I searched the net for a photographed tutorial on how to replace the clutch and brake lever on a Harley. While the process is damn easy, understanding it with words alone is sometimes daunting to the newbie. So here's a write up with some photos. Hope it helps.
What you'll need:
- C/E-ring tool
- Two lock pliers
- New levers
- Large plastic bag (i.e., Ziplock)
- Cheap beer in a can
First things first. I suggest using a large plastic bag, as seen in the picture below, to ensure you do not lose the C clips, as they will shoot and bounce all over the place!
While I provide coaching in this article, you are responsible for the quality of your work and your own safety. You are changing vital control mechanisms of your motorcycle. Do not attempt this without proper training. My coaching is not proper training. I suggest having your work checked, before riding, by a licensed H-D mechanic. I will not be held liable for your mistakes, injury, or death. Be responsible for yourself.
Step 1: Remove C clip, which holds a shiny, metal mounting pin in place. Use a C clip removal tool available at a hardware store. If you don't have one of these tools, use micro-sized needle nose pliars and be very, very, very careful not to scratch your control housing. Place the C-clip somewhere safe and away from the action, so you don't lose it!
Step 2: Push out the mounting pin. Place it next to your C clip. You'll notice, when you take out the lever, that there is a metal or plastic guide that snugs up the pin. Your new levers should have a new sleeve, but, just in case they don't, retain this sleeve. It's necessary.
The lever should now be very loose but probably won't come out just yet.
Step 3: Be VERY M'FING CAREFUL and maneuver out the lever. Be careful because, as you can see in the photo, there is a rubber coated switch that is pretty fragile and if you rip it off or compromise it in some way, it's a huge pain to replace -- so I'm told.
Step 4: Install your new lever in reverse. Be EVEN MORE CAREFUL not to hurt the switch mentioned above when installing your new lever. It's most vulnerable when you install a new lever, more so than when taking out the old lever. Be careful!
Step 5: Line up the mounting pin and press it through the hole. I put some light oil on the pin so it would slide in easily and aid motion, but it's not necessary.
Step 6: Re-install the C pin. Triple check that it's in there properly and safely.
You can see the new handle I have. I don't like them, as my skin digs into the slots and they are angled ever so slightly in a different way than stock. Maybe I'll get used to it.
Sorry -- I'd put the photos in-line with the text, but I can't figure out how.
This one is more complicated as you'll be adjusting the clutch cable, but it's still pretty easy.
Step 1: Dismount the clutch cable from the frame down where the cable adjuster is. Look on the level of the top of your engine, right under the tank for an accordion-looking cover. There's a pressure ring holding the cable to the frame... pull this out carefully.
Step 2: Remove the rubber accordion-looking cover. Since I've been in the rain, recently, some water came out of mine and you can tell it had its way with the metal in there.
Step 3: Slacken the clutch cable. To do so, loosen the lock nut all the way to the top and then twist the cable adjustment "nut" (which is a huge, long nut thing) all the way to close the gap.
Step 1: Follow the exact same steps to remove the retention pin (including C-clip) as noted in the Brake Lever section. Again use the plastic bag to avoid losing the C-clip. This will cause the lever to be very loose and since you have already slackened the clutch cable, you will be able to pull the lever to the right and jockey out the clutch cable from the mount (see photo).
Step 2: Remove clutch cable retention pin. Please retain all plastic or metal bits that were there. Your new lever may not come with replacements.
Step 3: Install clutch cable retention pin into new lever. I used new plastic grommets, which came with my levers. I also used a metal retention pin where as H-D's OEM pin was plastic. I suppose I prefer metal over plastic for my clutch lever... thanks.
Step 4: Reinstall the lever into it's mount. You'll need to slide in the clutch cable through the slit in the mount, the same slit you pulled the cable out from when removing the old lever. Basically, here, you're going in reverse of removing the lever.
Step 5: Reinstall the clutch retention pin. You'll need to reinstall the C-clip, just like with the brake lever. Don't lose it! It's important!! I almost lost mine, which is where I came up with the plastic bag idea. Took me 20-min. to find the dang thing.
Step 6: Readjust your clutch cable in reverse of when you slackened it. Be sure to test it out so that you don't do any damage to your clutch, tranny, or your own body in a crash thanks to a poorly or improperly adjusted clutch cable. Be sure to tighten it back up properly and tightly and re-cover and re-mount the cable to the frame. I suggest cleaning off the frame where you remount the clutch cable to it.
Got these levers off of eBay. Don't remember from who or how much. It was a LONG time ago. My suggestion, don't buy slotted levers. They are uncomfortable if you ride without gloves, like I do. I'll be replacing these soon, again. I just wanted black, now.
This, by the way, is a good time to do the following work:
- Hang mirrors under bars
- Relocate turn signals
- Install new handlebars
- Install new switch housings
- Replace the clutch cable
- Clean your dirty, nappy bike (like mine)
You might notice I removed my reflectors. I'm having a hard time getting the sticky stuff off... so I'm taking my sweet time. Using Goo Gone. Stuff is crap.
I have a lot more pictures that might help you. PM me, and I can send them in a ZIP file (138 mb).
I'll keep my original seat as it has been modified to fit the custom tank with extensions fom BadDad.
We plan to head west through Milwaukee to Sturgis and to Helena, MT where my Dad's regiment was raised at Fort Henry Harrison. From there we'll head through some of the great parks in Montana then up to BC and all the way to Tofino on the West coast of Vancouver Island.
I spent a few years logging in BC after high school, and my riding partner has never been to the West coast. That's reason enough to take him to Tofino.
If we had more time I'd ride down coast Hwy # 1 in Oregon to California as I had previously toured in my '69 Chevy van years back. wow- what a beautiful ride.
We won't ride more than 6-7 hrs per day, and can make stops when the mood fits.
Another riding buddy suggested a bike cam for video of the ride. I believe you can get a good quality one for a resaonable cost.
So that's the deal, and a backrest will do just fine.
Those pics are in Wyoming through Beartooth Pass into Montana and back down through Yellowstone back into Wyoming. My Brother and I went on that ride and it was perfect. No wimmin that time. Did a lot of riding and a lot of drinking
Thanks Mike I hope to finally make it to Sturgis this year and that will definitely be in the plans. If I don't find a Job just might go back to traveling from one dish washing job to the next. Might get to see this great country of ours after all. Just looking on the bright side you know.
We're only planning for 4 nights in Sturgis. The rest of the time plan on going out at least to Billings but no real plans today. This work thing has got my head in more of a fog then normal. Even for me.
Yea,great job! I bought some from JP cycles installed em (blk) and the clutch lever is supposed to have a tit inside to engage the neutral safety switch damn things too short.Have to start with gear box in neutral.Levers are made by Custom Chrome.
Doods. That was really easy, but your posts gave me the confidence to go for it. Put my new clutch and brake levers on this morning. Took me all of a half an hour. Thanks for the cautions etc. I still shot my brake side c-clip off into Never Never Land when I removed it, so I'll just run by the Harley shop and get a new one. I can wait. Thanks again!
I just want to double check that I did this right.
When i replaced the clutch side lever, I was not able to get the metal pivot pin or the two shims that came with the Custom Chrome lever to fit into the slot accepting the lever. After several tries, i just resorted to looping the cable around the original plastic pivot pin and reassembled like it was originally (without shims). Seems OK. I just want to sure it is. My clutch also seems to have less play and engages sooner than before. Not critical. Just have to get used to it.
My 2nd question is this: In the photo you depict re-installing the snap ring with your finger. is that how it's done or do you mount the ring into the snap ring pliers and "spread" it on?
Thanks for any guidance,