What is Motorcycle Clutch - Know Its Types & How it Works?

In manual transmission motorcycles, the clutch is the component in the engine that engages and disengages power from the engine to the transmission in order to change gears. In other words, it enables the rider to turn on or off power to the rear wheel to change gears.

Managing the finances of buying a new bike can be crucial to enjoying the full experience that comes along with getting a new ride. You can use an Online Bike EMI Calculator to help make your purchase. If you’re looking to buy a motorcycle, or if you already own one, knowing how its components work will allow you to use it more efficiently and not damage it.

Components and of a Motorcycle Clutch and their functions

The motorcycle clutch works through a clutch assembly consisting of numerous components including primary drive gear, clutch basket, clutch plate, clutch hub, clutch springs, level, clutch cable and pressure plates. Explained below is their working in simple words:

  • Primary Drive - A gear assembly in which power from the engine crankshaft Goes out through a smaller gear, which drives a larger gear in the basket.
  • Clutch Basket - A basket which contains the entire assembly, having teeth on its outer surface which are connected to and driven by the primary drive.
  • Clutch Hub - It is between the basket and the pressure plate, and is rotates by the main shaft through its centre.
  • Clutch Plate - There are two types of clutch plates, the drive/friction plate and the driven/steel plate. The drive plate is the interface between the clutch basket and the pressure plate. The driven plate is the interface between the pressure plate and the clutch hub. When they rotate together, power is transferred from the engine to the transmission.
  • Pressure Plate - Moving part of the clutch assembly that disengages the clutch plates when the clutch lever is pulled, thus temporarily disabling power from the engine to the transmission.
  • Clutch Springs - Short coil that hold the clutch plates through spring tension. They disengaged the pressure plate from the clutch plates.
  • Clutch Lever - Lever located at the left handlebar of the bike that gives input to the clutch assembly.
  • Cable - Connects the level to the clutch assembly.
Additional Read: Different Types Of Motorcycle Engines

Working of a Clutch

When the clutch lever is pulled, the clutch springs compress, causing the pressure plate to retract. This separates the friction and steel plates, and they rotate independently, thus disconnecting the engine from the transmission. Thus, the power to the rear wheel stops, and the gears can be changed. This is how a motorcycle clutch works.

Functions of a Clutch

When the engine of a motorcycle is turned on the engine starts spinning, but the wheel does not. The clutch allows us to smoothly engage the spinning, running engine to the non-spinning transmission, which turns the wheels. Thus, the function of the clutch is to change the speed of the motorcycle or bring it to a halt without switching off the engine. The clutch enables us to use the gears to change the speed of the motorcycle by temporarily cutting power to the back wheel. We can also stop the motorcycle swiftly and smoothly, as braking to a halt immediately is only possible when the engine power is cut to the wheels, as opposed to using the brakes only to slow down.

Types of Clutch

There are two types of clutches — wet and dry:

  • Wet clutches are used in almost all bikes. They are bathed in engine oil, to cool the clutch components, but this causes a fluid drag that saps the engine power.
  • Dry clutches are noisier and have a shorter life due to the absence of oil, but aren’t affected by fluid drag.
Additional Read: How To Buy a Bike on EMI


Now that you know how a clutch works, we hope you can learn how to use a motorcycle efficiently, and not damage the components by changing the gear without engaging the clutch. Ride safe!

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