Tips for Maintaining Your Dirt Bike Clutch

I often encounter dirt bike owners who are ever having clutch problems. They will often complain about the poor engineering standards of the company that made the bike before deciding to switch to a dirt bike by a different manufacturer.

Once this shift has been completed, you won’t have to wait too long before you hear them making the same complaints. The only conclusion that could be made here is that the problem lies not with the dirt bikes but with their owners.

Suspecting this very thing, one of these owners approached me and asked what the problem could be. I mentioned that perhaps the reason why he often had clutch problems was because he didn’t put much effort in maintaining it.

Agreeing that that could be the case, he asked how best he could do so. This article captures all that I told him and more.

Maintaining Your Dirt Bike ClutchPin


The Strain on the Clutch

There are few components on your dirt bike as industrious as the clutch. The consequence of this hardwork is a continuous strain which could end up impairing the functioning of the clutch.

Given, for many people, giving the clutch an easy time on the road beats the very point of having a dirt bike, the only solution is to regularly maintain it to enable it to continually cope with the strain. A curious aspect of clutch problems is that the problems doesn’t start as benign before gradually worsening.

When its starts malfunctioning, it goes from bad to worse very quickly. You should, therefore, make a point of fixing such problems the moment they crop up.

Or better yet, keep the clutch in good condition and cease to worry about the probability of your clutch getting packed up and slipping.

Signs you have a Clutch Problem

The first sign that there might be a problem with your clutch is evidence of wear and tear. Given the progress from optimal performance to malfunction is a slippery slope, it’s important that you notice this early enough.

Another sign that you could be having difficulties with your clutch is the presence of a chattering sound while riding. One should also be on the lookout for instances where an increase in the rpm doesn’t correspond to that of the speed.

Other signs include experiencing difficulty changing gears or a stiffening of the lever. Your goal, however, should be to make sure it doesn’t come to this.

Maintenance is the way to go. The following tips should help to ensure your bike performs optimally.

Examine the Clutch Cable

Make a point of examining the clutch cable closely for any wear and tear. Watch out for signs of fraying which if found, signal that it’s about time you replaced the cable.

Choosing to go on using such a cable will only make you clutch hard to pull. The next focus of your attentions should be noting the amount of free play you have in your clutch lever.

Free play refers to the scope of movement available to the clutch lever before the springs are compressed and the clutch is disengaged. The ideal amount of free play will ensure that the maximum amount of spring force is generated.

Too much free play will lead to the wearing away of the clutch which will affect its functionality. The consequence of this erosion is the difficulty you’ll face in changing gears.

The absence of free play, on the other hand, will only lead to the wearing away of the clutch plates. The best way to know the ideal amount of free play your clutch needs to peruse the manual for it.

Alternatively, you could always make use of a nickel. Place it in between the clutch perch and the lever.

The breadth of the nickel provides an adequate measure of the amount of free play that is required.

Check the Clutch Plates

The next step is to examine the clutch plates. This procedure will require you to remove the clutch cover along with the rest of the assembly to properly inspect the components within it.

The first components you’ll encounter will be the pressure plate and a number of springs whose removal will allow you to spot the friction plates and dry plates. You’ll recognize the former as being the components with teeth and a substance made of cork on their surface.

The latter are made out of steel or aluminum and have teeth that fit into the inside hub. The removal of a friction plate will expose you to a dry plate which lies underneath.

And that provides the basis for the arrangement of these plates. A friction plate with a dry plate underneath followed by another friction plate.

A clutch that performs adequately is one that welcomes plenty of friction to prevent any slipping and allows for maximum energy to reach the wheels. The first thing you should do is to find out how thick the friction plates are.

A pair of calipers should help you in this regard. The next step should be to check out the service to find out whether the plate thickness is below what’s recommended.

In the event that happens to be so then you can be sure that your clutch won’t function as expected. The same can be said of any discoloration or glaze you notice on the plates.

Such observations signal that it’s time to buy new friction plates. Inspecting the dry plates can easily be done visually by placing them on top of a glass table.

Doing so will allow you to notice any discoloration or warping which will signal that they are due for replacement. In the event that you have to change a friction plate or dry plate, then it’s in your best interest to replace the corresponding plate as well.

Check the Clutch Basket

The clutch basket is a ripe candidate for wear and tear; which is ideally what you should be looking for when you are inspecting it. The teeth on friction plates are designed to fit on to the fingers of the clutch basket.

Trouble arises when sustained contact results in friction between the two surfaces. This friction will over time lead to the development of notches on the surface of the fingers.

The consequence of this phenomenon is that the free movement of the friction plates will be inhibited which in turn will lead to the clutch failing to perform as expected.

Examine the Clutch Springs

One of things most riders notice upon riding new dirt bikes is how easy and smooth it is to pull the strings. Well the reason this is case is due to the soft clutch strings manufacturers install therein for your ease and comfort.

Now if you’re the sort of dirt bike rider who doesn’t give the dirt bike a hard time then those soft springs might just be ideal for you. Nevertheless, if you are an aggressive rider who has no qualms punishing the clutch then you might have to consider swapping the soft springs for harder ones.

Soft springs don’t have the stiffness required to prevent the clutch plates from slipping. Thus, choosing to use them will only result in your clutch having a short lifespan.

Installing stiffer springs will guarantee that slippage won’t be a problem given there’ll be sufficient pressure on the pressure plates. Thus, the clutch will be moved as far back as necessary without any complications.

The next targets for examination are the push rod and the actuator arm which are also susceptible to wear. If that turns out to be the case then it might be time to make some replacements.

Use Quality Oil in Correct Amounts

Determining which oil to use won’t be a hassle given you only have the consult your manual. It is highly likely that the manufacturer has recommended a particular type of oil for the clutch.

This oil will not only be ideal for your bike’s clutch but also of high quality. It will serve to ensure that the lifespan of the clutch is extended and delay wear and tear.

Using the wrong oil or applying incorrect levels of it could significantly affect the functionality of the clutch. The purpose of adding oil to the clutch is to ensure that temperatures are kept low for optimum performance.

Nevertheless, should plenty of oil be added to the clutch, the friction plates might drown in the oil which will only lead to slippage.

Adjust the Cables

Make a point of ensuring the cables are well adjusted to prevent difficulties that arise from them being either too loose or too tight. A loosely adjusted cable will inhibit the clutch from disengaging.

An exceedingly tight cable, on the other hand, considerably reduces the tension on the springs which results in slippage.

Be Disciplined

Have a regular maintenance schedule that you adhere to religiously. This will ensure that you no longer have to worry about any clutch problems sneaking up on you. Thus, your bike will always perform optimally and you’ll spend less money on repair and replacements. s

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