Different types of bike clutch explained

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Different types of bike clutch
17 December 2023

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Long story short: Here, we will discuss the different types of bike clutch and FAQ related to motorcycle clutch.

There is no need for an introduction to what a clutch is all about. Without a clutch, the gear change is not possible in manual bikes. With the advancements in technology, several types of clutch are available in the market among various companies, with the basic ones being dry and wet clutches. The ultimate aim of motorcycle companies is to provide buttery smooth gear shifts using clutches, less maintenance, and repairs.

We noted that many things need to be clarified and corrected about clutch use among motorcycle owners. Hence, we decided to discuss various types of clutches, myths, and FAQs related to the same topic in detail.

What is a clutch?

The clutch is a component in the engine that engages and disengages power from the engine to the transmission or gearbox to change gears. In other words, it enables the rider to turn the power on or off to the gearbox to allow gear change.

Different types of bike clutch

Wet Clutch

Wet Clutch
Wet Clutch

A wet clutch is the most common clutch type in almost all motorcycles. As mentioned in the name, the same oil used for the engine soaks the clutch. The primary benefit of this clutch is its long life and efficiency. Another USP is that power loss due to friction is negligible.

Advantages of wet clutch

  1. Less wear and tear
  2. Longer life and efficiency
  3. Negligible friction and power loss
  4. Cheaper
  5. Quiet while in operation

Disadvantages of wet clutch

1. A slight loss in engine horsepower due to the rotation of the clutch in oil.

Dry Clutch

Dry Clutch
Dry Clutch

The only difference between a wet clutch and a dry clutch is that there is no oil present in a dry clutch. A dry clutch is present entirely outside the case of the bike. A dry clutch setup is mainly found in minimal motorcycle models. Ducati is one company that uses the dry clutch.

Advantages of the dry clutch

  1. Easy to replace.
  2. Easy to use.
  3. No loss of horsepower.

Disadvantages of the dry clutch

  1. Overheating
  2. Shorter life
  3. Very noisy

Slipper Clutch

Slipper Clutch
Slipper Clutch

The slipper clutch (also known as back-torque limiter clutch) prevents engine overrevving and rear-wheel hop under challenging braking scenarios and aggressive downshifting of gears. The slipper clutch allows the clutch to slip partially until the engine speed matches the vehicle’s speed. The primary function of a slipper clutch is to control the bike’s rear wheel under hard braking and downshifting scenarios. In vehicles equipped with a standard clutch, the engine braking force is transmitted to the rear wheel via its chain drive, which causes the rear wheel to wobble and may eventually lose traction. Some models of KTM and Bajaj have slipper clutch equipped with the engine.

Advantages of the slipper clutch

  1. Prevents rear wheel lockup
  2. Absorbs engine braking force
  3. Ability to perform aggressive downshifts during cornering and emergencies.
  4. Reduces wear and tear on the engine and transmission
  5. Prevents accidental downshifts
  6. Excellent performance-wise

Disadvantages of the slipper clutch

  1. Mechanically complex technology
  2. Expensive

Multi-plate Clutch

Multiplate Clutch
Multiplate Clutch

The multi-plate clutch is the most common type of clutch used in motorcycles. It can be used both as a wet and dry clutch unit. These types of clutches use several interleaved driven and friction plates placed in a standard hub. The main USP of a multi-plate clutch over a single-plate clutch is the high torque transmitting capacity. A multi-plate clutch is smaller than a single-plate clutch for a given torque capacity. Hence, it is used mainly in compact vehicles like motorcycles, etc. Let’s compare both multi-plate clutch and single-plate clutch below.

Single plate clutch vs Multi plate clutch comparison chart
Single plate bike clutch vs Multi plate bike clutch comparison chart

Multi-plate clutch advantages

  1. Ability to transmit a high amount of torque
  2. The smaller size compared to single plate clutch

Multi-plate clutch disadvantages

  1. Expensive
  2. Heavy
  3. Clutch engagement is not instantaneous

Centrifugal Clutch (Automatic Clutch)

Automatic Clutch
Automatic Clutch

Centrifugal clutches are used in mopeds and scooters, as the engine rpm defines the engagement or disengagement of the clutch. This clutch type works similarly to the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It works on the principle of centrifugal force exerted on a revolving mass, which acts as an attractive force. This clutch is placed between the engine shaft and the transmission shaft. One side of the clutch is connected to the engine crankshaft, and the other is connected to the gearbox shaft, chain, or belt.

Advantages of Centrifugal clutch

  1. Automatic and simple to use
  2. Low in price and less maintenance
  3. Prevents the engine from stalling

Disadvantages of Centrifugal clutch

  1. Not able to transmit a considerable amount of torque
  2. Power loss due to friction and slipping
  3. Overheating issue
  4. Limited power transmission due to slippage

As we had discussed different types of bike clutches, let’s answer some doubts and queries related to motorcycle clutches.

What are the different types of bike clutches?

  1. Wet Clutch
  2. Dry Clutch
  3. Multi-plate Clutch
  4. Slipper Clutch
  5. Centrifugal clutch / Automatic Clutch

Which clutch is the best for bikes?

Wet clutches are mainly used in most bikes as the maintenance is low with a longer life.

Which clutch is the best for racing or performance bikes?

The slipper clutch is the best, as it can withstand aggressive downshifts, higher engine braking force, and rear wheel lockup.

Is partial or half-clutch riding good for transmission?

No. Half-clutch riding can cause premature wear to parts and damage to the transmission.

Does using a bike clutch frequently affect mileage?

Yes. Using the clutch frequently while driving increases fuel consumption. The engine consumes more fuel when the clutch is pressed but rather when a gear is engaged.

Does bike clutch wear affect mileage?

Yes. As the motorcycle’s clutch starts to wear, it slips to other gears, affecting fuel efficiency.

Conclusion

We have discussed different types of bike clutch and their pros and cons. Some FAQs related to motorcycle clutches are also explained. Now, let’s summarize the different types of motorcycle clutch in a nutshell.

  1. Wet Clutch
  2. Dry Clutch
  3. Multiplate Clutch
  4. Slipper Clutch
  5. Centrifugal clutch / Automatic Clutch

If you have any other doubts or queries, email us at bikeleague2017@gmail.com. We are always eager to help and assist you. Also, here are several social media platforms of Bikeleague India to raise your suspicions.

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