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Top 5 Motorcycle & ATV Clutch Maintenance Tips

Top 5 Motorcycle & ATV Clutch Maintenance Tips

– Do you wanna know how to
get the most performance out of clutch for your motorcycle or your ATV? Well, I am Chase at Rocky Mountain ATV MC and these are my top five maintenance tips for your motorcycle or your ATV’s clutch. So, the clutch on your motorcycle or your ATV, it’s simple right? You pull it in when you
wanna stop or shift gears. You let it out when you wanna get power to the ground and you wanna go forward. Well, I wish it was that easy. The truth is the clutch is one of the hardest working
components on your motorcycle, it takes all of the power from the engine and it gets it to your
transmission and to the rear wheel. So, you don’t need me to tell ya that it’s very, very important to keep this thing in tiptop shape. Now, even a well
maintained clutch over time is gonna lose some of its performance and that’s why it’s really important you wanna be doing your
regular maintenance. So, without further ado these
are top five tips to keep your clutch for your motorcycle
or ATV in tiptop shape. So for my first tip, this
is gonna be a long one but it’s gonna be the most
important in my top five and it is having enough free
play in your clutch lever. So, what it is free play? Well, free play is the amount
of movement that you have in your clutch lever and your
cable before you actually start to compress your springs
and disengage your clutch. So why do you need free play? Well, when your clutch’s
lever is all the way out and your clutch is
engaged, it’s getting all that power to the rear wheel. What is happening is your clutch springs are putting pressure
on your pressure plate which is squeezing your
friction and your drive plates together which is getting
that power to the ground. When you pull your clutch
in, what you’re doing now is you’re essentially
pushing the pressure plate off the clutch pack which is
gonna disengage your clutch and all that spring tension is gonna be up here in your clutch lever. So, with all the spring tension
up here in the clutch lever that’s gonna allow your friction and your drive plates to disengage. So, why do you need that free play? Well, having enough free
play in your clutch lever is gonna ensure that you have the optimum or the maximum amount of spring
force on your clutch pack. So if you don’t have enough
free play in the lever well what can happen is this can cause you to have some of that
spring tension up here in the lever and the cable
and not on your clutch pack where it needs to be. Now, if this is the case,
well what can happen is your clutch plates can start to slip which you absolutely do not want. What this can do is
start to fry your clutch. Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum if you have too much free
play in your clutch lever, well when you go to disengage your clutch and you pull your clutch
lever in, this can cause the clutch to not fully
disengage which can cause premature wear and that
also will prevent you from shifting gears properly. So, next question. How do you measure how much free play and how much do you need? Well, there’s a few
ways you can measure it. First, always look at your owner’s manual. They’re gonna give recommendations
on how to measure it. Probably one of the most common ways is to measure the amount of movement you have at the end of your clutch lever. So what they’ll recommend is
you squeeze your clutch cable or your clutch lever and
you measure the distance that it moves here at
the end of your lever. Another way is gonna
be the old nickel trick and what you will do here is you’ll pull on your clutch lever. And right here where
your clutch lever touches your clutch perch, if
you can take a nickel and you can fit it in there pretty easily you’re not gonna have a lot of extra room, it’s not too tight,
that is a good indicator that you have enough free play. Now, a third way to do it. Now this is a trick and
a tip that I have for ya, ’cause they’re not gonna recommend this is actually using your cable here where it goes into your adjuster. So what I like to do, and I do
this because my clutch setup actually has a guard
that goes over my clutch so I can’t see where it
touches my clutch perch, so what I’ll do is I’ll
take my clutch cable and I’ll just pull on it. You don’t need to yank on it super hard, but I’ll pull right here
and then I’ll just sit there and I’ll pull my clutch lever. Now, you can actually
see it move right here where it goes into the adjuster. So, as long as I have a few
millimeters of movement there that to me is a good indicator that I have enough free play in my clutch. Now, you gotta remember too
though when you’re out riding around when you’re clutch
is getting hot and cold your free play is gonna change. This is important that
you always wanna make sure you’re monitoring that as you’re riding. And this is also the
reason that I like to have an on the fly adjuster with my clutch. So, I’ve got this ASVC6 setup. Now this on the fly adjuster’s nice because it makes it very
easy to adjust the freeplay and I can do it while I’m even riding. So, you wanna make sure
you’re monitoring that. But that’s gonna be my
first tip, is making sure that you have enough free
play in your clutch lever. Okay so, for my second tip it’s gonna be inspecting your drive plates
and your friction plates. Now before we really get into that, I’m gonna take you back to science class. We’re gonna do some anatomy
and I’m gonna show you exactly what’s going into your clutch. So, if you take your clutch
cover off your bike or your ATV, on most of your bikes this
