Today, we had questions from one of our customer. “What is the ideal amount of free play required for the clutch lever, for the clutch to work correctly?”. As far as I understand, some of us want the clutch free play based on our comfortable position of the clutch lever. In most cases, we ask the mechanic to adjust it with a large amount of free play (15-20mm), which makes the clutch easier & faster to engage. That might be the case but, that your clutch will not disengage properly. In another case when the clutch lever free play is less, your clutch will not be engaged properly. Are you overwhelmed with the introduction? Let’s start by understanding how a clutch works.

Understanding How clutch works

Instead of using Auto Jargon and where I leave you confused, for the sake of simplicity let’s use an analogy here. Think of clutch as your two palms, now I will need you to do a small exercise with me. We will be using our hands for this exercise.

  1. Bring your palm closer (leave some gap between them.) Now, rotate your left hand from your wrist.
  2. In the second step, I will need you to join your palms and press them little hard (make sure the palms are pressed right). Now, rotate your left hand (make sure your right hand is free to rotate.). You will notice that with the movement in your left hand, your right hand is moving due to friction between both your hands.

In the first case when your palms were separated, it is a perfect example of a disengaged clutch (when you pull your clutch lever towards you). When the left hand (pressure plate) was rotating and, your right hand (clutch plate) did not show any motion.

While, in the second case it was quite the opposite. When your tried to rotate your left hand, your right hand responded with the movement. This was an example of an engaged clutch.

Very simple. Right? Now, using the same analogy let us understand the effects of not adjusting your clutch properly.

Effect of improper Clutch adjustment

There are two cases when the clutch does not function properly.

Partially engaged clutch

To understand this, I would like you to join your hands only this time do not put pressure as much as you did last time. Now, I would like you to rotate your left hand really fast. You will notice with partial pressure your hands do not rotate in unison, you will notice that your right hand is lagging slightly without the pressure. This is an example of a partially engage clutch.

The downside of a partially engaged clutch is that pressure plate (left hand) and clutch plate (right hand) starts rubbing with each other and this causes both the plate to wear out. Eventually, leading to worn out clutch and pressure plates. The wear is much faster during the first few gears when the torque requirement is large.

Partially disengage clutch

In this case, let’s join our hands together. Only this time only touch them gently. Now, if we try to rotate the left hand you will notice your right hand is moving only slightly. This is an example of a partially disengaged clutch.

The downside of a partially engaged clutch is that pressure plate (left hand) and clutch plate (right hand) starts rubbing with each other and this causes both the plate to wear out. Eventually, leading to worn out clutch and pressure plates. The wear is much faster during higher gear when the speed requirement is high.

Correctly Adjusting your clutch

You do not need any special equipment for clutch adjustment. You will only need a spanner, which is generally part of your bike tool kit. There are two ways to adjust your clutch, Clutch Lever Side and Engine Side. Engine side adjustment is generally under your fuel tank on the right side.

Achieving the right adjustment may take some time if you are doing it for the first time. All you need to know is if you shorten the sheath using any of the adjusters will increase the length of the cable inside, and hence the free play. Also, your free play should not be more than 10-15 mm. Refer your Bike Manual for more details.

For any questions, feel free to add a comment below.

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