V-Twin
Our Indian motorcycles are pretty reliable. I don't know a single Indian motorcycle that has broken down on the side of the road due to mechanical issues.

I have heard of a couple of Indians that got stranded due to minor electrical issues. For example, there is a little switch next to the side stand that prevents the engine from starting if the side stand is down. Sometimes, one can accidentally scrape the bottom of the bike and damage that switch. If the switch thinks your side stand is down, even it is not, your engine will not start. However, these things are rare.

If the chatter amongst Indian motorcycle community is anything to go by, being stranded due to snapped clutch cable is more common. I have heard of the clutch cable snapping with less than 15,000kms on the clock in some cases!

I figured, if clutch cables are snapping, it must be that Indian clutch cables are 'made to price' and failing. After all, Indian considers them 'consumables' like brake pads and tyres, so they are not covered by your warranty. That assumption may or may not be true, but I will update this post once I have replaced my clutch cable with Barnett's clutch cable and compared the fit and finish (specifically the thickness of the cable).

When I use to ride around on a Harley, snapped clutch cable was spoken much less frequently (especially on modern bikes). So that got me thinking. Is it just a coincidence or is there an actual fire behind this smoke? As always, I went asking around.

I was surprised by answers I got from a couple of bike mechanics. They believe the design of Indian clutch actuators is the most likely cause.

If you get down on all fours and look behind the primary, you will see the actuator.

indian-motorcycle-primary.jpg 


If you stick your head behind the primary, you will see how the clutch cable is attached to the actuator.  


clutch-cable.jpg 


There is a small rubber boot covering the cable, so it is less exposed to the elements. It is a good idea to check your clutch cable by rolling back the rubber boot from time-to-time... especially around the anchor points at both ends of the clutch cable.  The anchor point at the actuator end is hard to inspect, compared with the clutch lever end.

If you see a single strand of frayed wire, your cable has started to show wear and it is weakening.

This next piece of information might interest you too. According to the mechanics I spoke to said, how quickly your clutch cable snaps depends on how well your cable has been cleaned and lubed at every service (and if you regularly travel on a dusty road, additional lube in between).

You see, a majority of Indian clutch cables snap at the actuator end (right where the cable meets the anchor point).  It seems to be a weak point.  The cable can also snap an inch or two from the anchor point.  It may be due to a lack of lubrication on the cable as you actuate the clutch cable, it cannot rotate freely. Instead, the cable twists and bend or both, leading to premature breakage (much the same say a paperclip snapping if bent back and forth too many times).

Interestingly, Harley’s Softail models don't have this issue. Their clutch cable runs into the actuator, which is sealed from the environment. Also, gearbox oil lubricates them automatically. The downside is, if the clutch cable do snap, you can't fix it on the side of the road as you will have to drain the transmission fluid and top it up again after replacing the cable.

harley-davidson-clutch.jpg 


The bit that is circled in the picture is the end of the clutch cable. It goes into the gearbox cover labelled 'Six Speed'!

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Eight touring bikes from Harley uses hydraulic clutch so nothing adjust or lube.

I have also learned that premature snapping of the clutch cable is not limited to Indians. Our cousin, Victory also suffered from the same fate.

So, it pays to check the clutch cable regularly.

If your clutch cable has snapped, do share with us two things. Your mileage and whether your clutch cable was greased up properly (or was it dry) where it snapped.
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
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crash
Hi V-Twin, interesting write up.  Problem with your check method is that the cable is more likely to snap off right where the weld is holding the cable to the "little knobby thing".  This part of the cable is actually hidden by the actuator.  so in your diagram below, the break is actually hidden by the alloy "finger" that is used to hold the cable into the actuator.  The only way to accurately check this would be to remove it from the actuator or use some form of mirror /light to check the weld in between the split in the finger.  Or at least, that was the issue in my case.
If I were to have performed the check as you specified, I would not have seen any problem either.

