Motorcycle Clutch: Maintenance Tips For a Longer Lasting Clutch

On most motorcycle, the clutch and gearbox are inside the motor and live in a bath of engine oil. This is what is referred to as a ‘wet’ clutch. The oil helps to keep the clutch plates and fixes cool, meaning the fibers won’t burn out if you slip the clutch a lot. The best way of maintaining a wet clutch is to change your oil when the manufacturer recommends, to keep the amount of grit in the oil and inside the clutch at a minimum. Eventually, the clutch fibers will wear down, meaning you’ll need to adjust your clutch lever’s travel, to the point where the clutch will start slipping under power – this means you need to replace your clutch fixes.

       Don’t get stressed though, wet clutch fixes can last 50,000km or more if you treat them nicely. Dry clutches, as you may have guessed, do not use oil, and can wear out a lot faster if abused. You’ll know when you hear one, especially if it has an open clutch cover – a common modification to help with cooling -as they have a very distinct rattling clatter. Yup, that sounded like it was falling apart, that’s the noise of a dry clutch. The reason for not using oil to keep things cool is to avoid the ‘fluid drag’ that occurs when oil gets between the plates and fibers, which can make a wet clutch feel a little bit mushy. Dry clutches, by comparison, are a lot more direct feeling but are harder to modulate, being more grabby by nature. Abuse of a dry clutch will result in burnt fixes, which will glaze and cause realty bad clutch slip; the only fix is to replace the clutch fibers (and sometimes steel plates as well) with new items.

Yes, you can upgrade your clutch internals if you plan on being rough with it, or if you need it to be able to handle more power delivery. Simply, you can put better quality fibers in the basket, and/or stronger springs behind the pressure plate. Both of these measures will increase the ‘grip’ between the clutch fibers and steel plates, meaning you can put more power through the clutch assembly. Better quality fibers use more exotic friction materials, which have the added benefit of having higher melting temperatures, meaning they can take a lot more punishment before overheating and glazing. There really is no downside of using these types of fibers, except for, you guessed it – the price tag. If you have an older bike that has started to develop clutch slip when performing high rpm gear shifts, installing a better quality set of fibers with newer friction materials – along with stronger clutch springs – can work wonders for your bike’s rideability.

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