Women Riders

Clutch Care for the Riding Diva

Written by  December 31, 2006

Welcome to 2007! Another riding season is under our belt, and what fun it was! I hope everyone survived the hectic holiday season and can now settle in for the long, cold winter months ahead. This is a good opportunity to take advantage of this down time and catch up on your motorcycle reading or attend a maintenance class to help you better understand your bike. Before you know it, spring will be here and we get to start all over again!

I admire riding divas that do their own maintenance and are not dependent on their significant other or the dealership to keep them on the road. I have to admit motorcycle maintenance is not my forte, but I have sat in on a few seminars and have found them very informative.

Do you know the difference between slip and drag/grabbing on your clutch? I didn’t until I sat in on a tech class a few months ago. It made me realize, like other maintenance items on your bike, the need to treat the symptoms early to avoid dangerous situations.

The symptoms can be anywhere from a slip here to difficulty shifting into neutral gear. If you notice anything like that, be pro-active to avoid having to replace a clutch component or encountering trouble on the road. As the clutch plates wear with age, they become thinner and cannot engage as easily. If your clutch is slipping as you rev your bike you will hear the engine increase and see the tachometer needle climb, but you don’t move any faster.

What causes a clutch to slip? Common causes for slippage are improperly adjusted clutch controls, improper cable adjustments, warped clutch plates, too heavy or worn out clutch oil, or tight clutch spring tension.

Understanding how your clutch works actually alerts you to possible problems. There are two kinds of clutch plates: friction plates which are connected to the engine, and plain plates, which are connected to the gearbox. The plates sit within the clutch basket and are pressed together through springs when the clutch is engaged, as it is while riding. This transfers power from the engine to the gearbox and finally to the final drive (your rear wheel chain, belt or shaft). As you pull the clutch in or shift into neutral, the clutch plates separate and the clutch becomes disengaged. Power can no longer get from the engine to the final drive.

If you are mechanically inclined, you can adjust the free play at both the lever and the clutch release assembly at the other end of your clutch cable. It’s a simple procedure and is covered in your bike’s service manual. If after the adjustment they continue to slip, you most likely will need to replace the clutch plates due to wear. Otherwise, if in doubt, take your bike to the dealership.

The drag or grabbing on a clutch is the opposite of slipping. This happens when the plates cannot fully disengage. You might notice this when your bike inches forward even when you are pulling in the clutch, or if you can’t shift into neutral with the bike running. Removing slack at the clutch lever can often solve a dragging clutch.

You would think as much as we use the clutch it would need replacement, but that’s not the case, they usually just wear out. With luck on your side, proper adjustment, maintenance and lubrication, your clutch should last you many slip- and grab-free miles! Ride Safe

Hey readers, send me stories and or experiences to share on any winter trips you take with your bike. We love reading about other people’s adventures.

Goldie Arnold
“Never rider faster than you angel can fly”

TIP OF THE MONTH: Fill your fuel tank slowly and do not overfill. This leaves plenty of air space for fuel expansion.