How a Motorcycle Clutch Works

Posted: 24th June 2011 by Shannon in General

Motorcycles are always fun to look at and ride but so many riders out there do not truly understand how one works.  One thing that almost every motorcycle has in common is the fact that they use a standard gearbox clutch system.


Understanding how this system works is not only very interesting, but useful if a rider ever needs to take a look for problems in the bike’s transmission or just to explain the inner workings in general.


Let’s do a quick overview of the parts and then I’ll post a short video that will better illustrate how gear shifting works.



The main parts of the clutch are divided into drive and driven categories which are then further broken down into the clutch cable, clutch hub, clutch plate, clutch basket, friction plate, and many more very intricate parts. There is also a release mechanism that consists of the clutch cable which releases the tension on the spring that keeps the gears spinning. For the sake of understanding I will keep the parts involved as general as possible when explaining how they interact.

How they Work Together

Whenever the rider engages the clutch (typically the lever on the left) it will activate the clutch cable which will in turn activate the release mechanism.  When the release mechanism has been activated it will take away the force applied to the clutch pressure plates from the springs and the plates will separate leaving no power to the rear wheel.  Once a shift has been made, the gear selector will switch over to the appropriate set of gears and be ready to be placed “back together”.  At this point when the clutch lever is disengaged everything that was done before will go back to normal.  The plates will realign and have pressure placed upon them causing them to spin and deliver power to the rear wheel again.


Here is a small video to get an idea of how the gears are shifting:


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  1. noyel says:

    nice post easily understood by beginners