is what you’re gonna find. This is gonna be your clutch assembly. So, you’re gonna have your
springs on the outside. You’re gonna have your pressure
plate on the outside here. Now on the inside you’re
gonna see in the middle, that’s gonna be your center hub and on the outside is gonna
be your clutch basket. And you see the fingers coming out. Now, in between your center
hun and your clutch basket is where your friction plates and your drive plates are going to be. Now, your friction plates
you can see are gonna have either usually an Aramid material fiber or a cork material on the outside. And you can see these
actually have these teeth around the outside and
these teeth are gonna go between the fingers on your clutch basket. And you clutch basket
is driven by your crank. Now your drive plates are
gonna be the next one in there. You can see your drive
plates are gonna be made from either aluminum or steel and they have teeth around the inside. And those are gonna go on the
spline of your center hub. So what happens is these
are gonna be in here and they’re gonna be alternating so you’re gonna have drive plate, then a friction plate, et cetera. When your clutch springs
are putting pressure on your pressure plate,
your pressure plate is squeezing your clutch,
your drive and friction plates together which is putting that power to the gearbox into the rear wheel. Now, the reason it’s so
important to make sure these are in tiptop shape
is you wanna make sure that you have as much friction as possible to get all that drive and all
that power to the rear wheel. I’m gonna put this here. So with your friction plates,
as I mentioned earlier, you’re gonna have two common materials. You’re gonna have an Aramid
fiber or a cork material. Now, how you inspect these and you know if it’s time to replace them. Now, I’m gonna say about
every four to six hours is a good timeframe that
you should be inspecting your drive plates and
your friction plates. Your manual’s gonna give
you recommendations as well but I really wouldn’t
recommend going too far past that four to six hour window. So with your friction plates,
what they’re gonna have you do in most cases you’re gonna
measure the thickness of these. So, you’re gonna take a pair of calipers and your manual’s gonna
give you a certain thickness that you don’t wanna go under. If you’re under that
thickness then it’s time to replace your friction plates. Another way, is you can actually
just visually inspect them. If you look at ’em, if they’re glazed over or if you have any discoloration
that’s a good indicator that it’s time to replace
your friction plates. Now when it comes to your drive plates, remember steel or aluminum, for these again you’re
gonna look at them visually. You’re gonna see if
there’s any discoloration, any black or blue streaks, that’s a very good indicator
that these are worn. That they need to be replaced. Your manual often suggests as well that you take your drive
plates and you put it on a smooth surface and you’re
gonna use a feeler gauge and you would see if there’s any warping with your drive plates. And that’s how you’re gonna measure those. Now, another tip that I
have is when it comes time to replace your friction or drive plates I highly recommend that you
always do the two together. You don’t wanna do just
your friction plates or just your drive plates,
you wanna replace both at the same time. Now, at Rocky Mountain
ATV MC we have a lot of different clutch kits
that we have available. Now one that we highly
recommend is our Tusk brand, really good value, we
have a couple options. So if you’re not sure
which one you should get, I actually have a video where I show you the two different options that we have. So, if you have questions about those make sure you watch that video. That will get your questions answered. But that’s gonna be my
second tip is inspecting your drive and your friction
plates and making sure those are in good condition. Okay, my third tip is gonna be inspecting your clutch basket. Now, as I mentioned earlier
when I took you back to anatomy class your
clutch basket’s gonna have your fingers that go along the outside. And your friction plates
that have those teeth that go between your fingers. Well, what happens is
when you’re getting hard on that throttle and
you’re getting that power to the rear wheel those
teeth are gonna start to wear notches into the
fingers on your basket. Now when you see these notches
that is not a good thing ’cause when you’re engaging
and disengaging your clutch these notches are gonna
prevent your friction plates from moving freely and it’s
gonna clutch feel grabby and it’s just not gonna
perform the way you want it to. So, if you see these
notches in your fingers it’s a good indicator it is
time to get this replaced. Now, I have seen some
riders actually use a file and file these down to
try and smooth it out. I highly do not recommend that because there are tight tolerances there and doing that can actually
interfere with that. So, if you see these
notches on the fingers in your clutch basket it
is time to get it replaced. Now you have a couple options, you can go with a full OEM clutch basket
that we offer on our website or what a lot of riders
from weekend warriors all the way up to your top level pros use, is their gonna use Billet
aluminum components for their clutch. So this is a Hinson
clutch setup or clutch kit that I have on the table. So the Billet aluminum,
it’s much stronger, it’s much more durable. It’s gonna last a lot
longer so you’re gonna get a lot more life out of your components. Now, they are pricey but
you get what you pay for and they are gonna last longer. So you can go with either
