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How to Use a Dirt Bike Clutch For Beginners

How to Use a Dirt Bike Clutch For Beginners

I promise that using a clutch isn't hard, even though it may feel like it after you've stalled for the fifteenth time in five minutes. But once you master your clutch, riding your dirt bike actually becomes easier and waaayyy more fun!

If you haven't yet, we recommend first reading our blog, How to Ride a Dirt Bike for BeginnersLearning about the clutch will make way more sense once you've got a good grasp on the fundamentals!

Now let's start with understanding where the clutch lever is and why you need to use it. Your clutch lever is on the left hand side of your handlebars in front of your grip. You'll use your clutch lever when starting your bike, shifting gears, and bringing your dirt bike to a stop so that your engine doesn't stall.

Next, let's understand how the clutch works.*Warning: this explanation is going to be as basic as ordering a PSL on the first day of fall while wearing Uggs and an infinity scarf. I am not a mechanic. If you want more detailed information, please contact a mechanic and don't @ me.* The clutch itself sits between the engine and the transmission. When the clutch is disengaged (the lever is pulled in), the power from the engine to the transmission is disconnected, allowing you to shift gears or idle without stalling the engine. When the clutch is engaged (the lever is out), it connects the engine's power to the transmission, allowing power to flow to the transmission and drive the bike forward.

Still with me? Cool. Now let's get to some clutch fundamentals. 

Starting Your Bike

When you start your bike, make sure it's in neutral, pull your clutch in, and either hit that start button or kick 'er over. Once the bike is on and running, you can let out the clutch lever and the bike should still idle as long as you're in neutral. If you do start the bike in gear (it happens, especially in technical areas), then make sure you keep the clutch lever in.

To go forward, put your bike in first gear and slowly release the clutch as you simultaneously turn the throttle slowly to give it gas. 

One of the most important things to know is that the clutch is not all or nothing. Yep––you read that right! It doesn't have to be all the way in or all the way out. This is actually how you will continue to stall over and over... and over and over... and over and over.... you get the picture. If you give it too much gas right outta the gate, you'll most likely throttle out and/or wheelie. If you let out too much clutch, you'll stall. 

It's a balance! So in an open area, practice releasing the clutch a little while giving it a little gas. You will feel the bike start to move forward and you can slowly release more clutch and give it more gas at the same time. At any time, you can pull the clutch back in so the bike doesn't stall. This feeling will eventually become natural, and you'll be taking off like the pros in no time!

Shifting Gears

Once you've mastered starting your bike and getting it to move forward with ease, then you're ready to start riding around! You will also use your clutch to help you shift gears up and down. When you (and the bike) are ready, pull the clutch in, let off the throttle a little and shift your gear accordingly. Then let the clutch lever back out and give the throttle a little love—similar to how you start the bike. 

Stopping Your Bike

Pull the clutch in to use your brakes. If you fully use your brakes without clutch, your bike will stall. You're probably thinking, "bUt IsN't ThAt WhAt We WaNt ThE bIkE tO dO iF wE'rE bRaKiNg?" Yes and no. You do want to bring the bike to a stop, but it's important to remain in control of your bike... and stalling will stop you dead in your tracks; while braking with clutch will let you roll in like the cool cat you are. 

There's a lot more we can get into with clutch control and using it to help you ride better, but that's a little more advanced. You'll get there one day! Don't rush it. For now, focus on the fundamentals and getting comfortable using the clutch.

Pro Tip: if your fingers can't reach your clutch lever while still holding onto your grip, bend the lever in a little. Chief made this *somewhat unconventional* mod for me and it completely changed my confidence while riding! Now, I can keep one finger on the clutch at all times while my hand is still comfortably holding onto my grip (as seen in the picture at the top), so I'm always ready to stop, shift gears, or maneuver around obstacles.

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