Or perhaps more specifically what is a dry clutch in a Ducati motorcycle?
If you know anything about Ducati motorcycles you will know that they utilize what is known as a dry clutch. To understand what a dry clutch is you first have to understand the basics of a clutch in general (found Here) and what a wet clutch is.
A wet clutch, as the name implies, is a clutch that uses oil to lubricate the spinning plates to keep them from hammering all over each other; this clutch is also contained inside of the engine casing for noise reduction/oil feeding. This type of clutch is in almost every type of motorcycle except for a few (namely Ducatis).
There is a reason so many bikes use a wet clutch and that is because they are typically the best choice for the average consumer/bike rider. The advantages of a wet clutch include:
- Less wear and tear on the clutch system
- Higher tolerance of clutch slippage during take offs
- Generally cheaper
- Extremely quiet thanks to the oil and engine casing
That last point is a major one to many people. When compared to a dry clutch, this thing is ninja silent. The average rider will not want to hear the sounds a dry clutch makes as it sounds very similar to your average “my vehicle needs to go to the shop” sounds. While this is all good and well, a wet clutch is not without it’s disadvantages, namely:
- Requires special oil
- Clutch debris gets mixed in with the engine oil
- Oil creates a slight lag which decreases horsepower a little
These disadvantages aren’t too bad though, because most riders will simply want to ride their sport bikes and not even notice these slight losses when using a wet clutch.
Onto the dry clutch. Simply put dry clutches are made for the sport enthusiasts. Typically only found in Ducati motorcycles and other race purpose bikes, the dry clutch is definitely something to understand and learn how to use. Coming off of a wet clutch, riders will definitely notice the difference in take off and the general twitchy-ness of a motorcycle with a dry clutch. This is because dry clutches sit outside of the engine casing and are detached from the oil bath, making them quick to catch the plates for quicker response times.
Here are some advantages of dry clutches:
- No oil allows for the plates to come together quickly
- Generally easier to replace
- Gives maximum response time and more power to the back wheel
- Wears down quicker
- Requires greater understanding (not new rider friendly)
- Noisy (sounds like engine trouble!)
Just like before, that last point is one of the finer points of a dry clutch. To those who have no idea what one is, when they hear it they will instantly think, “Wow that guy’s motorcycle needs some work”. But to those that DO understand them, the sound is actually quite… elegant? The simple release of power that comes with a dry clutch more than makes up for it’s idle sounds.
Here is a little video demonstrating a dry clutch so you can better understand:
While the video doesn’t exactly show you the inner workings of a dry clutch, it does give you an idea of how they sit on the outside (no engine casing) and how loud they can be!
Have a great one!