V-Twin wrote:


clutch-cable.jpg 


Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
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V-Twin
crash wrote:
If I were to have performed the check as you specified, I would not have seen any problem either
Hmmmm... so your clutch cable broke right on the anchor?  ...without even a bit of cable attached to it?  In that case, I guess we'll have to get a torch and shine in between the gap where the cable slides in to the actuator to see if there is any frayed wire visible.  I would assume not too many people will disconnect the clutch cable for inspection and reinstall and adjust the slack... that would be dedication.  😉

(ORIGINAL POST UPDATED) - Crash showed me his clutch cable and anchor.  It snapped right at the anchor.  There was not even a 1 mm of cable attached to the anchor point.  It would suggest the importance of lubricating the anchor within the actuator.  As the clutch lever is pulled, you would want the anchor point to swivel freely... if it cannot, it is more prone to snapping.  I still have a suspicion that Indian genuine clutch cable may not be heavy duty enough.  I will compare against Barnett's at some stage and report back.
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
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ppchief61
Yea agree crash and V-Twin needs to clean his bike more regularly ....dont you think!!![biggrin][rofl]
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V-Twin
ppchief61 wrote:
V-Twin needs to clean his bike more regularly ....dont you think!!![biggrin][rofl]
😳🤔🙁😀
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
Quote 0 0
crash
ppchief61 wrote:
Yea agree crash and V-Twin needs to clean his bike more regularly ....dont you think!!![biggrin][rofl]


Since they stopped doing the detailing at service, I don't think it ever gets done [biggrin]  I guess iPhones don't clean bikes [smile]
Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
Quote 1 0
faceonahead
My only comment to this is that it pays to check your bike over weekly.  I know we all neglect this....  I always use the the POWER-C acronym to check the bike at least fortnightly, I do it on pay day, as a reminder to keep the cash in my wallet not the mechanics

Petrol - probably more important after long periods of storage, check for water in it, rust in tank and depending on where you live you may want to drain and refill as blends change with teh seasons

Oil

Water - (if water cooled)

Electrics - check all your exposed cables for cuts, abrasions etc and rectify, check your indicators, headlights, brake lights

Rubber - do a complete spin and check of the tyres

C - Chain and Clutch and other mechanical cables, they fray, stretch, and get damaged because they are a CONSUMABLE... lubricate the ends and  the chain, but in our case we have a belt instead of chain so just give it the once over checking for abnormal wear (see manual) stones caught in belt grooves, and that it is tensioned ok
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
Quote 2 0
V-Twin
crash wrote:
Since they stopped doing the detailing at service, I don't think it ever gets done [biggrin]  I guess iPhones don't clean bikes [smile]
Can I borrow your sheep skin seat cover for couple of hours!?  [biggrin]
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
Quote 0 0
V-Twin
faceonahead wrote:
I know we all neglect this....  I always use the the POWER-C acronym to check the bike at least fortnightly, I do it on pay day, as a reminder to keep the cash in my wallet not the mechanics...
Good philosophy!  I check air pressure but...
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
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faceonahead
I have a after market TPMS that I'm stoked with so I so skip that part...
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
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Richard Dixon
Great write up V twin - thanks, will have to check - nearly done 16,000 with only one minor problem - sticky kick stand switch 
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Joey60
Thanks for the write up V twin.  
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Matt01
Good quality information as always for  extra measure I carry a  "Save ur Ride" clutch cable just incase. 
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V-Twin
Matt01 wrote:
I carry a  "Save ur Ride" clutch cable just incase. 
This looks great!

It is not a 'How to install video' but if you are not sure how it might fit, it gives you an idea.  Funny enough, the owner of this cottage business was a Victory owner and now an Indian owner so they make a kit specifically for our Indian bikes (not for people with abs, unfortunately).

I just contacted them by email to see if they would be interested in coming onboard and support our members.





Sav-Ur-Ride.jpg 
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
Quote 1 0
crash
There are some that suggest that this could have been prevented (or at least may have been identified) by performing regular checks before you ride. 
Before I continue I would like to say that you should always do a check before you start the bike of all the bit's that are important.  Lights working (tail, stop, headlight and indicators), brakes working, no loose bolts or parts etc. etc.

In this particular case however I am pretty confident that a check would have been unlikely to uncover the problem.
DSC_3641v3.jpg
This is the picture of the end of the cable that I took out of the actuator.  At the top you can see a sleeve.  This sleeve has a hole in it that the cable fits through and then the cable is soldered into the little round block.  One thing that you will notice here is that the cable has sheared off in the little block.  The cable is twisted (for strength) and then soldered / welded into the block (and I presume is spread out at the back for additional strength). 

Anyway, the point of this bit of info is to alert you to the possibility that a quick inspection may not result in you finding any problem.  It would be important to look a little closer at the cable (and may require you taking it out to get a good look - but who's going to do that before a ride - not I that's for sure). 

I for one will be looking at a spare clutch cable as a backup - even if it is a temporary solution - at least you will be able to get it home or back to the shop. 

