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Motorcycle Clutch 101

Picture this. You’re cruising on your Harley down the California coast, sun rays catching the finishes in all the right ways. Your bike is churning out its guttural, rhythmic growl as it does when tightly-tuned. Everyone you pass does a double take, lads and ladies alike. You own the road. You stop at a red light that’s ruined your groove and you impatiently wait. Stored energy builds. The light turns green, with gusto you throttle down, pop the clutch and your bike is disproportionately screaming in all the wrong ways at a higher/faster/louder RPM relative to your pathetic 5MPH. Lads and ladies still looking. You, you smell burnt clutch.

Oops, your clutch slipped. We all saw it.

The motorcycle clutch temporarily disconnects the engine from the transmission so you can shift or chill out for a sec. At the heart of the clutch is a series of friction plates, the more plates and the bigger they are, the more hold without adding spring tension that grows a clutch hand weary. More clutch plates divide the difference in RPM between the motor and tranny, so when pressure is applied each plate isn’t trying to hold as much energy – less reason to slip. When you let the clutch lever out, the transmission is fully connected with the engine because the plates are compressed forcefully into each other, and all power is delivered through these plates, to the tranny and onto the road. When you pull in the clutch lever, the friction plates lose the pressure between them and spin freely, thus disconnecting the motor power flow before it gets to the transmission. This relaxation of energy in the transmission allows mere mortals to shift without fighting the power flow of all that horsepower.

We are here to prevent slippage. Given the clutch is part of the torque multiplication equation, BAKER is a proud manufacturer of American aftermarket clutches for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. First is the BAKER 4-Speed Clutch, a modern 18-tooth spline configuration that is a major upgrade on the stock tapered mainshaft and clutch. Then we’ve got the BAKER 9-Plate Street Performance Clutch, a must-have if you’ve got an early 90s Big Twin or 1994-06 Big Twin with a 9-tooth pinion. This Harley clutch is the little bro of the KKC. Finally we’ve got the mother of them all, the big daddy, the BAKER King Kong Clutch. 20 massive, single-sided friction plates deliver the most torque capacity for your H-D bike. There is no other clutch from the factory or other aftermarket clutch manufacturers that even compares.

BAKER also manufactures replacement clutch pack kits to get your BAKER clutch working like new. When you install new clutch plates, the stack height has to be picture perfect, or else the clutch could slip. That’s why we precisely select and measure the right combo of plates to suit your clutch, and we double and triple check it to guarantee accuracy. Since you have your primary drive apart, consider upgrading to a BAKER compensating sprocket which is a quick way to increase torque to the rear wheel, now that you’ve got a stronger clutch to hold it.

As with all our aftermarket motorcycle parts, all BAKER clutches are designed and manufactured by Americans right here in Michigan.

Unsure which clutch is right for your bike? Looking for clutch replacement parts? Just give us a call at (517) 339-3835 and we’ll get you sorted.

Baker Drivetrain Team Illustration