Hydraulic clutches have been gaining great popularity among motorcyclists and bike manufacturers in recent years. In many modern two-wheeler, hydraulic clutch levers have replaced the traditional mechanical clutches almost entirely. So it is important for motorcyclists to know what a hydraulic clutch is and how it actually works.
Mechanical clutches, typically found in older motorcycle models, utilized a sophisticated cog system that facilitated swift and safe gear changes during the shifting process. Such mechanical clutches had a number of benefits, but they also required frequent maintenance, repairs, and replacements. Hydraulic clutches have an advantage in this domain as they have fewer components and hence require much less upkeep than their mechanical counterparts.
Whenever a hydraulic clutch is used, it puts pressure on the reservoir within, which is full of hydraulic fluid. This hydraulic fluid allows the clutch lever to easily disengage the previous gear while engaging a new one with little to no friction. Therefore, when used correctly, a hydraulic clutch can result in a smoother and safer drive than a mechanical one.
The Primary Purpose of Dirt Bike Clutch Levers
Disconnecting the engine temporarily from the drive train system and the transmission is one of the primary functions of a clutch lever. This is because this initial disconnection is essential for the mating of the transmission with the idle engine, which in turn helps move the geared bike forward, allowing it to leave its stationary position behind and gain momentum.
When the motorcycle is moving, it is possible to shift gears without the clutch lever. However, doing so might cause a rocky and uneven transition. If the process is performed incorrectly, then the resultant grinding might even cause permanent damage to the gearbox and other essential components of the vehicle.
Typically, bikers control the clutch lever with their left hand while the right one is used on the brake lever. In the case of a hydraulic clutch, a complex system fueled by hydraulic fluid connects the lever to a circular clutch assembly positioned close to the motorcycle engine.
A pressure plate within the clutch assembly, which typically faces the engine cover, facilitates the proper functioning of this complex system. The clutch lever in a motorcycle helps disengage the transmission, which later allows for the syncing of the engine with the transmission, thus enabling the bike to move forward.
The Functioning of the Clutch System
The pressure plate in a motorbike functions with the help of springs bolted on the outside. This pressure plate creates compression and decompression in the ‘clutch pack’ by pulling out and pushing in rhythmically, acting as a lid for the entire system. The clutch pack consists of a series of friction and steel plates that are alternately placed for maximum efficacy.
The pressure plate has ‘teeth’ on its inner and outer circumference. These enable the clutch system to function properly when all the plates are stacked closely together. The teeth of the friction plates can hence interlock effectively with the slots or grooves on an outer basket which covers the entire assembly. Placed amidst the friction plates, the steel plates can interconnect with the slots or grooves present on a compact inner hub. With a meager diameter, compared to the outer basket, this hub is located adjacent to it within the clutch system.
Benefits of a Hydraulic Clutch System
A special fluid stored in a reservoir within the vehicle is used to convey force in a hydraulic clutch. Both mechanical and cable clutch levers have been used for much longer and the hydraulic clutch is, relatively speaking, a recent innovation. However, despite their more recent origins, hydraulic clutches do indeed offer certain important advantages.
For instance, when driving a motorcycle with a hydraulic clutch system, the driver does not need to worry about messy lubricants, fraying cables, and other issues associated with maintenance and upkeep. Hydraulic clutches also do not need to be manually adjusted from time to time to keep the cables from getting loose, which is a factor that irritated many users of mechanical clutches.
When the plates in the hydraulic clutch system sustain some damage, the system self-adjusts with the help of the hydraulic fluid present in the reservoir. Thus, the engagement point does not change over the life of a hydraulic clutch system and little upkeep is required as long as there’s sufficient fuel in the reservoir.
When compared to mechanical clutch levers, hydraulic ones are significantly easier to tune and modulate. The lever pull is both lighter and more consistent in the case of hydraulic clutches, due to the presence of two cylinders magnifying the grip strength of the lever. These factors make the low-maintenance hydraulic clutches more intuitive and safer than their mechanical counterparts.
Despite their many advantages, hydraulic clutch levers are still relatively rare in two-wheelers as many motorcycle enthusiasts have yet to experience their benefits. It is important, therefore, for potential buyers to invest in high-quality hydraulic clutch levers manufactured by trusted companies and reliable brands.