A little while ago I would have said why would I want a spare - we have roadside assist!!  The reality is that this will happen at the worst possible time and roadside assist will get you out of hot water but it will take time.  It takes time for the tow truck, it takes time to load it, it takes time to drive to the destination.  In my case it was approximately 3 hours. 
Putting on a temporary cable would have taken about 1/2 hour - 1 hour and then you are able to limp home (or to a safe place) much quicker.
Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
Quote 1 0
faceonahead
Absolutely agree a check won't capture everything, sorry​ if you think I implied otherwise.... I'm a big fan of always carrying a cable, have done for years, in fact I need to check my current one is still ok...... Anyway always carry one on my opinion, be it a top notch or an emergency one, emergency ones usually pack better as the cable isn't as thick or strong and so winds up tighter in packets because as you say it's a quicker and quite often safer option than waiting in remote s h i t spots
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
Quote 0 1
V-Twin
I totally agree with your assessment Crash.  No amount of inspection would have spotted any issues with your clutch cable... especially since it does not appear to frayed...

crash wrote:
One thing that you will notice here is that the cable has sheared off in the little block.
...Looking at how it snapped, I wouldn't be surprised if the cable was faulty or not up to the job.  I think you have convinced me to inspect Barnett's clutch cable and OEM to compare.  My bike is nearly done 20,000kms so it is in the zone.
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
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crash
Just as an addendum to my previous discussion.  Credit where credit is due. My clutch cable was replaced by the Melbourne Dealership free of charge under warranty.  I have heard that sometimes it was considered to be a consumable but in this case I did not even have to argue the point.  Thanks Melbourne Dealership for doing this for me.
Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
Quote 1 0
faceonahead
crash wrote:
Just as an addendum to my previous discussion.  Credit where credit is due. My clutch cable was replaced by the Melbourne Dealership free of charge under warranty.  I have heard that sometimes it was considered to be a consumable but in this case I did not even have to argue the point.  Thanks Melbourne Dealership for doing this for me.
just brilliant!  did they admit fault to anything like breaking due to a direct result of defect or failing to lube properly as part of instal / check and inspect at service...Nice one Indian!
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
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V-Twin
It was nice either way... Indian clutch cable cost about $220 + labour.  It could have cost about $300+

Before Polaris, started lowering parts prices, Indian OEM clutch cables cost $330.
Let's be kind to one another.
Melbourne, Victoria
Quote 0 0
faceonahead
V-Twin wrote:
It was nice either way... Indian clutch cable cost about $160 + labour.  It could have cost about $300!
Cable for Apes I think i was quoted just over maybe $340 from memort by indian, got one from barnetts via Zorros for far less but I am happy to fit myself
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
Quote 1 0
crash
faceonahead wrote:
Absolutely agree a check won't capture everything, sorry​ if you think I implied otherwise....


Never did consider that that was the implication and I understand what you are saying - "if you don't check there is no chance of seeing if something is wrong, if you do check and happen to find something this would be a good thing, if you do check and something breaks at least you can say that you checked".  I think that we are all guilty of not doing these checks - I am probably the worst of them all - after all, isn't that why you have the bike serviced [biggrin]
Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
Quote 0 0
DAVO
I run a Barnett Clutch cable its a 2 hour job to replace the cable so if you broke a cable on the road it's impratical to change the stock cable out on the side of the road you need a emergency cable to get you home.
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crash
DAVO wrote:
I run a Barnett Clutch cable its a 2 hour job to replace the cable so if you broke a cable on the road it's impratical to change the stock cable out on the side of the road you need a emergency cable to get you home.


Davo, that's interesting.  So what you are saying is that whilst it is possible to carry a spare genuine cable, it is not practical when stuck on the side of the road.  That is a fair assessment - thanks for weighing in .
Ulysses #30673
IMRG #AU100394
Current: RoadMaster (ebony and ivory)
Highett Victoria Australia
Quote 0 0
faceonahead
DAVO wrote:
I run a Barnett Clutch cable its a 2 hour job to replace the cable so if you broke a cable on the road it's impratical to change the stock cable out on the side of the road you need a emergency cable to get you home.
why so long Davo, most i have done on other bikes are about 30 min, is it a pain getting it through a certain spot, need to disassemble something to feed cable through
2020 Challenger Dark Horse, stage 1 pipes and air and a stack of minor mostly cosmetic mods
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