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Hi All,

So decently new to the street bike world and I can't seem to find a solid answer or proof on this question..

Is riding/feathering/slipping the clutch terrible on a motorcycle? (understanding that it is not a dry clutch system)

I am from the car world. And 9.9 times out of 10, the clutch is on or off and you control your speed through almost any situation with the throttle. So naturally I have been riding like that as well. If I want to take off fast from a stop.., it's the proper balance between throttle and clutch till you can fully engage (release the lever) the clutch.

The controversy comes in because I am seeing all these Youtube videos and post from people stating that "just raise the rpms to *power band* and feather the clutch till you're engaged". In my book (from the car world) that is complete abuse on a clutch, and you should be punished for your sins. However, I understand that a car clutch and a motorcycle clutch (dry/wet) are completely two different things.

I am wondering if someone can advise on what is truth and what is not. Because the motorcycle has a wet clutch system, can it take significant more abuse than a car (dry) clutch system?

Side Note: Coming from the car world I wish there was a "Engineering Explained" Youtube person for motorcycles.

Thanks everyone!
 

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Yes, it wears out your clutch just like a car. In terms of more abuse can't speak on that, but I have over 70k on my clutch, and I have never done any work on it. I feather the clutch on dig launches all the time, and sometimes even at speed. It definitely shows, but she continues to pull good - for now. It's dying fast, that or my transmission - or both. Good enough for me for now, and I run mobile 1 racing 4t, which is supposedly not good for a beat up clutch - regular non-synthetic is supposedly better in that situation because there is less chance for slipping.

I still generally hit 0-60 in 3 to 4 seconds (usually 4) depending on how good I'm feeling that day. I think I can attest to everyone who rides, you know you will have a good day when you hop on your bike and get that "nimble" feeling right away. Sometimes it takes a little bit to set in, and is just as good, but nothing beats starting a ride feeling "at one" with the bike.
 

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here's the bottom line



a motorcycle clutch doesn't have a big job to do. the bike weighs just over 400lbs, the rider maybe 200. that's about 1/6th of a car in terms of inertia



secondly it has a multi plate wet clutch, which has a huge heat sinking area.




if you aren't putting a lot of horsepower through your clutch you won't damage it. a street-ridden clutch will last a very very long time. a race clutch will not last nearly as long (because the race clutch is getting the entire engine horsepower put through it during hard launches). that's not to say you'll toast a clutch in a matter of no time in a race bike.



feathering the clutch won't wear it out during normal operation, because it's not doing much work. similary slipper clutches don't really accelerate clutch wear as the slip isn't transmitting much power.

if you are doing hard launches all the time you are shortening its life, but still not enough to be that concerned about.



so simply, no it's not hard on the clutch to feather it. but at the same time it's not very necessary to feather the clutch at all during normal oepration.
 

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In all honesty, most bikes are wrecked or sold off well before the clutch plates need any thought of changing.

Keep in mind, for good 0 - 100 runs etc. the clutch lever is usually released at around 70km/h or more in 1st gear. All that time the clutch is under a lot of load; it can take a lot of this over the years before needing replacement.

My friend has a 2004 ZX-6R with about 95,000km on it, and he has only had to change the clutch cable. The clutch plates are still fine.
 

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To answer your questions...

1.) No, it is not terrible to slip the clutch excessively on a motorcycle like it is on a car. It is much harder to "burn" the clutch on a motorcycle than it is in a car (wet vs dry).

2.) I use the clutch on my motorcycle exactly like I do in my car. On or off, except for minor slippage in 1st to get going. In fact, I probably slip the clutch on the RR less than in my car, because it gets going so easy.

3.) Yes the wet clutch can take more abuse than the dry clutch, but, I still wouldn't recommend it. Just like in a car, you want to slip the clutch as little as possible.

Keep in mind, though, it is WAY easier and cheaper to replace the clutch plates in a motorcycle, than it is to replace the clutch in a car. For that reason it is silly to stress about clutch wear when it comes to a motorcycle.
 

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here's the bottom line



a motorcycle clutch doesn't have a big job to do. the bike weighs just over 400lbs, the rider maybe 200. that's about 1/6th of a car in terms of inertia
Your theory was sound except for the fact manufacturers size a clutch according to its intended load, ie the weight and HP of the vehicle its moving. If a CBR used an 11" clutch from a chevy truck then your explanation would be more in line with reality, as it would be moving less mass and less HP input from its original design.

Yes, slipping the clutch is more wear and tear. No, its not as bad as dry clutch setups. A great example is cars. A Ferrari 458 uses a wet clutch, and they never need to be replaced [maybe at 100k, but nobody drives them that much]. The previous model, the 430 with F1 trans, uses a dry clutch. They last about 20,000 miles before replacement is needed. Same for Murcielago's and pretty much any automated manual trans with a dry clutch. We've had a transport driver wear 70% of a brand new clutch loading and unloading a murci very badly. Never seen that on a 458 etc.
 

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Bike clutches will tolerate a huge amount of horsepower. So given their capacity, they really don't lead a hard life.


Most of their design revolves around needing to be able to actuate it by hand, so they can't have outlandish clamping force. Hence the numerous plates. With stiffer springs bike clutches can hold incredible power without slipping
 

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If you ride sensibly, your clutch should last nearly the lifetime of your bike. If you are aggressive, you will begin to notice a difference - experienced estimate - 40 to 50k miles? That might be a little high, but I do know I have beat the living **** out of my clutch, and still do, and I am regretting it at over 70,000 miles. Maybe I should just fix it at this point, or maybe I should have maintained it when I began to see the problem.
 

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If you ride sensibly, your clutch should last nearly the lifetime of your bike. If you are aggressive, you will begin to notice a difference - experienced estimate - 40 to 50k miles? That might be a little high, but I do know I have beat the living **** out of my clutch, and still do, and I am regretting it at over 70,000 miles. Maybe I should just fix it at this point, or maybe I should have maintained it when I began to see the problem.
That's 112,000km+ pretty good life for having thrashed it.
Just change it out.
 

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That's 112,000km+ pretty good life for having thrashed it.
Just change it out.
Fixing the clutch and valve adjustments are on my ToDo list this winter, in addition to soldering my A4 B16 ECU jump that wibbly told me to do, and reconnecting my BAS - >:)

Thank the lord though seriously for wibbly helping me destroy my bike and get it running at the same time (mostly me destroying, and mostly wibbly helping) My bike is my only means of transportation.
 
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