just a clutch basket or you could actually pick
up an entire clutch kit. That you can see comes with a
basket, your pressure plate, your center hub, and
also your clutch cover. So, you got a couple options there as far as what route you wanna take. Now I do recommend also, you wanna look at your clutch basket
because some are gonna have rubber cushions that are
gonna go between the basket and your primary drive gear. So you wanna inspect those
as well, you wanna make sure that there’s not a lot of free play and that they’re not cracking. If they are, it’s time to
get those replaced as well. But that’s gonna be my third tip is inspecting your clutch basket to make sure it’s in good condition. Okay so for tip number four, it’s gonna be with your clutch springs. So I don’t know if you’ve
ever walked into a dealership and you get on a brand new bike or an ATV and you pull that clutch and just think, man, that thing just feels really good. It’s nice and easy and smooth. Well, I hate to break it to
ya’ but some manufacturers will actually purposefully
put softer springs in their clutches to
make sure you get a nice, easy smooth clutch pull
’cause it feels really good. Unfortunately, if you’re
a hard, aggressive rider those softer springs
might not be stiff enough to prevent your plates from
slipping inside your clutch. Which we talked about earlier,
is never a good thing. So what I recommend is
getting aftermarket springs. So you can see on the table
here these are our Tusk brand, so these are gonna be about 10% stiffer than most of your OEM springs. And what that’s gonna make sure is that you’re getting enough
pressure on the pressure plate to really squeeze the clutch
pack together hard enough to make sure you’re not
getting clutch slippage and getting all that
power to the rear wheel. So, if you haven’t yet, you
know it might be a good idea to look at your clutch springs
and get those replaced. Now, another tip that I have
for ya’ is if you feel like your clutch pull is just
really, really hard. Harder than it used to be
or maybe you’ve just ran out of adjustment with your clutch cable. Well, a culprit of that can actually be your actuator arm and your push rod. So the reason I say this,
because I’ve actually got this one pulled out of an old YZ250 and you can see your push
rod is what’s pushing your pressure plate off your clutch pack. And you can see right here
with the actuator arm, it is pretty worn out and
so the rider of this YZ250 was really complaining about
how hard the clutch pull was. He didn’t have any adjustment left. So I pulled this out and you can see just how worn out it is. So we replaced it and right away, he had a lot better feeling. It was easier to pull in his clutch. He had adjust in his clutch lever. So again, if you don’t
have any free play left or if you feel like
your clutch pull is just really, really hard this
could be the culprit. Now, if you’ve never done this before, if you’ve never pulled
one and inspected it we have a video where we
show you how to do that. So make sure you give that a look, ’cause remember this
makes a big difference when it comes to the feel and
performance of your clutch. So that’s gonna be my fourth tip, is going to aftermarket, stiffer springs and inspecting your push
rod and your actuator arm. Okay so, my fifth and my final tip and this is gonna be a simple
one but it’s very important is gonna be about riding technique. If you’re a rider that’s
prone to frying up clutches and you go through clutches often and you’re just not sure why. Most times it’s gonna come
down to how you’re riding your motorcycle and
you’re using your clutch. So for example, if you’re a trail rider, you like to do hill climbs, you know maybe ride in a lower gear. Monitor and really pay attention to how you’re using your clutch because once you understand
how your clutch works and the anatomy of it
you’ll understand why it’s so important to really
use your clutch properly. If you’re a track rider, a
desert rider, the same thing. If you’re a track guy, you know, when you’re out there hitting those ruts and those corners if you’re
really clutching the bike, and when I say clutching,
meaning, you’re lever’s not all the way out,
it’s not all the way in, it’s right there in the
middle, you just gotta remember that when this is happening
your clutch plates are gonna be slipping which
is creating excess heat and that’s gonna fry up your clutch. So, if you’re coming
into a corner practice carrying more momentum into the corner and exiting with more speed. There’s just a lot of techniques and tips that you can use that’s gonna prevent you from frying up your clutch. That’s gonna be my fifth tip,
is simply just monitoring and paying attention to how
you’re using your clutch and practice better technique. Alright guys, so those are
my top five maintenance tips for the clutch on your
motorcycle or your ATV. So hopefully, some of these
tips have helped you guys out. If you have any tips or suggestions, well, help your riding buddies out. Comment below, that’s gonna give other people really good suggestions. Now, I do have one bonus tip for ya’ and it is very simple. Just make sure you are keeping up on your regular oil changes. Having fresh oil in your
motorcycle or your ATV’s clutch is gonna help your clutch run
cooler, help it run smoother, it’s gonna help prevent premature wear ’cause that oil’s not gonna break down. But there it is, those
are my top five tips. So head over to our website
at to pick up any of the parts and products that we talked about today. Remember guys, if you have
questions comment below. I’m Chase here at Rocky Mountain and we’ll see ya’ on the trails.

