Have you ever seen the replacement period for a clutch plate in a bike’s user manual? Certainly not I guess.
There usually will be no mention of replacing clutch plates every 5000 miles or 10,000 miles. This is because clutch plates do not get damaged easily.
Then how does a clutch plate of a motorcycle burns? The clutch plate burn can be because of these reasons – no free play in the clutch lever; clutch plate not adjusted properly; shifting gears without pulling in the clutch; releasing the clutch lever suddenly; and careless riding with improper clutch usage.
When you drive your motorcycle with worn-out or burnt clutch plates you can easily feel the drop in the pickup as well as in the gear shifts. You have to replace the clutch plates whenever you see a drastic drop in the pickup.
Reasons For A Clutch Plate Burn
Here are the reasons for a motorcycle’s clutch plate burn:
- No Free Play in the Clutch Lever
- Clutch Plate Not Adjusted Properly
- Shifting Gears without Pulling in the Clutch
- Releasing the Clutch Lever Suddenly
- Careless Riding with Improper Clutch usage
The wear and tear of the clutch plates happen mainly because of the above-mentioned reasons.
You will hardly face a situation where you need to replace the clutch plate because of natural wearing overtime.
Now, let us look into these causes for clutch plate burn one by one.
#1 No Free Play In The Clutch Lever
Insufficient free play or slack in the clutch lever is a major problem.
Many mechanics and motorcycle service centers think that there should be no slack in the clutch wire. And accordingly, they don’t provide any free play. While too much slack can make the clutch slip, not providing any slack isn’t good either.
All motorcycle user manuals recommend a free play in the clutch lever, usually around 1cm to 2cm. Check the specifications in your bike’s user manual before making this adjustment.
While this reason is a minor cause, too much tightness in the clutch can amplify the effect to a major issue.
If the clutch lever is too tight without any free play, then pulling the clutch wire completely will not be enough to fully release the clutch plates. As a result, the clutch plate will face wear and tear every time you shift the gear.
#2 Clutch Plates Not Adjusted Properly
Another reason for clutch plate burn is when the clutch plates are not adjusted properly. In this case, there will be lots of rubs and friction between the clutch plates resulting in their damage.
Warped clutch plates will also result in their burning. If you have recently traveled for long distances in your motorcycle, then there is a chance that the clutch was overheated.
Since you were riding the bike under full power for long periods, the overheating might have lead to warped clutch plates.
If warped clutch plates are the issue, then you need to visit your mechanic to fix the clutch plates. Even misalignment in clutch plates need to readjusted again.
#3 Shifting Gears Without Pulling In The Clutch
You need to pull in the clutch lever every time you are shifting the gears up or down. While changing the gears, you first want the clutch plates to disengage, and then re-engage with the target gear.
However, if you don’t use the clutch lever to shift gears, the gear transition will not be smooth and the hard engagement will affect the clutch plates and possibly result in a burn.
So, not pulling in the clutch and going for a hard shifting of gears is one of the major reasons for burnt clutch plates. Make sure you pull in the clutch lever every time you are about to change the gear.
#4 Releasing The Clutch Lever Suddenly
While changing the gears in the motorcycle, you should be releasing the clutch lever slowly and gradually so that the clutch plates engage in a smooth manner.
However, if you release the clutch too suddenly, the clutch plates will engage brashly. The sudden friction between the clutch plates will cause wear and tear on the plate surfaces and might even damage them.
Because of this brash engagement which might burn the plates, you should normally release the clutch lever in a gradual manner. If you feel a burning smell right after a sudden release of the clutch lever, you can infer that the harsh engagement of the plates has caused the burn.
#5 Careless Riding With Improper Clutch Usage
This is again one of the main causes for clutch plate burn. The rider does not know how to use the clutch properly.
Many riders, in busy traffic, lazy out in shifting down the gear and simply use clutch to move the distance. And then release the clutch to move forward with the current gear at high RPM. This is not the best practice and overusing this method will cause the burning of clutch plates.
Few riders, when stranded on an uphill, do not apply brakes to halt the motorcycle. They will simply pull in the clutch and use their legs on the road to stay still. While this is an okay thing to do once in a while, just staying still by using clutch for an extended period of time with your bike on first gear is not good for your clutch plates.
Tips To Avoid Clutch Plate Burning
The preventive measures you need to undertake to avoid clutch plate burn will be to address the causes.
You need give some free play in the clutch lever in line with the user manual specifications. Also, make sure you pull in the clutch lever every time you are about to change the gear.
For misaligned or warped clutch plates, you need to take the bike to your mechanic or service center for the fix. For improper clutch usage, don’t lazy around in changing the gears or applying the breaks. And don’t release the clutch lever too suddenly whenever you are shifting the gear up or down.
When To Replace The Bike Clutch Plate?
There is no standard replacement time for motorcycle clutch plates. The manufacturer’s user manual will also be of no help here as you won’t find any specifications on replacing the clutch plates.
However, you need to replace the clutch plates when you see a drastic drop in the pickup. This is a major indication that the time is up for your clutch plates and you need to bring new ones.
When you drive your motorcycle with worn-out or burnt clutch plates you can easily feel the drop in the pickup as well as in the gear shifts. The gear changing will not be smooth and will feel jumpy.
So, replace the clutch plates whenever you see a drop in the pickup and the gear shifting is not at all smooth.