Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Why Do Harley Motorcycles Clunk When Shifting Gears?

Why Do Harley Motorcycles Clunk When Shifting Gears?

A motorcycle clutch is an integral motorcycle part. Unlike motorcycle engines, it has a much simpler build, but it is responsible for delivering power from the engine to the gearbox. A motorcycle clutch is always under stress when riding and will eventually become worn out over time. Read this article to learn how long a motorcycle clutch should last.

1. How Long Should a Motorcycle Clutch Last?

There is no exact answer for how long a motorcycle clutch should last since it depends on several factors, including:

  • Motorcycle clutch maintenance
  • Frequency of engine oil changes
  • Type of clutch (wet, dry)
  • Motorcycle clutch quality
  • Riding conditions
  • Type of motorcycle you ride
  • Riding style
  • Level of riding experience
  • Skill at shifting gears
  • Frequency you perform stunts
  • Frequency you ride
  • Use of motorcycle for daily commutes

2. The Average Lifespan of a Motorcycle Clutch

On average, a motorcycle clutch can last between 20,000-60,000 miles or two years.

However, depending on additional factors, such as a motorcycle clutch not being well-maintained or your motorcycle being used to perform stunts, a motorcycle clutch will not last more than 5,000 miles. Meanwhile, if you are an expert rider and keep your motorcycle well-maintained, a clutch can last even longer than 100,000 miles.

3. How to Know If the Motorcycle Clutch Needs to be Replaced

There are several signs indicating that a motorcycle clutch needs to be replaced.

3.1 Signs of Bad Motorcycle Clutch Plates

Hard Gear Shifts

If you are having difficulty shifting gears, it may be due to a worn-out clutch that needs to be replaced.

Clunky Sound

Old or faulty clutch plates will produce a clunky sound every time you shift gears.

Slow Acceleration

If your motorcycle has difficulty accelerating, it can be due to low engine oil, bad-quality engine oil, degraded fuel quality, rust in the fuel tank, and worn-out clutch plates.

Hard Clutch Lever Operation

If you find it hard to pull the clutch lever, you only need to replace the clutch cable. However, you should consult a professional mechanic before doing so in case you also need a clutch replacement as well.

High Fuel Consumption

A worn-out clutch can result in high fuel mileage since the engine has to work harder and will consume more fuel.

Engine Overheating

Since a worn-out motorcycle clutch causes the engine to work harder, this can raise the engine’s temperature.

By Inspecting the Clutch

To inspect the motorcycle clutch, you will have to remove the clutch system, including the discs and cable, to check for any abrasions and cracks.

4. Why Does a Motorcycle Clutch Become Worn Out?

When you engage or disengage a motorcycle clutch, the plates start to slide against each other to deliver power to the gearbox. Repeatedly sliding against each other for an extended period causes high friction that causes the plates to become worn out over time. Other reasons why a motorcycle clutch becomes worn out are:

4.1 Low-Quality Engine Oil

The clutch plates are covered in engine oil to reduce friction between them. However, when the engine oil becomes low or the quality degrades due to dust coming off the surfaces, the plates become hotter and speed up deterioration.

4.2 Poor Maintenance

The motorcycle clutch system, including the clutch cable, plates, and lever, requires maintenance and adjustments over time to keep it from becoming worn out.

4.3 Clutch Cable is Too Loose or Tight

Most motorcycles have cable-operated clutches that will require adjustments over time. If the clutch lever gets too tight or loose, visit a mechanic to adjust the clutch cable since it can damage the clutch plates. A tight clutch cable does not let the clutch completely disengage when the rider pulls the clutch lever, and when the rider forcefully pulls the lever, it can cause the plates to slip and damage the clutch assembly.

4.4 Poor Maintenance

The motorcycle clutch requires regular maintenance checks. If you do not strictly follow the maintenance and service schedule, the motorcycle clutch will start to prematurely wear down and negatively impact the motorcycle’s performance.

4.5 Old Clutch

An old motorcycle clutch can break without warning and damage other parts. Over time, cracks start to appear on the plates and the cable becomes brittle.

4.6 Stop-And-Go Operation

While riding through busy traffic, the rider has to engage and disengage the clutch every few minutes. If you use your motorcycle for daily commutes and city travel, the clutch can start to wear out early.

4.7 Performing Stunts

Performing stunts on a motorcycle can cause the clutch to wear out more quickly due to being constantly engaged and disengaged. Releasing the clutch abruptly for a wheelie, push-starting the motorcycle, mistiming gear shifts, and shifting gears without engaging the clutch can damage the motorcycle clutch assembly.

5. How to Make Your Motorcycle Clutch Last Longer

  • Learn how to shift gears smoothly
  • Learn when to upshift and downshift.
  • Shift to a lower gear if you want to slow down or stop rather than engaging the clutch
  • Do not release the clutch while riding at a high-gear level
  • Do not perform stunts
  • Follow the maintenance and service schedule diligently
  • Change the engine oil regularly
  • If your motorcycle has a hydraulic clutch, regularly check the fluid level
  • Make sure the clutch cable is properly adjusted (Neither too tight nor loose)

6. Cost of a Replacement Motorcycle Clutch

The cost of a replacement motorcycle clutch can vary depending on the make and model. However, on average, a replacement clutch can cost between $400-$2,500, including labor costs. A replacement clutch must be able to connect to the engine. However, most modern motorcycles have complex engine designs that make it difficult to access the clutch, resulting in increased labor costs.

7. How Long Should a Motorcycle Clutch Cable Last?

A motorcycle clutch cable can last longer if the motorcycle is not used for stunts. A good-quality motorcycle clutch cable can last for more than two years. However, make sure to check its condition before going on a motorcycle tour if you do not want to be stranded somewhere due to a broken clutch cable.

8. Final Words

A motorcycle clutch is an essential motorcycle part as it is responsible for delivering engine power to the gearbox. To ensure a smooth riding experience, the motorcycle clutch cable and plates must be maintained regularly and replaced if necessary.

Several signs will indicate that your motorcycle clutch needs to be replaced, including a clunky sound, hard gear shifts, hard clutch operation, slower acceleration, and high fuel consumption. A worn-out motorcycle clutch must be replaced immediately if you do not want to end up stranded somewhere alone with your motorcycle.

If you want your motorcycle to last longer and retain its value, make sure to keep it maintained. You can also improve the aesthetics, comfort, and safety of your motorbike by installing high-quality aftermarket parts available at Viking Bags, including sissy bars, crash bars, fairings, backrests, handlebars, and seats.

If you love going on motorcycle tours, Viking Bags also offers a wide range of luggage options, including saddlebags, tank bags, backpacks, and handlebar bags.

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