How Does A Motorcycle Clutch Work: Introduction

selective focus photography of motorcycle lever and handle bar

Motorcycles are a very popular choice of the vehicle due to the minimum maintenance required and great gas mileage. However, one thing that we all know is, irrespective of whether you operate the bike with your hand or foot, engaging the clutch transfers power from the engine, the rear wheels, and transmission. The clutch also helps you to slow down without needing to press the brakes.

Motorcycle clutches are designed particularly for motorcycle usage, unlike automatics. It features internal springs which make it engage quickly and smoothly, unlike other clutches that can be pretty rough. This is why there is a smooth transition between gears when changing gear.

The friction plates, clutch springs and clutch lever are important components of the clutch assembly present on the rear wheel that make the clutch system of the motorcycle. There are slipper clutches that consume more engine oil than ordinary. It is there on the clutch hub. Friction discs offer excellent spring pressure when shifting gears on a motorcycle. The engine’s crankshaft is thrust and the engine’s power is cut.

In this article, we’ll explore the mystery behind how does a motorcycle clutch work.

What is a Motorcycle Clutch?

The clutch is a component in a motorcycle that is responsible for engaging and disengaging the transmission. It does this by using friction to connect and disconnect the engine and the transmission.

A motorcycle’s clutch helps the engine spin the transmission, which in turn rotates the rear wheel. The clutch is located on the left handlebar of the bike and it works using a series of steel plates that are compressed by hydraulic or cable actuation. Its function is to connect the input shaft to the output shaft.

Clutch lever and clutch plates are present on the rear wheel of a motorcycle. The motorcycle clutch has friction plates. A motorcycle clutch pack includes clutch springs, pressure plates and other equipment. A clutch assembly consists of many important components. Friction and steel clutch plates for motorcycles helps the engine to the transmission. The gearbox input shaft and primary drive gear direct the clutch plate. The entire assembly is set up on the rear tire. Friction material helps to improve the engine power of motorcycles.

The number of plates required varies with different bikes depending on what they’ll be used for. For example, an off-road bike will have more plates as they’re designed for more power and torque.

Kinds of Motorcycle Clutches

There are three types of motorcycle clutches:

  • Multi-Plate Clutch
  • Centrifugal Clutch
  • Slipper Clutch

Multi-Plate Clutch

One of the most common types of multi-plate clutches, it uses a stack of alternating steel plates that are forced together by springs. When you release the clutch, the plates are allowed to move apart again and this creates the friction needed to connect or disconnect the engine and transmission.

The multi-plate clutch is found in most street bikes and it’s also known as a wet clutch because the plates are bathed in oil. This helps to keep them cool and also prevents them from rusting. A multi-plate clutch reduces the amount of force, thus making it easier to use than other types. You can also adjust the spring tension and oil level, but both of these require a lot of work and you’ll need special tools for this.

Your clutch will usually be designed with thicker plates at the top because this is where most of the load comes from due to the engine’s torque. And, as the clutch wears, the plates will become thinner.

Centrifugal Clutch

This type of clutch doesn’t use springs to force the plates together. Instead, it uses centrifugal force which is created by spinning the clutch inside a housing. As the bike speeds up, the centrifugal force increases and this causes the plates to move apart and create friction.

Many off-road bikes use centrifugal clutches because they can handle more power than multi-plate varieties. They also offer much more control over the application of power thanks to their quick response time. However, their downside is that they’re harder to operate at low speeds and you’ll require more finesse when changing gears. Motorcycles with automatic transmission use this kind of clutch.

Slipper Clutch

The final type of motorcycle clutch is the slipper. As the name suggests, this uses a series of steel plates to engage and disengage power from the engine to transmission. However, unlike multi-plate clutches, it’s designed with another set of springs that help to keep pressure on the plates. This increases friction and stops them from slipping.

A slipper clutch is found in sports bikes and is designed to help reduce wheel spin when decelerating. It does this by using the extra spring tension to keep the plates together. This allows you to downshift without fear of the rear wheel locking up and losing traction. The slipper clutch improves overall engine performance and also sharpens your bike’s acceleration. This makes it ideal for racing where maximum power is required at all times.

How Does a Motorcycle Clutch Work?

A motorcycle clutch works by using plates that are squeezed together. When you pull the clutch lever in, these plates are forced together which in turn causes the engine to stop supplying power to the transmission. This is what allows you to change gears as it disconnects the engine from the transmission. When you release the clutch lever, the springs push the plates apart which then reconnects the engine and transmission so that power can be transferred again.

In the case of a typical motorcycle clutch, the first plate is connected to the engine while the rest of them are attached to the transmission. The plates that are part of the ‘stack’ are thicker than those at the bottom because most of the load comes from above. As you pull in the clutch, you’ll move one plate forward by causing them to rotate. Since each plate has an individual coil spring, pulling the clutch will force all of them together and create friction. This is why it’s important to not pull in the clutch too quickly because you’ll increase the chances of slipping.


Buying a motorcycle does come with an array of benefits. But what is more important is your comfort and safety while you ride. Knowing the way in which a clutch works is key to your success while riding. And with the right motorcycle clutch, you’ll be able to shift gears like a pro in no time at all.

Now that you know how a motorcycle clutch works, what are you waiting for? Get out there and practice!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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