Question about 2001 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883 Hugger

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?

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  • ag73bill Apr 12, 2011

    i checked the cable in the primary. its perfect.
    Adjusted the cable, 1/8 play.
    Still the same problem.
    If I pull the clutch lever in with the bike in gear(not running), the bike wont roll. It will roll an inch until you feel the gears.
    thanks Bill

  • ag73bill Apr 13, 2011

    I readjusted the primary. i adjusted both times with the cable slack. i checked the 3 balls they are seated properly. snap rings perfect.
    It rotates properly. Everything looks great.
    thanks for all your help.
    The local HD just want me to bring it in. Money i don't have now.

  • ag73bill Apr 13, 2011

    The bike has been well taken care of , 3500 miles. No problems ever.

  • Cody Boukather Oct 25, 2011

    I am currently having the same problem as you, and I followed the same steps you did, I wanted to know if and how you fixed this problem.



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  • 4,565 Answers

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

Posted on Apr 10, 2011

  • wd4ity
    wd4ity Apr 12, 2011

    Ok, the clutch is not disengaging. Did you adjust the release mechanism in the primary? You know you had to turn the screw to get the primary cover off. Now, you've got to re-adjust that screw. This is the release unit. When you pull the cable, it rotates. It's got three balls in it and it only moves about 3/8" or so. If you don't have it adjusted correctly, it won't release. You must loosen the clutch cable adjustment all the way. Then, adjust the release unit. Then, re-adjust the cable. If you don't do it exactly in this order, it won't work. The reason is that the release unit has to reposition itself by rotating counterclockwise. It can't do this unless the clutch cable is completely loose.

    Try to adjust it again. If this doesn't work, you've got something assembled incorrectly. Make sure the snap ring in the clutch assembly did not come out and that the release mechanism is assembled correctly. Sometimes those release mechanisms come out of the primary cover and you must put them back in at the right position. Try it all again and let me know what happens.


  • wd4ity
    wd4ity Apr 13, 2011

    Evidently you've got something wrong that I'd have to look at it to see what it is. Since I can't do that, there doesn't seem much else that I can do to help. Since you didn't go into the primary, it has to be something to do with the cable or the lever that you should have been able to see while adjusting it. I have no other ideas that I can think of that might help. I'm sorry I couldn't do more to help you. Take care and ride safe.




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