43 comments on “Top 5 Motorcycle & ATV Clutch Maintenance Tips

  1. Great video! I've adjusted my free play and so on , my problem is pulling in the clutch won't disengage the clutch, bike doesn't creep forward but you can feel it's still engaged cos it's hard to push (when not running) lever pulled in . Just started into trail riding with kids problem bike is drz125L. Is the clutch needing replacement, hrs on bike unknown.

  2. I just replaced the clutch in my Raptor 350, then changed oil again shortly after. Is it normal to have a little clutch material in the oil filter after clutch replacement??

  3. 4-6 hrs is a totally bullshit recommendation. Throw your bike off a cliff if it eats a set in 4-6 hrs. 250 hrs on my 500 exc 2012 and still working great! My 300 2017 lasts 100+ hrs. Otherwise a good vid.

  4. way I look at it is of it ain't broke don't fix it lol might be a bad way to look at it but oh well I guess I'm a dumbass lol

  5. I have a KTM exc450 six days. when its warm there is a rumble from the clutch, when I depress the clutch it is quieter. It performs well and is still light. Any suggestionsThanks

  6. Hello chase my bike is creeping in 1st while the clutch is engaged and at a stop what’s up with that thanks

  7. Hey, I got a bit of a problem. On my ktm 85 sx when I have the clutch pulled in and I put it in gear the bike jumps and dies. It's a hydraulic clutch and I have just bled the line and it is full of oil. I also just replaced my clutch pack and springs. Kinda stumped. If you have any idea what it might be that would be awesome! Thanks and great videos

  8. Let me just save you 13 minutes of your life. If you have ever used the clutch on your bike, then he basically recommends buying an entire new clutch system (from Rocky Mountain ATV) because yours is now worthless.

  9. How should I use my clutch when i come into a rut?…do i rely on momentum and pull in the clutch or just balls to the walls and pin it?

  10. 4-6 hours? jesus christ my crf250 has 250+ hours on it and i havent put a new clutch basket in yet. I went through a clutch cable though!

  11. Oops, I haven’t checked mine in 230 hours, my clutch is not 100% right now. I have a brand new clutch ready to go in

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