The clutch system is the most important connection between your hand and the rear wheel, as far as controlling the machine. When working properly, most riders don’t give their clutch a second thought. However, the importance of the clutch quickly snaps into focus when there’s a problem with the system.

A clutch is an engineering marvel. Imagine you are on the starting line waiting for the gate to drop. You start your bike and pull in the clutch. What follows is a chain reaction of events. A series of moving parts transfer that load down to the clutch, where the pressure plate is pushed away from the clutch pack, basket and inner hub. At that point, there is a disconnection between the transmission and crankshaft.

Clutch functionality involves a series of moving parts that are crucial to engine operation. Periodic maintenance, inspection, and replacement will keep your machine running as it should. Shown here is an exploded view from Yamaha of a YZ250 clutch.

With the clutch disengaged, you click the shifter into gear. The gate drops, and you quickly release the clutch lever. The clutch springs force the pressure plate to squeeze the friction and drive plates together, causing the clutch basket and inner hub to synchronize. At that point, the energy generated inside the combustion chamber is carried through the transmission and to the countershaft sprocket, which then transfers the load to the rear wheel. Without an operating clutch, you would be sitting on the starting line as the pack raced away.  

Suffice it to say that your clutch is a vital piece of the overall puzzle. And, like most parts on your bike, it won’t last forever. Fortunately, there are three general indicators that your clutch is not working properly. You don’t need to be deft or dexterous to determine whether your drive system is giving up the ghost. The only necessities are a handful of tools, basic mechanical knowledge, and a good sense of smell. In this article, we delve into the symptoms, causes and solutions for the most common clutch problems so you can get back

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