A Motorcycle Clutch

How Does a Motorcycle Clutch Work: Let’s Explore the Mystery

Motorcycles are considered a very popular vehicular choice because of their good gas mileage and minimum maintenance requirement. It does not matter whether you use your foot or your hand to operate it, but one thing is certain: we all know that engaging the clutch will transfer power from the engine, the transmission, and the rear wheels.

A motorcycle clutch allows a continuous run of the motorcycle that triggers the connection of gears to the motorcycle’s engine. It is composed of a series of circular friction plates that appears with a hole right at the center. These plates are then perfectly fit into a clutch hub. When you pull the lever, the motorcycle clutch releases a pressure that prevents the friction plates from touching each other; thus, causing the flywheel to spin effectively.

In this post, we will be exploring the mystery behind the motorcycle clutch with the hope of answering this very question: how does a motorcycle clutch work? Believe it or not, many riders have no idea that pulling the lever found on the left clip-on disengages the motorcycle’s clutch. Therefore, digging into how motorcycle clutches work would be greatly beneficial for you.

What is a Motorcycle Clutch, and What are its Functions?

A motorcycle clutch is a mechanical coupling that permits the transmission of rotational energy, which can either be engaged or disengaged, ultimately isolating the motorcycle’s engine from the rest of the motorcycle components.

The motorcycle clutch allows the engine to spin while the transmission is standing still when you pull the clutch lever, thereby forcing them both to spin altogether when the lever is out. It might seem a little confusing at first, but we hope that you will be able to determine its function as we go on with the discussions.

As you may already know, all vehicular engines are equipped with a clutch. Its function is to momentarily disengage the engine apart from the transmission. While it is a very simple process, it is essential for a continuous run of a motorcycle. Once the motorcycle rider pulls the clutch lever and slowly releases it, the motorcycle will travel under power.

It is a very important component of your motorcycle. Without the process of disengaging, you will be required to turn the engine on at every stop. In addition, it allows every motorcycle rider to change gears conveniently and easily. Now that we have discussed how important a clutch is for a motorcycle, we will be digging deeper into what happens inside the clutch.

What Happens Inside the Clutch?

What Happens Inside the Clutch
Via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCKogvEVmeo

To allow a continuous run of the motorcycle, there must be a tool that triggers the connection of gears to the motorcycle’s engine. This is exactly what the clutch is made for. It is also composed of a series of circular friction plates that appears with a hole right at the center. These plates are then perfectly fit into a clutch hub.

Once you pull the lever, it releases a pressure that prevents the friction plates from touching each other. Thus, causing the flywheel to spin effectively. However, when you release the lever, these friction plates will return to their original position. The same process also takes place when you are changing gears.

By pulling the lever, you will be disengaging the transmission from the engine. After that, you may now shift the gear and finally release the lever. These friction plates will be able to take control of the ongoing process of disconnection, as well as the reconnection, as smoothly as possible. The more easily you control the friction plates, the easier your motorcycle ride will be.

What are the Different Types of Motorcycle Clutches?

Basically, there are three different types of motorcycle clutches: the slipper clutch, the centrifugal clutch, and the multi-plate clutch, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will be having a detailed review of these three types for you to be able to determine which one works the best for you.

Different Types of Motorcycle Clutches
Via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agLa0A8GAfc

1. Slipper Clutch

The slipper clutch is a modern clutch used mainly for racing. How it works is that when you come across a sharp curve at high speed, its response is to slow down a bit by shifting into a lower gear. It allows its rider to be able to switch from one gear to another in a short period. It also controls the rear wheel, especially when the rider is forced to step on the brakes when shifting gears.

The slipper clutch will improve the overall engine performance of your motorcycle if you have it installed correctly. To add, it will be able to prevent rear wheel lock-up when the engine breaks down or when the transmission fails. However, you should be informed that slipper clutches are very expensive and it might be difficult to install.

2. Centrifugal Clutch

As the name suggests, the centrifugal clutch utilizes centrifugal force to be able to ignite your motorcycle’s engine. Motorcycles with automatic transmissions have this type of clutch, which basically increases the rpm of the engine. A great feature of the centrifugal clutch is that once the engine reaches a specific speed, the clutch will automatically adjust the speed.

While centrifugal clutches are inexpensive and easy to use, they do come with a series of disadvantages. These clutches are not made for low-speed rides, and they are not specially designed to apply gradual brakes. In addition, they are prone to slippage, especially if the motorcycle is loaded heavily.

3. Multi-plate Clutch

Considered the most common type of motorcycle clutch, it works by utilizing a sequence of steel plates that are alternately stacked inside its housing. Once pressure is applied, the engine transfers power into the gearshift. It also comes in two types: wet and dry.

Multi-plate clutches reduce the amount of force; therefore, they allow smooth and quick shifting. It also lowers the overall load of the clutch. However, you should be aware that the oil causes haul in a wet clutch, causing lesser efficiency.


Getting yourself a motorcycle sure has a lot of benefits, but what’s important is your safety and comfort while you ride it. With this, it is essential that you choose one that will either meet or exceed your expectations. Once you get one, knowing how a clutch works would be advantageous for you to be able to perform proper care and maintenance on it.