are about $45.00 per wheel, I just did mine friday.

Mar 16, 2009 | 2004 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

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